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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Nearly seven in 10 millennials, or 69% of those ages 18 to 34, say they have it harder than previous generations in securing a middle-class lifestyle. But the story doesn’t stop at younger Americans feeling they have it harder than older generations. Seventy-seven percent of seniors say that young people today have a harder time achieving a secure middle-class lifestyle compared with their counterparts 20 or 30 years ago. The share of seniors with this view is striking, particularly given that many of them have lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Stagflation, the stock market crash of 1987, and, most recently, the Great Recession.
More than seven in 10 Americans also believe that millennials have it harder when it comes to saving for retirement (81%); owning a home (76%); having a stable, decent-paying job (71%); and having stable, affordable housing (71%).
These are some of the findings from a recent Hart Research survey conducted for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s How Housing Matters Initiative. It also found that millennials are concerned about their housing situation and that many have had personal experience with housing distress. This has caused them to re-assess the feasibility of homeownership, with many millennial homeowners considering whether to rent in the future.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Before the bullets and bloodshed in the movie theater, Stefan Moton was a teenager who did push-ups and boxing exercises in his bedroom, his dreams fixed on becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. Now, his goals are humbler: Strengthen the sections of his upper body that he can still move. Maybe get a new tattoo. Feed himself again.
“I just try to push it aside and move on,” he said. “Focus on getting better.”
Mr. Moton, 21, who was shot through the spine and left paralyzed from the chest down, is among scores of survivors who have taken the witness stand in the murder trial of James E. Holmes, the former neuroscience graduate student charged with carrying out the midnight rampage at a multiplex here in July 2012. But testimony is narrowly focused on the scene inside Theater 9 and whether the gunman was legally sane or insane when he opened fire. Many stories of Aurora’s painful legacy, which families say remains as raw and urgent as ever, have gone untold in court.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”
You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.
But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”
Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Dan] Price dropped his salary from about $1 million to $70,000 in order to increase pay for many of his employees.
In the weeks that have followed, Price has received hundreds of messages — some from CEOs who followed suit with similar moves and others from critics who feel the decision will destroy Price's company.
Of all the notes that he has received, the most striking to Price was a stack of 33 letters — delivered by mail — from a class of sixth graders at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine, California.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.
“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.
“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The young daughters of the slain Emanuel AME pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney wrote heartbreaking letters to their father. The letters were included in the funeral program distributed Friday during services at the College of Charleston arena, where President Obama eulogized Pinckney.
Thousands of mourners flipped through the programs which included photos of the family smiling. One snapshot shows the older daughter wearing a yellow sun dress; her hair twisted with yellow barrettes. The younger daughter with a pink rose hairclip poses in front of Emanuel AME church.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * South Carolina * Theology Eschatology
...in one of the ironies in which the arc of history specializes, while the conservative case for same-sex marriage triumphed in politics, the liberationist case against marriage’s centrality to human flourishing was winning in the wider culture.
You would not know this from Kennedy’s opinion, which is relentlessly upbeat about how “new insights have strengthened, not weakened” marriage, bringing “new dimensions of freedom” to society.
But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.
Read it all (emphasis and article title his).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”
Read it all.
Putnam, not first of all a complainer, this time reaches for extremes: “We” and “Our Kids” are not merely confused or apathetic or drifting. We are clearly in crisis. Or the book could get dismissed as one more complaint about social class and the economic debates connected with both, or all, sides of class division in America. Also, it could be ignored by those who tire of nostalgic reckonings about “the good old days;” Some celebrations of them do appear here.
Putnam lovingly invokes the past as he begins with references to his own childhood years and to locales like the town in which he grew up. Winsomely and with clarity he writes about a time when the boundaries between classes were not as defined and drastic as now. But as he looks at the contemporary scene, he finds plenty of reason to describe the class gulf as “in crisis” and the “American dream” not merely fading for millions, but becoming almost irretrievably out of range for their young.
What’s missing, especially for the millions of “Their Kids” in America today? They lack agencies where “social capital”—an old Putnam phrase—is tended to. Voluntary organizations, support groups, clubs, neighborhood places, which encourage bonding and interaction are disappearing from the scene for the millions who cannot advance.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Children Education Health & Medicine History Marriage & Family Poverty Psychology Religion & Culture Sociology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Hundreds of veterans gathered at Fort Stewart, Georgia, to be honored at a homecoming ceremony that eluded them for decades.
Watch it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The 1944 settlement, the basis for governing religious education, school worship, and denominational schools for the past seven decades, should be replaced with an agreement in tune with modern reality, a former Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, said this week.
Mr Clarke calls for the change in a pamphlet, A New Settlement: Religion and belief in schools, cowritten with Professor Linda Woodhead, a colleague at Lancaster University, where he is a visiting professor in politics and religion.
"It is clear to us", they say, "that the educational settlement between Church and State formalised in the 1944 Education Act, and reflected a different era, no longer serves its purpose."
Read it all.
Please join me and pray for them and their families--KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina
Here, roughly, is what we know so far about today’s middle-class children: They seldom walk or bike to school, as generations did before them; they rarely work steady after-school jobs (their new work is strictly of the academic and extracurricular variety, one that doesn’t involve a wage); their time is rigidly structured (play dates, cello lessons, summer internships); their mothers spend more time with them than mothers did with their children in the 1960s, even though most women in the 1960s didn’t work.
When confronted with these facts, it is therefore reasonable to ask: What effect does all this involvement and insulation and scrupulous (some might call it psychoneurotic) programming have on our kids? Is it compromising their resilience in some way, or the firmness of their convictions, or their self-efficacy? Are the very things we view as horizon-stretching in fact resulting in a more circumscribed life?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Marriage & Family Psychology Science & Technology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
After years of infertility, Angel and Jeff Watts found a young egg donor to help them have a baby. They fertilized her eggs with Mr. Watts’s sperm and got 10 good embryos. Four of those embryos were transferred to Ms. Watts’s womb, resulting in two sets of twins — Alexander and Shelby, now 4 years old, and Angelina and Charles, not yet 2.
But that left six frozen embryos, and Ms. Watts, 45, had no plans for more children. So in December she took to Facebook to try to find a nearby Tennessee family that wanted them.
“We have 6 good quality frozen six-day-old embryos to donate to an amazing family who wants a large family,” she posted. “We prefer someone who has been married several years in a steady loving relationship and strong Christian background, and who does not already have kids, but wants a boat load.”
In storage facilities across the nation, hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos — perhaps a million — are preserved in silver tanks of liquid nitrogen.
Read it all.
Several denominations partnered with the Canadian government for nearly a century to run the more than 130 residential schools, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and the United Church of Canada.
Winnipeg’s Anglican bishop says the report provides a framework for action and education, such as including indigenous perspectives in theological schools, studying the history and legacy of residential schools, and understanding the role of churches in colonization.
"For us, the TRC report is not threatening and it gives us a shot in the arm to really keep the agenda of healing and reconciliation and working in partnership with aboriginal people in front of (our) people," says Bishop Donald Phillips of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
Read it all from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Culture-Watch Children Education History Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Newcastle's Anglican Bishop has fought back tears while apologising for past church cover-ups and the poor handling of complaints about child sexual abuse.
Greg Thompson marked 500 days in the position by saying sorry for "the terrible harm done [by] a culture of not listening".
"If you are a victim or a survivor of abuse I want to encourage you to come forward," he said.
"I want to assure you that when you do share your story the church will believe you and you will be supported in that process.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
This proverb does not have much resonance with Americans. In an age of numerous technological advances meant to save us time and energy, we find ourselves working more than ever. Instead of working fewer hours and taking more vacation, we have freely chosen to do the opposite.
We live by the “American Dream” where anyone can achieve anything if we simply “work hard enough.” Often it means “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” in order to realize your dreams.
While these maxims are not inherently bad, we have taken them to a new level and are working more and playing less. Unfortunately the family has been caught in the crossfire. As we continue to put emphasis on work and “getting ahead,” our families are quickly eroding and falling apart.
Read it all
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
"The Church of England continues to be committed to the provision of high quality RE in schools which is vital for a balanced understanding of the world today where more than 80% of the population are people of faith. The Church strongly supports the statutory requirement for collective worship in all schools and there is plenty of flexibility in the provision to enable all pupils to benefit without compromising their faith or lack of it. Where there are real objections it is a parent's right to withdraw their child from worship, and the very few who take up that right demonstrates that schools have found exciting and creative ways of using collective worship to further children's spiritual and moral development. There is no expectation of commitment and the exposure to the range of religious traditions encourages community cohesion." --[The] Revd Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer
The Anglican Church of Canada expressed regret on Monday for the "immoral sexual behaviour" of one of its priests and apologized for not publicly disclosing a confession made two decades ago by the B.C.-based priest, who admitted to sexually abusing parishioners.
Gordon Nakayama's case was never reported to the police, but his story was the inspiration for The Rain Ascends, a novel by well-known Canadian author Joy Kogawa who is also the priest's daughter.
The former priest ministered to the Japanese-Canadian community in B.C. and Alberta. During the Second World War, he followed his Japanese-Canadian parishioners from Vancouver to their internment camps.
Read it all from the CBC.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Scottish Episcopal Church has taken a major step towards letting same-sex couples marry in church. However the process of change will take at least two years. If and when final approval is given, priests will be allowed – but not required – to celebrate weddings between same-sex partners.
The General Synod voted to ask the Faith and Order Board to look at revising the church’s rules on marriage. An overwhelming majority backed the resolution.
“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages,” said David Chillingworth, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus (chief bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In agreeing to debate the options for canonical change, the church made it clear that it has rejected the status quo on marriage. However, it considered three key options on how to proceed: for the Canon to be silent on the question of doctrine of marriage, for a gender-neutral definition of marriage, or for two expressions of marriage – “one that it is between two people of the opposite sex and one that it is between two people irrespective of gender”. The Synod also considered a “conscience clause”, to potentially preclude clerics from any obligation to solemnise a marriage against their consciences.
The Very Rev Kelvin Holdworth, the openly gay Rector of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, stated: “if we are going to build a church in which everyone can thrive…we don’t settle on a definition of marriage that some people can’t agree with. Are there really only two definitions of marriage in this room? It isn’t something that you can define…that’s the end of the story…it’s lived, not defined. What I would like is a statement from the church that affirms the lives of people like me, as a gay man.
“I ask you to vote for a church where we do not try to define what each other believes about marriage.”
The Synod passed the motion with a significant majority in favour of change, and also supported the adoption of a conscience clause.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Among charismatic denominations, competition to produce fantastic miracles and emotional release is fierce. Startling stories of redemption — from former prostitutes, for example, or drug dealers or murderers — are prized. (One famous preacher, Aldidudima Salles, is the former head of the Red Command, a drug-trafficking gang in Rio, and claims he was so depraved before he converted that he broke into tombs and ate human flesh.) Child preachers fill a special niche: They embody the charisma and showmanship of older preachers, but filtered through a child’s inherent innocence. As Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of “Born Again in Brazil,” explains it: “These child preachers are something that Assemblies of God have found that sets them apart.”
The phenomenon is controversial, earning scorn from other Pentecostal denominations and even criticism from within Assemblies of God. Silas Malafaia, a high-profile Brazilian Pentecostal pastor whose TV show airs internationally and who has preached at American megachurches, says that children who are preaching are being exploited. “It’s absurd,” Malafaia says. “These are commercial interests on behalf of the parents in receiving donations and selling DVDs. It is not about God, and I am firmly against this.”
But the Internet and social media have helped young preachers find wide, sometimes international audiences. Today Brazil’s most successful child preachers work nearly every day and travel extensively.
Read it all.
They worked fror 5 years on this movie--3 years on the the storytelling alone. Watch it all.
Of more than 190,000 abortions, 51 per cent were medical, where a pill is taken to end a pregnancy. Ten years ago medical abortions made up only 20 per cent of procedures, while in 2013 the number was 49 per cent.
The total number of abortions last year was down slightly from 190,800 in 2013, and has fallen every year since 2007. Ninety-two per cent of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks, and 80 per cent were carried out at less than ten weeks, compared with 60 per cent a decade ago.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology Women * International News & Commentary England / UK --Wales * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Most of our schools are rated good or outstanding, with pupils attaining academic benchmarks. But we want more for our children. Church of England schools focus on spirituality and creativity which values the arts and religion as much as it looks for the beauty in maths, the wonder in science and the emotional understanding enhanced through poetry and music.
We also focus on the development of character and virtue that enables pupils to play their part in transforming the neighbourhood and world in which they live. That is why we are delighted to be one of fourteen from more than a thousand applicants, to be awarded a grant from the DfE Character Fund to carry out a substantial research project examining how various approach to teaching and pedagogy might better develop not just resilience and grit but ways of thinking which lead to service and mutual understanding.
We are also pleased to be developing ways in which schools and colleges can help communities live well together. This is not simply about fundamental British values which might be driven by the fear of extremism, but flows from a desire to use the diversity that is present in our schools to demonstrate what living well together really means.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Children Climate Change, Weather Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology
A woman in Belgium is the first in the world to give birth to a baby using transplanted ovarian tissue frozen when she was still a child, doctors say.
The 27-year-old had an ovary removed at age 13, just before she began invasive treatment for sickle cell anaemia.
Her remaining ovary failed following the treatment, meaning she would have been unlikely to conceive without the transplant.
Experts hope that this procedure could eventually help other young patients.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Science & Technology Women * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
With Canadian children still failing to meet key physical activity targets, a new report is stressing the benefits of outdoor play and urging adults to give kids more freedom.
After a decade under the banner of Active Healthy Kids Canada, ParticipAction is spearheading the annual Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.
The latest findings, released Tuesday, paint a dire picture with Canadian kids assigned a D-minus for overall physical activity.
The report card found that 70 per cent of three-to-four-year-olds met early years guidelines of at least 180 minutes of daily physical activity at any intensity.
Read it all.
The saddest thing for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on the biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, (yes) glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality. Both authors rightly say that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that.
In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships. As N.T. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this.
That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense (though not the only) place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together.
Therefore, in one of the great ironies of late modern times, when we celebrate diversity in so many other cultural sectors, we have truncated the ultimate unity-in-diversity: inter-gendered marriage.
Read it all.
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the decision of a court in France to allow a paralysed man to be taken off life support.
Vincent Lambert, 39, has been in a coma for seven years after a motorcycle accident left him tetraplegic.
His family have been split over whether he should be kept alive.
The case was taken to the European court last year after France's highest court had ruled in favour of ending his life support.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe France * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
“There are just as many ways of being a nonparent as there are of being a parent,” Daum writes in the introduction. “You can be cool about it or you can be a jerk about it.” Unfortunately, almost all the contributors to Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed—with the notable exception of the English novelist Geoff Dyer, whose genuinely funny and self-aware essay correctly labels regret in life as “the jackpot you are guaranteed to win”—come off as jerks.
The contributors are professional writers, and many of them assume this means they are entitled to be moody, crankily eccentric, or even borderline insane. Being a “creative person,” we are told—please insert your own skeptical cough or two here—apparently excuses a multitude of sins, including regular breakdowns and grown-up tantrums. Being a “creative person” also apparently allows for Costco-sized carts filled with delusions of grandeur and hefty doses of drama. (The proverbial carts of parents, meanwhile, are filled with to-do lists, bulk diapers, and even bulkier cases of wine.)
“Writing had saved my life,” Sigrid Nunez writes in her chapter, “and if I could not write, I would die.” Children, apparently, often make a hash of the world of great art: Young humans, the novelist Lionel Shriver notes, “would have messed up my apartment. In the main, they are ungrateful. They would have siphoned too much time away from the writing of my precious books.” Attention, everyone: It is officially time to get off Lionel Shriver’s lawn. But first, should someone inform her that her cultural influence is likely dwarfed by people like, oh, I don’t know, the fertile founder of Chick-fil-A?
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The husband and wife’s resolute commitment to the irreplaceability of each other with respect to their union—their fides—with all its joyous, self-imposed, exacting rigor establishes a moral environment wherein the child has the security of knowing that their identity and personhood has its foundation within the exclusive devotion between just two people. The child’s life and origin begins in the secret, hidden mystery of love between the man and the woman whose shape is made public in their vows of marriage.
To be clear, my point is a moral one and not about biology per se. But what’s true at the moral level is also true biologically: if either member of the union were replaced, the DNA of the child would obviously come from a different pool. To the extent that matters for the determination of a child’s life—and it clearly matters some—that would be enough to indicate that there is something about being begotten from just those two parents and no others that matters to the child’s future....
If my argument is right, gay marriage is not a revolution; it is simply the final stage of the erosion of eros....
Read it all.
Survivors of historical child abuse say Scotland’s churches have been “let off the hook” by a national public inquiry set up to investigate the issue.
The inquiry, which is set to get under way later this year, will look at allegations of abuse relating to children in residential care, including independent boarding schools.
But it will not examine allegations where the child was living with its family or an adoptive family, or where the child was attending a “faith-based organisations on a day-to-day basis”.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As an undergraduate at a men’s college, I am constantly bombarded with the culture’s view on sex. Guys see how many times a week they can “score” as though sex were a sport and women the ball being tossed around. Once, a drunken classmate of mine, walking toward his room with a girl he had just met at a party, told me, “Don’t worry, bud. You’ll get there one day.” The implication, of course, was that I would one day have the exciting opportunity to “hook up” with a stranger.
Sadly, in spite of my Christian upbringing, no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture. In fact, sex before marriage was encouraged by much of my Christian family and by the unanimous agreement of my Christian friends, who both mentioned preventing unwanted pregnancies, but never voiced the option of abstinence. What is worse, I never heard about the topic of sex in church. It was not until my involvement with a Christian campus ministry that I heard someone speak against premarital sex using biblical teaching.
This being my experience, I urge the Church, particularly parents raising children in the Church, to speak out on this issue and embrace the God’s intention for sex. Parents, do not make your child wait until he is a legal adult to hear about it from someone else. Talking about it may be awkward, but it could save your child from making a huge mistake and dealing with a lifetime of baggage for it.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
In a series of public correspondence, two professors at Episcopal seminaries discuss what they see as problems with the approach taken by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage in evaluating what the Bible has to say about marriage and sexuality. Dr. Wesley Hill is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry and Dr. Garwood P. Anderson is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.
Read it all by following the links provided. Also this morning there is now this.
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“My mom and dad didn’t tell us why they were putting us on the train. I thought they were coming with us,” said Clara Fergus, a Cree woman from northern Manitoba to a sharing circle on the morning of June 1, at the beginning of the final event of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). “They put us on the train, and then we noticed they didn’t come with us.”
The train took Fergus all the way to the United Church of Canada-run Brandon Indian Residential School, where she would spend the rest of her childhood having her language, culture and identity stripped from her while suffering “all forms of abuse” at the hands of teachers and staff.
“Being away from your brothers and sisters, being away from your grandparents,” said Fergus. “It’s the love that we missed. The hugs. The nurturing…I can’t imagine…if I sent my kids there, and they had to go through that…”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has spent the last six years documenting stories like Fergus’s, stories of how the Indian residential school system was set up to enact what Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin recently called “an attempt at cultural genocide.”
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After successfully lobbying provincial and federal governments to make it easier to amend sex designations on key identity documents, transgender Canadians are now pushing for another change: to abolish gender references altogether from birth certificates.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to review complaints filed by the Trans Alliance Society and a handful of transgender and intersex individuals, who argue that doctors should stop assigning the sex of a baby based on a quick inspection of the baby’s genitals at birth when there’s a possibility they may identify under a different gender, or no gender, years later.
“Birth certificates (may) give false information about people and characterize them in a way that is actually wrong, that assumes to be right, and causes people … actual harm,” said Morgane Oger, a transgender woman in Vancouver and chair of the society.
“It’s considered true and infallible when it isn’t.”
Read it all from the National Post.
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Five-year-old Cooper Tidmarsh lost his foot in a lawnmower accident two weeks ago and has been in the hospital ever since — an ordeal that has been made less traumatic with a little TLC from an unlikely source.
MEDi is two feet tall and weighs 11 pounds — and looks he belongs on a shelf at a high-end toy store. He's all fun and games, but for a very serious purpose.
At six hospitals in Canada and one in the United States, MEDi is helping to lower stress for children getting uncomfortable procedures, tests or shots.
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Lasch was not out to define the future, or to shape it either. He was not even, for some extraordinary reason, out to get rich. He had come to describe the cultural carbon clogging the national carburetor. We weren’t going to be made okay by dieting or jogging or protest-marching, or even by opening up our souls. We might, if we paid careful attention to Professor Lasch, become more fully aware of what was afoot in our culture, and what effects it was producing. Light might break through. The rest was up to us.
What was amiss? Much, it seemed. The Culture of Narcissism grew out of Lasch’s earlier study of the modern family, Haven in a Heartless World, in which he had pointed to an alarming decline in the family’s authority. It seemed, on the basis of the more extensive scrutiny supplied in The Culture of Narcissism, that the culture itself was approaching bankruptcy. “Bourgeois society seems everywhere to have used up its store of constructive ideas.”
Liberalism had nothing to offer, said this disillusioned liberal, weary as he was of cultural libertarianism. “Psychological man” had become “the final product of bourgeois individualism,” liberated from past superstitions but seeking the meaning of life. He lives “in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire.” All of which was congruent with Jimmy Carter’s presidential perceptions. But no White House speechwriter could afford to go where Lasch now led, which was toward arraignment of the “therapeutic” climate that caused Americans to seek “personal well-being, health, and psychic security.”
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First tale: A tenured sociologist at a prominent research university, with a couple of books under his belt on related subjects, publishes the first-ever research, using a nationally representative sample, on the young-adult outcomes for kids raised by people who have same-sex romantic relationships. The results show that these young adults have more difficult life experiences across a host of variables involving their employment, education, dependence on public assistance, mental health, relationship success and sexuality, trouble with the law, and experience of abuse.
The study, which confirms that the “gold standard” for the rearing of children is the intact biological family, of married mom and dad staying together faithfully and raising their own offspring, naturally causes a furor. The peer-reviewed social science journal that published the study, along with commentary alongside it, commissions a member of its own editorial board (who has an openly hostile view of the study) to “audit” the peer-review process. He concludes that, as much as he dislikes the article, the journal did everything by the book in publishing it. The journal’s editor, who is likewise friendly to the cause of same-sex marriage, stands by its publication, and in a subsequent issue publishes a follow-up article by its author, who cogently defends and restates his findings.
Meanwhile, at the sociologist’s home institution, a “scientific misconduct” inquiry prompted by a hostile non-scholarly ideologue is undertaken, and the sociologist is cleared completely after a thorough review of his methods and even his correspondence. His double vindication, however—by the journal that published his work and the university where he works—makes little headway against the howling media denunciation of his “debunked” research. (This is a world where “we hate your results” means the same thing as “they’re invalid.”)
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A Christian mother has slammed a vicar who refused to baptise her nine-month-old son because she is not married to the baby's father.
Heather Lawrence and her partner Jonathan, tried to arrange a service with Reverend Tim Hayes at St John's Church in Dunkinfield, Manchester, but were told they could only have a blessing.
The couple, who have been in a relationship for four years, were shocked by the vicar's refusal on the grounds that were not married.
The 30-year-old says the only reason they haven't had a wedding is because they cannot afford one but had hoped to have baby Roman christened in order to be accepted into the church.
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When Tricia Salese called her local pharmacy for a price check on her next prescription refill, she was stunned when the pharmacist told her the cost of her generic-brand pain medication had gone up again.
Salese, 49, started talking fentanyl citrate, the generic version of Actiq, a powerful painkiller, in 2010, and she takes three doses per day. Back then, she said, the price per dose was 50 cents. Now, the pharmacist told her when she called, it was going to cost her $37.49 per dose.
“I thought $25 [per dose for generics] was a lot. $37 is just-- What is this stuff made of? I mean, this is ridiculous,” Salese said.
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It is a holy moment. It almost always is. At the heart of the worship area the long banqueting table, covered by a shimmering purple-blue cloth, is set. In the centre is the platter with a large flat loaf resting on a mound of red grapes.
Once the Eucharistic bread and wine have been consecrated, the children will flock to take their seats at the banquet. Each child will be given a hunk of loaf followed by a handful of grapes. They will be reminded by name that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, that he is with them always and everywhere.
The children are not receiving Holy Communion. They have not gone through a preparation course although at least once a year they all explore the meaning of Holy Communion. Their parents may stay with them if they are very young but this is essentially a ‘children only’ experience. Prior to his retirement, Bishop Peter appreciated the banquet when he visited us.
The Eucharistic banquet is rich in symbolism and meaning for these children and for the whole church at St Paul’s Finchley. Let me explain!
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Come graduation day, I know I won’t be the only parent with invisible armor who worried that a diploma might be knocked out of reach or rendered irrelevant by bigger issues. There is an epidemic of depression and anxiety in our schools–and I suspect we’re only documenting a fraction of the problem. So while there will be tall young women, cool and confident in their caps and gowns, some will have spent eight weeks at grueling wilderness camps foraging for food because they stopped eating at home. There will be brilliant boys who cut themselves, a tangible reflection of wounds they get in the social-media Thunderdome. There will be kids who don’t have safe homes, or homes at all, and others who have everything but a purpose.
And the school auditorium will be filled with the parents who’ve soldiered on, mortgaged houses to pay for substance rehab, spent more time in emergency sessions with teachers than on vacation, who turned the city upside down to get their son a place at that last-chance school. They know about the impossible choices and disappointments that aren’t in any parenting book. And they include some of the people you think have done everything right. Sometimes what looks like indulgent, competitive helicopter parenting is really a desperate fight to be ordinary. For all of them, this rite of passage is anything but ordinary, but you wouldn’t know it.
Sometimes it feels like a secret society. Kid trouble is the last taboo, after all. We confess to infidelity or Botox or grownup mental-health battles, but we cover up or downplay our most visceral fears about our children even when we’re talking to our oldest friends. It’s the topic that makes us most vulnerable. Which is all the more reason to celebrate a diploma.
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In England and Wales, the Suicide Act 1961 makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt.
Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said he would attempt to reintroduce a bill that would allow assisted dying in the UK.
He said it was "completely wrong" that terminally ill people did not have the option to end their life.
"Whatever your take on the subject, it should be debated," Lord Falconer told the BBC.
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One morning recently, a dozen college students stepped out of the bright sunshine into a dimly lit room at the counseling center here at the University of Central Florida. They appeared to have little in common: undergraduates in flip-flops and nose rings, graduate students in interview-ready attire.
But all were drawn to this drop-in workshop: “Anxiety 101.”
As they sat in a circle, a therapist, Nicole Archer, asked: “When you’re anxious, how does it feel?”
“I have a faster heart rate,” whispered one young woman. “I feel panicky,” said another. Sweating. Ragged breathing. Insomnia....
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Key trends in Americans' views of the moral acceptability of certain issues and behaviors include the following:
--The substantial increase in Americans' views that gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable coincide with a record-high level of support for same-sex marriage and views that being gay or lesbian is something a person is born with, rather than due to one's upbringing or environment.Read it all.
--The public is now more accepting of sexual relations outside of marriage in general than at any point in the history of tracking these measures, including a 16-percentage-point increase in those saying that having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and a 15-point increase in the acceptability of sex between an unmarried man and woman. Clear majorities of Americans now say both are acceptable.
--Acceptance of divorce and human embryo medical research are also up 12 points each since 2001 and 2002, respectively.
--Polygamy and cloning humans have also seen significant upshifts in moral acceptability -- but even with these increases, the public largely perceives them as morally wrong, with only 16% and 15% of Americans, respectively, considering them morally acceptable.
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Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell died in 1934 aged 82 and is buried at Lyndhurst, Hants.
She inspired the author – a friend of her family – to write about a girl who fell down a rabbit hole to entertain her and her sisters when she was a child.
The book, which has since been published in more than 170 languages and adapted for the big screen, first came about on a rowing trip they all took together.
Ann Rogers, warden at St Michael and All Angels Church where the grave is, said: “We get lots of visitors to see Alice’s grave - every day there’s a family struggling to find it in the church grounds...."
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The UN children's agency says there has been an "alarming" increase in the number of suicide attacks in northern Nigeria, with many of them involving women and children.
There had been 27 attacks so far this year, compared with 26 for the whole of last year, Unicef said in a statement.
Three-quarters of the attacks were carried out by female bombers, some as young as seven, it added.
Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in Nigeria.
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Take a look at all 30 of them.
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Watch it all--KSH.
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I can write in the midst of—not very conveniently—but I can make progress in the midst of the usual family clamor. But it has to be said, perhaps with some regret, that the first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone, most fully alive when alone. A tolerance for solitude isn’t anywhere near the full description of what really goes on. The most interesting things happen to you when you are alone....
When I worked on my first book at home, my bedroom was above my father’s study, and I would often hear, not crazy scientist’s laughter, but the sort of laughter where the shoulders are shaking, coming from below. And I continue that tradition. I do find that not only the comic scenes make you laugh but anything that works well. Really, laughter is the successful serendipity of the whole business.
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Voters will be given two ballot papers: a white ballot paper for the marriage referendum and a green ballot paper for the age of presidential candidates referendum.
In the marriage referendum people may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution.
This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.
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Readers know of the phenomenon at college campuses regarding charges of “microaggressions” and “triggers.” It’s been going on for a while and is part of a growing censorship movement in which professors, administrators and others are accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, gender bias and ethnocentric thinking, among other things. Connected is the rejection or harassment of commencement and other campus speakers who are not politically correct. I hate that phrase, but it just won’t stop being current.
Kirsten Powers goes into much of this in her book, “The Silencing.” Anyway, quite a bunch of little Marats and Robespierres we’re bringing up.
But I was taken aback by a piece a few weeks ago in the Spectator, the student newspaper of Columbia University. I can’t shake it, though believe me I’ve tried. I won’t name the four undergraduate authors, because 30 years from now their children will be on Google, and because everyone in their 20s has the right to be an idiot.
Yet theirs is a significant and growing form of idiocy that deserves greater response.
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What does directly touch church life are Pew’s numbers on generational change. Attachment to religion is declining across all age groups, but the rise of the nones is most pronounced among younger cohorts: the younger the age bracket, the less likely people are to belong to any Christian (or other religious) body. And of all Christian groups, mainline Protestants do the worst job at reaching and retaining younger generations.
One practical lesson of the Pew report, then, is on the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation. Mainliners may need to borrow some of the ethos of evangelical Protestants (who seem to do a better job at this) in equipping families to be primary incubators of faith and in forming identities that are distinct and (in some selective ways) more oppositional toward the culture than they have been.
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Boys who smoke cannabis before puberty could be stunting their growth by more than four inches, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that youngsters who were addicted to the drug were far shorter than their non-smoking peers.
And they also discovered that rather than being a relaxing pass time, smoking dope actually makes the body more stressed in the long term.
"Marijuana use may provoke a stress response that stimulates onset of puberty but suppresses growth rate,” said study leader Dr Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi, of the Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
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The Lobleins are among thousands of couples and individuals in the United States grappling with difficult choices regarding their stored genetic material. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 600,000 frozen embryos are stored nationwide, in addition to countless more cryo-preserved eggs and sperm.
The issue made for dramatic headlines recently as “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara was hit with a lawsuit by her ex-fiance, who wants custody of their two fertilized embryos to use for a potential pregnancy. But for most people who have used assisted reproductive technologies, the question of what to do with frozen eggs, sperm and embryos plays out in a much more private, if no less wrenching, manner.
“Having embryos in limbo is a huge problem for our field,” says Eric Widra, medical director at Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has locations throughout the Washington area. “Parents are apprehensive or conflicted and don’t know what to do.”
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Caleb Stewart Rossiter, a college professor and policy analyst, decided to try teaching math in the D.C. schools. He was given a pre-calculus class with 38 seniors at H.D. Woodson High School. When he discovered that half of them could not handle even second-grade problems, he sought out the teachers who had awarded the passing grades of D in Algebra II, a course that they needed to take his high-level class.
There are many bewildering stories like this in Rossiter’s new book, “Ain’t Nobody Be Learnin’ Nothin’: The Fraud and the Fix for High-Poverty Schools,” the best account of public education in the nation’s capital I have ever read. It will take me three columns to do justice to his revelations about what is being done to the District’s most distracted and least productive students.
Teachers will tell you it is a no-no to ask other teachers why they committed grading malpractice. Rossiter didn’t care. Three of the five teachers he sought had left the high-turnover D.C. system, but the two he found were so candid I still can’t get their words out of my mind.
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Baroness Shields, the former head of Facebook in Europe, is to become the UK's minister for internet safety and security in the new Conservative government.
The Telegraph understands the American-born entrepreneur turned technology evangelist is to lead the Government's effort to improve online safety in its war against child pornography.
She will also be involved in the UK's war on cybercrime and hacking, including the vital area of cybersecurity, with the aim of keeping the general public safe online.
Her appointment, as a Parliamentary under secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is part of a push by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to tackle the problem of illegal child porn online, and to ensure that images of abuse are blocked.
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While some cohabiting adults seem happy enough to live together without marriage, what about their children? It is an important question considering that about one in four American children today are born to cohabiting parents. According to Child Trends, the number of cohabiting couples with children under 18 has nearly tripled since the late 1990s—increasing from 1.2 million in 1996 to 3.1 million in 2014. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the majority of recent non-marital births (58 percent) are to unmarried women living with their child’s father.
On the surface, the trend away from divorced or unwed mothers raising kids on their own, toward more children living with both of their parents, seems like a positive one for children raised outside of marriage. However, when it comes to child well-being, cohabiting unions more closely resemble single motherhood than marriage. As eighteen noted family scholars stated in a 2011 report from the National Marriage Project, “cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage,” and it is “the largely unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s lives today.”
For children, the differences between cohabiting and married parents extend far beyond the lack of a marriage license. Compared to children of married parents, those with cohabiting parents are more likely to experience the breakup of their families, be exposed to “complex” family forms, live in poverty, suffer abuse, and have negative psychological and educational outcomes.
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The 11-year-old musical prodigy has been making waves recently with his beyond-his-years skills on the keyboard, and on TODAY Thursday the Jakarta, Indonesia native showed off those talents first in an interview and jam session with Lester Holt, then later in the studio.
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At least eight people were killed in Tuesday’s Amtrak train derailment, and each victim has now been identified. The details of their remarkable lives revealed the depth of this catastrophe: a college dean who, after overcoming an impoverished childhood, was working toward his doctorate; a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who aspired to become a Navy SEAL; a woman who, at just 39, had become the chief executive officer of an education tech firm in Philadelphia; an Associated Press software architect who was known for his composure, kindness and frequent hugs; a Wells Fargo executive who was an avid cyclist and a constant optimist; a technology company vice president who lived in Maryland and had a wry sense of humor.
The seventh and eighth victims were identified Thursday afternoon: Laura Finamore, 47, a New Yorker who worked in corporate real estate; and Giuseppe Piras, 41, an Italian who sold olive oil and wine and was in the United States on business.
Read all of their profiles....
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Vicky and Sandhya Bhardwaj are expecting their first child in August. Once their son arrives, the couple will be living dangerously close to their financial edge.
Mr. Bhardwaj’s entire paycheque – he earns $73,000 a year – goes toward the mortgage payments on the four-bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom Mississauga house they bought in 2011 for $747,000. Mrs. Bhardwaj’s salary of $55,000 covers everything else, from utilities, groceries, and gas and insurance on their cars, to the interest on their two lines of credit and credit card.
“I’ve made a spreadsheet of our expenses … and right now, we are $1,000 a month short for what we will need to live on, once my wife is on mat leave,” says Mr. Bhardwaj, 39.
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Brandon Wade thinks monogamy can be monotonous. "The majority of people are not swingers," he said, "but they probably are monogamish." What does that mean? "You get a hall pass to date others."
...And now, for his next act, Wade has created OpenMinded.com, "a safe and stigma-free environment that brings the ease and flexibility of online dating to the currently underserved world of open relationships"
"The traditional model of marriage and monogamy isn't working out for everyone," Wade told CNBC. "In my own case, after three or four years, things get monotonous. ...I think a lot of people suffer from that, especially men."
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Abigail (left), Semiah (middle), and Nathaniel (right) at Furman University Saturday night.
Mom and dad with the Furman Graduate Selimah in the middle.
Watch it all--kleenex recommended.
When Melissa Mira suffered sudden heart failure at the end of her second pregnancy last year, she worried first about her health and her baby — then about the more than $200,000 in medical bills that began rolling in.
“Your world is just crashing down around you and you wonder: ‘How is this going to be covered?’ ” recalled Mira, 30, who spent more than a month away from her Tacoma home, hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center.
For Mira and her family, the answer came not through traditional health insurance, but through faith that fellow Christians would step forward to pay the bills.
The Miras — including daughter Jael, 4, and baby Sienna Rain, now a healthy 9-month-old — are among the growing numbers of people looking to “health care-sharing ministries” across the U.S.
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The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.
The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.
Some were forced into marriage.
They said the Islamists never let them out of their sight - not even when they went to the toilet.
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That the Great Recession of 2007-09 made Americans have fewer kids is no surprise, but a new study shows how big the toll was.
Birth rates for U.S. women in their 20s dropped more than 15% between 2007 and 2012, just before and after the recession, the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy research group, said in a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released Tuesday.
Among Hispanic 20-somethings, the birth rate dropped 26%. Non-Hispanic blacks? 14%. By contrast, non-Hispanic white 20-somethings saw an 11% decline.
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In the corridors of power, at the very highest reaches of government, a form of educational freemasonry holds sway.
It has nothing to do with Eton College, nor even the Bullingdon Club - both far more commonly-cited lightning rods for resentments about class, privilege and the fast track to power.
Instead, the surest ticket to the top - for Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem politicians alike - is surely a degree in politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at the University of Oxford.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have introduced their daughter to the world, as they left hospital to take her home to Kensington Palace.
The princess, whose name has yet to be announced, slept in her mother's arms during her first public appearance outside St Mary's Hospital, in London.
The princess - who is fourth in line to the throne - was delivered at 08:34 BST on Saturday after a short labour.
Read it all and enjoy the pictures.
Self-esteem, the kind that comes from finding the sweet spot between a healthy fondness for yourself and healthy self-skepticism, tends to get harder to come by the older we get. For a kid, self-esteem can be as close at hand as a sports victory or a sense of belonging in a peer group. It's a much more complicated and elusive proposition for adults, subject to the responsibilities and vicissitudes of grown-up life.
For college students, caught in that muddy crossing between childhood and independence, going through a phase in which they can't tell the difference between caring for themselves and declaring their own importance at every turn may actually be something of a rite of passage, albeit one as ridiculous as returning from a semester abroad with a foreign accent.
But if, in fact, this confusion is more than just a phase, if what we're dealing with is a generation — and, increasingly, an entire culture — for whom self-righteousness and self-esteem are essentially interchangeable, we're in trouble. Because self-righteousness, when you think about it, is a contra-indicator of self-esteem. It's what sets in when genuine righteousness eludes us. And if we spend our lives inside safe spaces writing love letters to ourselves, just about everything else will elude us too.
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KHAPs are informal local councils in north-western India. They meet to lay down the law on questions of marriage and caste, and are among India’s most unflinchingly conservative institutions. They have banned marriage between people of different castes, restricted it between people from the same village and stand accused of ordering honour killings to enforce their rulings, which have no legal force. India’s Supreme Court once called for khaps to be “ruthlessly stamped out”. In April 2014, however, the Satrol khap, the largest in Haryana, one of India’s richest states, relaxed its ban on inter-caste marriage and made it easier for villagers to marry among their neighbours. “This will bring revolutionary change to Haryana,” said Inder Singh, president of the khap.
The cause of the decision, he admitted, was “the declining male-female sex ratio in the state”. After years of sex-selective abortions in favour of boys, Haryana has India’s most distorted sex ratio: 114 males of all ages for every 100 females. In their search for brides, young men are increasingly looking out of caste, out of district and out of state. “This is the only way out to keep our old traditions alive,” said Mr Singh. “Instead of getting a bride from outside the state who takes time to adjust, we preferred to prune the jurisdiction of prohibited areas.”
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As a church planter and pastor in Baltimore, my soul is burdened with all of the hurt and pain in my city this week. Though it has been encouraging to know that more people from around the country are praying for my city than ever before, right now I wish the city I love could be famous for different reasons.
The injuries sustained by Freddie Gray and his subsequent tragic death in police custody have rallied Baltimore residents, who had peacefully protested for weeks. Based on the coverage from major media outlets, however, one would believe that the protests have been all about random riots, looting, and fires.
I’ve seen many on social media asking why someone would destroy the neighborhoods where they live and that none of this would be happening if people simply made better choices or parents did a better job of raising their kids. However, we must avoid the temptation of letting the media paint us an overly simplistic picture of Baltimore and her issues.
These protests and riots are not merely the culmination of the past few weeks’ events. They are the collective groaning of years of brokenness from systemic sin in our city under a brewing simmer that had finally reached this boiling point.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Poverty Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
My heart skipped a beat when I heard on the radio earlier today that 10% of 12-13 year old children fear that they may have an addiction to pornography and a similar proportion have actually taken part in a sexually explicit video clip. This is the kind of statistic that should send a jolt to the adult conscience of the nation.
What worries me is that any discussion of pornography in the media seems to unquestionably accept that pornography for adults is perfectly acceptable. The problem, given its wide spread accessibility via the internet, seems uncontainable. The idea that pornography is fine for adults but we that must try and keep it away from our children is doomed to failure, both morally and practically.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Children Marriage & Family Pornography Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said, “Today is a moment of great consequence. Marriage is a perennial institution, with deep roots in who we are and in our nation’s culture and laws. Marriage is and always will be the union between one man and one woman. This truth is inseparable from the duty to honor the God-given dignity of every human person. We pray that the justices will uphold the responsibility of states to protect the beautiful truth of marriage, which concerns the essential well-being of the nation, especially children. Children have a basic right, wherever possible, to know and be loved by their mother and father together. The Church will always defend this right and looks to people of good will to continue this debate with charity and civility.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
“Our former life is now in our rearview mirror,” Sandy Phillips wrote on Facebook as she and her husband, Lonnie, locked the door of their San Antonio home and steered their new camper north, toward Colorado and the trial of the man who killed their daughter, Jessica Ghawi, and 11 other people inside an Aurora movie theater.
In the years since that July 2012 mass shooting, as the criminal case has inched forward, the Phillipses have traveled the country, arguing for gun control and background checks, unsuccessfully trying to sue ammunition manufacturers, and telling stories about Ms. Ghawi, a 24-year-old budding sports reporter.
Now, the trial of the gunman, James E. Holmes, is scheduled to start on Monday after multiple delays. The loose-knit community of hundreds of survivors, witnesses and relatives of the 12 people killed and 70 wounded were steeling themselves for what is expected to be one of the longest and most emotionally wrenching criminal trials in a state touched by mass shootings.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The experiment with human embryos was dreaded, yet widely anticipated. Scientists somewhere, researchers said, were trying to edit genes with a technique that would permanently alter the DNA of every cell so any changes would be passed on from generation to generation.
Those concerns drove leading researchers to issue urgent calls in major scientific journals last month to halt such work on human embryos, at least until it could be proved safe and until society decided if it was ethical.
Now, scientists in China report that they tried it.
The experiment failed, in precisely the ways that had been feared.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
it still seems to me there’s a double standard going on.
Here’s what I mean. Some years ago I received a Christmas letter from the head of an evangelical organization. About halfway through he shared that, sadly, he had gotten divorced that past year. But in the next paragraph he had great news: God had given him a new wife!
Well, maybe there were extenuating circumstances, maybe I shouldn’t judge—but it still irritates me how blandly Christians accept this sort of thing. It used to be that, if gay people were expected to live celibately, married people were expected, at least, to preserve marriage for a lifetime. Even if divorce was unpreventable, remarriage wasn’t assumed. That line about “What God has joined together, let no one put asunder” comes from Jesus himself. (Mark 10:8-9).
Gay marriage is only the last in a long series of shifts in sexual morality. Why didn’t premarital sex or cohabitation galvanize our attention, like this has? Where were the protests then? How did divorce and remarriage become about as frequent among Christians as in the general population?
Read it all and she now has a follow up post there.
Last year in his maiden speech in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell spoke of the importance of chaplaincy and how the role in schools and colleges should be seen as essential not an irrelevant luxury. As co-sponsors of a new technical college in East London, Bishop Stephen described how his diocese was not just committed to the best technical training but also to enable pupils to understand the modern world. One of the first things the college did was recruit a chaplain, he said.
Although each chaplaincy is very different, what they all have in common is a commitment to serving the needs of the whole school or college. Where their independence and integrity have earned it, they may be the one person the Principal can unburden themself to, or the one person who is able to say that a proposed course of action is not the right one in the light of the college’s values.
Perhaps it’s not surprising after all that chaplaincy is growing - while hard data are not easy to assemble, some 80% of colleges have some level of chaplaincy provision. The number of volunteers in school chaplaincy is also growing, as our last Report ’ The Public Face of God’ illustrated.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Education Religion & Culture Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary England / UK
The Post and Courier on Monday was awarded the year’s most prestigious Pulitzer Prize for its series about the deadly toll that domestic violence takes on South Carolina women.
The Public Service gold medal went to the newspaper for its “Till Death Do Us Part” articles that were published across five editions in August. Reporters Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff authored the series.
Their work told the tales of domestic abuse survivors and of the 300 women in the Palmetto State who have been shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death by men during the past decade while legislators did little to quell the bloodshed.
A panel of seven judges from news media and academia called the newspaper’s work “riveting.”
Read it all and take the time to read the whole series.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Media Men Sexuality Violence Women * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Our long-time friends from church, Mike and Niki Rogan, were driving to the hospital early this morning [4/17/2015] with their seven children, in anticipation of welcoming an eighth child into their beautiful family.
On the way, an oncoming car hit a deer which was thrown into the Rogans' vehicle. Mike did not survive the accident. Niki and the children survived with only minor injuries. Niki gave birth to their son, Blaise, hours after the accident.
Mike served as a corporal in the US Marine Corps and was promoted to sergeant while remaining on with the Reserves. He applied the motto, "Semper Fi" to all aspects of his life, faithfully serving God, country, and family.
Niki is a stay-at-home mom and homeschools her children who range in age from newborn to 15 years, and is left with providing for her family aided by only a minimal life insurance policy.
Read it all from Gofundme.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Pastoral Care Stewardship * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Marriage & Family Military / Armed Forces * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Our analysis of the number of missing African-American men relies on the 2010 census, the government’s most recent attempt to count all residents. The census also contains counts of people in prison and in other institutions such as homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and domestic military barracks.
According to the Census Bureau, there were 7.046 million black men 25 to 54 who were not incarcerated in 2010 and 8.503 million black women in this category. The difference between these two figures leads to our headline of 1.5 million missing black men.
Demographers refer to the 25-to-54 age group as prime age, a term this post will use frequently.
Read it all and there is there is more to read there.
Nestled within our own times, it is easy to think the trajectory of history will lead to an inevitable change within the global Christian church. But history’s lesson is the opposite. A century ago, the modernists believed that the triumph of naturalism would lead to the total transformation of Christianity.
It must have seemed thrilling for these leaders to think they were at the vanguard of reformation, that they were the pivot point of Christianity’s inevitable future. But such was not the case. Traditional stalwarts like Machen and G.K. Chesterton (who were criticized as hopelessly “backward” back then) still have books in print. The names of most of their once-fashionable opponents are largely unrecognizable.
It’s commonplace to assume that contemporary society’s redefinition of marriage, gender, and the purpose for sexuality will eventually persuade the church to follow along. But if we were to jump forward into the 22nd century, I wonder what we would see.
Most likely, we would see a world in which the explosive growth of Christians in South America, China and Africa has dwarfed the churches of North America and Europe. And the lesson we learn from a century ago will probably still be true: The churches that thrived were those that offered their world something more than the echo of the times.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
John Singletary, a local photographer, remembers meeting Scott some years ago at Father to Father, a program to help men who had fallen behind on their child support. Singletary was an employment specialist there and Scott had recently been released from jail for not making his payments. Singletary helped Scott get a job at a construction company. Scott was “elated,” Singletary said. He could tell Scott wanted to be a better father.
When Scott was pulled over on Saturday, April 4, in a used Mercedes he had recently purchased, Romaine could picture what he must have been thinking. He had just taken his coworker at Brown Distribution, 30-year-old Pierre Fulton, to a food pantry at a nearby church so Fulton could get food for his family. He was taking Fulton home.
After the officer approached Scott’s car, Romaine imagined her cousin bracing the steering wheel, trembling in fear. He didn’t want to go to jail. He had a fiancee and children to provide for, a job he couldn’t afford to lose.
He needed to go home.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, a brainchild of Senators Mike Lee (R-Ut) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl), is designed, in part, to help middle-income families raise their children. Over the past several months, policymakers have argued about the merits of the plan, and analysts have modeled its distributional effects, albeit with widely different results based on a lack of clarity about some of its provisions.
The crowning jewel of the Lee-Rubio plan is a new child tax credit of $2,500—separate from the existing $1,000 Child Tax Credit—with no phase out for higher income families. Based on our current understanding of the plan, very few if any lower-income families with children would benefit, while the annual cost of extending this tax relief to middle-class and wealthy families is $414 billion.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Because of the work I do in the area of third-party assisted reproductive medicine, I have Google alerts set for “egg donation,” “sperm donation,” and “surrogacy.” Often the daily digest reads like the lineup for a week of reality-TV programming. Stories break with headlines that boggle the mind: “Mother tells of giving birth to her gay son’s baby,” or the recent court decision that a “dead reservist’s parents may use his [frozen] sperm, against widow’s wishes” so they can have grandchildren. Or this dreadful decision from Australia’s foreign minister, who said “Department of Foreign Affairs correct to allow couple to abandon unwanted Indian surrogacy twin” because the couple claims they cannot afford to keep both of the babies.
More recently, news broke of 65-year-old Annegret Raunigk, who lives in Berlin and is pregnant with quadruplets via egg and sperm donation. Because egg donation is illegal in Germany, Raunigk left the country to conceive the babies. If the pregnancy is successful — that is, if it results in live births — she will be the oldest woman to give birth to quadruplets. The current holder of this claim to fame is Merryl Fudel of San Diego, who was a five-time divorcee and 55 years old at the time she gave birth to quadruplets in 1998....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On bringing back certain moral vocabulary
There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we've sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don't think they need to. Those are words like grace — the idea that we're loved more than we deserve — redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you're religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins — selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you're just too egotistical. You don't realize how broken we all are at some level.
On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life
I'm a believer. I don't talk about my religious life in public in part because it's so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I've spent a lot of time in this book — and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you're a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It's amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology — whether it's C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi — and it's produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it's also fragile and green [and] I don't really talk about it because I don't want to trample the fresh grass.
Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
link is fixed
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Children History Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Events are taking place around the world to mark one year since Boko Haram militants abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, sparking global outrage.
The girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, in the northeast of the country, leading millions around the world to call for their return as the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag exploded on social media.
A number of girls later escaped the militants, who often force those abducted to convert to Islam and fight or work as sex slaves, but 219 remain missing.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
No point in pretending--your blog host is 55 today, the above a recent picture at an event in Columbia, South Carolina
Armed with cell phones and a dizzying array of social media choices, half of this area's middle- and high-schoolers in a recent study admitted to social media abuse — from bullying schoolmates to spreading rumors to pressuring others to send sexual texts or pictures.
They also admitted to stalking their partners.
"It begins with the constant texting or the stalking on Facebook. 'Where are you?' and 'Who are you with?'" said researcher Poco Kernsmith, an associate professor of social work at Wayne State University.
What may seem like harmless teen jealousy can spiral into a dangerous relationship if left unchecked, said Kernsmith, whose research has centered on violence in relationships. She led a survey of 1,236 sixth- and ninth-graders at six metro Detroit high schools, a mix of high- moderate- and low-risk schools when measured with crime statistics and poverty levels.
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...most Americans are less familiar with a related, if distinct, affliction known as moral injury, with roots in foundational religious or spiritual beliefs violated during war. And increasingly, military chaplains are on the front lines, tending to these misunderstood wounds.
Psychiatrists have used the term since the 1990s, but the concept has only recently been the subject of serious research by clinicians, some affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We’ve come a long way in defining moral injury, but it takes a long time to develop a tool to measure it,” said Shira Maguen, a psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and one of those developing treatment models for moral injury.
Maguen has helped the VA define an event as morally injurious if it transgresses “deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”
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Median per capita income has basically been flat since 2000, adjusted for inflation. The typical American family makes slightly less than a typical family did 15 years ago. And while many goods have become cheaper or better, the price of three of the biggest middle-class expenditures – housing, college and health care – have gone up much faster than the rate of inflation.
Equally important, Mr. Hirschl found a high degree of income volatility among most Americans in the four decades between 1969 and 2011. At some point in their working lives, a full 70 percent earned enough to put them in the top fifth of earners, and as many as 30 percent reached the equivalent of $200,000 in 2009 dollars, or roughly the top 4 percent.
Similarly, nearly 80 percent will at least temporarily plunge into a red zone, where their income drops near or below the poverty line, or they are compelled to gain access to a social safety net program like food stamps or collect unemployment insurance. More than half of Americans ages 25 to 60 will experience at least one year hovering around the poverty line.
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I believe the story. With my head, looking at the evidence and thinking logically as a person who was a research physicist for twenty-five years, I believe it. And after listening to the testimony of people – from beggars to kings -- through all the ages who had concluded that the story is true, I believe it. And at the innermost levels of my heart, where the deepest truths reside but are not easily put into words, I believe it is true.
And that is why I know that I will see my mother again someday. It’s not just wishful thinking, some little tale I’ve fooled myself with because I can’t face the cold hard facts of life. Yes, I will see Della Mae, and I am convinced that it will be a day of great victory and joy. St. Paul says that it will be like putting on a crown, and St. John says that it will be a time when every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. That’s what will happen someday to me. But what Jesus did affects me right here today also -- I know that this Jesus who overcame death and the grave has promised not to leave me here twisting in the wind. He is with me every day, through his Spirit, to guide me, comfort me, embolden me, and use me for his glory and to serve his people, right here, right now.
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The country’s divorce laws should be overhauled to remove the need for allegations of adultery and blame, Britain’s most senior woman judge has said.
Baroness Hale of Richmond said that she wanted to see the acrimony taken out of most matrimonial disputes with divorces granted without a person being held at fault.
At present the 120,000 couples who divorce in England and Wales each year have to cite one of five reasons: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; desertion for two or more years; two years’ separation with consent; or five years’ separation without consent.
Those who want to divorce quickly are encouraged to cite unfaithfulness or unreasonable behaviour, which encourages recriminations, critics argue.
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You once said that you “proceed from the assumption that the distinctions available to us in this world are not arrayed between good and bad but between bad and worse.” Do you ever worry that you’re too pessimistic?
I worry that I’m not pessimistic enough. My own life is full of profound satisfactions, and I’m distracted from the fact that the world is not in good shape. I cherish time, for instance, and for the most part I have control over my time, which is a marker of a very high standard of living as far as I’m am¨concerned. At some point I created an artificial tropic for myself, where I could do exactly what I wanted to do and be rewarded for it. There’s a puritanical hedonism in my existence.
I read books like The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine. Oh, terrific.
Read it all (Hat tip: DM).
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