Payne Stewart crossed over in time
Golf course designer Bruce Borland arose early Monday, Oct. 25, at his home in Jupiter, Fla., to drive 120 miles north to Samford. He had canceled his commercial flight to Dallas to fly there instead with golf great Payne Stewart in a chartered jet. It would be an opportunity to discuss plans for a new golf course in Texas-and to enjoy some Christian fellowship. Mr. Stewart, 42, known on the links for his trademark knickerbockers and tam-o'-shanter cap, was riding the crest of a comeback wave. In his career he'd won 18 tournaments and was professional golf's eighth top money earner, but he'd been in a slump. Then, in June, a 15-foot putt on the last hole gave him the U.S. Open Championship. The turnaround in his 20-year career coincided with a turnaround in his personal life. His two children, enrolled in a school run by First Baptist Church in Orlando, persuaded him to start attending church with his wife, Tracey. "He asked Jesus to come into his life, and that was a big part of what was happening in his life," said Sunday-school teacher Joe Castrovono. Among other things, Mr. Stewart put his money where his heart was. Last month, for example, he gave $500,000 to First Baptist. Mr. Borland, 40 years old and chairman of the board of elders at 1,000-member Palm Beach Community Church, boarded the chartered 10-seat Learjet 35 at its Samford base on Oct. 25. The plane stopped in nearby Orlando to pick up Mr. Stewart and two sports agents, Robert Fraley, 46, and Van Ardan, 45. Mr. Ardan was a member of Orlando First Baptist; Mr. Fraley, a former quarterback at the University of Alabama, was a member of Orangewood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Maitland, Fla. The pilot was Michael Kling, 43, formerly a pastor at a small charismatic church, and the co-pilot was Stephanie Bellegarrigue, 27. By the time the plane reached Gainesville, Fla., where it was to turn west, the crew was not responding to air traffic controllers. With military jets tracking it and reporting no sign of life aboard, the plane continued going northwest on autopilot. Mrs. Stewart tried calling her husband on his cell phone; there was no answer. The plane ran out of fuel and crashed in a soggy field in South Dakota some 1,400 miles later. Investigators theorized a slow decompression had occurred or fumes had leaked into the cabin; everyone aboard likely was dead before the plane left Florida. Man knows not his time
Songwriter, legislator die
What's the purpose of work? According to the Bible, it's to glorify God. But among those who don't understand that, and among those who do but become weary at doing good, Hoyt Axton's evocative 1974 country song Boney Fingers ("Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Boney fingers, boney fingers") became a hit. Mr. Axton died last week at age 61 at his ranch home in Montana, after suffering two severe heart attacks. His best known song was probably Joy to the World (with its line, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog"). Three Dog Night's recording of it was No. 1 on the charts for six straight weeks in 1971, making it the top hit of that year. John Chafee, senator from Rhode Island since 1976, also died. In death as in life, the liberal Republican was lionized by liberal newspapers. The Washington Post commented, "The Senate will be a lesser place without his independence." But John Chafee showed little independent thinking when it came to abortion: He was a reliable vote for the Roe vs. Wade regime. Planned Parenthood's Gloria Feldt lamented her loss of a "longtime supporter and respected champion of ... the freedom to choose." Mr. Chafee was different in some ways from the new generation of selfish pro-aborts. He interrupted his schooling at Yale to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, and became a combat Marine at Guadalcanal. After earning his law degree from Harvard, Mr. Chafee reenlisted and led a rifle company in the Korean War. He was a Rhode Island state legislator, governor, Navy secretary, and 22-year veteran of the Senate, and showed a civility that is increasingly rare in politics. It's sad that his record of self-sacrifice was marred by a willingness to sacrifice the defenseless. Israel opens up land link as leaders prepare to meet
Israel has opened a long-delayed passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The land link, through Israel, makes it possible for residents from the two separate Palestinian-controlled areas to commute for the first time. Since 1993, only Palestinians with work permits have been allowed to enter Israel from the two Palestinian-controlled territories, and they were not allowed to cross from one area to the other. The 28-mile route enables residents of poverty-stricken Gaza to seek jobs in the more prosperous West Bank, but in the first week of operation, cultural tensions between the two segregated areas-West Bank residents are more Western than the conservative Gazans-were already evident. "We can hardly find jobs," said Radi Suhail, a 22-year-old waiter in Ramallah's Tel al Amar Cafe. "Now, we will have to compete with guys who will take less" money to work. Tension also flared in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, showcase site of millennium festivities in Israel. Palestinian souvenir seller Abu Ihaliel was killed by Israeli security forces after he allegedly tried to stab a soldier. The soldiers clashed with angry Palestinians following his funeral. Eight civilians were wounded and tear gas hung over the entrance to the town near Rachel's tomb. The violence added to the delicate atmosphere surrounding this week's summit in Oslo, recent home of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Leaders from Israel, the Palestinian areas, and the United States are expected to gather for the first time in nearly 11 months on Nov. 1-2. It is the first high-level meeting since Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat set a September 2000 deadline for a final peace. At least one entrepreneur has found a way to make peace pay. Former lawmaker Abdel Wahab Darawsheh announced that he and a Jewish partner will set up a wedding chapel for Israelis in Palestinian-ruled Jericho. The Vegas-style venture will save Jewish couples who want to avoid rabbinical marriages the trouble of a trip to Cyprus. Civil marriages cannot be performed in Israel, but Palestinians see a way to make money: The Palestinian Authority will collect marriage registration fees from the chapel. World in brief
- Peaceful quests in Colombia
Residents in 700 Colombian cities took to the streets Oct. 25 in unprecedented numbers to demand an end to fighting in the violent and drug war-ridden country. Officials estimated that 12 million people joined in the demonstrations, which were organized nationwide by Francisco Santos, well-known heir to a large publishing and media conglomerate. In 1998 a record 2,600 Colombians were kidnapped, and rebels are increasingly active as they grow stronger in Colombia's rural areas. In 1990 Mr. Santos himself was kidnapped by Medellin drug mobsters and held for eight months.
- Assault in armenia
Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarksyan was assassinated in a hail of machine-gun bullets after gunmen burst into a session of parliament Oct. 27. Parliament speaker Karen Demirchyan and six other top officials were also killed. Five members of parliament, as well as the privatization minister, were hospitalized. Lawmakers were held in the chamber overnight, but were freed after officials in Yerevan, the capital of the ex-Soviet state, agreed to give the gunmen, apparently attempting a coup, a fair trial. Investigators fail to find remains
Teams of investigators fanned across Colombia's western jungles in search of the bodies of three American missionaries believed to have been kidnapped over six years ago by Colombian rebels. No bodies were discovered in what Colombian media described as a "spectacular operation." FBI, U.S. embassy officials, and Colombian military all participated in the search, which included digging over 600 holes along the banks of the Murri River to find the bodies of three men, Mark Rich, David Mankins, and Richard Tennenoff. According to a former guerrilla interviewed by a Colombian radio network, the men, abducted in 1993 while serving under Florida-based New Tribes Mission in Panama, were murdered in 1995. The search, according to New Tribes, "may not indicate that our men are alive, but it certainly does not substantiate the claim that they are dead." The No-Comment Zone
- Six public college professors in Virginia say a state law against state employees surfing for porn at work violates their academic freedom, so they're taking their case to a federal appeals court. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema declared the law unconstitutional in February 1998, but a three-judge appeals court panel overturned her decision a year later. Now the profs have ACLU support in their quest for a full-court ruling against the law.
- Hal Hovey, former state finance director for Ohio and state budget director for Illinois, decided he didn't want to pay the cost of living with cancer. After consulting with doctors about treatment options, The uninsured Mr. Hovey, 60, studied a cost-benefit analysis spreadsheet and learned that treatment would run $25,000. He then set up a charity for young cancer patients with the money and committed suicide. His final decisions "were really just a continuation of his whole life and the difficult decisions you make in government," said his daughter, Kendra Hovey.
- The Southern Baptist Convention took heat from liberal critics after printing up 30,000 pamphlets urging believers to pray for the conversion of Hindus. Keith Parks, who spent 13 years as president of the convention's International Mission Board, charged the Baptists with "fundamentalism," complaining that "we need to cultivate personal relationships rather than launch a new crusade that's confrontative and abrasive."
- "If you had to assassinate one famous person who is alive right now, who would it be and how would you do it?" A teacher at Franklin High School near Cincinnati used this as a suggested essay topic and found herself the subject of outrage. Administrators refused to name the now-reprimanded teacher.
- The government-run Hospital Authority in Hong Kong has suspended a doctor whose patient complained that he talked on a hands-free mobile phone while operating. Chung Chi-cheung said he heard his doctor chatting with a car salesman during follow-up surgery to remove a growth on his colon at Queen Mary Hospital. The Hospital Authority apologized to Mr. Chung for "his unpleasant experience." Court upholds partial-birth abortion ban
Supreme Court or bust
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld Illinois and Wisconsin laws banning partial-birth abortion. The 5-4 decision reversed a lower court's ruling that the Illinois law was unconstitutional and an appeals panel's order that temporarily stopped enforcement of the Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin law provides for life imprisonment of anyone performing such an abortion, except to save the life of the mother. Partial-birth abortionists receive a three-year sentence under the Illinois statute. The decision conflicts with an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, one month earlier, that a Nebraska ban on the procedure was unconstitutional. Activists on both sides of the issue predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would settle the matter. The 7th Circuit Court's ruling "creates a constitutional crisis which will probably go to the Supreme Court," said Janet Benshoof of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life agreed that the high court likely would rule, "perhaps next year, on whether Roe vs. Wade covers pulling most of a living baby feet-first outside of the womb, puncturing her skull, and removing her brain." Why is children's series so popular (con't.)?
One additional reason for the success of the Harry Potter books (WORLD, Oct. 30) is this: They vindicate the smart kid, who often is ridiculed in stories and in life. Many of the children with disposable cash who are buying the series probably identify with bookish, misunderstood Harry, and one of the worst parental reactions would be to make it look as if Christians are the opponents of joy, fun, and good reading. (That might make a kid see Christians, rather than materialists, as the "Muggles," the boring folks who just don't get it.) The better approach is for parents and children both to read J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and make these fantasy books part of their common family stock of references. (Test: When it's time to clear the table and wash dishes, will children refer to chipping glasses or cracking plates, "for that's what Bilbo Baggins hates"?) If a child is already bitten by the Potter bug, the best approach may be to co-opt his enthusiasm. Children fascinated by going to a school like Potter's Hogwarts can be shown that if they really want to learn about supernatural powers and spiritual warfare, the school they need is Sunday school.