Category : Health & Medicine

(1st Things) Peter Hitchens–Reefer Sadness

The smoking of marijuana, with its careful preparation of the elements and the solemn passing around of the shared joint, was the unholy communion of the counterculture in the late 1960s, when our present elite formed its opinions. Many of them allowed their children to follow their bad examples, and resent that this exposes their young to a (tiny) risk of persecution and career damage. As a result, those who still disapprove of marijuana are much disliked. The book I wrote on the subject six years ago, The War We Never Fought, received a chilly reception and remains so obscure that I don’t think Alex ­Berenson, whose book has received much friendlier coverage, even knows it exists. As a writer who naturally covets readers and sales, I find this mildly infuriating.

But let me say through clenched teeth that it is of course very good news that a fashionable young metropolitan person such as Mr. ­Berenson is at last prepared to say openly that marijuana is a dangerous drug whose use should be severely discouraged. For, as ­Berenson candidly admits, he was until recently one of the great complacent mass of bourgeois bohemians who are pretty relaxed about it. He confesses in the most important passage in the book that he once believed what most of such people believed. He encapsulates this near-universal fantasy thus:

Marijuana is safe. Way safer than alcohol. Barack Obama smoked it. Bill Clinton smoked it too, even if he didn’t inhale. Might as well say it causes presidencies. I’ve smoked it myself, I liked it fine. Maybe I got a little paranoid, but it didn’t last. Nobody ever died from smoking too much pot.

These words are a more or less perfect summary of the lazy, ignorant, self-serving beliefs of highly educated, rather stupid middle-class metropolitans all over the Western world in such places as, let’s just say for example, the editorial offices of the New York Times. Thirty years from now (when it’s too late), they will look as crass and irresponsible as those magazine advertisements from the 1950s in which pink-faced doctors wearing white coats recommended certain brands of cigarettes. But just now, we are in that foggy zone of consciousness where the truth is known to almost nobody except those with a certain kind of direct experience, and can be ignored by everyone else.

One of the experienced ones, thank heaven, is Alex ­Berenson’s wife Jacqueline. She is a psychiatrist who specializes in evaluating mentally ill criminals. One evening, the Berensons were discussing one of her cases, a patient who had committed a terrible, violent act. Casually, Jacqueline remarked, “Of course he was high, been smoking pot his whole life.” Alex doubtfully interjected, “Of course?,” and she replied, “Yeah, they all smoke.” (She didn’t mean tobacco.) And she is right. They all do. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know this. You just have to be able to do simple Internet searches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(Sunday Telegraph) Professor quits Royal College of Physicians over new assisted suicide stance

Professor Weale, emeritus professor of political theory and public policy at University College London, said he saw no reason why the RCP’s governing council had decided to abandon its previous position, which stated the organisation could not support changing the law on assisted suicide.

“There seems to be no chain of coherent reasoning leading to the council’s own position – a situation I regret deeply,” he said.

He also attacked the handling of the survey of doctors which led to the change in stance.

The poll asked doctors if the RCP should be for, against or neutral on assisted suicide; 43 per cent voted for opposition, 32 per cent backed changing the law, and just 25 percent voted for neutrality.

But unlike previous polls on the same question, the RCP’s council had decided in advance they should automatically switch to neutrality unless any of the three options was backed by a super-majority of 60 per cent.

As a result, the RCP announced last month it would be neutral on the issue, despite only one in four doctors endorsing that position.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General

(CBS) Uplifting Story about some Middle School Children from New Jersey and what they did to help an kid on the autism spectrum on his Birthday


Do not miss it!

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(Atlantic) Brad Wilcox and Lyman Stone–The Happiness Recession among today’s young adults

In 2018, happiness among young adults in America fell to a record low. The share of adults ages 18 to 34 reporting that they were“very happy” in life fell to 25 percent—the lowest level that the General Social Survey, a key barometer of American social life, has ever recorded for that population. Happiness fell most among young men—with only 22 percent of young men (and 28 percent of young women) reporting that they were “very happy” in 2018.’

We wondered whether this trend was rooted in distinct shifts in young adults’ social ties—including what The Atlantic has called “the sex recession,” that is, a marked decline in sexual activity for this group in recent years. Human beings find meaning, direction, and purpose in and through our social relationships with others. We’re happiest when our ties with others are deep and strong. And the research tells us that the ebb and flow of happiness in America is clearly linked to the quality and character of our social ties—including our friendships, community ties, and marriage. It’s also linked, specifically, to the frequency with which we have sex. In the antiseptic language of two economists who study happiness, “sexual activity enters strongly positively in happiness equations.”

So we investigated four indicators of sociability among today’s young adults—marriage, friendship, religious attendance, and sex—in an effort to explain the “happiness recession” among today’s young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

(Washington Post) An infant did not have any hospital visitors for five months. So this nurse adopted her.

As Smith threw herself into being “the world’s greatest aunt” for her 13 nieces and nephews, her siblings picked up on her pain.

“I always pictured Liz as a mom, since she’s a nurturer by nature,” said one of her sisters, Elly Smith, 40, a homeland security analyst with three boys.

Liz Smith, who had hoped to conceive through in vitro fertilization, found out her health insurance wouldn’t cover the treatment, and she couldn’t afford it on her own. Her sister suggested adoption or fostering, but Smith didn’t want to consider it.

Then she saw Gisele.

“Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention,” she said. “I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe.”

After putting in a request to foster Gisele, Smith went to the baby’s hospital room every day after work to sit next to her crib and talk in a soft voice.

“She was behind developmentally, and I wanted to get her out of the hospital and get her thriving,” Smith recalled.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(Barna) The Link Between Fun & Faith in Our Homes

A game in the park with the kids. A backyard barbecue with neighbors. A Saturday afternoon spent tackling that yardwork you and your roommate have been putting off. These are all things that might make their way onto your household’s to-do list this time of year, as spring’s arrival makes it easier to spend more time outdoors or being active together. These are also things that, new Barna research shows, often coexist with spiritual vibrancy. The Households of Faith report, produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries and based on an extensive study of practicing Christians and their living arrangements, finds a consistent connection between households that prioritize quality time and households that prioritize faith formation.

Generally Active Households Are Spiritually Active Households
If we’re regarding any effort toward faith formation in the household as an outcome on its own, and if we’re seeking to understand what distinguishes the people who prioritize these efforts, it’s instructive to know that they are the same people who appear to make any activity a priority. Welcoming guests, watching TV, sharing breakfast and other routines and rituals are also common in households that carve out time to read the Bible, pray or talk about God together. Conversely, households that do not engage in faith-based group activities are much more likely to say they don’t do anything together (31% of those who do not have spiritual conversations, 23% of those who do not pray or read the Bible together).

In short, practicing Christians who intentionally cultivate a spiritual environment in their household are simply intentional to begin with. Good fun, good work and good faith seem to go hand in hand, indicating spiritual growth is yet another way of being present, interested and engaged in the lives of those around you, or vice versa. Barna has seen a similar correlation in some of its other reports, where positive tendencies are not exclusive, but hang together: In a study of perceptions of global poverty, the more someone cared about one issue, the more they cared about any injustice; in a study of vocation, the more someone was attuned to faith, the more they were attuned to their work. Similarly, in this study of Christian households, the more housemates engage in general activity, the more they engage in spiritual activity.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Scotsman) Majority of Scots back assisted suicide according to poll done by group which favours the practice

Nearly nine in 10 people in Scotland support legalising assisted dying, according to a new poll. The Populus survey, commissioned by campaign group Dignity in Dying Scotland, found 87 per cent backed the move for terminally ill people with less than six months to live, with medical approval and safeguards. Just 8 per cent of people were opposed while the remainder said they did not know. The results, from a survey of 1,057 adults last month, were released as the campaign group starts a national advertising drive calling on people to help legalise assisted suicide. Campaigners want the Scottish Parliament to legislate to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to have the choice of an assisted death.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

The C of E Response to Royal College of Physicians announcement on assisted suicide

From there: Speaking following the Royal College of Physicans’ announcement of the adoption of a ‘neutral’ position on assisted dying The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, said:

“We note the RCP’s decision, and welcome the President’s assurances that the RCP will not be focusing on assisted dying, instead continuing to champion high-quality palliative care services, an emphasis that the Church of England shares and has always encouraged.

“We also recognise that fewer than one third of RCP members wanted the College to support a change in the current law prohibiting assisted suicide while fewer than a quarter said they would participate in assisted dying should the law change.

“The Church of England’s position remains to affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected.”

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

Scott Sauls–Mental Illness, Jesus, and Me

I am one of those ministers who has endured a handful of seasons of anxiety and depression. Most of the time, thankfully, the affliction has been more low-grade than intense. On one occasion, though, it pretty much flattened me physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I call this particular season my ‘living nightmare.’

That season, as well as others, occurred while serving in ministry.

How bad was the living nightmare? I could not fall asleep for two weeks straight. Even sleeping pills could not calm the adrenaline and knock me out, which only made things worse. At night I was terrified of the quiet, knowing I was in for another all-night battle with insomnia that I was likely to lose. The sunrise also terrified me, an unwelcome reminder that another day of impossible struggle was ahead of me. I lost nearly thirty-five pounds in two months. I could not concentrate in conversations with people. I found no comfort in God’s promises from Scripture. I was unable to pray anything but “Help” and “Please end this.”

Why would I tell you this part of my story? Because I believe—no, I am certain—that anxiety and depression hits ministers disproportionately. And a minister who suffers with this affliction, especially in isolation, is a person at risk. When I was in seminary, two pastors committed suicide because they could not imagine going on another day having to face their anxiety and depression. Both suffered with the affliction in silence. One wrote in his suicide note that if a minister tells anyone about his depression, he will lose his ministry, because nobody wants to be pastored by a damaged person….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(NPR) In Florida, Doctors See Climate Change Hurting Their Most Vulnerable Patients

To survive, Jorge, who requested that his last name not be used for this story to protect his health information, sells fruit on the side of the road. “Rain or shine, cold or heat, I still have to work,” he says.

Most days, it’s the heat he struggles with the most, and in recent years, the city has felt hotter than ever.

“When you work in the streets,” Jorge says, “you really feel the change.”

And it may only be getting worse. The 2018 National Climate Assessment noted that the southeastern United States is already experiencing “more and longer summer heat waves.” By 2050, experts say, rising global temperatures are expected to mean that nearly half the days in the year in Florida will be dangerously hot, when the combination of heat and humidity will make it feel like it’s 105 degrees or more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Climate Change, Weather, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Poverty, State Government

(CNA) New Jersey legislature passes bill legalizing assisted suicide

New Jersey is set to become the latest state to legalize assisted suicide, as both chambers of the state legislature have passed a bill allowing the practice, which Governor Phil Murphy (D) says he will sign.

“Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do,” said Murphy on Monday, who has in the past spoken about his “strict Catholic” upbringing.

“I look forward to signing this legislation into law,” he said.

New Jersey Catholic leaders have been firm against the progress of the new law.

“Assisted suicide promotes neither free choice nor compassion,” a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark told CNA.

“Every gift of human life is sacred, from conception to natural death, and the life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. Catholics should be leaders in the effort to defend and uphold the principle that each of us has a right to live with dignity through every day of our lives.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

A Local Paper Article on the Expanding use of Telehealth in South Carolina

Some experts believe that in a few years health care will look a lot like Amazon, with a list of health services on demand and quick access to health resources via virtual care.

Gone will be the need to make appointments for some basic health problems or sitting endlessly in a waiting room at an emergency room with a child screaming with an ear infection.

“It has to be as convenient as Amazon,” said Dr. Edward O’Bryan, chief medical officer for Medical University of South Carolina Business Health when describing the launch of their new virtual urgent care system. “It’s improving access to health care for the residents of South Carolina.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

More Sunday food for Thought–Theology in the Nursing home in the Midst of Dementia

–Shared by yours truly in the morning sermon–KSH.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(IFS) Jean Twenge–The Mental Health Crisis Among America’s Youth is Real—and Staggering

One of the best ways to find out if mental health issues have increased is to talk to a representative sample of the general population, not just those who seek help. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has done just that.

It surveyed over 600,000 Americans. Recent trends are startling.

From 2009 to 2017, major depression among 20- to 21-year-olds more than doubled, rising from 7 percent to 15 percent. Depression surged 69 percent among 16- to 17-year-olds. Serious psychological distress, which includes feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, jumped 71 percent among 18- to 25-year-olds from 2008 to 2017. Twice as many 22- to 23-year-olds attempted suicide in 2017 compared with 2008, and 55 percent more had suicidal thoughts. The increases were more pronounced among girls and young women. By 2017, one out of five 12- to 17-year-old girls had experienced major depression in the previous year.

Is it possible that young people simply became more willing to admit to mental health problems? My co-authors and I tried to address this possibility by analyzing data on actual suicide rates collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is a behavior, so changes in suicide rates can’t be caused by more willingness to admit to issues.

Tragically, suicide also jumped during the period. For example, the suicide rate among 18- to 19-year-olds climbed 56 percent from 2008 to 2017. Other behaviors related to depression have also increased, including emergency department admissions for self-harm, such as cutting, as well as hospital admissions for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–How to Fight Suicide–Keeping folks alive is a collective task

You’ve probably seen the recent statistics about the suicide epidemic — that suicide rates over all have risen by over 30 percent this century; that teenage suicides are rising at roughly twice that rate; that every year 45,000 Americans kill themselves.

And yet we don’t talk about it much. It’s uncomfortable. Some people believe the falsehood that if we talk about suicide, it will plant the idea in the minds of vulnerable people. Many of us don’t know what to say or do.

A person may be at risk of committing suicide when he or she expresses hopelessness or self-loathing, when he or she starts joking about “after I’m gone,” starts giving away prized possessions, seems preoccupied with death, suddenly withdraws or suddenly appears calm after a period of depression, as if some decision has been made.

When you’re around somebody like that, don’t try to argue with her or him. Don’t say, “You have so much to live for!” Or, “Do you realize how much this will devastate the people around you?” If you gasp or act shocked you’ll burden the person with even more shame and guilt, pushing that person even harder to withdraw.

Sufferers will often lie about their plans. According to one study, 80 percent of suicide victims deny suicidal thoughts before killing themselves. The first thing to do, Agnes advises, is validate their feelings….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(Eerdword) Meet This Book: Brian S. Powers’ Full Darkness

The combat trauma that damages veterans today in both profound and subtle ways is complex and multi-faceted, encompassing both physiological and psychological elements.

What researchers are discovering is that while what is commonly termed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is predominantly physiological, the moral or psychological component of trauma can be far more insidious and damaging to one’s capacity to live a life of promise or hope.

“Moral Injury” is the term now associated with this psychological condition, often exhibited as feelings of moral ambiguity, guilt, or shame upon return from conflict. It is thankfully being examined with an interdisciplinary focus by a myriad of different medical researchers and scholars.

What is apparent to me, however, as a veteran, a theologian, and an ordained Presbyterian minister, is that while our scientific analyses of this problem are spectacularly helpful, they also struggle to speak a language of “guilt” and “shame,” and seem to stumble when addressing the core questions of what to do about moral pain and anguish.

Full Darkness is an attempt to talk about the problem of moral injury theologically, as the vocabulary of Christianity and the church is rich with images of sin and redemption, of moral failure and the resulting precariousness of the human condition.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Theology

(CBS) “Record-breaking” Japanese preemie weighing as much as an onion at birth goes home healthy

A baby born in Tokyo weighing the same as a large onion has gone home healthy. The tiny tot weighed just 268 grams — under 10 ounces — when he was delivered at 24 weeks, reportedly after he stopped growing in the womb.

He was so small he fit in an adult’s cupped hands.

Keio University Hospital said the boy is believed to now hold the record for the smallest newborn boy to be discharged from a hospital in good health. The record was previously held by a boy born in Germany in 2009 weighing just 274 grams (9.6 ounces), the hospital said, citing a registry put together by University of Iowa for the world’s tiniest surviving babies.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Japan

(CT) Why Christians of All People Should Get Their Vaccines

When it comes to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, a combination of studies involving millions of subjects find that the chance of benefit is incredibly high. This has translated to ever-decreasing rates of measles, mumps, and rubella, along with decreased death and disability from these diseases, worldwide. Meanwhile, the risk of harm is demonstrably low. About one in six children have a low-grade fever or rash the day of the shot. Seizures resulting from a fever—which are scary but harmless—occur generally at rates of 1 or 2 per 1,000 vaccine doses.

More serious reactions (such as thrombocytopenia, which is similar to ITP) occur less frequently. Even then, they are still less frequent than complications brought on by measles, mumps, or rubella. And when the risks of a vaccine outweigh the benefits—such as in the case of RotaShield, meant to treat diarrhea in young children—public health officials usually step in to pull the product.

What about those artificial components? Aluminum and formaldehyde occur naturally in our bodies or in the environment at concentrations higher than those in vaccines. Research continues to demonstrate that an infant’s body can safely handle the amount of aluminum found in vaccines. In the case of autism, studies with larger and larger sample sizes demonstrate no link between autism and vaccines, despite otherwise compelling stories from individuals who see a connection between the two.

The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that vaccines carry a high chance of benefiting us and an incredibly low chance of harming us. The more effective a health intervention is in saving lives, the more morally responsible it is for a community to promote it.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

(NYTM) Wealthy, Successful and Miserable–The upper echelon is hoarding money and privilege to a degree not seen in decades. But that doesn’t make them happy at work.

After our reunion, I wondered if my Harvard class — or even just my own friends there — were an anomaly. So I began looking for data about the nation’s professional psyche. What I found was that my classmates were hardly unique in their dissatisfaction; even in a boom economy, a surprising portion of Americans are professionally miserable right now. In the mid-1980s, roughly 61 percent of workers told pollsters they were satisfied with their jobs. Since then, that number has declined substantially, hovering around half; the low point was in 2010, when only 43 percent of workers were satisfied, according to data collected by the Conference Board, a nonprofit research organization. The rest said they were unhappy, or at best neutral, about how they spent the bulk of their days. Even among professionals given to lofty self-images, like those in medicine and law, other studies have noted a rise in discontent. Why? Based on my own conversations with classmates and the research I began reviewing, the answer comes down to oppressive hours, political infighting, increased competition sparked by globalization, an “always-on culture” bred by the internet — but also something that’s hard for these professionals to put their finger on, an underlying sense that their work isn’t worth the grueling effort they’re putting into it.

This wave of dissatisfaction is especially perverse because corporations now have access to decades of scientific research about how to make jobs better. “We have so much evidence about what people need,” says Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania (and a contributing opinion writer at The Times). Basic financial security, of course, is critical — as is a sense that your job won’t disappear unexpectedly. What’s interesting, however, is that once you can provide financially for yourself and your family, according to studies, additional salary and benefits don’t reliably contribute to worker satisfaction. Much more important are things like whether a job provides a sense of autonomy — the ability to control your time and the authority to act on your unique expertise. People want to work alongside others whom they respect (and, optimally, enjoy spending time with) and who seem to respect them in return.

And finally, workers want to feel that their labors are meaningful. “You don’t have to be curing cancer,” says Barry Schwartz, a visiting professor of management at the University of California, Berkeley. We want to feel that we’re making the world better, even if it’s as small a matter as helping a shopper find the right product at the grocery store. “You can be a salesperson, or a toll collector, but if you see your goal as solving people’s problems, then each day presents 100 opportunities to improve someone’s life, and your satisfaction increases dramatically,” Schwartz says.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(PBS Newshour) Read Michael Gerson’s sermon sharing his struggle with depression

It is impossible for anyone but saints to live always on that mountaintop. I suspect that there are people here today – and I include myself – who are stalked by sadness, or stalked by cancer, or stalked by anger. We are afraid of the mortality that is knit into our bones. We experience unearned suffering, or give unreturned love, or cry useless tears. And many of us eventually grow weary of ourselves – tired of our own sour company.

At some point, willed cheerfulness fails. Or we skim along the surface of our lives, afraid of what lies in the depths below. It is a way to cope, but no way to live.

I’d urge anyone with undiagnosed depression to seek out professional help. There is no way to will yourself out of this disease, any more than to will yourself out of tuberculosis.

There are, however, other forms of comfort. Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God can say certain things:

In our right minds – as our most sane and solid selves – we know that the appearance of a universe ruled by cruel chaos is an lie and that the cold void is actually a sheltering sky.

In our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgrimage – or maybe a farce and a pilgrimage, depending on the day.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(BBC) Cannabis use in teens linked to depression

Parents should not be complacent about the risks of teenagers using cannabis, experts are warning.

UK and Canada researchers said they had found “robust” evidence showing using the drug in adolescence increased the risk of developing depression in adulthood by 37%.

They said the findings should act as a warning to families who saw cannabis use as part of the growing-up process.

The team added that the developing brain was particularly susceptible.

The researchers – from University of Oxford and Montreal’s McGill University – said cannabis use in the young was an “important public health issue”, particularly given that cannabis available today tends to be much stronger than it was previously.

Around one in nine young adults and teenagers use the drug each year in England and Wales.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(NPR) ‘Church Of Safe Injection’ Offers Needles, Naloxone To Prevent Opioid Overdoses

A woman in the apartment, who also didn’t want to be identified, chimed in: “I understand, but what are you supposed to do? If someone isn’t able or ready to go to treatment — should they die?”

Even the founder of the Church of Safe Injection, Jesse Harvey, 26, acknowledges that he’s struggled with the same questions. But he says working in addiction recovery has made him frustrated by the deaths and barriers to treatment. He says there are criteria to becoming a legitimate syringe exchange program that he’s not likely to meet, so he started this church.

Harvey says there are now 18 chapters of the Church of Safe Injection in eight states — all of them funded by private, anonymous donations. Each one is independent but must abide by three rules: to welcome all people of all faiths, to serve all marginalized people and to support harm reduction.

But he says the group is not supporting legalizing drugs.

“We’re not saying it’s our religious belief to use heroin. No, not at all,” Harvey said. “We’re saying that it’s our sincerely held religious belief that people who use drugs don’t deserve to die when there are decades of solutions.”

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(NYT) When Religion Leads to Trauma–Some churches “weaponize scripture and religion to do very deep damage on the psyche,” one pastor says.

Brett Higbee, a retired land surveyor who attended the ranch during the late 1970s, said that he was routinely beaten for religious infractions like failing to memorize Bible verses. These experiences made him religion-phobic for years, he said, his pain triggered by entering a church or even hearing Christmas music on the radio.

The gap between religious teachings on compassion and the ways that faith sometimes gets misused inspired Dr. Harold G. Koenig, a psychiatrist, and his colleagues at Duke University to develop “religious cognitive therapy” in 2014. The therapy uses “positive scriptures that focus on forgiveness, God’s love and divine mercy to challenge the dysfunctional thoughts that maintain trauma,” says Dr. Koenig.

The Duke team has developed workbooks that accentuate this positive content for each of the world’s major religions. Clinical trials, published in 2015, showed that religious people who received the therapy had lower rates of depression and reported more positive emotions like gratitude and optimism than those who did not receive it.

The best cure for religious trauma may be a deeper dive into the spiritual core of religious teachings, Dr. Koenig says.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) Pamela Paul–Let Children Get Bored Again

People used to accept that much of life was boring. Memoirs of pre-21st-century life are rife with tedium. When not idling in drawing rooms, members of the leisured class took long walks and stared at trees. They went motoring and stared at more trees. Those who had to work had it a lot harder. Agricultural and industrial jobs were often mind-numbing; few people were looking to be fulfilled by paid labor. Children could expect those kinds of futures and they got used to the idea from an early age, left unattended with nothing but bookshelves and tree branches, and later, bad afternoon television.

Only a few short decades ago, during the lost age of underparenting, grown-ups thought a certain amount of boredom was appropriate. And children came to appreciate their empty agendas. In an interview with GQ magazine, Lin-Manuel Miranda credited his unattended afternoons with fostering inspiration. “Because there is nothing better to spur creativity than a blank page or an empty bedroom,” he said.

Nowadays, subjecting a child to such inactivity is viewed as a dereliction of parental duty. In a much-read story in The Times, “The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting,” Claire Cain Miller cited a recent study that found that regardless of class, income or race, parents believed that “children who were bored after school should be enrolled in extracurricular activities, and that parents who were busy should stop their task and draw with their children if asked.”

Every spare moment is to be optimized, maximized, driven toward a goal.

When not being uberparented, kids today are left to their own devices — their own digital devices, that is….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(NYT) This Is Your Brain Off Facebook

The world’s most common digital habit is not easy to break, even in a fit of moral outrage over the privacy risks and political divisions Facebook has created, or amid concerns about how the habit might affect emotional health.

Although four in 10 Facebook users say they have taken long breaks from it, the digital platform keeps growing. A recent study found that the average user would have to be paid $1,000 to $2,000 to be pried away for a year.

So what happens if you actually do quit? A new study, the most comprehensive to date, offers a preview.

Expect the consequences to be fairly immediate: More in-person time with friends and family. Less political knowledge, but also less partisan fever. A small bump in one’s daily moods and life satisfaction. And, for the average Facebook user, an extra hour a day of downtime.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(CT Women) Jen Michel–Move Over, Sex and Drugs. Ease Is the New Vice.

According to recent research, teens are starting their sex lives a lot later. Despite shifting cultural norms and new sexual freedoms, our youngest and most virile are apparently having less sex—at least for now. Sociologists and social commentators debate whether the trend is temporary and whether it marks a healthy or unhealthy societal shift. But it’s possible that the so-called sex recession offers evidence of a wide, disturbing trend that has nothing to do with sex—one that is particularly endemic to our cultural moment. The trend bears witness to the ways that we’re increasingly finding embodied life “tiresome.” (In Japan, that’s the word many younger Japanese people to describe intercourse: mendokusai.)

Our apparent fatigue with bodily living extends to other areas, as well. Two years ago, in response to declining cereal sales, market researchers went looking for answers to why younger people were opting out of the convenience food that had fed their parents and grandparents. According to The New York Times, researchers found the reason: Breakfast cereal—with the whole bother of bowl and spoon—involved far too much work. “Almost 40 percent of the millennials surveyed by Mintel for its 2015 report said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.”

The decline in sexual activity and cereal sales hardly seem correlated, but both seem to point to one of the most seductive promises of a technological age: that ours should be an unbothered life. As our lives (at least in the developed world) get easier, we are increasingly formed by the desire for ease. Of all the cautions we raise about technology—its distractions and temptations, its loneliness and superficiality—this promise of unencumbered living is perhaps the most insidious danger and also the one we talk the least about.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Joseph D’Souza–Why Human Dignity Is a Gospel Issue

While many of us have heard a one-dimensional gospel — the spiritual forgiveness of sin — the gospel Jesus preached did not dwell exclusively in the spiritual plane. He was not just restoring the spiritual being, but the whole human being. He said as much in his first public sermon, when he quoted the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,” (Luke 4:18-19).

If you look at Jesus’s ministry — especially his healings — you’ll notice this thread running throughout: the leper who can now return to the city; the adulterous woman who is no longer condemned; the demon-possessed man who is no longer an outcast; the hated Samaritan who is now a hero.

In sum, Jesus was restoring people’s God-given human dignity — their Imago-Dei.

Coming from India, I am keenly aware of what happens when people are robbed of their dignity.

For example, as I write this, women in India are fighting for the right to enter a temple in Kerala. For centuries, women of menstruating age were barred from the site, but in September, the Supreme Court lifted the ban. Four months later, only a handful of women have managed to get in, and that under the cover of night and heavy security.

The story of the Dalits — whom you might have heard called “untouchables” — is another case of an entire people being robbed of their dignity.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Sunday [London] Times) Revealed: how Big Tech pushes teens like Molly Russell to suicide

Thirty families have accused technology giants of abetting their children’s suicides in the wake of the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, as the health secretary told social media sites to take responsibility for their effect on young lives.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Molly’s father, Ian, criticised the online scrapbook site Pinterest, as well as Instagram, for hosting disturbing content that he believes played a part in his daughter’s death.

“The more I looked [into Molly’s online accounts], the more there was that chill horror that I was getting a glimpse into something that had such profound effects on my lovely daughter,” he said. “Pinterest has a huge amount to answer for.”

Papyrus, a charity that works to prevent youth suicides, said it had been contacted by 30 families in the past week. Parents said they suspected social media had played a part in their children’s suicides.

A Sunday Times investigation found numerous graphic images of self-harm on Pinterest that could be viewed by children as young as 13.

Read it all (subscription needed).

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Suicide, Teens / Youth

(WSJ) Why Are People Wearing Earplugs in Church? Hint: It’s Not the Sermon

Larry Calo entered an elementary school in Glen Rock, N.J., for Sunday services of the Emergence Church, greeted fellow congregants and scanned the room for an open seat. Then he dipped his hand into a glass jar and pulled out a pair of orange PVC foam earplugs.

Before long, an electric guitarist, bass player, drummer and singer were tearing through a roughly 15-minute set featuring parish classics such as “King of My Heart.”

The high volume was a bit much for Mr. Calo, 64 years old, who lost part of his hearing working with heavy machinery. “And I don’t want to lose any more,” he said.

Houses of worship have featured live music for centuries. In recent years many have been plugging into rock-style sound systems and cranking up the volume. The effort to appeal to more and younger churchgoers is splitting opinions—and ears.

Crossroads Church, which has 13 locations in Ohio and Kentucky, declares on its website: “Music brings us all together and closer to God—so we can turn it up to 11,” a nod to a joke from the rock mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(VC Star) California pot taxes lag as illegal market flourishes

Deep in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget is a figure that says a lot about California’s shaky legal marijuana market: The state is expecting a lot less cash from cannabis taxes.

The Democrat’s proposed spending plan, released Thursday, projects the state will bank $355 million in marijuana excise taxes by the end of June. That’s roughly half of what was once expected after broad legal sales kicked off last year.

Industry experts say the diminished tax income reflects a somber reality: Most consumers are continuing to purchase pot in the illegal marketplace, where they avoid taxes that can near 50 percent in some communities.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, State Government