Turnout: Many observers expected this year’s presidential election to be marked by massive turnout by blacks and young people. What happened? The Washington Post (November 16) reports that black voters made up 13 percent of the electorate in 2008, compared to 11 percent in 2004, and voters under 30 were 18 percent of the electorate this year, versus 17 percent in 2004.
Squatters’ (divine) rights: To a Pentecostal community of squatters in Caracas, Venezuela, studied by Rafael Sánchez, their occupation of an empty, 12-story building in what was once a posh part of the town makes good theological sense. The world really belongs to God, they explain, but the devil has taken it over, and Christians’ job, as agents of the Holy Spirit, is to take back what really belongs to God (Public Culture, Spring).
Cuddle and preach? Some people allege that Mattel’s Little Mommy Cuddle N’ Coo doll emits the words “Islam is the light.” The toy manufacturer says that the sound emitted resembles the word night, right or light. The company promises to eliminate the misleading sound in future production of the doll (UPI).
Mind-boggling: If the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street were paid out in $100 bills, it would amount to a stack 54 miles high. Given the magnitude of the plan, no wonder there is public outrage. But columnist James Carroll noticed another, similar figure: in the fiscal year just begun the Pentagon will spend $607 billion on regular military operations (as well as another $100 billion on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq).
True confessions: Michael Jinkins, dean of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, says that the pastor of a large evangelical church told him he had decided to do away with a corporate confession in worship services. It’s too much of a downer, the pastor explained. Jinkins asked him, “Isn’t it more of a downer for your people to leave worship without confessing their sins and hearing the assurance of God’s pardon?” (Cultural Encounters, Winter).