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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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My country’s parliament recently passed the first national assisted-suicide legislation in our history. Prompted by the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision last year to strike down the previous law as unconstitutionally restricting individual rights to life, liberty, and security, Parliament is now arguing over how widely or narrowly to involve Canadian citizens—both patients and health care providers—in assisted suicide.
In Culture of Death, first published in 2000, American lawyer and activist Wesley J. Smith warned that this debate was upon us. A new, updated revision of the book sharpens this warning, drawing on a wide range of cases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and the bellwether states of Oregon and Washington.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Books Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Now we have come full circle. It was widely reported on Saturday that a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to be officially euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia were lifted in 2014. Jacqueline Herremans, a member of Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission (death panel?), said in a French media report, “The euthanasia has taken place.” She further announced that the euthanasia was done “in accordance with Belgian law.” Few details were provided other than the minor child had “a terminal illness.” Belgium is presently the only country in the world that allows terminally-ill children of any age to choose to end their life, but Belgian law requires that the minor be capable of making “rational decisions.” Further, any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors, approved by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and have parental consent. The only thing missing is the 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts to give their legal authorization . . . always within the law, of course. The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those aged over 12. Lord, have mercy!
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Rachel Treweek, the bishop of Gloucester, has said she is highlighting the issue of body image among children to challenge perceptions that physical appearance determines self-worth.
[Last week]...Treweek – the first female bishop to sit in the House of Lords – will visit All Saints Academy in Cheltenham to talk to a group of 13- to 16-year-olds in the first of a series of school visits in her constituency to discuss the issue.
It follows a report from the Children’s Society last month that found one out of three girls aged 10 to 15 was unhappy with her appearance and felt ugly or worthless.
Read it all from the Guardian.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Children Education Health & Medicine Psychology Women * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
For some families with an Autistic child, going on vacation isn't always easy, but now there's a place that's making it possible for them to enjoy their time together.
Watch it all.
STEIN: But Lanner's experiments are hugely controversial. Some people have moral objections to doing any kind of research on human embryos. But editing the DNA in embryos is even freaking out people who think that's OK.
MARCY DARNOVSKY: The production of genetically modified human embryos is actually quite dangerous.
STEIN: Marcy Darnovsky heads a genetic watchdog group called the Center for Genetics and Society.
DARNOVSKY: It's a step toward attempts to produce genetically modified human beings. This would be reason for the already grave concern.
Read it all.
The ICBC also highlights that Māori and Pacific voices have been notably absent in public conversations over assisted suicide, raising questions whether the debate so far has accurately reflected this country’s cultural diversity on these issues.
The submission also flags:
1. The limits of claiming assisted dying as a personal ‘right’. The ICBC propose that an individual choice to die does not exist in a vacuum. The ICBC reminds Kiwis that no person is free of social responsibility for others who may suffer as a result of their choice to die.
2. Overseas experience indicates that assisted suicide promotes suicide by normalising it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Think about the people at work who are part of your network — the individuals who help you improve your performance or provide you with emotional support when you are going through a tough spell. If you’re like most people, the colleagues who come to mind are those you get along with and who have a good impression of you. But has anyone in your network actually given you tough feedback?
Your likely answer is “not many.” As I discovered in recent research I conducted with Paul Green of Harvard Business School and Brad Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, people tend to move away from those who provide feedback that is more negative than their view of themselves. They do not listen to their advice and prefer to stop interacting with them altogether. It seems that people tend to strengthen their bonds with people who only see their positive qualities.
In one of our studies, we used four years of archival data on over 300 full-time employees at a United States-based food manufacturing and agribusiness company. The company has a fluid structure that gives employees some discretion in defining the scope, responsibilities, and deliverables of their role on an annual basis.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A book I begrudgingly appreciate is The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller. Keller is not my theological cup of tea. He embraces traditional gender roles and rejects same-sex marriage, and these points are not marginal to his arguments. They are central to his take on the whole institution of marriage. So while I longed to write him off on principle, I found myself nevertheless affirming a great deal of what I read, particularly his take on premarital sex.
One of the reasons we believe in our culture that sex should always and only be the result of great passion is that so many people today have learned how to have sex outside of marriage, and this is a very different experience than having sex inside it. Outside of marriage, sex is accompanied by a desire to impress or entice someone. It is something like the thrill of the hunt. When you are seeking to draw in someone you don’t know, it injects risk, uncertainty, and pressure to the lovemaking that quickens the heartbeat and stirs the emotions.Many will roll their eyes at this blanket statement. After all, according to Keller, he and his wife were virgins on their wedding night. What does he actually know about what it’s like to have sex before marriage? Surely this is a reductive blanket assessment of casual or committed-but-not-married sex. There are undoubtedly a wide variety of ways to experience unmarried sex. But for me? Yeah. The shoe fits. I can see it now. My relationships with boyfriends were devoid of any true intimacy. Sure, on rare occasions the sex was great—but it was never truly good.
The contrast between unmarried and married sex is significant. The covenant of marriage—the vows to love now and forever—changes everything. It just does.
Read it all (emphasis hers).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Sexuality Teens / Youth Young Adults * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
With children it is usually cancer: incurable sickness, unbearable pain, debilitating, degrading misery. What child wouldn’t prefer to go an be with Jesus? Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia (it’s a thing) agrees. Far better for children to be given a fatal injection than to cough up blood all night long, whether or not they go to be with Jesus. Indeed, Jesus doesn’t really come into it. Why should he? We’re talking about the exercise of free will for the alleviation of unbearable physical suffering. It is liberal, progressive and compassionate. A child could understand it, especially at the age of 17.
Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and now injects people whether or not they are suffering a terminal illness. If you’re depressed and feeling suicidal for no particular reason at all, Belgium will provide a way out. They extended euthanasia to children in 2014. It is the only country in the world that has no age restriction. At least in the Netherlands you have to be 12 years of age before you can decide you’d prefer to be with Jesus than all those nasty doctors and nurses. In Belgium, the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia can give their blessing to your death if you’re 10, eight, six… provided you’re in unbearable physical pain and know what you’re doing.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child… (1Cor 13:11).
One hesitates to use the word ‘evil’ of statutes promulgated by well-intentioned politicians in the context of a liberal democracy, with all the constitutional checks and balances afforded by reason and experience. But Belgium’s abolition of all age restrictions on “the right to die” must surely qualify as one of the most wicked and damnable decrees in the history of Christendom.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
In the years that I was the principal caregiver for my wife, I did things I never imagined I’d have to do: caring for her body, thinking for her, arranging her days. My shortcomings often humbled me. But what if it had gotten even harder before she died? I do not know for sure that I could have gone on. For all of us, there are always untested limits.
But not for Jesus. All the way down, he screamed from the cross something strange: a prayer. He no longer felt any intimacy with God, so he didn’t pray to his father. Instead, he questioned God as any human could. A human being can still pray to God, even in the absence of any sign that he has a divine father, even there at the bottom. Someone can still ask, if nothing else, why this God has forsaken him. God gives, and God takes away. But he is still there.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Marriage & Family * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theodicy Theology: Scripture
McAllister is adamant that taking drugs to end her life would not be suicide. “In suicide,” she says, “you’re choosing between life and death. With the End of Life Option Act, you’re choosing the time and manner of your death, knowing that it is inevitably coming within a short period of time. The law allows you to have a little bit of control over when, where, and how.” She would rather die at home, with an opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, than in a hospital.
Advocates of right-to-die laws say control, or at least the sense of it, is important to the terminally ill. What people seem to want is the comfort of knowing that they have a way out if pain becomes unbearable or their condition deteriorates too far....
Professor Robert George, who has written extensively on philosophy and ethics, argues that statutes such as California’s diminish respect for the sanctity of life. “Opposition to medicalized killing” is “grounded in a recognition of ... the idea that no one has ‘a life unworthy of life,’ or is ‘better off dead’ or a ‘useless eater,’ ” he writes in an email. “It reflects the belief that nothing should be done that gives credit to or encourages the adoption of these beliefs, even by those suffering pain and tempted to despair.” George rebuts those who argue that individuals should be free to determine their own fates, calling medical assistance in dying “a policy question that implicates many aspects of the common good of our civil society and legal order.” Many who end their lives, he says, are driven by fear and depression. He urges that people facing terminal illness be provided with palliative care and counseling to help make their last months comfortable and peaceful.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A Church of England priest has won a national award for her outstanding contribution to work on helping make funerals more accessible for Deaf people.
Canon Gill Behenna, Chaplain with the Deaf Community in the Diocese of Bristol and the Church of England's Deaf Ministry Adviser, was named Funeral Minister of the Year at The Good Funeral Awards, with Rev Kate Bottley runner-up.
Canon Gill won the award in recognition of her outstanding and ground-breaking contribution to the funeral experience of Deaf people.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Pastoral Theology
Put it on your list if you have not seen it. It should be required viewing for all High School Youth Groups--KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Education Health & Medicine History Men Sports Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Obamacare failed because it flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101. It straitjacketed insurers into providing overly expensive, soup-to-nuts policies. It wasn't flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford — not what the government dictated. Many healthy people primarily want catastrophic coverage. Obamacare couldn't lure them in, couldn't persuade them to buy on the chance they'd get sick.
Obamacare failed because the penalties for going uncovered are too low when stacked against its skyrocketing premium costs. Next year, the penalty for staying uninsured is $695 per adult, or perhaps 2.5 percent of a family's taxable household income. That's far less than many Americans would pay for coverage. Financial incentive: Skip Obamacare....
Obamacare failed because it hasn't tamed U.S. medical costs. Health care is about supply and demand: People who get coverage use it, especially if the law mandates free preventive care. Iron law of economics: Nothing is free; someone pays. To pretend otherwise was folly. Those forces combined to spike the costs of care, and thus insurance costs.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Jackie Semper Orcutt, a Myrtle Beach resident who also was present at the campaign launch, said her son, 21-year-old son SeanMichael died June 11, three minutes after experimenting with a cocktail of drugs that turned out to contain fentanyl, cocaine and heroin.
“He made a devastating choice in a weak moment and it took his life,” Orcutt said. “That’s why I’m here. Just one time can be deadly.”
Parents need to be aware of the prescription opioids’ deadly effects, she said.
“It’s raw, it’s ugly and it’s real,” Orcutt said. “I am the face of this new epidemic and it’s spreading faster than we can have these gatherings.”
Read it all.
Brown University's student body president will be hand-delivering menstrual products to all nonresidential bathrooms on campus, including men’s rooms, with the help of 20 other students.
The initiative is intended to communicate the message that "pads and tampons are a necessity, not a luxury," and that not all people who menstruate are women.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent.
While the public, private and volunteer sectors in Britain are mobilizing to address loneliness, researchers are deepening their understanding of its biological underpinnings. In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Cell, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified a region of the brain they believe generates feelings of loneliness. The region, known as the dorsal raphe nucleus, or D.R.N., is best known for its link to depression.
Kay M. Tye and her colleagues found that when mice were housed together, dopamine neurons in the D.R.N. were relatively inactive. But after the mice were isolated for a short period, the activity in those neurons surged when those mice were reunited with other mice.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Psychology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Monday morning scene at Juanita Stanley’s apiary in Summerville, S.C., was ghastly and stunningly quiet: Everywhere one looked were clumps of honeybees, dead after a dousing on Sunday with the potent pesticide with which the local authorities had intended to kill mosquitoes.
“There was no need for a bee suit Monday morning to go down there, because there was no activity. It was silent,” Ms. Stanley said on Thursday. “Honestly, I just fell to the ground. I was crying, and I couldn’t quit crying, and I was throwing up.”
For Ms. Stanley and her business, the death toll easily exceeds two million bees, and Dorchester County officials are still tabulating how many more might have been killed when a day of aerial spraying, scheduled to combat mosquitoes that could be carrying viruses like Zika, went awry. The apparently inadvertent extermination, the county administrator said, happened after a county employee failed to notify Ms. Stanley’s business, which the administrator said should have been alerted about the spraying strategy. Some hobbyists were also caught by surprise.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * General Interest Animals * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Kyle Schwartz started teaching third grade at Doull Elementary School in Denver, she wanted to get to know her students better. She asked them to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Health & Medicine Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals in an ongoing crackdown targeting the region's burgeoning Protestant Christian community.
A public notice posted at the Central Hospital in Zhejiang's Wenzhou, a city that has been dubbed "China's Jerusalem" because of its high concentration of Christians, made patients and their visitors unequivocally aware of the new rules this week.
"Religious activities are banned in this hospital," the notice said. The Wenzhou Central Hospital was originally set up as a Protestant hospital.
An employee who answered the phone at the same hospital...confirmed the new measures.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China
A growing share of children live apart from one of their parents before reaching adulthood. Many policymakers are concerned about the welfare of these children who (partly) grow up in single-parent households. Numerous papers in various social science disciplines document a strong negative empirical association between parental divorce and a wide range of children’s outcomes. This general relationship is highly persistent, leaving the children of divorced parents economically and emotionally worse off, even in adulthood. Most scholars are aware that it is not clear to what degree this relationship is causal (see, e.g., Manski et al 1992, Painter and Levine 2000, Amato 2010, Bhrolcháin 2013, Gähler and Palmtag 2015). A number of confounding factors that provoke parental divorce – for example, emotional stress or parenting disputes – may also be detrimental to children’s outcomes.
In a new paper, we analyse various outcomes for children who experienced parental divorce (Frimmel et al. 2016).
Read it all.
Bernard Smith spent 22 days face-to-face with death. The stench surrounded him as bodies of men, both young and old, were carted into a mortuary for him to process in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
Smith, 77, of Myrtle Beach, survived the war that took the lives of more than 50,000 Americans, but he is still haunted by hundreds of those souls.
“In the middle of the night, I would scream sometimes,” he said about the nightmares that he still has to this day. “One night, the Grim Reaper appeared in my dream and looked right at me and turned and said, ‘You’re next.’”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Low points are emotional creatures. Your physical conditions might not change, but they can seem to take on different characteristics. The same hospital room, same beeping machines, and same bee-hive of busy staff that had been my miracle workers just yesterday were now transformed into a hellish prison. My cancer tormented me. I felt trapped like Jonah in the belly of the whale — with no way out. I felt like I was going to die a slow death by digestive juices in the oozing darkness of the beast. I curled up into a fetal position and felt hopeless.
Then I saw him.
I opened my eyes and looked right into the face of Jesus. He was not looking down from Heaven or floating in the room. He was right there, lying in the narrow bed with me. There was no flaw in His features, no crown of thorns on His head. He was regally perfect. He looked directly into my eyes and beamed. His Presence radiated love that vaporized my fears and loneliness. He assured me of his plans for me. He was going to make sure I got out that hospital to fulfill them.
Read it all from LivingonJesusStreet.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * South Carolina * Theology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
One of the 40 million copies sold of The Purpose Driven Life ended up in the large, paddle-like hands of Michael Phelps.
In between winning Olympic golds, Phelps made headlines for very different reasons: repeated DUIs, parties and pot, weight gain and rehab. A couple of years ago, fellow athlete and friend Ray Lewis (aka “God’s linebacker”) gave the champion swimmer Rick Warren’s bestseller.
“I basically told him, ‘Okay, everything has a purpose, and now, guess what? It’s time to wake up,’” the former Baltimore Raven said in The Washington Post.
In an ESPN special, Phelps said the book “turned me into believing that there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet” and “helped me when I was in a place that I needed the most help.” It spurred him to reconcile with his dad.
Read it all from Christianity Today.
Life-giving God, who alone hast power over life and death, over health and sickness: Give power, wisdom, and gentleness to those who follow the example of thy servant Florence Nightingale, that they, bearing with them thy Presence, may not only heal but bless, and shine as lanterns of hope in the darkest hours of pain and fear; through Jesus Christ, the healer of body and soul, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Florence Nightingale, fue creadora del primer modelo conceptual de enfermería. pic.twitter.com/NhGOKangag— Corazones Unidos (@corazonesunido4) August 10, 2016
This year, [Rob] Dewey wants as many tri-county churches as possible to sign up to remember first responders on 9/11 this year. The 15th anniversary falls on a Sunday, and many people will be in church at the time of the attack.
“What we’re trying to do is encourage the churches to remember our local first responders who have put themselves in harm’s way,” Dewey said. “This is a chance for congregations to say, ‘We appreciate you.’ ”
Dewey, senior chaplain of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, serves with 40 departments in the tri-county area who respond to emergencies. He plans to spread the word to the first responders who he works with on a daily basis about which churches will be recognizing and celebrating them that Sunday.
Churches can do anything: a reception for first responders and their families, a color guard or honor guard, speakers who were connected to the attack, or include first responders in the service.
Read it all.
Banning resident Jim Bailey and his wife went in recently for their annual physicals. They came away with hundreds of dollars in charges for co-pays and tests.
Bailey, 78, told me that he feels duped.
“The Affordable Care Act dictates that all annual physicals be provided at no cost to the policyholders — no deductibles or co-pays,” he said. “But that wasn’t the case with us.”
Nor will it be the case with anyone else — even though many Americans believe otherwise.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Unfortunately, many of us who have spoken up in church communities have been told to “pray harder” or “have more faith.” These suggestions might be well intentioned, but they often discourage and isolate those of us in desperate need of support. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to judge people when they’re vulnerable,” wrote actress Kristen Bell of her own story. “But there’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people.”
She’s right: Struggling with an illness of any kind makes a person vulnerable, and a sick brain puts a person in a particularly vulnerable state because it’s often impossible to discern the problem from the inside. The sick brain can’t see the sick brain. More often than not, someone in the midst of a depressive episode or panic attack can barely put forth a cry for help.
As people living in Christian community, we should be ready to offer practical knowledge and gracious support to people experiencing mental health crises. With that in mind, here are three ways I believe every church is best positioned to help:
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
It is just the latest intervention by Christian figures in political debates on the matter. Jozef De Kesel, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium, which has the world’s most liberal assisted-dying laws, suggested in January that the country’s church-run hospitals should be allowed to opt out of helping patients end their lives. And in June Pope Francis said to a group of Spanish and Latin American doctors that “true compassion does not marginalise anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude, much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” He cautioned against a “throwaway culture that rejects and dismisses those who do not comply with certain canons of health, beauty and utility.” Life is sacred, he added, and should shine “with greater splendour precisely in suffering and helplessness”.
Research shows that religious people are more likely than the non-religious to oppose assisted dying. But there is wide variation between faiths. A survey of Britons, carried out by YouGov in 2013, found that only three in ten Muslims felt the law should be changed to allow close friends and relatives to help people with incurable diseases take their own lives, should they wish to do so. Around half of Hindus and Sikhs surveyed agreed, and six in ten Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Buddhists. Seven in ten Jews, and 77% of Anglicans, supported such a change in the law. For comparison, 85% of people who claimed no faith were in favour of legalising assisted dying.
Some Anglican leaders are starting to shift their positions. The general synod of the Anglican church in Canada, where doctor-assisted dying was recently legalised, has written guidance on the issue for its congregation. Though it does not go as far as to support doctor-assisted dying, it does not oppose its legalisation, either. “The societal and legal context within which the pastoral and prophetic ministry of the church takes place has shifted,” it notes.
Read it all (their title, it would never be mine).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Psychology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Canada Europe Belgium * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The more religious a person is, the more likely they are to oppose genetic engineering that could enhance minds and bodies, and help babies suffering from genetic diseases.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, many US adults oppose the application of breakthroughs in bio-engineering.
"In general, the most religious are the most wary about potential enhancements," says Pew.
Read it all from Christian Today.
...that is precisely the allure of today's social media: by enlarging our impersonal connections, it seems to free us from those closer, trickier, more personal ones. It lets us choose who we follow, rather than forcing us to have to find a way to live together. It is a fresh manifestation that, as the writer G.K. Chesterton warned, "A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness."
I shut down social media because I needed to shut out online distractions and engage with the people, issues, and work right in front of me.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Over the last few weeks, as children are beginning to accept me and open up to me, I’ve found myself giving dating advice to the group of 8-year-old girls that flock around me. My best advice so far is, ‘If you have a boyfriend, you do actually need to talk to him!’
‘Abi’s dating advice’ has now developed into to sharing Christian values with regard to sex and relationships. These girls are 8 years old and I trained in children’s and family work rather than youth work for a reason, but children are being exposed to what we might class as adult subjects at a younger and younger age. These are issues that need to be addressed.
As I sat down with my scrambled eggs and avocado lunch one day, I began to reflect on this a little more and my heart just began to break for these girls and the society in which they’re growing up. We live in a culture that doesn’t teach ‘love waits’ but one that says its OK to have as many sexual partners as you like as long as you are safe. And this is filtering through to children in primary school.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Couples who struggle to conceive a child are sometimes given the option of using a donated embryo. In the US this is commonly referred to as "embryo adoption", particularly at Christian clinics, where it is regarded as saving a life - and where the future parents may have to be married and heterosexual to be eligible for treatment.
When Jennifer and Aaron Wilson found they could not get pregnant, they knew exactly what they wanted to do.
The couple from North Carolina had the choice of starting in vitro fertilisation (IVF), in which mature eggs are fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. Or they could have tried to adopt a child already in need of a home.
Instead they applied to a specialist Christian fertility clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee - the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) - which promised to help them "adopt" an embryo.
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The church’s executive pastors met with Noble “over the course of several months” to discuss their concerns about his dependence on alcohol, which eventually resulted in his removal.
“In my opinion, the bible (sic) does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication,” Noble wrote to his congregation of 18 years. “I never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol.
“This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part,” Noble wrote, “as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others.”
Noble’s addiction—and his church’s concern—are not new. Nearly one in five pastors report that they have struggled with addiction to alcohol or prescription drugs, according to a 2013 survey by Barna Group.
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If there is one certainty, it is that there will be lawsuits. Within days of Bill C-14 being adopted, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association launched a constitutional challenge, saying the “reasonably foreseeable” clause is discriminatory. A group of Christian doctors has challenged the requirement in Ontario that physicians who have a “conscientious objection” to providing assisted death themselves must, minimally, refer patients to another physician who will. (Quebec resolved this debate by allowing objecting physicians to refer to a neutral third party, to a hospital administrator who will, in turn, find a physician who will carry out a patient’s final wishes.)
Almost all of Canada’s 110 Catholic hospitals have also indicated that they will refuse to provide assisted dying, something that will be particularly problematic in small centres with a single hospital.
Quebec law – like federal law – requires a patient to be terminally ill to be eligible for assisted death. It also requires two physicians to sign off on the request, though at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), a nurse can provide the second signature. This rule change came because doctors appeared to be rejecting many legitimate requests.
Read it all and if necessary another link is there.
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Prescription drug prices continue to climb, putting the pinch on consumers. Some older Americans appear to be seeking an alternative to mainstream medicines that has become easier to get legally in many parts of the country. Just ask Cheech and Chong.
Research published Wednesday found that states that legalized medical marijuana — which is sometimes recommended for symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety or depression — saw declines in the number of Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat those conditions and a dip in spending by Medicare Part D, which covers the cost on prescription medications.
Because the prescriptions for drugs like opioid painkillers and antidepressants — and associated Medicare spending on those drugs — fell in states where marijuana could feasibly be used as a replacement, the researchers said it appears likely legalization led to a drop in prescriptions. That point, they said, is strengthened because prescriptions didn't drop for medicines such as blood-thinners, for which marijuana isn't an alternative.
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....from 1996, Hill’s career saw a rush of productivity, with the arrival of a new collection almost every other year.
In The Triumph of Love (1998), Hill gave a possible reason for this sudden change: “the taking up of serotonin”. Hill struggled with chronic depression for most of his life, and described himself as suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder, which slowed his writing process.
But a diagnosis and prescription was an opening of the floodgates. “I don’t know how I survived almost sixty years without the medication I now have,” he said in 2000. “It’s completely transformed my life. The irony is that people say of my recent work: what a grim vision, what hatred and self-hatred. These last six, seven years, I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been before in my life.”
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The Vatican does not track global or countrywide exorcism, but in my experience and according to the priests I meet, demand is rising. The United States is home to about 50 “stable” exorcists — those who have been designated by bishops to combat demonic activity on a semi-regular basis — up from just 12 a decade ago, according to the Rev. Vincent Lampert, an Indianapolis-based priest-exorcist who is active in the International Association of Exorcists. (He receives about 20 inquiries per week, double the number from when his bishop appointed him in 2005.) The Catholic Church has responded by offering greater resources for clergy members who wish to address the problem. In 2010, for instance, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a meeting in Baltimore for interested clergy. In 2014, Pope Francis formally recognized the IAE, 400 of whom are to convene in Rome this October. Members believe in such strange cases because they are constantly called upon to help. (I served for a time as a scientific adviser on the group’s governing board.)''
Unfortunately, not all clergy involved in this complex field are as cautious as the priest who first approached me. In some circles there is a tendency to become overly preoccupied with putative demonic explanations and to see the devil everywhere. Fundamentalist misdiagnoses and absurd or even dangerous “treatments,” such as beating victims, have sometimes occurred, especially in developing countries. This is perhaps why exorcism has a negative connotation in some quarters. People with psychological problems should receive psychological treatment.
But I believe I’ve seen the real thing....
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Every year around this time—June is of course Pride month in LGBT communities—I go back and reread an older essay by Eve Tushnet called “Romoeroticism.” Tushnet points out that in the nineteenth century, as same-sex love was being newly described as a pathology, a psychological disorder, it was the Catholic Church, of all places, where many same-sex attracted men and women found a home—because it was the Church that, rather than medicalizing same-sex love, celebrated “the possibility of shockingly chaste same-sex love.” When I first read that, several years ago now, it reconfigured my whole way of thinking about being gay and Christian: Yes, Scripture was telling me that gay sex wasn’t the true fulfillment of my longings for same-sex intimacy, but no, it wasn’t telling me to deny the goodness of that longing itself. On the contrary, traditional Christianity, it turned out, was radically pro-same-sex love.
The actual on-the-ground history is messy, of course. Many Catholic parishes aren’t exactly safe places to be out as LGBT, and the rich history of celebrated same-sex love is largely unknown—or suppressed—in many churches. But Tushnet’s point is that the resources are there in Catholicism (and, I would argue, in my own Anglican Communion and other churches too) to dignify and nurture same-sex love. We wouldn’t have to compromise one iota of historic Scriptural, Christian teaching in order to open our doors to gay and lesbian people, to offer them a place free from disdain and rejection and humiliation, and even to affirm their (our!) desire to lay down their lives for a friend.
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Wonderfully encouraging--watch it all.
Retired military dogs that are being put up for adoption are getting a second life alongside the soldiers they served with — thanks to Molli Oliver. Watch it all.
With antibiotics and fluids, Bennie improved dramatically and was taken off the ventilator several days later. That same night, though, a massive stroke paralyzed his entire left side, and he went back on life support. We quickly administered clot-busting medicine, and he rallied again, remarkably regaining movement of his left arm and leg. The following day, the intern reported, “His delirium has cleared, and he’s mouthing words around the endotracheal tube despite his wicked aspiration pneumonia.”
I sensed an unexpected window of opportunity. We revisited Bennie’s life goals in light of what had happened and spoke directly about the big picture. With his children looking on, I held Bennie’s hand and looked him in the eyes. Choosing my words based on what I knew about his background and the family’s expectation of miracles, I said, “Bennie, just like tobacco plants eventually wither and wilt, so do we. You have improved in some ways, but overall you are very weak. How can we serve you best?”
The next morning, Laura and Len were upbeat, which confused me since Bennie looked weaker than ever. They pointed to words on a whiteboard in the room, explaining they were Bennie’s goals, “Stable vital signs. Baptism.”
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I have met Jo many times, but an interview just before Christmas in the House of Commons stands out. I couldn’t help but be impressed by her journey from Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, to Cambridge University, the charity sector then to the House of Commons. I was met with a hug - most rare in Parliament I can assure you - and we chatted for an hour about her life over a cup of tea. I think it might have been one of the first times she had sat and taken stock of what she had achieved. Anyone who knew Jo knows she was a tiny woman, absolutely petite, with a blunt brown bob, with a love of bright scarves that always made her stand out in Parliament. You weren’t to be fooled by that diminutive stature though. Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham described her a lion, and I’d agree. She was incredibly fit, and is such a dare-devil she found out she was pregnant with her son while climbing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
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Premiums for health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange could jump substantially next year, perhaps more than at any point since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces began in 2013.
An early analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that proposed rates for benchmark silver plans — the plans in that popular tier of coverage that determine enrollees’ tax subsidies — are projected to go up an average of 10 percent across 14 major metropolitan areas.
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Coffee drinkers have gotten some good news.
Twenty-five years after classifying coffee as a possible carcinogen leading to bladder cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has reversed course, saying on Wednesday that coffee is not classifiable as a carcinogen.
The organization also said that coffee has no carcinogenic effects on other cancers, including those of the pancreas and prostate, and has even been seen to reduce the risk of liver and uterine cancers.
The agency is finally joining other major research organizations in those findings. Numerous studies in recent years have shown no conclusive link between cancer and coffee and have actually shown protective benefits in certain types of cancer.
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Some people receive constant reminders on their smartphones: birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments, social engagements. At work, their computers prompt them to meet deadlines, attend meetings and have lunch with the boss. Prodding here and pinging there, these pop-up interruptions can turn into noise to be ignored instead of helpful nudges.
Something similar is happening to doctors, nurses and pharmacists. And when they’re hit with too much information, the result can be a health hazard. The electronic patient records that the federal government has been pushing — in an effort to coordinate health care and reduce mistakes — come with a host of bells and whistles that may be doing the opposite in some cases.
What’s the problem? It’s called alert fatigue.
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In a nod to changing times, the Anglican Church of Canada’s latest report on physician-assisted dying, rather than opposing the practice, recognizes it as a reality. The report offers reflections and resources around assisted dying and related issues, such as palliative care.
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down last year a ban on physician-assisted death for the “grievously and irremediably ill” as unconstitutional, notes the paper, entitled In Sure and Certain Hope: Resources to Assist Pastoral and Theological Approaches to Physician Assisted Dying, released Thursday, June 9.
In the wake of this decision, the paper states, “public debate concerning the legal ban on physician assisted dying is in some ways over.”
As a result, the authors continue, “our energy is best spent at this time ensuring that this practice is governed in ways that reflect insofar as possible a just expression of care for the dignity of every human being, whatever the circumstances.”
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Upon graduating from seminary, he taught for two years at Columbia Bible College, and then became headmaster of Ben Lippen School in Asheville, NC. Five years later, he, his wife, Muriel, and their four children moved to Japan. For 12 years he planted five churches, winning people to faith in Jesus Christ. While in Japan he also served as interim president of Japan Christian College. In 1968, he was called back to Columbia Bible College and Seminary to serve as president for 22 years. During that time enrollment doubled, radio station WMHK was founded and Ben Lippen School was moved from Asheville to Columbia. In 1990, Robertson resigned the presidency to care for his first wife who was in the advanced stages of early onset Alzheimer's disease.
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A Minnesota medical examiner says Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.
The report from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office was issued Thursday, more than a month after the music superstar was found dead at age 57 at his Paisley Park mansion.
The single-page report said Prince "self-administered fentanyl," referring to a synthetic opioid many times more potent than heroin.
Read it all and Get Religion asks pertinent questions about it there.
A universal cancer vaccine is on the horizon after scientists discovered how to rewire immune cells to fight any type of disease.
The potential new therapy involves injecting tiny particles of genetic code into the body which travel to the immune cells and teach them to recognise specific cancers.
Although scientists have shown previously that is it is possible to engineer immune cells outside the body so they can spot cancer it is the first time it has happened inside cells.
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Once he was declared autistic, it didn’t feel like our relationships were narrowing; it felt like they were expanding—making room for a God-knit little boy who isn’t typically developing. I felt relieved. My heart swelled with joy for who my son is. We felt peace.
That night, we ate cake. We commemorated the end of one journey and the beginning of another. We rejoiced over the fact that doors to much-needed therapy would finally open. We affirmed the personhood of an autistic little boy; we celebrated the face of a boogeyman.
Declan has big brown eyes set into a round face. His smile, when he graces you with it, is angular and cheesy. He spins in circles, around and around like a colorful top. He loves music. His hands flutter like the steady thrum of a heartbeat, clasping and unclasping with rhythmic beauty. The only unprompted observation he has ever made about God was informed by his obsession with circles:
“Look—circle!” he exclaimed from the backseat.
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Looking at married couples who were together less than 20 years and couples together for more than 50, Mejia and her colleagues have found striking similarities between partners who have spent decades together, especially in kidney function, total cholesterol levels and the strength of their grips, which is a key predictor of mortality. They presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.
The data came from 1,568 older married couples across the United States. The couples were part of a larger dataset that included information on their income and wealth, employment, family connections and health, including information based on blood tests.
One obvious reason for partner similarity is that people often choose partners who are like them — people from the same stock, with similar backgrounds. But that didn't explain why there were more similarities between the long-time partners, compared to the others.
Read or listen to it all.
Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex--KSH.
Question: How are you doing? Answer: busy… how many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?
As a pastor, Eugene Peterson is the voice in the back of my head. When I experience challenges in my vocation, my sense of direction, or conflict in my understanding of my role as a pastor, I usually hunt around for what Peterson would say to my situation. He nearly always has the wisdom I’m looking for, and he never lets me off the hook.
Peterson’s vision of the Unbusy pastor has become the paradigm that I’m chasing. Busyness kills the pastoral vocation....Peterson’s probing question is essentially this: If I was not busy making my mark in the world and not busy doing what everyone expects me to do, what would I actually do as a pastor?
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Anxiety is the most prevalent psychiatric problem of our time. It is also one of the biggest puzzles. Decades of research have gone into probing the mysteries of anxiety and we are still, in many ways, fumbling in the dark. It’s largely inconclusive. Even with my arsenal of CBT techniques, I have runs of days when I have to re-teach myself. During these times I feel constantly nauseated, bloated, without appetite. I feel as if my skin is a translucent green, my guts full of pond scum. I’m convinced people must be able to see my malaise. It can be hard to pull back from these “blips”. Sometimes I do feel as if I’m going back to square one; locked in a vicious cycle of physical pain and churning negative thought, each exacerbating the other.
People have asked me, puzzled, how I can be so good at dealing with “big stuff”, but then find it tricky to leave the house on days when I’m feeling really anxious. It’s a good question. I have sailed through hectic deadlines in offices with only the faintest dapple of sweat on my upper lip. I’ve interviewed shirty celebrities and not felt my colon flutter.
When I have to keep it together, because there’s simply no other option, I often can. All that strength and resolve seem miles away on the days when I wake up feeling anxious. During some of my worst panic attacks I have fantasised about being knocked over by a truck or having a scaffolding pipe drop on my head, to escape the feeling. I had one on my bike once and thought about how easy it’d be to swerve into oncoming traffic.
Those who have experienced panic attacks will know what that desperation for an off switch feels like...."
Read it all (requires subscription).
It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.
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When the suffering doesn’t go away through reading the Bible or prayer, the person affected may despair of his or her spiritual ability or maturity. The very thing that should provide unshakable confidence, that should strengthen our faith in Christ, becomes a source of shame if our faith isn’t “strong enough” to beat the illness.
Most of the time when a physician treats a chemical imbalance and there are some manifestations of those challenges, that imbalance doesn’t go away by prayer or by reading your Bible alone. Sometimes medication is needed and there should be not shame in that.
The more Christians struggle with how to deal with mental illness, the more we fail to create a safe and healthy environment in which to discuss and deal with these issues. As a result, many of our Christian churches, homes, and institutions promulgate an aura of mistrust, guilt, and shame.
As more of us are coming forward with our own stories of struggle and pain, I’m encouraged that it’s okay to talk about these things. We have to defeat the shame because the reality is that many Christians struggle with mental illness.
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After years of relentless growth, the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States is finally falling, the first sustained drop since OxyContin hit the market in 1996.
For much of the past two decades, doctors were writing so many prescriptions for the powerful opioid painkillers that, in recent years, there have been enough for every American adult to have a bottle. But for each of the past three years — 2013, 2014 and 2015 — prescriptions have declined, a review of several sources of data shows.
Experts say the drop is an important early signal that the long-running prescription opioid epidemic may be peaking, that doctors have begun heeding a drumbeat of warnings about the highly addictive nature of the drugs and that federal and state efforts to curb them are having an effect.
“The culture is changing,” said Dr. Bruce Psaty, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies drug safety. “We are on the downside of a curve with opioid prescribing now.”
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United Methodists have voted to require church boards and agencies to withdraw immediately from an organization that advocates for abortion on demand. Delegates from across the 12.1 million-member denomination adopted a proposal concluding affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) on a vote of 425 to 268 (61 percent to 39 percent) during their quadrennial General Conference meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Two United Methodist agencies, the General Board on Church and Society (GBCS) and United Methodist Women (UMW) are coalition members of RCRC.
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...researchers led by Dr Dieter Egli, of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, discovered that when the nucleus is transferred some of the defective mitochondria can go with it, according to a paper in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
But other scientists said that overall the findings of the study were actually grounds for "optimism" as this was a relatively uncommon occurrence.
In the study, the researchers found that half the cell lines created from using the nucleus and donor egg contained a low percentage of mitochondrial DNA from the original egg cell.
In some cases, this original mitochondrial DNA disappeared over a period of six months, but in others it took over the donor cell so that 100 per cent of the mitochondrial DNA matched that of the transferred DNA.
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The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-in-law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” (The Hawthorne Dominicans also operate similar homes in Atlanta and Philadelphia.)
As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-in-law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”
The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”
Read it all and do not miss the pictures.
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All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.
That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.
But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers’ main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news.
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A number of studies have consistently shown lower mortality among those who are married compared to those who are not. More recently, this phenomenon has been demonstrated in studies of cancer patients, across all types of cancers that have been studied. Curiously, males seem to be benefit more from being married than females.
In a pair of companion papers (here and here) published last month in the journal Cancer, Dr. Elena Martinez and I set out to understand whether the marriage benefit is in fact due to having greater social support or having greater economic resources, or a combination of the two. Using the California Cancer Registry, a large, population-based dataset (containing data from essentially everyone diagnosed with cancer in California), we assessed the role of economic resources in one paper, and whether the benefit of marriage on survival differed across different racial/ethnic groups in a second paper.
We found that having access to greater economic resources including private health insurance and living in higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods were indeed associated with improved survival, and married patients were more likely than unmarried to have greater economic resources. However, to our surprise, these factors barely influenced the beneficial effects on survival rate among married patients. Interestingly, the marriage benefit differed across racial/ethnic groups – strongest among white males, and weaker among foreign-born Asian males and females.
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Every parent has an epic barf story, and we trade them like old generals recounting the horrors of war, but despite the terrible things we’ve all seen, it’s likely none of us has a story as hilariously awful as this one. Recently, a dad posted some screenshots of texts he sent to his wife after their toddler threw up in the the car, and his story is so outlandish, it’s got thousands of parents laughing and dry heaving in sympathy.
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Amy Moses and her circle of self-employed small-business owners were supporters of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: “We don’t take Obamacare,” the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation.
“Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system,” said Ms. Moses, describing the emotional sting of those words to a successful entrepreneur.
“Anytime one of us needs a doctor,” she continued, “we send out an alert: ‘Does anyone have anyone on an exchange plan that does mammography or colonoscopy? Who takes our insurance?’ It’s really a problem.”
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When they first got Andrew’s diagnosis, she told a night nurse that she just wanted to get her happy-go-lucky little boy back for a single hour. She had not understood then that any reprieve would only mean that they would have to go through losing him all over again — “and each return will be harder than the last as Andrew grows and bonds with us,” she wrote in a post.
By October, Andrew was healthier than he had been in a year, running and playing ball with his siblings. None of the doctors had ever seen this kind of recovery before. They decided to bring him back to the hospital for a bone-marrow test.
Michael Loken, who had analyzed Andrew’s blood work, had not been surprised that Andrew’s cancer returned. He had been working on a paper about R.A.M., the genetic marker that Andrew had. He had tracked 19 other cases of children with the phenotype; three years after the diagnosis, only two were still alive and healthy. When he examined Andrew’s marrow this time, using a sample of 200,000 cells, he got goose bumps. He repeated the test with 500,000 cells. Then he called Lacayo with the news. The cancer had disappeared.
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The Netherlands has seen a sharp increase in the number of people choosing to end their own lives due to mental health problems such as trauma caused by sexual abuse.
Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an "insufferable" mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists .
In one controversial case, a sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with the procedure as she was suffering from "incurable" PTSD, according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
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When his son fell prey to America’s latest drug scourge, Joel Murphy, a funeral-home worker, knew his family had plenty of company.
He could see it in the faces of the dead.
Many of the corpses he picked up on the job were men in their 20s, with close-cropped hair, baseball caps and gaunt frames. They made him think of his youngest son, Joseph.
“I see him sometimes, I see him in a lot of them,” he said.
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I never know how to see my own work clearly—maybe no one does. In August, though, any work I do is complicated by thinking muddied by depression. My deepest depressive cycles follow a fairly simple pattern: one in early winter and another in late summer. I start to slip into the murk, spend a couple of dark weeks beneath the waves, then gradually climb back into the light. I’m a high-functioning depressive: I’ve always been able to get a lot done, even when I’m at my lowest. I’m grateful I’m not laid right out by my depressive spells, though sometimes I think two weeks in the psych-ward would be easier than pushing through the day-to-day with all the light and joy drowned in blackness.
The worst part of my low is the relentless mental monologue. It’s nothing audible; more like the normal self-conscious thoughts most of us experience now and then except uninterrupted and fiercely self-loathing. The voice says “You’re stupid and useless. You’re a waste. You’re a black hole. You’re a piece of garbage, and nobody wants to be around garbage. Toss it and it’s gone.” On and on it goes, day after day for weeks, starting the moment I open my eyes in the morning until I collapse into sleep at night, an endless, monotonous commentary on my day, a narrative of self-hatred. Stupid and useless, not smart enough to really figure anything out, and incapable of doing what actually needs to be done.
I’ve personified my self-loathing voice, and it’s not a raging, snarling demon with fangs and claws, or an evil, faceless ghoul. It’s a fat, middle-aged, balding man who needs a shower and shave.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
So why are people so gullible?
Perhaps we’ve been approaching this the wrong way. Instead of viewing quackery as a form of knowledge, albeit wrong, we might try approaching it as a religion.
What do I mean?
It seems to me that for a large proportion of people, particularly people on the political Left, pseudoscience has become a secular religion, complete with creation myth, demons and ultimate salvation.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of pseudoscience on the political Right, too. But often that is motivated by adherence to standard religious philosophy, the idea that the Bible is the world of God and that anything that contradicts it cannot be allowed to be true. On the Left, where many abjure religion, quackery has become the new religion.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology
Wartime looks like this.
The steely greyness of the city. The clouds are so low, but not low enough to hide government helicopters carrying barrel bombs, which usually appear at the same time each day, in the mornings and late afternoons, circling for a while at altitudes of 13,000–16,000 feet, little more than tiny dots in the sky, before dropping their payloads.
What does war sound like? The whistling sound of the bombs falling can only be heard seconds before impact—enough time to know that you are about to die, but not enough time to flee.
What does the war in Aleppo smell of? It smells of carbine, of wood smoke, of unwashed bodies, of rubbish rotting, of . . . fear. The rubble on the street—the broken glass, the splintered wood that was once somebody’s home. On every corner there is a destroyed building that may or may not have bodies still buried underneath. Your old school is gone; so are the mosque, your grandmother’s house and your office. Your memories are smashed.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Media Psychology Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The drugmaker Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin two decades ago with a bold marketing claim: One dose relieves pain for 12 hours, more than twice as long as generic medications.
On the strength of that promise, OxyContin became America’s bestselling painkiller, and Purdue reaped $31 billion in revenue.
But OxyContin’s stunning success masked a fundamental problem: The drug wears off hours early in many people, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when it doesn’t last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.
The problem offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Take Rose, for example. At the age of 19 and in her first year of university in a town near her home village, Rose and her family were among her tribemates who were targeted for ethnic cleansing.
Their only crime was to be born in the “H” tribe. The “L” tribe hated them for who they were and marked all their homes in the town for killing. Her two brothers were killed, but she survived because a Good Samaritan whisked her to the airport and got her the only remaining seat available on a flight out of the war zone. She had never flown in an airplane, had only the clothes on her back, and didn’t know where she was going.
When she arrived at her unknown destination, she didn’t speak any of the languages spoken there, except a few words of broken English. Someone asked her where she was going and all she could say was, “Take me to the closest Anglican church.” She grew up in a home of committed Anglican Christians so that’s the only thing she could think of.
She ended up in the office of a Church of Uganda Bishop. He and his wife “adopted” her and took her into their family.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Education Health & Medicine * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Christology
Hallie W. is very down-to-earth and genuinely inspiring. She never phones it in, delivering with sincerity "soulful" messages such as "The dream is free. The hustle's sold separately!" Even though I know various factors—music, mood lighting, adrenaline—conspired to move me that day, I probably was really into it, in that way that exercising—and especially, I've found, exercising in near darkness—engenders a feeling of invincibility and a surge of fiery ambition coupled with the satisfaction of no longer spinning one's wheels.
I can't say how long I'll remain part of this "church." I haven't signed up for a class in weeks for lack of disposable income, and this summer I'm more likely to jog outside to my own playlist, featuring way fewer bass drops. But another SoulCycle location opened in February on Southport, so I'll probably go make an offering of $30, plus shoe rental, just to re-experience it all.
I have my own rules: Wear what you want. Never, ever evangelize about it. And let yourself get lost in the transcendent moment sometimes, however contrived. Who am I to judge anyone's soul journey?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Religion & Culture Sports Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths
Bonilla, 22, is one of thousands of Lowcountry students who will graduate from college over the next three weekends. On Saturday, she will receive her degree in biology from Charleston Southern University in a ceremony at North Charleston Coliseum. She will spend her summer applying to medical schools with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist.
“I’m very trusting that it will all work out, and I’m excited to be able to take a look at different schools this summer and see where God will take me,” she said.
Bonilla’s interest in oncology stems from a personal hardship even greater than overcoming the language barrier. When she was 17, her mother was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. Due to her mother’s limited English, Bonilla had to attend doctor’s appointments and translate heartbreaking news.
Read it all.
Ah, the journey to and from work. Last week’s train strikes, keeping many of us in the UK at home, served as a reminder that the commute is not capitalism’s greatest gift to humanity.
The longer the trip, the less worthwhile life feels, data from the Office for National Statistics tell us. Surveys have found that people with a taxing journey sleep poorly, while research by US academics links tough commutes to health problems, such as high cholesterol, hypertension and depression.
The commute is a post-industrial invention. For most of history almost everyone worked at, or near, home. But industrialisation created a separation between people’s living arrangements and their working ones....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Travel * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Although Bill C-14 unavoidably damages the value of respect for life and puts vulnerable Canadians at risk, its goals include, as its preamble recognizes, maintaining respect for human life at both individual and societal levels and the protection of vulnerable people. Achieving those two goals demands another goal be explicit in the preamble: not allowing medically assisted suicide to become part of the norm for how we die.
So how can we, as far as possible in the current circumstances, achieve these three goals?
The conditions legislated for qualification for hastened death will be critical. They must be very limited and strictly controlled; they underline that it is an exceptional intervention, limited to adults competent at the time of death, terminally ill from a physical disease or disability, in unbearable suffering and giving their informed consent.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.
A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.
Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Almost half of all Americans personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers — and most people feel the federal government isn't doing enough to stem a growing epidemic of opioid addiction, a new survey shows.
The survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation also found that a large majority of Americans believe that lack of access to care for people suffering from substance abuse is a problem in the United States.
The findings come as abuse of opioids — including prescription painkillers and the illegal drug heroin — has significantly increased in recent years.
Read it all.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * South Carolina
We appreciate your prayers for this whole process--KSH.
Justification and judgement
Be on the lookout for it.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Pornography Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.
The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.
The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation’s suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.
Read it all from the NY Times.
“Sex has become one of the most discussed subjects of modern times,” Fulton Sheen explains in Peace of Soul. “The Victorians pretended it did not exist; the moderns pretend that nothing else exists.” In an age of rampant abuses of the human body and its sexual function, how can people live out the call to chastity today? How can we speak of cultivating an attitude of chastity in relationships when many well-meaning people don’t adequately understand chastity at all?
Read it all.
The majority of humans in developed countries will stop having sex to procreate within decades, a leading academic has predicted.
Professor Henry Greely believes that in as little as 20 years, most children will be conceived in a laboratory, rather than through sexual intercourse.
He even suggests the natural process of conception could become stigmatised.
The change would mark an evolutionary break with all other human beings, and indeed animals, throughout history.
Read it all.
Even Svante L. Myrick, the mayor of this city, thought the proposal sounded a little crazy, though it was put forth by a committee he had appointed. The plan called for establishing a site where people could legally shoot heroin — something that does not exist anywhere in the United States.
“Heroin is bad, and injecting heroin is bad, so how could supervised heroin injection be a good thing?” Mr. Myrick, a Democrat, said.
But he also knew he had to do something drastic to confront the scourge of heroin in his city in central New York. So he was willing to take a chance and embrace the radical notion, knowing well that it would provoke a backlash.
And it has.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Susan Kubicka-Welander, a short-order cook, went to her pain checkup appointment straight from the lunch-rush shift. “We were really busy,” she told Dr. Robert L. Wergin, trying to smile through deeply etched lines of exhaustion. “Thursdays, it’s Philly cheesesteaks.”
Her back ached from a compression fracture; a shattered elbow was still mending; her left-hip sciatica was screaming louder than usual. She takes a lot of medication for chronic pain, but today it was just not enough.
Yet rather than increasing her dose, Dr. Wergin was tapering her down. “Susan, we’ve got to get you to five pills a day,” he said gently.
Read it all.
Yet, even as many Christian churches continued to maintain the clear teachings of Scripture, and even as many pastors and theologians defended the Christian moral tradition and biblical authority, there were those within institutional Christianity who did everything possible to join the sexual revolution. The sexual revolutionaries found great assistance in the form of Joseph Fletcher and his book, Situation Ethics, published in 1966. Fletcher, who at one time was professor of Christian Social Ethics at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Cincinnati, argued for a new understanding of Christian ethics that he called “situation ethics.” According to Fletcher, “The situationist enters into every decision-making situation fully armed with the ethical maxims of his community and its heritage, and he treats them with respect as illuminators of his problems. Just the same he is prepared in any situation to compromise them or set them aside in the situation if love seems better served by doing so.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
They are the kind of vices it is traditionally assumed teenage boys will exaggerate and girls underplay.
But according to a major new international study, British teenage girls not only have some of the highest rates of under-age sex and drunkenness in Europe but are even outdoing boys.
According to the four-yearly report published by the World Health Organisation, 15-year-old girls in Wales are more than 50 per cent more likely to say they have had sex than boys of the same age.
In England girls are 28 per cent more likely than boys to give the same answer while in Scotland the gender gap was narrower but still noticeable.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Robert] Blendon says the poll found that among Floridians who have experienced serious financial problems in the past two years (problems like spending down savings, not being able to afford necessities and racking up credit card debt), 76 percent had health insurance.
Consider the case of Wilson Gamboa — one of the Floridians polled.
Gamboa has a black Suzuki C50 motorcycle in his garage. But he hasn't driven it in two years since his health insurance premiums went up by $50 a month.
"It's been a while," says Gamboa. "I start her up regularly — you know, just to make sure the wheels keep going and the engine stays lubed — but she's sitting there now."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Here are five ways we misunderstand midlife.
1. It's time for my midlife crisis. In fact, midlife crisis is rare. The term "midlife crisis" was coined by a Canadian psychoanalyst named Elliott Jaques, based on his analysis of artistic "geniuses" as well as patients in his practice who felt an existential dread that there was not enough time in their lives to achieve their dreams. Gail Sheehy's book Passages turned the midlife crisis into a cultural phenomenon, symbolized by the red sports car, quitting your job or leaving your marriage. But over the past 20 years, researchers have tried to find evidence of a widespread midlife crisis — and failed. They believe only 10 percent of the population suffers such a crisis. What most people refer to as a "midlife crisis" is really a crisis or setback that occurs in midlife, such as losing a spouse, a parent, a job, or experiencing a health scare. Most people recover from these setbacks.
2. My midlife doldrums will last forever. While midlife crisis is rare, midlife ennui is nearly universal.
Read it all.
Remember when we wrote about Iris Grace, the incredibly talented 5-year-old girl with autism who paints beautiful pictures? It turns out that she has a behind-the-scenes helper who’s also worthy of praise – that’s Thula, her therapeutic cat.
Thula, who is almost 1 year old, is a Maine Coon. This breed is known as the intelligent and gentle giant of the cat world and though she’s still small and young, Thula does not disappoint. Her gentle and compassionate character is especially important for Iris, a young girl growing up with autism; “Thula has lowered [Iris’] daily anxieties in life and keeps Iris calm,” Iris’ mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, told Bored Panda, “but equally has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She will talk more to Thula, saying little phrases like ‘sit cat.’”
Carter-Johnson, had almost given up on the search for a therapeutic animal companion for her daughter. When Iris happened to connect with a Siberian cat that her family would up cat-sitting for Christmas, however, she realized that she “just hadn’t found the right animal yet.” For more info about Thula and Iris, read more of Carter-Johnson’s interview with Bored Panda!
Fantastic photos--do not miss them and read it all.
Danny and his wife Linda, who teaches fourth grade at a public school in Canton, Ga., got their health insurance through the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. Because Danny had torn his Achilles tendon earlier that summer playing basketball, the family had already blown through their $5,000 deductible. Linda’s doctor and their local hospital were both listed as in-network providers, so the Postells didn’t expect they’d have to pay any more out of pocket for Luke’s birth.
But then a stream of mysterious bills started rolling in. Why hadn’t anyone told them there’d be a $1,746 fee for an initial neonatal visit? What is the $240-per-day charge for Luke’s “supervision of care”? Wasn’t this all–$4,279 in the end–supposed to be covered by insurance?
Danny, who knew something about medical billing from his work as a pharmacist, quickly discovered the cause. While the local hospital was considered an in-network provider, the neonatal intensive-care unit at that same facility was not. Once Luke was whisked across that invisible line, wham: everything was out of network. “You’d think someone at some point would have told us that,” Danny says.
Read it all (my emphasis) and if necessary another link is there.
They were young and relishing Brazil’s version of the American dream: buying a car, joining a church, starting a family.
With millions of others, they had climbed into the country’s expanding middle class. They had even moved into California, a neighborhood of strivers who had left the big, impoverished city nearby.
“It was that magical moment when everything seemed possible,” said Germana Soares, 24.
Then, in the sixth month of Ms. Soares’s pregnancy, the couple discovered how quickly their fortunes, like those of their nation, could change. A routine exam showed that their son weighed much less than he should. Doctors worried that he, like hundreds of other Brazilian babies born in recent months, had microcephaly, an incurable condition in which infants have abnormally small heads.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary South America Brazil * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
That there's no gender neutral singular pronouns in English makes it difficult to convey the complexities of identity as we understand it in 2015. But a new entry on Dictionary.com is proving that language - like attitudes - does evolve.
The honorific Mx has been kicking around since the 1970s, but has seen a resurgence of late, which is reflected by its entry into the online dictionary on Tuesday. According to Time, the 'M' comes from the traditional prefixes 'Mr' or 'Miss', and the 'x' signifies an unknown entity, the same way it does in algebra.
Whether you're cis, genderfluid, agender, bigender or you just don't particularly feel the need to proclaim your gender to everyone, Mx fits the bill.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
...in Libby, Montana, there's a rather unusual woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an outsider, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian extraction. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading utility meters -- gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept puzzling over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind.
Read it all; cited by yours truly in the morning sermon.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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