Daily Archives: August 18, 2009

Alison Gopnik: Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think

In fact, our mature brain seems to be programmed by our childhood experiences ”” we plan based on what we’ve learned as children. Very young children imagine and explore a vast array of possibilities. As they grow older and absorb more evidence, certain possibilities become much more likely and more useful. They then make decisions based on this selective information and become increasingly reluctant to give those ideas up and try something new. Computer scientists talk about the difference between exploring and exploiting ”” a system will learn more if it explores many possibilities, but it will be more effective if it simply acts on the most likely one. Babies explore; adults exploit.

Each kind of intelligence has benefits and drawbacks. Focus and planning get you to your goal more quickly but may also lock in what you already know, closing you off to alternative possibilities. We need both blue-sky speculation and hard-nosed planning. Babies and young children are designed to explore, and they should be encouraged to do so.

The learning that babies and young children do on their own, when they carefully watch an unexpected outcome and draw new conclusions from it, ceaselessly manipulate a new toy or imagine different ways that the world might be, is very different from schoolwork. Babies and young children can learn about the world around them through all sorts of real-world objects and safe replicas, from dolls to cardboard boxes to mixing bowls, and even toy cellphones and computers. Babies can learn a great deal just by exploring the ways bowls fit together or by imitating a parent talking on the phone. (Imagine how much money we can save on “enriching” toys and DVDs!)

But what children observe most closely, explore most obsessively and imagine most vividly are the people around them. There are no perfect toys; there is no magic formula. Parents and other caregivers teach young children by paying attention and interacting with them naturally and, most of all, by just allowing them to play.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children

Audio for this Morning's MPR Broadcast on Mainline Churches and Same Sex Unions

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Pope Benedict XVI says Heavens Joys Can Start on Earth

Benedict XVI affirmed that the Eucharist is the “instrument of this reciprocal transformation.”

“He is the Head and we are the members. He is the Vine and we the branches,” he said. “Whoever eats of this Bread and lives in communion with Jesus, allowing himself to be transformed by him and in him, is saved from eternal death: Certainly this person will die as everyone does, participating as well in the mystery of the passion and the cross of Christ, but he is no longer a slave of death and he will be raised up on the last day to enjoy the eternal feast with Mary and all the saints.”

Finally, the Holy Father assured, this “feast of God” begins on earth.

“It is a mystery of faith, hope and love, which is celebrated in the liturgy, especially the Eucharistic [liturgy], and is expressed in fraternal communion and service to our neighbor. Let us,” he concluded, “ask the holy Virgin to help us to always with faith nourish ourselves on the Bread of eternal life to experience already on earth the joy of heaven.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Anglican Essentials: A perceptive entry on the ACoC’s Vision 2019 site

There exist in the Anglican Church, at least in North American, some very deep, fundamental problems that have been pervasive for some time. Among them are:

1. Anglicans in the pew do not know their Bible. They rarely read their Bibles or take them to church services. I know, as I was one of them for years, until I began studying with Bible Study Fellowship International. It is shameful that very few Anglicans can even find their way around the Bible or know what it says exactly. The leaders and shepherds of the church have failed in this regard to teach the Scriptures to the congregants; therefore, they need to encourage Biblical knowledge and study.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

A Statement of Faith for Beaver County Christian School

Statement of Faith

Ӣ in one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Ӣ in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His atoning death through His shed blood, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father and His return to power and glory.
Ӣ in the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God; the only authority for Christian faith and life.
Ӣ in man as the image-bearer of God yet fallen in sin and in need of a Savior.
Ӣ in salvation through Jesus Christ alone and regeneration by the Holy Spirit which results in repentance and faith in the believer.
Ӣ in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which enables the Christian to lead a godly life.
Ӣ in a bodily resurrection of life for the saved and a resurrection of damnation for the lost.
Ӣ in the spiritual unity of believers in Jesus Christ.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Religion & Culture, Theology

Sin in America: Researchers attempt to find who's good and who's not

How much sin is in America?

It depends on where you live, according to four Kansas State University geography researchers.

In what researcher Thomas Vought described as a not-too-serious study meant to garner attention at a convention of geographers in Las Vegas as much as to contribute to understanding the habits of people around the country, the foursome found that the South — encompassing an arc from North Carolina through Louisiana — was most prone to the traditional seven deadly sins.

And the least sinful areas?

The Midwest and western Appalachia, the study’s findings showed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

The Key Lutheran Recommendation on Ministry Policies

If you have not yet, make sure to take a look.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

LA Times–Lutherans debate dropping celibacy requirement for gay clergy

Advocates of change in the Lutheran denomination argue that their church has a responsibility to accept all its members equally. They point out that the new policy would be voluntary.

“We fully believe the church will be a better place and a better student for its mission if it is fully inclusive,” said Phil Soucy, a spokesman for Goodsoil, a coalition of gay rights groups in the church. “Christ did not discriminate.”

But those who favor traditional Lutheran positions on marriage believe the proposed policy reflects cultural norms rather than the word of God. They say a liberalized approach would drive away conservative Lutherans and undermine relations with other Christian denominations.

“A church ought to be focused on Jesus Christ and not voting on whether the Bible applies in terms of how humans are to live in a sexual relationship,” said the Rev. Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran Coalition for Reform.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Peter Carey: Anaheim and the sweep of Church history

The story of how the church (and by “the church” I mean the whole Christian church); how the churches do their work and carry out God’s plan throughout history is undoubtedly a mystery hidden within the mind of God.

But this much can be said, I think. God gives gifts not only to individuals, but also to institutions; institutional gifts; corporate charisms. So, the churches too have been given various gifts at various times “to prepare God’s people for works of service” and for the hastening of the Kingdom of God.

I believe that God has given our church–the Episcopal Church–a special gift, a special charism–the gift of leadership, the gift and the task of going first, the gift of being in the vanguard. Another way of saying that is that the Episcopal Church has been called to speak the Good News of God in Christ to an ever-changing world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

T.D. Jakes counsels patience in economic 'sorrows'

As the economy continues to grind away at jobs, homes and lifetimes’ of savings, Bishop Thomas D. Jakes looks back from his position as one of America’s most successful preachers and remembers his own hard times.

T.D. Jakes”” known internationally by those first two initials, or simply as “bishop” to the people at his 30,000-member Dallas megachurch The Potter’s House”” began his life and ministry in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley. As a young husband and father, he lost his job when the local Union Carbide plant closed, and found himself slipping out of the middle class, working for years at hard jobs for low pay.

Eventually, though, he turned a seven-member church in the tiny town of Montgomery into the vast territories known today as T.D. Jakes Ministries and TDJ Enterprises ”” discrete kingdoms that nonetheless complement each other, with the Pentecostal-honed Christianity of the former blending with the empower-and-entertain entrepreneurship of the latter.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

San Diego Report of the Task Force on Holiness in Relationships and the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

The Task Force makes the following recommendations to the Bishop, the Diocesan Convention, and to clergy and parishes of the Diocese of San Diego:

1. We encourage individual parishes and missions to study and discuss this report and to advise the Bishop of the character and outcome of their efforts.

2. We encourage our 2009 General Convention deputation to support measures that allow the exercise of an “option” to perform blessings of same-sex relationships, rather than measures that would direct such blessings to be performed or direct such blessings to be prohibited.

3. Should an “option” approach to the blessing of same-sex relationships be enacted by General Convention, we encourage our Bishop to put into place a process by which a church can discern if the blessing of same-sex relationships is appropriate to occur within its community….

It is an 82 page download–read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Richard Dooling: Health Care’s Generation Gap

With so much evidence of wasteful and even harmful treatment, shouldn’t we instantly cut some of the money spent on exorbitant intensive-care medicine for dying, elderly people and redirect it to pediatricians and obstetricians offering preventive care for children and mothers? Sadly, we are very far from this goal. A cynic would argue that this can’t happen because children can’t vote (even if their parents can), whereas members of AARP and the American Medical Association not only vote but can also hire lobbyists to keep the money flowing.

One thing’s for sure: Our health care system has failed. Generational spending wars loom on the horizon. Rationing of health care is imminent. But given the political inertia, we could soon find ourselves in a triage situation in which there is no time or money to create medical-review boards to ponder cost-containment issues or rationing schemes. We’ll be forced to implement quick-and-dirty rules based on something simple, sensible and easily verifiable. Like age. As in: No federal funds to be spent on intensive-care medicine for anyone over 85.

I am not, of course, talking about euthanasia. I’m just wondering why the nation continues incurring enormous debt to pay for bypass surgery and titanium-knee replacements for octogenarians and nonagenarians, when for just a small fraction of those costs we could provide children with preventive health care and nutrition. Eight million children have no health insurance, but their parents pay 3 percent of their salaries to Medicare to make sure that seniors get the very best money can buy in prescription drugs for everything from restless leg syndrome to erectile dysfunction, scooters and end-of-life intensive care.

Read it all from yesterday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

John Gerardi: The Church of Something vs. The Church of Nothing

The Church of Nothing is also a bastion of relativism, including religious and doctrinal relativism. Hence, they feel almost no urgency to attract converts. Instead, they are wildly enthusiastic in engaging in what they like to call “ecumenical activity.” Now, such non-Nothingist individuals as Pope Benedict XVI see much good in an authentic sort of Ecumenism, one in which Christians acknowledge their true differences, cooperate where they can, and engage in a dialogue that searches for truth. However, it doesn’t just accept where people are. Somebody is right and somebody is wrong, and the wages of the truth are serious ”” i.e., the person who believes in falsehood needs to change. But when the Nothingists take truth out of the equation ”¦well, then the main purpose of Ecumenism vanishes. All that’s left then is to kibitz, hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and spend parishioners’ money on dinner. This writer continues to be puzzled by how anybody could be so enthusiastic in promoting something so pointless.

Many mainline Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church, and some sectors of the Catholic Church have been completely overcome by the Church of Nothing. This is just the way the Left wants it. A Christianity that remains listless, a Christianity that offers nothing to people beyond “Be nice!” is the greatest asset that the cultural Left has, since such a Christianity will raise no voice in opposition to Left’s march towards abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, and turning public schools into leftist training facilities. At best, these Christians will do nothing; at worst, they will serve as useful leftist stooges.

However, it is every bit as true that much of American Christianity refuses to lie down. Many Catholics and Evangelical Christians have stood firm in attempting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

I will be on Minnesota Public Radio this Morning discussing Same Sex Union Controversies

Here is the website blurb:

Evangelical Lutherans are gathering in Minneapolis to consider whether to permit gay and lesbian ministers to lead churches if they are in a committed relationship. Midmorning discusses the tension this issue has created regarding inclusion and unity among other mainline Protestant churches.

You may tune in if you are so inclined. The other guests are–Susan Russell and Kevin Eckstrom . Please note that the program is 10 a.m. eastern Time, 9 a.m. central–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Media, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), TEC Conflicts

Binge drinking: It's not just for kids anymore

The early baby boomers may be known as the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But it turns out, they’re hitting the bottle pretty hard as they age, as well. And that portends significant alcohol-related health problems ahead as those mid-lifers become seniors.

A new study finds that among men and women 50 to 64 years old, almost 1 in 4 men and 1 in 10 women is a “binge” drinker — meaning that at some point in the last 30 days, he or she has downed four (for women) or five (for men) servings of alcohol in a single two-hour sitting. Such alcohol abuse — roughly defined as the amount needed to attain a blood-alcohol level of .08 (the level at which most states consider a driver intoxicated) — frequently escapes the notice of physicians, even though it presents an escalating health risk as the drinker ages.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that binge drinkers are more likely to use tobacco or illicit drugs than those who do not drink. (It also found that among women, binge drinking was more common among the employed and those using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes; among men, it was more common among the unmarried and those with higher incomes.)

Binge drinking among this still highly mobile group is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents and other alcohol-related injuries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Alcoholism