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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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During medical school, I spent countless evenings in a library, half-asleep, poring over textbooks and talking through cases with other medical students. What I did not do, ever, was take a class with anyone studying to be a nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist or social worker. Nor did I collaborate with any of these health professionals to complete a project, participate in a simulation or design a treatment plan. It wasn’t until residency that I first began to understand just how many professions come together to take care of a single patient — what exactly they do, how they do it, and how what I do makes their jobs easier or harder.
As a first-year resident, you finally learn to put into practice the theory of medicine you have been nurturing since fumbling around with organic chemistry models in college. You learn in a safe and hierarchical environment — with senior residents, fellows, consultants and attending physicians each demonstrating, with increasing degrees of nuance and sophistication, how much clinical medicine you have yet to learn and how far you have left to go.
But, in all that time, there is surprisingly little education on what it means to be a leader of a medical team, with its nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, dieticians and case managers. There is even less discussion of how to understand one another’s roles, perspectives, frustrations and limitations....
Read it all.
wouldn’t have understood the full scope of what this young woman is saying in her essay without the interview, which is short. In the segment, Narin says that men and women in her generation don’t have actual romantic relationships anymore. It’s all casual, non-committal sex. “Nobody knows whether their own feelings are real,” she says.
Our generation doesn’t have relationships anymore. Nobody to call their own. Just casual. Nobody knows whether their own feelings are real.
She tells the interviewer that there’s lots of making out and sex, but nobody wants to be emotionally vulnerable to anybody else. The interviewer says that none of this is new, that men and women forever have had a hard time being emotionally confident as they’re trying to work their way through romance. Now, however, it’s possible to “live in your fear,” he says. What has changed?
“Technology,” she said. She explained that you can avoid direct, sustained talking to real people by using technology.
Read it all.
That the Great Recession of 2007-09 made Americans have fewer kids is no surprise, but a new study shows how big the toll was.
Birth rates for U.S. women in their 20s dropped more than 15% between 2007 and 2012, just before and after the recession, the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy research group, said in a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released Tuesday.
Among Hispanic 20-somethings, the birth rate dropped 26%. Non-Hispanic blacks? 14%. By contrast, non-Hispanic white 20-somethings saw an 11% decline.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Marriage & Family Psychology Sociology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Our progressive sensibilities have not, alas, resulted in a genuinely compassionate culture. We no longer have the kind cruel civic Christianity that The Scarlet Letter depicted, yet we still have the shaming scaffolds (they’re called social media now) and we still have ineffable moral codes that must not be trespassed. These codes may not be Levitical but they are indeed legalistic: laws about privilege, sexual autonomy, “trigger warnings,” and much, much more. Violation of these laws can and do result not only in public shame but legal prosecution.
It surely must befuddle those on the inside track of our transforming culture—just as we seem to be learning what true progress is, we rebuild the shaming scaffolds of our Puritan forefathers. Can we not have a culture that embraces the moral equivalence of all forms of sexual expression, the existential (read: non-transcendent) nature of love, and the casting off of ancient beliefs about God and the universe, while simultaneously widening the margins of civic life to include all kinds of beliefs, even those that discomfort us? Cannot we live out the promises of the Sexual Revolution while saving a place in our midst for those who opt out?
No, we cannot. The reason is simple: A broken American conscience cannot be trusted. Compassion is a class that secularism doesn’t offer. Exchanging the Puritanism of Arthur Dimmesdale for the Puritanism of Alfred Kinsey is not progress. Cultural elites may say we are becoming a better people because we break with human history on the meaning of marriage or the dignity of human life, but a glance outside suggests otherwise.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Investment in women’s services could double or even triple, but Australia would still require a major attitude shift in order to stem the increasing rate of domestic violence, say anti-domestic violence advocates.
Speaking at a forum hosted by Archbishop Philip Freier on 22 April, Paul Linossier, CEO of Our Watch, formerly the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children, said the community needed to tackle the two key drivers of domestic violence, gender inequality and cultural circumstances, for any lasting gains to be made.
“In a sense we’re all perpetrators because we’re transmitting from one generation to another this continuing position of inequality between men and women. We do that through a million interactions every day.”
He said even after his decades in the sector he has been guilty of it, recently realising that he had referred to fixing his fence and setting a new path down as “a blokey weekend”.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Culture-Watch Men Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence Women * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Irish people resent being bullied by either Church or State. Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”. For over a year, the campaign waged by the Government urged on by the media has been relentless. In the final weeks, reason may triumph over emotion. As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change? The simple answer is: human nature.
This referendum touches the very source of our humanity. Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society. Past and future converge in the family. Through marriage, future generations come into being. A nation’s culture is passed on primarily through the family. Since the dawn of time, the union of man and woman was simply assumed to be the origin of the family. This is what we are being asked to change.
This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family. This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy. The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people. The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included.
Read it all from the Irish Times..
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Natalie Bennett has said her party is “open to consultation” on the possibility of legalising polygamy and civil partnerships involving three or more people.
The Green Party leader was responding to a question from a man living with his two boyfriends in a polyamorous relationship in London on Friday.
Dr Redfern Jon Barrett, taking part in an event organised by Pink News, said people like himself in three-way relationships faced a “considerable amount of legal discrimination”.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Self-esteem, the kind that comes from finding the sweet spot between a healthy fondness for yourself and healthy self-skepticism, tends to get harder to come by the older we get. For a kid, self-esteem can be as close at hand as a sports victory or a sense of belonging in a peer group. It's a much more complicated and elusive proposition for adults, subject to the responsibilities and vicissitudes of grown-up life.
For college students, caught in that muddy crossing between childhood and independence, going through a phase in which they can't tell the difference between caring for themselves and declaring their own importance at every turn may actually be something of a rite of passage, albeit one as ridiculous as returning from a semester abroad with a foreign accent.
But if, in fact, this confusion is more than just a phase, if what we're dealing with is a generation — and, increasingly, an entire culture — for whom self-righteousness and self-esteem are essentially interchangeable, we're in trouble. Because self-righteousness, when you think about it, is a contra-indicator of self-esteem. It's what sets in when genuine righteousness eludes us. And if we spend our lives inside safe spaces writing love letters to ourselves, just about everything else will elude us too.
Read it all.
In “The Consuming Vision,” an essay about novelist Henry James, of all things, Jean-Christophe Agnew argues that the consumerist culture emerging in James’s time was a “world constructed by and for a consuming vision,” an “imagined world … in which imagination itself strives to gild, glaze, and ultimately commodify its objects.” This consuming vision becomes hegemonic in a world that comes to be seen as made entirely of commodities. “What modern consumer culture produces,” Agnew argues, “is not so much a way of being as a way of seeing — a way best characterized as visually acquisitive. In short, modern consumer culture holds up the cognitive appetite as the model and engine of its reproductive process.”
Agnew points out that the churn of markets assures that these sorts of characteristics are never stable in any given commodity or experience. Consumerism posits such meanings as free-floating, redeployable, highly contingent and not intrinsic to a good’s use value. (Soap might make me objectively clean, but will it make me feel clean, which is ultimately more important?)
Thus those meanings are always socially determined to a degree, and always require further labor to affix them to goods. Advertising has traditionally served the purpose of attaching the affective associations with products; social media now enlists the members of one’s social networks to assist in this process. We aid in the building of such ad hoc associations between feelings and goods (we are “prosuming,” making our consumption productive of symbolic meaning by broadcasting it), but this serves also to reinforce that the overall sense that the meanings are applied and withdrawn at social whim.
Pinterest is geared toward stimulating this acquisitive appetite for images without sating it.
Read it all (Hat tip: The Browser).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * General Interest Photos/Photography
Several widely-watched gauges of US inflation expectations have climbed to their highest levels this year, as oil prices regain their footing and some investors bet that the Federal Reserve will be slow in quelling any price pressures.
The US 10-year “breakeven” rate measures the market’s expectations of average inflation over that time by comparing the yields of conventional US Treasuries maturing in 10 years and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, or Tips.
The 10-year breakeven has shot up from a low of 1.53 per cent in mid-January to 1.92 per cent on Monday, the highest since November 2014. The five-year breakeven rate has risen to 1.71 per cent, the highest since September, while the two-year is at its highest since July 2014.
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Only a few dozen worshippers attend Boston’s Tremont Temple Baptist Church on a typical Sunday, but preacher Dwight L. Moody once called the historic church “America’s pulpit.”
Last week, Tremont’s massive auditorium played host to influence once again when 1,300 Christian leaders gathered for the Q conference to discuss the most pressing issues facing their faith. There was no official theme, but one strand wove its way through multiple presentations and conversations: America’s—and many Christians’—debate over sexuality.
While at least three other Christian conferences during the past year focused on same-sex debates, this is the only one to bring together both pro-gay speakers and those who oppose gay marriage and same-sex relationships.
“The aim of Q is to create space for learning and conversation, and we think the best way to do that is exposure,” said Q founder Gabe Lyons. “These are conversations that most of America is having, and they are not going away.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
One thing going on is that the major lifestyle and utility improvements of the past generation–really cheap access to communication, information, and entertainment–are overwhelmingly available to pretty much everyone. On the one hand, this means that recent economic growth assessed in terms of individual utility and well-being is much more equal then when assessed in terms of income. On the other hand, it means that access these benefits seems much more like simply the air we breathe then as a marker of class status, or achievement.
Thus a loss of the ability to securely attain enough of economic security to firmly hold the indicators of what past generations saw as middle-class life shows itself as a loss. And those who focus on security rather than on utility do not see these as offset buy the information revolution.
Read it all and please note it is a follow up to this article previously posted.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fundraising site GoFundMe has closed the account that was set up to raise money for Aaron and Melissa Klein, Christians and former owners of a bakery in Gresham, Oregon, who were ordered by a judge Friday to pay a fine of $135,000 for declining to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian marriage ceremony.
"After careful review by our team, we have found the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions," Oregon Live quoted the site as saying in a statement.
"The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal. While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live. However, the subjects of the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled," it added.
The account had received $109,000 when the site blocked it.
Read it all from the Christian Post.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A British couple with a combined aged of 194 will be getting married in the summer - making them the oldest newlyweds in the world.
George Kirby, who will be 103 when they tie the knot in June, and his bride-to-be Doreen Luckie, 91, got engaged on Valentine’s Day this year after being together for 27 years.
Read it all.
Czech man Vit Jedlicka has claimed a 7km2 stretch of land on the west bank of the Danube river as the Free Republic of Liberland, after disputes between Serbia and Croatia rendered it technically no man's land.
It's no half-assed attempted at nation formation either – Liberland already has a constitution, flag, coat of arms, official website, Facebook page and a motto: "To live and let live".
Read it all from the Independent.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Philosophy Psychology * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The global economy is awash as never before in commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labor—a glut that presents several challenges as policy makers struggle to stoke demand.
“What we’re looking at is a low-growth, low-inflation, low-rate environment,” said Megan Greene, chief economist of John Hancock Asset Management, who added that the global economy could spend the next decade “working this off.”
The current state of plenty is confounding on many fronts. The surfeit of commodities depresses prices and stokes concerns of deflation. Global wealth—estimated by Credit Suisse at around $263 trillion, more than double the $117 trillion in 2000—represents a vast supply of savings and capital, helping to hold down interest rates, undermining the power of monetary policy. And the surplus of workers depresses wages.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Not that it asked me and not that it needs me and not that I expect it to do anything but mock me for my efforts, but I’m going to defend the Internet.
Lately, humanity has been flattering itself that it was better and kinder before the Internet – as though we never slipped anonymous notes through locker doors in high-school hallways that were echo chambers in themselves, as if we never wrote on actual walls.
To hear us now, you’d think no one ever ever crank-called late at night, dialled up even before dial-up to offer abuse, stared into other people’s windows through our own twitching curtains.
Read it all from the Globa and Mail.
That need to connect—to bridge the divide between reader and writer, between me and you, between me and everyone—is there from the first. In Wallace's first novel, The Broom of the System (which also started life as an undergraduate thesis: he was double major, in philosophy and English), one man is so scared of loneliness that he intends to eat until his body fills the entire world, so he won't be alone anymore. The novel betrays a clever author very pleased with his own cleverness, but you can forgive a 21-year-old the narcissism when you realize the question at the book's core—can we ever really connect with other people?—was an obsession for Wallace, even as his style matured from a theory-based sophomoric snickering to an empathetic, impassioned searching.
"In dark times," Wallace told McCaffrey, "the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it."
I guess you can't properly call David Foster Wallace a religious writer, at least not with the definitions of religion we usually employ. Then again, when I first read him, I sensed a presence beyond the words on the page, a writer who was desperate to connect with the reader but also said what needed to be said. His questions are what I struggle with, too. Who am I? How do I connect with other people? What or who are we headed for, together? How do we get there? What is the best life?
Read it all.
When my mother tells me – as she is wont to, at every available juncture – that ‘nothing has changed since I was your age’ she is half right. In a way, it hasn’t – the base level stuff, the mechanics of life. But the culture has.
Partly, this is prompted by Apple, Samsung and Google. Look around a tube carriage at rush hour (as I did when I was writing this), and people are engrossed in technology. Life is as technology centred for teens as it is for adults.
That culture feeds into anxiety and pressure for teenagers in 2015.
Now, if they like, teenagers can date on their phones, talk on their phones, and arrange to sneak out of the house on their phones. They can do their homework using their phones; indeed, some schools are increasingly making use of them as teaching tools.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Marriage & Family Psychology Science & Technology Teens / Youth * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Take the case of former Charlotte, North Carolina, mayor Patrick Cannon. Cannon came from nothing. He overcame poverty and the violent loss of his father at the age of 5. He earned a degree from North Carolina A&T State University and entered public service at the age of 26 — becoming the youngest council member in Charlotte history. He was known for being completely committed to serving the public, and generous with the time he spent as a role model for young people.
But last year, Cannon, 47, pleaded guilty to accepting $50,000 in bribes while in office. As he entered the city’s federal courthouse last June, he tripped and fell. The media was there to capture the fall, which was symbolic of the much bigger fall of an elected leader and small business owner who once embodied the very essence of personal achievement against staggering odds. Cannon now has the distinction of being the first mayor in the city’s history to be sent to prison. Insiders say he was a good man, but all too human, and seemed vulnerable as he became isolated in his decision-making. And while a local minister argued that Cannon’s one lapse in judgment should not define the man and his career of exceptional public service, he is now judged only by his weakness — his dramatic move from humility and generosity to corruption. And that image of Cannon tripping on his way into court is now the image that people associate with him.
What can leaders do if they fear that they might be toeing the line where power turns to abuse of power? First, you must invite other people in. You must be willing to risk vulnerability and ask for feedback. A good executive coach can help you return to a state of empathy and value-driven decisions. However, be sure to ask for feedback from a wide variety of people. Dispense with the softball questions (How am I doing?) and ask the tough ones (How does my style and focus affect my employees?).
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Type 'introvert' into a search engine and you are offered 10.5 million web pages in just over half a second. That is mind-boggling, but it is just one example of the rapid rise of interest in introversion that there has been over the last few years. In 2003 Jonathan Rauch wrote an article in 'The Atlantic' which sparked wide debate. Susan Cain published 'Quiet' in 2012 and it rapidly became a best-seller. People have begun to recognise that not everyone is energised by being in company all the time, and this is healthy. Insights about introversion are precious to some, irritate others, and challenge society at many levels. They raise questions in businesses, education, families and leadership theory, to name but a few examples. We love shared space, and often veer towards the kind of group-work which is disabling for introverts. Most communities are challenged by hearing 'the introvert voice' from within.
What, though, do such insights about 'personality type' have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church? Jesus died 'once for all' and both introvert and extrovert need salvation just as much as each other. The world is crying out for the hope that Jesus brings, and doubtless some would argue that this gospel priority means we should not be distracted by supposed insights into the human personality. Be careful, though! People differ. Variety is part of the created order. We each engage with others and with God uniquely, and the Church responds to this. A foreign evangelist in France learns to speak French. A youth worker dresses and behaves differently to a bishop. In just the same way, we need to take account of introverts (and extroverts) in the church if we are to grow healthy community.
Introverts are ordinary people. They are not necessarily shy or awkward or self-obsessed. They are often socially able, popular people who are alert, responsive, energetic and creative members of teams.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Reliable data to quantify how many American workers misuse stimulants does not exist, several experts said.
But in interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.
Doctors and medical ethicists expressed concern for misusers’ health, as stimulants can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations when taken in high doses. But they also worried about added pressure in the workplace — where the use by some pressures more to join the trend.
“You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult,” said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago.
“We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45,” she said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Books on how to get the most out of your employees almost always follow the same formula. They start by noting that the secret of business success is employee-engagement: an engaged worker is more productive as well as happier. They go on to point out that most employees are the opposite of engaged (a 2013 Gallup Survey that claims that 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” gets a lot of play). They blame this dismal state of affairs on the legacy of Frederick Winslow Taylor, a Philadelphia-born Quaker who became one of America’s first management consultants and in 1911 wrote a book called “The Principles of Scientific Management”. And finally they reveal the secret of making your employees more engaged: treat them like human beings rather than parts in an industrial machine.
The first two books under review are cases in point. They both rely on over-familiar examples of high-performance companies, such as “funky, funny” Zappos and CNN. They come from the same school of poor writing—sloppy sentences, ugly management jargon and pseudo-folksy style. Stan Slap is particularly slapdash. “The Power of Thanks”, by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, claims that a “Positivity-Dominated Workplace creates and maintains competitive advantage”. The best way to do this is to thank people regularly. Mr Slap’s “Under the Hood” claims that the best way to maximise business performance is to look under the bonnet of your company, discover the employee culture that lies inside, and then fine-tune it. Fine-tuning involves things like praising good workers and sacking bad ones (“one of the biggest opportunities to create a legend is when the hammer falls right on the culture and someone has to go”).
Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules!” is much better. Mr Bock has been head of “people operations” at Google since 2006 and has seen the company grow from 6,000 to almost 60,000 people....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Health & Medicine History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Nestled within our own times, it is easy to think the trajectory of history will lead to an inevitable change within the global Christian church. But history’s lesson is the opposite. A century ago, the modernists believed that the triumph of naturalism would lead to the total transformation of Christianity.
It must have seemed thrilling for these leaders to think they were at the vanguard of reformation, that they were the pivot point of Christianity’s inevitable future. But such was not the case. Traditional stalwarts like Machen and G.K. Chesterton (who were criticized as hopelessly “backward” back then) still have books in print. The names of most of their once-fashionable opponents are largely unrecognizable.
It’s commonplace to assume that contemporary society’s redefinition of marriage, gender, and the purpose for sexuality will eventually persuade the church to follow along. But if we were to jump forward into the 22nd century, I wonder what we would see.
Most likely, we would see a world in which the explosive growth of Christians in South America, China and Africa has dwarfed the churches of North America and Europe. And the lesson we learn from a century ago will probably still be true: The churches that thrived were those that offered their world something more than the echo of the times.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
I am all for more language to describe love and the varieties of innovative ways to do relationships and chosen family. "Ethical non-monogamy" is a great term that encompasses all the ways that you can consciously, with agreement and consent from all involved, explore love and sex with multiple people.
So here's a simple list to categorize the many flavors of ethical non-monogamy:
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
I turned to historian Bruce Hindmarsh. In studying the life and theology of John Newton, I depended on his groundbreaking research, captured in the book John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition.
As a professor of spiritual formation at Regent College in Vancouver and a historian of the eighteenth century, Hindmarsh keeps an eye on the cultural influences on Christians today, which certainly includes digital communications technology. His thoughtful perspective brings wisdom and balance to the mobile milieu.
We live in an age of technological advance, with all its glory, conveniences, and consequences. How does this culture harm or hinder the spiritual life of the Christian?
Hindmarsh is concerned with form (the platforms and devices that shape our habits) as much as he is concerned with content (the gossip, slander, and porn that spread through the devices). The medium is part of the message. Our phones are “not just another envelope to throw the same content inside,” he said.
Our unchallenged social-media habits pose one of the most pressing discipleship challenges in the church today, according to Hindmarsh. In our three-part interview series, he offered five concerns and then followed with five practical responses.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Because of the work I do in the area of third-party assisted reproductive medicine, I have Google alerts set for “egg donation,” “sperm donation,” and “surrogacy.” Often the daily digest reads like the lineup for a week of reality-TV programming. Stories break with headlines that boggle the mind: “Mother tells of giving birth to her gay son’s baby,” or the recent court decision that a “dead reservist’s parents may use his [frozen] sperm, against widow’s wishes” so they can have grandchildren. Or this dreadful decision from Australia’s foreign minister, who said “Department of Foreign Affairs correct to allow couple to abandon unwanted Indian surrogacy twin” because the couple claims they cannot afford to keep both of the babies.
More recently, news broke of 65-year-old Annegret Raunigk, who lives in Berlin and is pregnant with quadruplets via egg and sperm donation. Because egg donation is illegal in Germany, Raunigk left the country to conceive the babies. If the pregnancy is successful — that is, if it results in live births — she will be the oldest woman to give birth to quadruplets. The current holder of this claim to fame is Merryl Fudel of San Diego, who was a five-time divorcee and 55 years old at the time she gave birth to quadruplets in 1998....
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South African President Jacob Zuma has visited a refugee camp in the port of Durban after a fresh outbreak of anti-foreigner violence.
Mr Zuma told those who had fled the violence that it went against South African values and he would bring it to an end.
But he was jeered by some in the crowd who accused him of acting too slowly.
At least six people have died in xenophobic attacks in Durban, with violence spreading to other areas.
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Christian ministers should establish relationships with law enforcement, seek ways to become moral authorities in their communities and listen.
Those were the top recommendations from experts at a panel sponsored by The Gospel Coalition on Tuesday (April 14) titled “Seeking Justice and Mercy From Ferguson to New York.”
The popular ministry offered an alternative approach to that of evangelist Franklin Graham, who was widely criticized for his recent “Obey the police, or else” comments on Facebook. The comments followed the spate of police killings of unarmed black men.
Read it all from RNS.
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There is no question that Donna Lou Rayhons had severe Alzheimer’s.
In the days before being placed in a nursing home in Garner, Iowa, last year, Mrs. Rayhons, 78, could not recall her daughters’ names or how to eat a hamburger. One day, she tried to wash her hands in the toilet of a restaurant bathroom.
But another question has become the crux of an extraordinary criminal case unfolding this week in an Iowa courtroom: Was Mrs. Rayhons able to consent to sex with her husband?
Henry Rayhons, 78, has been charged with third-degree felony sexual abuse, accused of having sex with his wife in a nursing home on May 23, 2014, eight days after staff members there told him they believed she was mentally unable to agree to sex.
Read it all from the New York Times.
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“Seven days,” wrote Witold Rybczynski in the August 1991 issue of The Atlantic, “is not natural because no natural phenomenon occurs every seven days.” The year marks one revolution of the Earth around the sun. Months, supposedly, mark the time between full moons. The seven-day week, however, is completely man-made.
If it’s man-made, can’t man unmake it? For all the talk of how freeing it’d be to shave a day or two off the five-day workweek, little attention has been paid to where the weekly calendar came from. Understanding the sometimes arbitrary origins of the modern workweek might inform the movement to shorten it.
The roots of the seven-day week can be traced back about 4,000 years, to Babylon. The Babylonians believed there were seven planets in the solar system, and the number seven held such power to them that they planned their days around it. Their seven-day, planetary week spread to Egypt, Greece, and eventually to Rome, where it turns out the Jewish people had their own version of a seven-day week. (The reason for this is unclear, but some have speculated that the Jews adopted this after their exile in Babylon in the sixth century B.C.) At the very latest, the seven-day week was firmly entrenched in the Western calendar about 250 years before Christ was born.
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The Anglican Church in Malawi has appealed to all Malawians to take part in protecting people living with albinism and reporting any criminal acts by any suspects in our society.
The Church said it is sickened with reports that people living with albinism are still living in fear because some segments in the society continue hunting for their lives or body parts.
Chairman of the Anglican Council in Malawi, the Right Reverend Vitta Brighton Malasa, who disclosed that the Anglican Communion is monitoring the events and constantly engaging relevant sectors, observed that it is high time the nation joined hands in “uprooting this evil” so that sanity returns in the country.
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Shamar Theus, a 25-year-old working for Postmates, sits in his Ford Focus in San Francisco for about a minute before the first order comes in on his iPhone. Someone not far away wants 18 lb. of crushed ice, and Postmates is offering Theus $4.80 to pick it up and then deliver it. When he accepts the job, his phone guides him to the grocery store and then to the drop-off. “Everyone’s superbusy, overtaxed. So you bring stuff to people’s offices at 8 o’clock at night,” says Theus, who is wearing a smart watch and long black dreadlocks. “People have just reached a point where they’re so busy that they need to outsource these tasks.”
Same-day delivery, an iconic failure of the dotcom boom, is back–and not just for giants Amazon and Google.
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Exploitative, crap journalism is nothing new, and yet distinct lessons can be learned from this example of it. I do hope we can find a place between never questioning a woman when she says she was raped and questioning her way more than everyone else.
There are parallels between this disgraceful episode and the satanic-ritual-daycare-child-sex-abuse panic of the 1980s – often seen as a reaction to a societal shift wherein more women entered the work force, and thus more children attended daycare. The impetus for that alarm (much like the heightened discussion of the number of women pursuing higher education) seemed to be that the trend was somehow unnatural and a close-to-supernaturally-extracted price must be paid.
This is not to suggest that sexual abuse of children – the kind mostly committed by relations of the children and people we know, who rely on the shame of their victims to hide their crimes – is not very real, any more than it is to suggest that rape on campus is not committed and protected in the same manner; only that the problem needs to be addressed calmly and intelligently.
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Technology has cut its transformative swath through the media, transportation and hospitality industries. Insurance could be next.
Telematics, the long-distance transmission of computerized information, is a small but growing element of the insurance business. If adopted on a widespread basis, it could revolutionize the underlying risk-spreading methods used for generations, analysts say....
Progressive (NYSE:PGR) has been among the leaders in this area, permitting its customers to insert a "Snapshot" gadget into their cars in order to provide increasingly sophisticated information about their driving habits.
"It made more sense to price premiums on how you actually drive," said David Pratt, Progressive's general manager of user-based insurance.
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Armed with cell phones and a dizzying array of social media choices, half of this area's middle- and high-schoolers in a recent study admitted to social media abuse — from bullying schoolmates to spreading rumors to pressuring others to send sexual texts or pictures.
They also admitted to stalking their partners.
"It begins with the constant texting or the stalking on Facebook. 'Where are you?' and 'Who are you with?'" said researcher Poco Kernsmith, an associate professor of social work at Wayne State University.
What may seem like harmless teen jealousy can spiral into a dangerous relationship if left unchecked, said Kernsmith, whose research has centered on violence in relationships. She led a survey of 1,236 sixth- and ninth-graders at six metro Detroit high schools, a mix of high- moderate- and low-risk schools when measured with crime statistics and poverty levels.
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The 19-year-old freshman at Mount St. Joseph's University inspired millions with her courage as she battled an inoperable brain tumor.
Watch the whole video piece.
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...most Americans are less familiar with a related, if distinct, affliction known as moral injury, with roots in foundational religious or spiritual beliefs violated during war. And increasingly, military chaplains are on the front lines, tending to these misunderstood wounds.
Psychiatrists have used the term since the 1990s, but the concept has only recently been the subject of serious research by clinicians, some affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We’ve come a long way in defining moral injury, but it takes a long time to develop a tool to measure it,” said Shira Maguen, a psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and one of those developing treatment models for moral injury.
Maguen has helped the VA define an event as morally injurious if it transgresses “deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”
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Median per capita income has basically been flat since 2000, adjusted for inflation. The typical American family makes slightly less than a typical family did 15 years ago. And while many goods have become cheaper or better, the price of three of the biggest middle-class expenditures – housing, college and health care – have gone up much faster than the rate of inflation.
Equally important, Mr. Hirschl found a high degree of income volatility among most Americans in the four decades between 1969 and 2011. At some point in their working lives, a full 70 percent earned enough to put them in the top fifth of earners, and as many as 30 percent reached the equivalent of $200,000 in 2009 dollars, or roughly the top 4 percent.
Similarly, nearly 80 percent will at least temporarily plunge into a red zone, where their income drops near or below the poverty line, or they are compelled to gain access to a social safety net program like food stamps or collect unemployment insurance. More than half of Americans ages 25 to 60 will experience at least one year hovering around the poverty line.
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At campuses across the country, traditional ideals of freedom of expression and the right to dissent have been deeply compromised or even abandoned as college and university faculties and administrators have capitulated to demands for language and even thought policing. Academic freedom, once understood to be vitally necessary to the truth-seeking mission of institutions of higher learning, has been pushed to the back of the bus in an age of “trigger warnings,” “micro-aggressions,” mandatory sensitivity training, and grievance politics. It was therefore refreshing to see the University of Chicago, one of the academic world's most eminent and highly respected institutions, issue a report ringingly reaffirming the most robust conception of academic freedom. The question was whether other institutions would follow suit.
Yesterday, the Princeton faculty, led by the distinguished mathematician Sergiu Klainerman, who grew up under communist oppression in Romania and knows a thing or two about the importance of freedom of expression, formally adopted the principles of the University of Chicago report. They are now the official policy of Princeton University. I am immensely grateful to Professor Klainerman for his leadership, and I am proud of my colleagues, the vast majority of whom voted in support of his motion.
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RNS: Let’s get practical. Give me one thing–only one–that you think churches should do to promote and nurture your kind of friendship?
WH: I wish more churches would recognize that certain friends are, for gay Christians, our “significant others.” Right now, if you’re gay and celibate in a lot of conservative churches, you’re probably going to feel under suspicion–or worse. If you sit with your best friend in church, if you go on vacation with your friend, or if you spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her and her family, you may get raised eyebrows or else just blinking incomprehension. I’d like that to change.
I’d like to see close, committed, promise-sealed friendships become normalized in churches that continue to teach the historic, traditional Christian sexual ethic. What if we treated it as important, honorable, and godly for a celibate gay Christian to commit to a close friend precisely as a way of growing in Christian love? That would make a big difference in how we currently think about homosexuality.
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Oil-related job cuts may start to slow: Energy firms announced plans to lay off 1,279 workers in March, down from 16,000 in February. But for oil patch states, other questions remain: the health of the service economy surrounding energy firms, the reliability of tax revenues, and so on.
Some of that uncertainty may be trickling through to the broader economy. Some 42% of all IBD/TIPP respondents still say the U.S. is in a recession in April, nearly six years after the economic recovery began.
Yet recent data has been fitful, making it hard to get a clear read on whether the economy is turning down or just taking a beating from temporary factors — the oil price plunge, severe winter weather, and the West Coast ports labor slowdown, for example.
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LAWTON: Feinberg believes joy is a universal impulse.
FEINBERG: Across the globe, humanity speaks so many different languages and yet scientists have noted that there’s one language that all of humanity shares and it is the language of laughter. We are meant to experience this thing called joy.
LAWTON: As a Christian, she sees joy as a virtue derived from God.
FEINBERG: It is that thing that I believe emanates out of an abiding sense of being fiercely loved by God.
LAWTON: Feinberg also believes joy can be activated through practical means. She says for her, one of the first steps was an ancient Jewish grieving ritual.
FEINBERG: I remember going in my bedroom and taking my blouse and making a small clip just like they often do at Jewish funerals and ripping it open and as I did, you know, speaking the words of Job and making that confession to God, and there was something that would happen in those rippings of the garment where grief was allowed to flow. I think like it’s meant to. I think one of the ways that we fight back with joy is that we learn to grieve well.
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Men who are reluctant to settle down until they make more money – and women who spurn low-wage men – could benefit from what Taulbee has discovered: Marriage has a transformative effect on adult behavior, emotional health, and financial well-being—particularly for men. (Parenthood is more transformative for women.)
Men who get married work harder and more strategically, and earn more money than their single peers from similar backgrounds. Marriage also transforms men’s social worlds; they spend less time with friends and more time with family; they also go to bars less and to church more. In the provocative words of Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, men “settle down when they get married; if they fail to get married they fail to settle down.”
Research findings on heterosexual marriage are surprisingly consistent with Akerlof’s insight, especially when it comes to engaging the world of work.
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If the opponents of that law were arguing that the Indiana statute tightens the federal standards a notch too far, that would be compelling. But that’s not the argument the opponents are making.
Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.
This deviation seems unwise both as a matter of pragmatics and as a matter of principle. In the first place, if there is no attempt to balance religious liberty and civil rights, the cause of gay rights will be associated with coercion, not liberation. Some people have lost their jobs for expressing opposition to gay marriage. There are too many stories like the Oregon bakery that may have to pay a $150,000 fine because it preferred not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. A movement that stands for tolerance does not want to be on the side of a government that compels a photographer who is an evangelical Christian to shoot a same-sex wedding that he would rather avoid.
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Today, though, as I said above, I think the consensus center-left position has basically shifted toward the argument offered by Garrett Epps for The Atlantic: It doesn’t matter if Stutzman or any other wedding vendor is a nice person with sincere religious beliefs, and it doesn’t matter if she or they would provide her services to gay clients in any other context; her religious anxiety about decorating a wedding chapel for a same-sex couple is no different from the objection to integration of a Southern store-owner whose preacher taught him the races should be separate, and needs to be dismissed with extreme prejudice lest anti-gay discrimination flourish and spread.
And whether you find this view, this analogy, persuasive or you don’t, it has a lot of possible further implications. Because in the annals of American history, both Jim Crow and the means we used to destroy it are, well, legally and culturally extraordinary. So if our current situation with same-sex marriage and religious conservatives really is analogous, there is no obvious reason why we’ve reached any kind stopping point once the florists and bakers have been appropriately fined or closed down.
Hence the following seven questions about future steps, which I’ll pose specifically to Epps and generally to the Indiana law’s many liberal critics. Some are rooted in real-life examples and possibilities; some are much more (I think) unlikely. But I’m still quite interested in whether people would support them if they were to become plausible options a little ways down the road.
Read it all and there is a WSJ editorial on it there.
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After dinner, Mr. Iero washes Mr. Myers’s face and hands with a hot washcloth in his room and trims his mustache and eyebrows. As Mr. Iero leads Mr. Myers down the hallway to the lobby for dessert, a female resident grabs Mr. Myers’s hand. The trio slowly shuffles along.
“Do we know who she is?” Mr. Myers mumbles.
“Yeah, we know who she is, Paul,” Mr. Iero says reassuringly.
His days are long. Prepping food in the morning for Mr. Myers. Grocery shopping after work. The 30-minute drive home in the dark.
“It’s just a horrible, horrible disease,” Mr. Iero says. When someone dies, “you lose that someone but then you go on. You have some closure. With Alzheimer’s it’s just an ongoing reminder of what you lost.”
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What are the reasons you have chosen to be open about a homosexual orientation?
Gay and lesbian people don't just exist "out there," far removed from our churches. Rather, many of us are Christians--we are already "insiders," members of various churches and Christian communities. I felt that it was really important for more Christians, especially conservative evangelicals, to start acknowledging that fact. Staying in the closet can be a bad thing for one's spiritual life. It can intensify shame and guilt. On the other hand, coming out can be a way of experiencing God's love.
Why have you chosen to be celibate?
Because of what I described above. I believe that the Bible and the Christian tradition don't endorse same-sex sexual activity. So, I am seeking a life of hospitable community, deep friendship, and genuine love in and through my celibacy.
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Stunningly, Mr Putnam finds that family background is a better predictor of whether or not a child will graduate from university than 8th-grade test scores. Kids in the richest quarter with low test scores are as likely to make it through college as kids in the poorest quarter with high scores....
There are no obvious villains in this story. Mr Murray suggested that the educated classes preach the values they practise by urging the poor to get married before they have children. But the record of those who tell other people how to arrange their love lives is hardly encouraging. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama preached the virtues of responsible fatherhood, to no obvious effect.
Mr Putnam sees “no clear path to reviving marriage” among the poor. Instead, he suggests a grab-bag of policies to help poor kids reach their potential, such as raising subsidies for poor families, teaching them better parenting skills, improving nursery care and making after-school baseball clubs free. He urges all 50 states to experiment to find out what works. A problem this complex has no simple solution.
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Councillors are to discuss how best to manage large-scale funerals after one for a traveller from Cheshire attracted hundreds of mourners.
Holy Trinity Church in Blacon and Chester Crematorium were packed for the service marking 54-year-old Elton man "Pudgie" Evans's life on 30 January.
Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary worked together to manage the funeral.
Local residents were advised beforehand and roads shut for the funeral cortege....
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With a few short-lived and unsustainable exceptions, the story of the last 30 years appears to be one of constantly falling interest rates and disappointing growth. Central banks try to keep stimulating the economy, but investment demand never really seems to gather pace in response to their efforts. Instead, investment seems stagnant and unresponsive to policy during normal periods, but shoots up during events like the dotcom and real estate bubbles, which then burst and leave everyone worse off.
People have been puzzling over this pattern for decades, but it took a speech by Larry Summers to the IMF in 2013 to really crystallise the whole picture, and bring it into the public eye. Ever since, it’s been known by the term he gave the phenomenon: ‘secular stagnation’. But he didn’t invent it. It was first coined by Alvin Hansen in the post-Depression 30s, when technological progress seemed to have ground to a halt.
The revival of the term could be misleading on a number of levels.
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For middle-class Americans, it’s never been easier to feel consumed by consumption. Despite the recession, despite a brief interlude when savings rates shot up and credit-card debt went down, Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. The rise of wholesalers and warehouse supermarkets has packed our pantries and refrigerators with bulk items that often overflow into a second fridge. One-click shopping and same-day delivery have driven purchasing to another level altogether, making conspicuous consumption almost too easy.
Our stuff has taken over. Most household moves outside the U.S. weigh from 2,500 lb. to 7,500 lb. (1,110 kg to 3,400 kg). The average weight of a move in the U.S. is 8,000 lb. (3,600 kg), the weight of a fully grown hippo. An entire industry has emerged to house our extra belongings–self-storage, a $24 billion business so large that every American could fit inside its units simultaneously.
It would be one thing if all our possessions were making us happier, but the opposite seems to be occurring. At least one study shows that a home with too much stuff can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety. “These objects that we bring in the house are not inert,” says UCLA anthropologist Elinor Ochs, who led a decade-long study on hyperacquisition. “They have consequences.”
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I am not neutral. I agree with Dolce and Gabbana. Elton John is wrong. This is not to insult his children or take away from their humanity; nor is it to demean the character of men who love men everywhere. I am just as queer as both of these men. I have been out as bisexual since 1989 and have withstood a great deal of hostility from both the LGBT community and conservative Christians for refusing to use the label “ex-gay” to describe myself.
I also grew up with a lesbian couple without much connection to my father. In the process of writing my most recent book, Jephthah’s Daughters, I dealt with countless testimonials from children of same-sex couples all over the world. Stefano Gabbana gets us. Part of this is because his craft leads him outside of language to the ineffable world of instinct.
You can tell a child in such a home every day, “we are your fathers,” but our bodies and the rest of the visual environment around us will always reveal such words as false. The day-to-day rhythm of life, that quotidian routine that Gabbana must understand for his art but which Elton John does not have to, acts upon the language of same-sex parenting like a trickle of water wearing down a rock. With each day, in all the small gestures and emotional moments, the child puts together a picture of herself in the world and eventually realizes that the same-sex parents have created a world that is . . . what can we call it? Let’s use the language of theater critics: Contrived. Forced. Implausible.
Read it all from First Things.
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To understand where this cyber-libertarian ideology came from, you have to understand the influence of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” one of the strangest artifacts of the ’90s, and its singular author, John Perry Barlow. Perhaps more than any other, it’s his philosophy — which melded countercultural utopianism, a rancher’s skepticism toward government and a futurist’s faith in the virtual world — that shaped the industry.
The problem is, we’ve reaped what he sowed.
Generally the province of fascists, artists or fascist artists, manifestos are a dying form. It takes gall to have published one anytime after, say, 1938. But “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was an utterly serious document for a deliriously optimistic era that Wired, on one of its many valedictory covers, promised was a “long boom”: “25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world.” Techno-skeptics need not apply.
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When she repeated this belief at school, the teacher ridiculed her in front of the class and said only "religious nutters" held such beliefs.
This is just one of the stories of discrimination against Christians in the workplace uncovered in a new consultation, which also found evidence that atheists were being discriminated against by some Christians.
Employees feel under increasing pressure to keep their religion hidden at work and they also feel discriminated against when it comes to wearing religious symbols or expressing their beliefs, the consultation found.
Christians in particular feel discriminated against.
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I think luo has something important to teach us in the face of dementia. In the face of deficit, decline, and death we try hard to cling on. But the lesson of the little word luo is that maybe the path of resurrection lies in letting go. If death is starting now, maybe resurrection can start now too.
Perhaps it’s only when we let go of who and what our loved one was that we can receive who they are now. Perhaps only when we find ways to enjoy who they are now can we reverse the deficit and the decline, because we stop assuming they’re moving away from something good and start appreciating that they’re moving into something new.
Dementia is not a living death. It’s an invitation to see how we can remain the same person yet take on new and rather different characteristics. In that sense it’s a training in resurrection, in which we shall be changed but still recognizably ourselves. Like resurrection, we can’t experience it unless we find ways to let go, to let loose, to be released and forgiven. God welcomes us into eternal life not by keeping a tight hold on us but by letting us go. The challenge for us in dementia is to find ways that we can do the same.
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On her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.
Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.
When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.
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Jonathan Haber majored in philosophy at Harvard University. And Yale. And Stanford. He explored Kant’s “The Critique of Pure Reason” with an Oxford don and Kierkegaard’s insights into “Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity” with a leading light from the University of Copenhagen.
In his quest to meet all the standard requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in a single year, the 52-year-old from Lexington, Mass., also took courses in English common law, Shakespeare’s late plays and the science of cooking, which overlapped with the degree in chemistry he earned from Wesleyan in 1985.
Here’s the brilliant part: Mr. Haber didn’t spend a dime on tuition or fees. Instead, he gorged from the smorgasbord of free courses offered by top universities. He documented the project on his website, degreeoffreedom.org, and in a new book exploring the wider phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. He didn’t earn a degree — the knowledge may be free but the sheepskin costs dearly — but he was satisfied.
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Loneliness kills. That’s the conclusion of a new study by Brigham Young University researchers who say they are sounding the alarm on what could be the next big public-health issue, on par with obesity and substance abuse.
The subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%, according to the new study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation — or lacking social connection — and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely, respectively increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32%.
“This is something that we need to take seriously for our health,” says Brigham Young University researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an author of the study. “This should become a public-health issue.”
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Virtual reality is just getting started. A bunch of companies, including HTC, Samsung, and Sony have shown off headsets that immerse you in a virtual world, and Facebook's Oculus — credited with kickstarting the latest craze — has been selling a version to developers for some time now.
But most people have never tried or even seen a VR headset, much less been able to buy one.
That's going to change, fast. Business Insider Intelligence expects VR to be the next big thing in gaming, with 26.5 million units sold in 2020. That would give it a compound annual growth rate of nearly 100% — in other words, sales, on average, will double every year for the next five. So get ready to be immersed.
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Marriage is an inherently public institution designed to recognize and protect natural families, she says—not a “government registry of friendships.” Privatizing wouldn’t get the government out of the marriage business. By removing the presumption of biological parentage, courts would be full of custody battles between unrelated individuals, friends, gamete donors, and whoever else claims parentage. And children would suffer.
That’s isn’t a solution. It creates more problems than it solves.
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More Americans are saying “I do” more than one time.
Nearly one in five U.S. adults—roughly 17%—has been married two or more times, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau of its 2008-2012 American Community Survey. About 4% of U.S. residents age 15 or older have been married three or more times.
The findings—the first snapshot of remarriage trends by the census with levels of geographical detail—are the latest to suggest that, while marriage has declined in the U.S. since the 1960s, remarriage, especially among older Americans, is on the rise.
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If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?
The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.
Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.
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Last year, the radio host Diane Rehm watched in agony as her husband, John, starved to death over the course of 10 days.
Severely crippled by Parkinson’s disease, his only option for ending the suffering was to stop eating and drinking. Physicians in most states, including Maryland, where he lived, are barred from helping terminally ill patients who want to die in a dignified way.
“He was a brilliant man, just brilliant,” Ms. Rehm said in an interview. “For him to go out that way, not being able to do anything for himself, was an insufferable indignity.”
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Over time, [Robin] Rinaldi decided a baby would add purpose to their lives, but [her husband] Scott wouldn’t change his mind. “I wanted a child, but only with him,” she explains. “He didn’t want a child but wanted to keep me.” When Scott opted for a vasectomy, she demanded an open marriage.
“I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers,” she declares. “If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”
If you’re wondering why that is the relevant trade-off, stop overthinking this. “The Wild Oats Project” is the year-long tale of how a self-described “good girl” in her early 40s moves out, posts a personal ad “seeking single men age 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality,” sleeps with roughly a dozen friends and strangers, and joins a sex commune, all from Monday to Friday, only to rejoin Scott on weekends so they can, you know, work on their marriage.
Read it all--in my mind from the Brave new World Department.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Americans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans' mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.
Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.
The latest results are from a March 5-8 Gallup poll of 1,025 American adults.
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Organisations are constantly playing around with the levers of financial motivation - offering or withholding money as an inducement or a threat. They use individual and team bonuses, cash rewards, profit sharing and company stock as ways of using economic factors to enhance motivation.
But there are some striking examples of motivation outside this system. The military is a central case. In the armed forces, often for very modest pay, people will do extraordinary things. Even die. It's an astonishing contrast. You can pay someone $38,000 a year to die for you. But you struggle to pay someone $45,000 a year to sit in a room and fill in forms.
This tells us that motivation simply cannot be primarily financial. People can be moved by money, but they can be moved and motivated more by other things. The armed forces also tell us something about where the strongest kinds of motivation come from.
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Jean Vanier, a Canadian who launched an international network of communities for the mentally disabled, has won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for affirming life's spiritual dimension.
The U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation announced the award on Wednesday in London, calling him "this extraordinary man" whose message of compassion for society's weakest members "has the potential to change the world for the better".
Vanier, 86, founded the first L'Arche ("Ark") community in 1964 when he invited two mentally disabled men to leave their large institution and live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village 95 km (60 miles) north of Paris.
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Just about everybody has one raging narcissist to deal with, sooner or later -- on the job, in social situations or (God forbid) in the home. How did he get this way, we wonder? What was his childhood like?
For what appears to be the first time, researchers have taken a stab at that question by following and surveying 565 children ages 7 through 11 and their parents -- 415 mothers and 290 fathers.
The results are quite clear: Parents who "overvalue" children during this developmental stage, telling them they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, are more likely to produce narcissistic children -- who can grow up to become narcissistic adults, unless something is done about it.
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Here’s an uncomfortable question for all of us: When was the last time we shared the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with anyone? The last time we told someone that Jesus died so that God could forgive their sins, and that we must receive that gift in trusting faith?
According to the Barna Group, although 100 percent of “evangelicals” believe they have a personal responsibility to evangelize, a full 31 percent admit to not having done so in the past 12 months.
Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, notes that his church—the Southern Baptist Convention—is reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as it did 50 years ago. Rainer calls the trend “disturbing.” And indeed it is. “By almost any metric,” he says, “the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past.”
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The suicide rate among today’s male military combat veterans is two and a half times that of any previous war and three times the rate of the male civilian population. That as many as 44 young veterans are killing themselves every day (more often than not by gunshot) is considered a crisis by those responsible for our veterans’ well-being.
Sixteen weeks of training, no matter how professional and intense, cannot prepare a young man for combat when he has been coddled all of his life by well-intentioned but ignorant parents — parents who honestly believe their children are in a constant state of jeopardy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Violent crime against children is down more than 20 percent since the 1950s.
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Some people are allergic to the T-word. After a lone gunman stormed Parliament Hill last fall, killing a soldier at the National War Memorial, they said it was not possible to conclude that this was terrorism. More likely, the guy just had mental problems. “I think that we’re not in the presence of a terrorist act in the sense that we would understand it,” said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. “I don’t think we have enough evidence to use that word.”
In the Vancouver Sun, Ian Mulgrew argued that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was no terrorist. He was a victim. “The vast amount of tax money devoted to his petty crimes would have been far better spent providing him with appropriate psychiatric and social care,” he wrote. As for the two people who plotted to bomb the B.C. Legislature, “They, too, seem more sad sack than Satanic.”
Now we know better. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau’s self-made martyrdom video, released by the RCMP last week, is chillingly clear about his motives. “This is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq,” he said. “We’ll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country … and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries.” (In a very Canadian touch, he signs off by saying “Thank you.”)
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“In 1990, 54 percent of marriages were the first for both spouses,” said Jamie Lewis, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and one of the report’s authors. “Now, newlyweds are more likely to be walking down the aisle for the first time — 58 percent of recent marriages were a first for both. The stabilization or slight decrease in the divorce rate during this period may explain why more marriages today are first marriages."
Below are a few highlights from the report:
About 13 percent of men age 15 and over have been married twice, compared with 14 percent of women.
Between 1996 and 2008-2012, the share of those who had married at least twice increased only for women age 50 and older and men 60 and older.
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Of the many new words that bubbled up from our technological culture in 2014, perhaps the most unsettling is doxxing.
Typically carried out by anonymous online users with axes to grind and little to lose, doxxing involves making someone’s private information public. That includes home addresses, phone numbers, financial histories, medical records—anything that can be found in the endless databases available to canny hackers.
Doxxing can be a drive-by prank on most anyone who draws attention. But more often its targets are singled out for humiliation. In a series of events last year that came to be called GamerGate, certain active video gamers targeted journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the outright misogyny found in many popular video games. The backlash began with the bilious insults that have become astonishingly common online. But it quickly escalated to “revenge blogs” purporting to reveal those journalists’ past indiscretions, and doxxing attacks.
Doxxing is extreme and rare. But it marks the limit of a trend that affects every one of us: aspects of our lives that were once private and fleeting can now be publicly, and permanently, exposed.
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In a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the president was found to be cheating on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.
But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign — evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple — for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.
The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.
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Modern technology provides us with many means to cause our downfall, and our natural moral psychology does not provide us with the means to prevent it. The moral enhancement of humankind is necessary for there to be a way out of this predicament.
If we are to avoid catastrophe by misguided employment of our power, we need to be morally motivated to a higher degree (as well as adequately informed about relevant facts). A stronger focus on moral education could go some way to achieving this, but as already remarked, this method has had only modest success during the last couple of millennia. Our growing knowledge of biology, especially genetics and neurobiology, could deliver additional moral enhancement, such as drugs or genetic modifications, or devices to augment moral education.
The development and application of such techniques is risky - it is after all humans in their current morally-inept state who must apply them - but we think that our present situation is so desperate that this course of action must be investigated. We have radically transformed our social and natural environments by technology, while our moral dispositions have remained virtually unchanged. We must now consider applying technology to our own nature, supporting our efforts to cope with the external environment that we have created.
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The crisis of adulthood, then, feeds off of the crisis of Enlightenment values. In an age in which freedom, human resilience and reason are seen as dangerous ideas, if not Eurocentric illusions, our ability to remake our world is diminished. All that’s left is fatalistic, pity-me politics, in which young people languish in a state of permanent imperilment.
But the desire to make your mark in the world is not only expressed politically. It is also a case of just getting on with things – experiencing, experimenting and taking risks. In an age in which 40-year-olds out-drink their children, in which young people would rather stay at home than slum it, young people seem incapable of going out into the world – let alone changing it.
Neiman posits these sorts of growing pains as age-old problems, but they are particularly acute today. For her, the rise of Islamist extremism – and the allure it has to disaffected Western youth – is a direct consequence of the crisis of the Enlightenment and adulthood. The West’s lack of moral purpose, its inability to find meaning in modern experience, leads some to submit to the deadest of dogmas. ‘There is nothing grown-up about behaviour that’s dictated by religious authority. But what alternatives do we offer?’, she asks.
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Live at your full potential. Become a better you. Be happier. It’s your time. Live an extraordinary life. Achieve your dreams. Go beyond your barriers. You can, you will.
This is the therapeutic message of Joel Osteen, lifted right from his dust jackets. In contrast with the more classical and philosophically grounded evangelicalism of a Billy Graham or a C.S. Lewis, Ross Douthat termed Osteen’s brand of TV preaching “the gospel of self-help.” But notice it’s not the self-help of the Gospel; self-help is the gospel. The Gospel is the cask to deliver it, shucked and cast out as soon as the intoxicating wine of self-improvement is imbibed.
Contrast this with Pope Francis who, quoting St. Basil of Caesarea of the fourth century, recently referred to money as the “devil’s dung.” We can follow this line of thinking right back to the New Testament. St. Paul used an even stronger word: skubula. Some translations of the Bible use “filth” or “refuse” in its place in the third chapter of the letter to the Philippians. But that’s not what he said. The nearest English equivalent of the vulgar Greek word is…well, you can Google it. Paul, I suspect, wanted to make an unambiguous point: all of his worldly respect, progress, and prosperity – in short, all of his “self-help” – was all skubala compared to the Cross and Resurrection.
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...there are more than 6.5 million people working part time who would like to have more hours.
Randa Jama pushes airline passengers on wheelchairs to their gates at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This had been a full-time job when she took it last fall, but then a couple of months later, that changed.
"They told me that you're working only Saturday and Sunday from now," she says.
That cut her hours to 12 a week. Sometimes, her supervisors ask her at the last minute to stay late or do an extra shift. Since she cut back on babysitters, she can't accommodate.
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It's a troubling trend and it's not clear what's driving it, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
"The data don't allow us to determine why," said the CDC's Thomas Simon, a suicide expert who helped lead the study. "Is it social media? Is it conventional media? Is it access to other methods?"
What CDC is very worried about is giving troubled a teens a "how-to" guide for how to commit suicide, but the agency also wants parents, teachers, friends and others to be aware of the risks. When media report on certain suicide methods, often officials see a rise in suicides afterwards, using the method described.
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These days Persson pays less attention to the heckling on Twitter and more to the insults hurled his way by close friends on a WhatsApp group they’ve crudely titled Farts. The unleashed Persson has regressed toward adolescence. At the temporary office for Rubberbrain, jokes about male genitalia and laughter bounce off the ceiling and elicit annoyed floor banging from the upstairs neighbor.
Persson ignores the foot-thumped berating much like he’s done with the armchair trolls. He says he’s taken fondly to the mute button on Twitter, which allows him to tune out unkind people without notifying them that they’ve been blocked. Occasionally, though, his curiosity will get the best of him, and he’ll reply. Lately he’s been responding to his haters with a moving image from the movie Zombieland of Woody Harrelson wiping tears away with a wad of money. “I’m aware that tweeting the image is a little douchey,” he shrugs. He’s equally gauche with people he likes, broadcasting his vacations via chartered jet on Snapchat. As for girls, “I tried to use Tinder, it didn’t work. In Sweden it’s horrible; there’s only like four people.” Hence the $180,000 nightclub bills.
“I’m a little bit making up for lost time when I was just programming through my twenties,” he says. “Partying is not a sane way to spend money, but it’s fun. When we were young we did not have a lot of money at all, so I thought, if I ever get rich I’m not going to become one of those boring rich people that doesn’t spend money.”
Right now he’s spending on the permanent office for his new company–a teenage boy’s fantasy that will include a full-service bar, a DJ booth (he’s learning how to spin) and secret rooms hidden by bookshelves–despite the fact that Rubberbrain is nothing more than a name waiting for an idea.
Little inspiration seems imminent.
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With all the changes in healthcare over the past few years, many system and hospital leaders now acknowledge the importance of employee engagement. Employees are the one constant in the healthcare equation, and their ability to persevere during times of change can determine whether a healthcare system maintains its quality of care and patient service.
Yet, for some reason, the concept of physician engagement isn't getting the attention it deserves. Perhaps healthcare leaders assume that physicians are self-motivated and their interest in their patients or research trumps the need to engage them.
But physician engagement is vital to a hospital's or system's success. I
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World War II veteran Erling Kindem found a best bud in his 4-year-old next-door neighbor, Emmett Rychner. But after the unlikely pair enjoyed countless hours of lawn mower races, croquet matches and gardening, Emmett's parents made the difficult decision last year to move from their suburban home south of Minneapolis to a new house in the country.
The distance became even harder to bear as Kindem planned to move with his ailing wife to a retirement community about 30 miles away. "It was good while it lasted," Kindem told NBC affiliate KARE last September. His voice cracked as he reasoned that he would someday see his friend again: "It isn't over."
On Sunday, they were reunited.
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One way to think about the role of Christian faith for [Jacques] Ellul is that it establishes the one indispensable tension that stubbornly reasserts the limits of technical means, as it is the tension for which no technical means can be devised — the personal encounter with the sacred Other. Here, dialectic cannot be smoothed out, and any meeting between the two, any real presence — in Christ and the Eucharist, in revelation and prayer — remains inscrutable, which is a point less apologetic than descriptive.
It is the premise of a dialectic, both in Ellul’s method and in society, that has arguably been the biggest stumbling block for readers of The Technological Society, at least in America. The Anglo-American tradition of analytical reasoning and empirical research in the social sciences is inhospitable to continental European approaches that, as Scott Buchanan explained in his 1962 conference paper, allow for “many-storeyed imagination and speculation.” The American preference for more “scientific” methods in social research renders Ellul’s social analysis hopelessly inadequate and too philosophical. Technique, in this light, is a uselessly vague concept; in its place, we prefer to investigate particular technologies and their effects. And by studying only technologies, it is unlikely that we will recognize a “technological system” of the sort Ellul describes; consequently, no dialectical opposite is needed to confront it, assuming it would be a problem if it existed. These sentiments go a long way toward explaining some of the obstacles The Technological Society has had in reaching a wide and sustained readership. They also help explain why of Ellul’s fifty-some books substantially more of his theological than his sociological ones have been translated into English.
But while America was not exactly fertile ground for Ellul’s argument, it was, at least in Ellul’s own estimation, the soil most thirsty for it as readers recognized their society’s over-commitment to technique.
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The U.S. is a country of gaps. The wage gap. The wealth gap. And now, the sleep gap.
The dividing line: Pain. Having chronic or fleeting pain in the prior week caused 57 percent of Americans a significant loss of sleep, according to the 2015 Sleep in America poll, released Monday by the National Sleep Foundation.
People with chronic pain said they got 42 minutes of sleep less than they needed every night. It’s a vicious cycle: Pain makes it hard to sleep, less sleep exacerbates pain.
Missing 42 minutes of sleep wouldn’t be a big deal if sleep weren’t so connected with overall well-being. People who rated their health and quality of life very good or excellent in the survey slept an average of 15 to 30 minutes longer than those who said it was good, fair or poor.
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...the list of things we’re not supposed to do anymore gets longer all the time. I recently encountered an article headlined:
IS YOUR HANDSHAKE AS DANGEROUS AS SMOKING?
The answer, in case you are a complete idiot, is: Of course your handshake is as dangerous as smoking. The article explains that handshakes transmit germs, which cause diseases such as MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” a fatal disease that may have originated in camels. This is yet another argument, as if we needed one, against shaking hands with camels. But the article suggests that we should consider not shaking hands with anybody.
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What's Arnholter's big idea? It's simple. Ambitiously simple. Create a mural made by thousands of people in every state in the country, plus Washington, D.C. Call it the "Mural of America," make it about reminding people that humanity is a shared experience and allot 15 months, 16,000 miles and $175,000 to do it.
"It's important for this country," Arnholter says. "We're always bickering, so we miss the big picture. A woman once told me this project is about 'the cohesion of diversity.' That's the best way I've heard anyone describe it."
Traveling to a new state every weekend, with a break in the winter, Arnholter wants to stop by the Boston Marathon, the Las Vegas Art Festival, the Treme Gumbo Creole Festival in New Orleans and the Broad Ripple Art Fair. He'll use a similar route taken by the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1900s. He'll live in an RV.
First stop: Pendleton, S.C.
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I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.
There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”
They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.
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What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?
I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.
We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?
When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.
It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.
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Many times we are working with church structures of a different time. I have seen churches with 50 people attending on Sunday morning, and they maintain 12 committees.
There may have been a lot of retirees in the church, so we have committees who meet in the day.
Or there might have been a lot of people without children, so everyone meets at night—on a different night, to ensure that the pastor is at every meeting.
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“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”
Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”
And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”
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Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.
The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.
Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.
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[Elon] Musk, [Bill] Gates and [Stephen] Hawking made headlines by speaking to the dangers that A.I. may pose. Their points are important, but I fear were largely misunderstood by many readers. Relying on efforts to program A.I. not to “harm humans” (inspired by on Isaac Asimov’s “three laws” of robotics from 1942) makes sense only when an A.I. knows what humans are and what harming them might mean. There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans. To the extent that we recognize A.I. by its anthropomorphic qualities, or presume its preoccupation with us, we are vulnerable to those eventualities.
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I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.
“No problem,” he said.
It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?
Many people, it turns out. Mike Freedman, a Green Beret, calls it the “thank you for your service phenomenon.” To some recent vets — by no stretch all of them — the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.
To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Military / Armed Forces Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.
This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Psychology Sexuality Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?
Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.
You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?
For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A couple of days ago, a senior African cleric was holding forth on the need to combine religious instruction with, in the broadest sense, sex education. Both at home and at school, declared Archbishop Henri Isingoma, boys must be taught about the higher purpose of sex as "the way God wanted to make the human race continue". Another acute problem, he added, was "ignorance of the responsibilities of men towards women." He was speaking in a webinar organised by a department of the global Anglican church, drawing in clergy and church workers from their own and other Christian confessions.
So...was this one more depressing display of the giant cultural gap between the liberal north and the traditional south, especially over sexuality, which is tearing apart the 80m-strong Anglican Communion, and many other religious bodies?
No, it was nothing of the kind, and that's what made the discussion more worthwhile. The topic was "gender-based violence" which is a catchall term that describes both domestic cruelty and the still-greater horrors that take place on battlefields when soldiers run amok and commit rape. Victims of GBV are mainly female, but they also include men and boys. And the striking thing was that on this exceptionally grave subject, "conservatives" and "liberals" plainly find it useful to talk and cooperate, and the talk goes well beyond platitudes.
Mara Luz, an Anglican church worker from Brazil, said 40% of women in her country experienced some kind of violence; there were well-written laws, but implementation was very poor, especially in remote areas.
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We can only imagine the agony of Edward Mallen’s parents, for whom “a normal Monday afternoon became a horrifying nightmare where one is staring into this appalling abyss of grief” when police knocked on their door last week to say that their 18-year-old son had been killed by a train. Intelligent, gifted, kind and humble, head boy twice over — by all accounts, Edward was a remarkable young man. Twelve A*s at GCSE, a place at Cambridge to read geography, grade eight at piano and popular.
Yet shortly after Christmas depression consumed him. His father said: “Often there is a trigger, some trauma, but there didn’t seem to be in this case. My son had a sickness — a biological sickness — that overtook him very rapidly. It happened over six to eight weeks.” The shocking fact is that this is not an isolated incident. Talking to experts and parents, I get a sense that self-harm, a destructive way of coping with emotional pain, has reached epidemic proportions.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 report on public mental health, half of those who suffer mental-health problems in adult life display difficulties by the age of 14. Three quarters of mental illness is present by the mid-twenties. While three times as many women as men attempt suicide, Office for National Statistics figures show that 78 per cent of suicides in 2013 were male (up from 63 per cent in 1981).
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Walker Percy gives fictional life to our contemporary hell ruled by the Prince of this world in both its bestial and angelic expressions. He reveals that we are already inhabiting a city of the dead populated by the corpses of souls. Percy warns against slothfully resigning ourselves to existence in this earthly hell, even though we know that it will eventually work its own self-destruction.
Yet he also cautions against our rising up in wrath against these demonic forces, lest we remake ourselves in their image by returning evil for evil. This more excellent way lies in the formation of true selves in the Body of Christ, not in the redemption of solitary souls through an invisible spiritual inwardness. The more abundant life is found, instead, in the sacramental and communal life of the Church.
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