I am trying to ignore the implications of the Independent's lead story today,. Apparantly it's an open secret in the pharmaceutical industry that more than half of patients receive absolutely no benefit whatsoever from the expensive drugs they're prescribed. That includes two thirds of Alzheimers sufferers, half of all arthritis patients – and three quarters of cancer patients.
Also in the Indy, a good piece on how Anti-war parents of American soldiers are braving hostility at home to see the real story in Iraq – and the bizarre tale of how plastic surgery on the feet is the new in-thing so that Sex and the City fans can fit in their Jimmy Choos and Blahniks.
In other news, the world as we know it is doomed – actor Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has kept the ring prop. Instead of handing it back to the props department, or destroying it in a volcano as is traditional, he kept it. He says he won't wear it, but how long will that resolution last in the face of the power of the One Ring? The end of the world is surely upon us…
I don't know whether this is amusing or not… or more accurately, I find it amusing but don't know whether I ought to. From AP via various newspapers in the American west and Tangent21 comes news that the Russian Orthodox Church has clashed with the Mormons over the latters' practice of building huge geneology databases, which they use to retrospectively baptise long-dead non-Mormons into the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
SALT LAKE CITY – Less than a year after the Mormon church promised, again, to stop baptizing dead Jews into its faith, the Mormons have raised concerns by funding the preservation – at 10 cents a sheet – of thousands of names of dead Russian Orthodox Church members.
The church flatly rejects allegations that it is buying the names of dead souls, and insists the effort in Russia is aimed only at providing an archive of genealogical data for the good of all mankind.
Others say the church is continuing its oft-criticized ritual of posthumously baptizing the dead as Mormons – a practice called “proxy baptism” that critics say is rife with ethical and moral problems.
I find the whole thing irredeemably hilarious, even though I shouldn't. Either God gave people free will to choose their religion, in which case the Mormons' actions are having no effect, or the Mormons are right, in which case they're doing everyone a favour and the other churches are going to have far bigger things to worry about come the Day of Judgement.
The only point where I do find it a bit dodgy is where they go trampling over racial sensitivies, whether by omission or commission. Some religions are a culture as well as a religion, like Judaism and Sikhism, and there are a lot of unhappy Jewish leaders objecting to the retrospective baptising of Jews such as Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. But you won't hear many Sikh complaints, and that's not because they're a pretty tolerant bunch.
It's just that I see no evidence anywhere that the Church of the Latter Day Saints has any interest whatsoever in any religion where the practitioners aren't predominately white…