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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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When the news broke that her father was about to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Katharine Welby found herself in floods of tears.
“I ended up crying and crying,” she says, but not because she didn’t want her dad to get the job....
Her weeping was caused by depression. The illness is “a constant struggle” in her life and creates moments of crisis in which she wants to “run away and hide in a hole”. In the past, it has brought her to the brink of suicide.
Read it all.
Army Pvt. John Jeffery stumbled into Kyle Boswell's barracks room at Ft. Bliss before dawn one day in February, his eyes glassy.
"I've done something," Jeffery mumbled to his buddy. "I can't tell anyone. It's going to happen."
He had just learned his girlfriend was cheating on him. The Army had decided to kick him out for using heroin. Now the 21-year-old veteran of Afghanistan had downed more than two bottles of Vicodin and Oxycodone, powerful prescription painkillers. Boswell rushed him to the emergency room, and he remains in the hospital psychiatric ward.
The case is a success of sorts — a soldier treated, a suicide prevented — and it reflects an encouraging shift at Ft. Bliss....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Stress Suicide * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
For young people exposed to gun trauma — like the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — the road to recovery can be long and torturous, marked by anxiety, nightmares, school trouble and even substance abuse. Witnessing lethal violence ruptures a child’s sense of security, psychiatrists say, leaving behind an array of emotional and social challenges that are not easily resolved.
But the good news is that most of these children will probably heal.
“Most kids, even of this age, are resilient,” said Dr. Glenn Saxe, chairman of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. “The data shows that the majority of people after a trauma, including a school assault, will end up doing O.K.”
Read it all.
In Greece, which is in its fifth year of recession, such suicides have sparked violent clashes between police and those opposing austerity who have held the victims up as martyrs. In Italy, widows of businessmen who have committed suicide — such as builder Giuseppe Campaniello, who set himself on fire outside a government tax office in Bologna on March 28 after his company collapsed — have held demonstrations. And in Ireland, where citizens are jumping off quays in Dublin, Cork and Limerick in alarming numbers, the mobile telephone company Vodaphone volunteered to give up the stadium advertising space it bought at soccer and hurling games for a suicide prevention campaign.
So many people have been killing themselves and leaving behind notes citing financial hardship that European media outlets have a special name for them: “economic suicides.” Surveys are also showing increasing signs of mental stress: a jump in the use of antidepressants and illicit drugs, a rise in depression and anxiety among workers worried about salary cuts or being laid off, and an increase in the use of sick leave due to psychological problems.
“People are more and more uncertain about their future, which is leading to a sharp rise in mental health problems,” said Maria Nyman, director of Brussels-based Mental Health Europe, a multinational coalition of mental health organizations and educational institutions.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Stress Suicide * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary Europe --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010
These are anxious days for American workers. Many, like Ms. [Sherry] Woods, are underemployed. Others find pay that is simply not keeping up with their expenses: adjusted for inflation, the median hourly wage was lower in 2011 than it was a decade earlier, according to data from a forthcoming book by the Economic Policy Institute, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition.” Good benefits are harder to come by, and people are staying longer in jobs that they want to leave, afraid that they will not be able to find something better. Only 2.1 million people quit their jobs in March, down from the 2.9 million people who quit in December 2007, the first month of the recession.
“Unfortunately, the wage problems brought on by the recession pile on top of a three-decade stagnation of wages for low- and middle-wage workers,” said Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, a research group in Washington that studies the labor market. “In the aftermath of the financial crisis, there has been persistent high unemployment as households reduced debt and scaled back purchases. The consequence for wages has been substantially slower growth across the board, including white-collar and college-educated workers.”
Now, with the economy shaping up as the central issue of the presidential election, both President Obama and Mitt Romney have been relentlessly trying to make the case that their policies would bring prosperity back. The unease of voters is striking: in a New York Times/CBS News poll in April, half of the respondents said they thought the next generation of Americans would be worse off, while only about a quarter said it would have a better future.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Psychology Stress * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
For many soldiers, the main objective here isn't getting help. It's getting home.
"You get excited about being in the United States, but then you realize you've got be here for, like, five days, and that's even more depressing," says Spc. Jonathan Remkus just outside his barracks. "I'm basically checked out right now. I'm already considered a civilian, trapped in a military uniform."
But leaving Camp Atterbury requires checking a lot of boxes on a lot of forms. Members of the 182nd work their way through a maze of assessments, filling out stacks of paperwork as they go.
Read or listen to it all.
I don't think much of a lot of contemporary Christian music, but this song is a glaring exception. I thought of it in part because it was done during the offertory at worship this morning where I serve (Christ Saint Paul's, Yonges Island, S.C.) Take the time to listen to it all and to take in some of the circumstances that led to the writing of the song--KSH.
An annual conference of Anglican bishops in Newcastle has been told the church is even more relevant during times of natural disasters.
The past few months has been described as an 'onslaught of disaster' with the Queensland floods, West Australian fires and New Zealand's double tragedies of the Pike River mine disaster and Christchurch earthquake.
Newcastle Bishop, Brian Farran says in Brisbane, unaffected parishes were critical in providing support to those in the flood zone.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Stress Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ
The elite troops of U.S. special operations forces are showing signs of fraying after nearly 10 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, their commander said Tuesday.
Adm. Eric T. Olson says that while the number of special operations forces has doubled to about 60,000 over the last nine years, the total of those deployed overseas has quadrupled. Roughly 6,500 special operators are in Afghanistan and about 3,500 are in Iraq, though those numbers can vary as units move in and out of the war zone.
Olson said the demand for the specialized units in Afghanistan is insatiable, forcing troops to deploy to war at a rate that is off the charts. And he said he does not see that demand declining in the next several years.
Read it all.
A Colorado theology school is teaching Air Force chaplains to consider the religious beliefs of servicemen and women to better help them cope with post-traumatic stress.
The goal is to build trust so a chaplain can encourage service members to draw on their individual concepts of God and spirituality, said Carrie Doehring, an associate professor of pastoral care at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Doehring helped develop the one-year program for the Air Force, which wanted another way for its chaplains to respond to the stress of deployments amid two protracted wars.
Read it all.
The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.
In the survey, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010,” involving more than 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges, the percentage of students rating themselves as “below average” in emotional health rose. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent. It was 64 percent in 1985.
Every year, women had a less positive view of their emotional health than men, and that gap has widened.
Read it all from the front page of yesterday's paper.
There has been a lot of speculation about whether Jared Lee Loughner, the man arrested for the Arizona shooting, has a severe mental illness. But is mental illness a sufficient explanation for his actions? Recent research has found that mental illness is, in fact, tied to an increased risk of violence—but it is not a simple relationship....
...the vast majority of patients with severe mental illness are not violent during their lifetimes. The largest and longest study of schizophrenia and violence, conducted in Sweden over the course of 30 years, found that only 13% of patients had violent convictions after receiving their diagnoses. For most patients, the risk of becoming a victim of violence is higher than the risk that they will commit violence.
Nor should we make the mistake of assuming that a correlation between mental illness and violence somehow establishes a causal connection between them. It may be that schizophrenia is simply a marker for other factors that increase the risk of violence. Of these factors, one of the strongest is alcohol and drug abuse. Estimates from the U.S. indicate that around half of patients with schizophrenia also have problems with substance abuse. One study in American urban centers found that nearly a third of patients who were discharged from the hospital and also diagnosed with substance abuse were violent within one year.
Read it all.
As our economic conditions continue to deteriorate, mentally disturbed people like Jared Loughner are the first to breakdown and lose it, but there will inevitably be many to follow. This tragedy is not an isolated incident. In just the past few days there have been two more incidents. A lobbyist, who was the wife of a White House adviser, was found dead in a burning car. A man upset over his Social Security benefits threatened to set fire to Senator Michael Bennet’s office and shoot his staff. There have been dozens of similar incidents over the past two years. From John Bedell, the man who opened fire on the Pentagon, to Joe Stack, the man who had a tax dispute and flew his plan into the Austin, Texas IRS building, an increasing number of Americans are beginning to resort to violence as a last desperate act of vengeance.
We can dismiss and write off all of this as just crazy people doing crazy things and go back to living with our heads in the sand, business as usual, or we can begin the urgent task of fixing a society that is severely out of balance.
The choice is ours.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Mental Illness Stress Violence * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The U.S. Government Politics in General State Government
Rushing a student to a psychiatric emergency room is never routine, but when Stony Brook University logged three trips in three days, it did not surprise Jenny Hwang, the director of counseling.
It was deep into the fall semester, a time of mounting stress with finals looming and the holiday break not far off, an anxiety all its own.
On a Thursday afternoon, a freshman who had been scraping bottom academically posted thoughts about suicide on Facebook. If I were gone, he wrote, would anybody notice? An alarmed student told staff members in the dorm, who called Dr. Hwang after hours, who contacted the campus police. Officers escorted the student to the county psychiatric hospital.
Read it all.
What can schools -- and parents -- do to relieve some of the résumé-building pressure that young people are feeling?
See what you make of the ideas suggested.
Now government statistics are emerging to confirm just how dramatically life has changed for the middle class — roughly defined as that half of all U.S households making between $25,000 and $80,000 a year. The economic dead center is represented by households earning the median income of $49,777, according to a recent report from the Census Bureau. Of the 117 million households in the U.S. today, half make more than that amount, and half make less.
Consider these recent government statistics:
In 2009, median household income decreased in 34 states and increased in only one: North Dakota.
Nearly 4 million people fell out of the middle class last year and now live below the federal poverty line. More than 14 percent of the population is under that line, set at about $11,000 annual income for one person or $22,000 for a family of four.
In 2009, enrollment in Medicaid, the medical insurance program for low-income Americans, exceeded 48 million, or a record 15.7 percent of the U.S. population.
As of June, more than 41 million people were collecting food stamps. That was up by 6.4 million, or 18 percent, from the previous year.
Read or listen to it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology Stress * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
[DEBORAH] POTTER: Joe Stewart-Sicking is an Episcopal priest who teaches pastoral counseling and studies why clergy are more stressed than most of us.
STEWART-SICKING: What makes the clergy vocation and occupation really different is that you work for God ultimately. If that work environment isn’t meaningful to you, you’re doing a lot of things like, you know, doing budgets or checking spelling on a bulletin, or office management, that’s going to really hit home, because you think your job should be about God.
POTTER: Add to that a new source of stress for many pastors in mainline Protestant denominations: as church membership dwindles they feel pressured to reverse the trend.
STEWART-SICKING: And a lot of pastors think that church growth is really the measure of their success, you know, and a lot of people are having to learn to deal with shrinking numbers, shrinking budgets, even closing churches.
Read or watch it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Stress * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Pastoral Theology
....this non-policy yields broader lessons about the modern workplace.
For instance, ever more companies are realising that autonomy isn't the opposite of accountability – it's the pathway to it. "Rules and policies and regulations and stipulations are innovation killers. People do their best work when they're unencumbered," says Steve Swasey, Netflix's vice-president for corporate communication. "If you're spending a lot of time accounting for the time you're spending, that's time you're not innovating."
The same goes for expenses. Employees typically don't need to get approval to spend money on entertainment, travel, or gifts. Instead, the guidance is simpler: act in Netflix's best interest. It sounds delightfully adult. And it is - in every regard. People who don't produce are shown the door. "Adequate performance," the company says, "gets a generous severance package."
The idea is that freedom and responsibility, long considered fundamentally incompatible, actually go together quite well.
Read it all.
There is no doubt that the Rev. Chip Stokes of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is doing what he loves. But he needs a break.
The past few years have been filled with anxious periods: The parish had to cut its budget by $200,000 last year. Many people he knows are jobless, including members of his own family.
Congregants left, and donations declined during the national Episcopal Church debate over whether to ordain gay men and women, a loss that hurt the priest deeply. Stokes was considered twice but rejected as a candidate for bishop of other dioceses. He has begun to develop health problems, possibly related to the challenges of his work.
Read it all.
Nine months after an Army psychiatrist was charged with fatally shooting 13 soldiers and wounding 30, the nation's largest Army post can measure the toll of war in the more than 10,000 mental health evaluations, referrals or therapy sessions held every month.
About every fourth soldier here, where 48,000 troops and their families are based, has been in counseling during the past year, according to the service's medical statistics. And the number of soldiers seeking help for combat stress, substance abuse, broken marriages or other emotional problems keeps increasing.
Read it all.
Mr. Druckenmiller, 57, said he was tired of the stress of managing money for others and frustrated by his failure in the past three years to match returns that had averaged 30 percent annually since 1986. His Duquesne Capital Management LLC, which oversees $12 billion and has never had a losing year, is down 5 percent in 2010.
"Managing more than $10 billion seems to challenge my long-term standard" for investment performance, Mr. Druckenmiller said in a two-hour interview in his New York office on 57th Street overlooking Central Park.
"While the joy of winning for clients is immense, for me the disappointment of each interim drawdown over the years has taken a cumulative toll that I cannot continue to sustain," he wrote to his 100 clients Wednesday.
Read it all.
Wonderfully inspiring--watch it all.
Thinking about your faith in God may make you less upset about making mistakes, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
"Eighty-five percent of the world has some sort of religious beliefs," said Michael Inzlicht, who co-wrote the study with Alexa Tullett, in a University of Toronto statement.
"I think it behooves us as psychologists to study why people have these beliefs; exploring what functions, if any, they may serve."
Read it all.
That the Great Recession could then bring hope for a major recalibration — a resetting of all the clocks — is not surprising. Unfortunately, though, it’s not happening in any meaningful way. The poor are getting poorer, and the rich, despite stock-market setbacks, are still comparatively rich. The most devastating losses in household wealth over the past two years have been suffered by the middle class. And families are fraying at the seams. The Pew poll showed nearly half of people who had been unemployed for more than six months saying their family relationships had become strained, and a New York Times/CBS poll of unemployed adults last winter found about 40 percent saying they believed their joblessness was causing behavioral change in their children.
Parents who have jobs are working longer hours than ever. Mothers are taking shorter maternity leaves. The birth rate is on the decline. The divorce rate is declining, too — it’s too expensive for people to break up their households — but that’s not necessarily a family-friendly thing, as a report from the Council on Contemporary Families noted in April: “We know from the experience of the Great Depression of the 1930s that divorce rates can fall while family conflict and domestic violence rates rise.”
What came out of the combined experience of the Great Depression and World War II — broad measures of quality-of-life equalization like a sharply progressive tax policy with rates on the wealthy unimaginable today, the G.I. Bill, government-subsidized home mortgages for veterans — permitted the easier, less-frenzied middle class family life that older Americans remember from the 1950s and ’60s and that younger Americans dream of. In other words, it wasn’t individual families that reformed themselves after the crucible of the Depression. It was our society.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Stress * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
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