Century Marks

Century Marks

All aboard

Online churches like LifeChurch.tv are just a recent example of American religion using technology in an inventive way. Now almost forgotten are 19th-century chapel train cars that took religion to where the people were—on the frontier. Clergy rode in these cars, holding services between stops, using what in that day was a state-of-the-art means of making religion accessible (Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, Simon & Schuster).

Yellow journalism

A new Ugandan newspaper named the Rolling Stone (not to be confused with the American magazine with the same name) featured a list of the 100 "top" homosexuals in the country, along with their pictures and addresses. The banner on the paper said, "Hang them." This edition of the newspaper appeared near the one-year anniversary of the introduction of legislation in the Ugandan parliament that would impose the death penalty for some homosexuals and life imprisonment for others. The proposed legislation was shelved, yet more than 20 homosexuals have been attacked in Uganda since its introduction and another 17 were arrested and are in prison. The legislation was supported by some conservative Christian leaders in the U.S. (AP).

Fire or ice?

Humans have long speculated about how the world will end. During the cold war the focus was on nuclear annihilation. Now the focus is on the threat of terrorists getting access to bioweapons. Corey S. Powell lists 30 threats that could end the world—or human life—as we know it. Environ­mental toxins, a biotech disaster or an ecosytem collapse could make life impossible. But Powell thinks most of his 30 doomsday scenarios are unlikely (Discover, October).

Dream team

In January Apple announced that it had sold 250 million iPods, the fastest-selling music player of all time. The iPod fulfilled the dream of Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, to dominate the music industry and change the way music is heard, sold, bought and consumed. The year before, Apple had lost $816 million, and the company's reputation as an innovator was in decline. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of The Orange Revolution (Free Press), ask: would your organization, on the heels of its worst year, put its best people on a team and ask them to create something that fell outside the usual operating model?

Brand names

Three marketing researchers have concluded that the less religious one is, the more commercial brand names matter. Their paper, available online at the Marketing Science journal, is titled "Brands: The Opiate of Non-Religious Masses?" For people who aren't religious, visible markers of commercial brands, such as logos on a laptop or shirt pocket, function as a means of self-expression and as an assertion of self-worth comparable to the symbolic expression of faith. The word for marketers: direct nonreligious consumers to recognizable national brands and the religious ones toward lesser-known store brands (Office of News and Communications, Duke University).