Faced with many retirements and a precipitous drop in new blood, U.S. Catholic officials have stepped up priest-recruiting to include irreverent advertisements to appeal to "generation X" men, according to a December Washington Post report. The Providence, R.I., diocese, for example, recently ran an ad campaign on MTV. And in January, a group of British churches, led by the Church of England, began a campaign to draw young parishioners by displaying Jesus Christ as the late Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Said one priest, "We want to get away from the wimpy Nordic figure in a white nightie."
Joe Firmage, 28, multimillionaire founder of the high-profile Internet consulting firm USWeb, resigned in January out of fear that the company's reputation was being hurt by his public views that extraterrestrials are responsible for many high-tech inventions, such as semiconductors and lasers. According to his autobiography (posted on the Internet), Firmage was visited by an extraterrestrial in his bedroom in 1997, an experience that has caused him to re-accept Jesus Christ after a childhood falling-out with the Mormon church.
According to a January Boston Globe feature, Mr. Wai Y. Tye, 82, who retired a while back after 32 years' service with Raytheon Corp., has lived without complaint in the same 200-square-foot room in the downtown Boston YMCA since 1949. "When you're busy working and playing tennis," he told a reporter, "when you come home, you don't have much time to take care of an apartment." The bathroom is down the hall to the left, and he said he does not mind the exposed pipes, the linoleum floor and having to use a hot plate.
One suggestion for Russia's economic problems was advanced in the December-released book "ABCs of Sex" by nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who wrote that exporting virgin Russian women to men in other countries could somehow raise $750 million a year and that promoting sex for tourists (for example, by having hotel minibars stocked with sex toys) would bring in additional revenue.
Brad Davis, 25, of Milledgeville, Ga., was hospitalized in December after a hunting accident. He had chased a raccoon into a tree so that his companion could shoot it, but when hit, the 15-pound animal fell about 60 feet and landed directly on top of Davis, knocking him out cold and breaking three vertebrae.
A side effect of the international economic embargo of Iraq is the transfer of much of its supply of medical care from physicians to parapsychologists, who "heal" with electromagnetic therapy at half the price that doctors charge (even so, it's about 80 cents per visit, which is about one-fourth the monthly salary of a government clerk). According to one healer interviewed by the Associated Press, "extensive reading" was all the training he needed to find "gaps" in a patient's magnetic halo so that he could focus energy to that particular spot, a process that he said cured the gangrene of his first patient (his uncle).
Beat the press
In January, the Saguaro High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.) newspaper editor, Sam Claiborn, wrote an editorial critical of the culture of violence surrounding football heroes, who he said often turn out to be drunks and spouse-abusers. An unnamed member of the school's football team took offense and beat up Claiborn. The football player was suspended.
Grin and bear it
A December Associated Press dispatch reported on Seoul's Korean Air Service Academy, which teaches "international manners" to help make South Korean companies more competitive in the quest for foreign customers. A particular problem, according to the Academy's general manager, is that "Koreans have difficulty smiling. Our ancestors had the philosophy that the serious person is better than the smiling one." As smiling increases in large companies, he said, citizens have begun to demand smiles from their government servants, such as tax collectors.