Category : Anthropology

(NPR) The U.K. Now Has A Minister For Loneliness

The U.K. has appointed a minister of loneliness to tackle what Prime Minister Theresa May calls a “sad reality of modern life” for many U.K. citizens.

May announced the position Wednesday, appointing current Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” said May.

According to government figures, more than 9 million people in the U.K. “always or often feel lonely” and “around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(US News) Clayton Rose–Colleges Make America Stronger–Selective universities aren’t too elite, they are the key to career preparation

Yet, there is growing skepticism about the value of this model here at home. The recent tax reform bill was a wake-up call that our strongest colleges and universities are under assault by some in government. The initial proposals would have made education unaffordable for many by taxing tuition waivers for graduate students and ending deductions for student loan interest. Thankfully, these provisions were ultimately stripped from the bill, but lawmakers let stand a new excise tax on the investment income of a select group of colleges and universities. None of these provisions were designed to raise much revenue. They were intended to make a statement.

While these attacks are motivated by misguided ideas, those of us in higher education need to do a much better job of explaining why these claims are not true and why what we do is valuable to our students and society. We cannot take for granted that any of this is obvious.

The data are clear: a liberal arts education is great career preparation, both for excellent lifetime earnings and for satisfaction with the work. George Anders, business author, former Wall Street Journal feature writer, and contributing editor at Forbes, and Randall Stross, a professor at San Jose State University’s School of Management who has written extensively about technology businesses and Silicon Valley for this publication, The New York Times, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, both have new books that underscore these points. This education develops the skills of critical thinking, rigorous analysis of data and facts, communicating with the written and spoken word, understanding of cultural differences and issues, and the ability to keep learning. The fact is that liberal arts graduates do extremely well in every imaginable field, and I know this from personal experience. Before entering higher education, I was a senior executive in the private sector; I saw that this education provides skills and knowledge that are in high demand, and I know how well it prepares students for long-term professional success.

On the issue of free speech, without question there have been incidents on campuses where speakers were impeded or prevented from delivering their views, or worse. I have consistently made the point that the ability to express and engage all manner of ideas, even offensive ones, is central to our mission, and I find these incidents deeply troubling. But they are the exception.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Taxes, Theology, Young Adults

Andrew Wilson–Inequality, Privilege, and the Upper Middle Class

Inequality is one of the most entrenched, persistent and socially divisive problems in the modern West. Yet most of us misdiagnose the problem. We imagine that the issue lies with those much better off than us—the 1%, the super-rich, or whatever we call them—rather than with people like us. (More than a third of the Occupy demonstrators in 2011 had annual earnings of over $100k.) Richard Reeves sees things differently. In his Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What To Do About It, he argues that the top 20%, rather than the top 1%, is the real problem, and he admits that this puts both him and the vast majority of his readers in the firing line. “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Books, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Theology

Dorothy Sayers: Why Work?

I have already, on a previous occasion, spoken at some length on the subject of Work and Vocation. What I urged then was a thoroughgoing revolution in our whole attitude to
work. I asked that it should be looked upon, not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should
find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; andthat man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.

It may well seem to you – as it does to some of my acquaintances – that I have a sort of obsession about this business of the right attitude to work. But I do insist upon it, because
it seems to me that what becomes of civilization after this war is going to depend enormously on our being able to effect this revolution in our ideas about work. Unless we
do change our whole way of thought about work, I do not think we shall ever escape from the appalling squirrel cage of economic confusion in which we have been madly turning
for the last three centuries or so, the cage in which we landed ourselves by acquiescing in a social system based upon Envy and Avarice.

A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand….

Read it all (hat tip: St. Mary of Bethany Parish, Nashville, Tennessee)

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

Archbishop Peter Jensen–How important is Sex?

To say that we need to stop talking about sex and start talking about Jesus makes two big errors.

First, it undervalues the power of sexual transgression to damage us as human beings and to damage our relationship with God. Our sexual instincts are so powerful and so central to our lives that they are integral to our personal identity. When we misuse our body by abandoning God’s instructions, it helps corrupt our self-understanding. It is actually cruel.

Furthermore, when we turn away from the living God, we replace him by the worship of idols. Again, this worship is often expressed and accompanied by sexual licence. Indeed we are living at a time when sexual permissiveness is the norm and there is no fear of God.

Second, it means that we cannot adequately summons people to repentance. Without the call to repentance there is no gospel. The great sin from which we need to repent is pride – lives directed by ourselves. But this great sin exhibits itself in idolatry, and idolatry often expresses itself in sexual sin as well as the horrors of greed and injustice and lack of love.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(NR) David French–The Dangerous Supreme Court Case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, nobody Is Talking About

The NIFLA case, however, is unquestionably about compelled speech. The state of California has enacted a law, the so-called FACT Act, that requires pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers to prominently place a notice informing clients that California offers low-cost and even free abortions to women who qualify and providing them a phone number that grants quick access to abortion clinics.

In other words, California is requiring pro-life professionals — people who’ve dedicated their lives to protecting the unborn by offering pregnant mothers alternatives to abortion — to advertise state-sponsored abortions. California is making this demand even though it has ample opportunity to advertise state services without forcing pro-life citizens to do so. The state can rent billboard space on the very streets where crisis-pregnancy centers are located. It can hand out leaflets on the sidewalk. It can advertise on television and the radio. It can advertise on the Internet or social media. But rather than using its own voice, it is co-opting the voices of its pro-life citizens, forcing them to join its pro-abortion crusade.

And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the FACT Act is constitutional. To validate California’s oppressive act, its decision carved out a dangerous First Amendment exception for what it deemed “professional speech” — “speech that occurs between professionals and their clients in the context of their professional relationship” — and ruled that the state had much greater leeway in regulating, for example, doctor/patient communication.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(CT) Austin Channing–Stop Asking ‘What Would MLK Do?’

Whatever wisdom we think MLK would bring to this moment seems to often discount that he was assassinated on a balcony, taken from his wife, his children, his friends. Why do we think MLK would say anything other than an indicting statement of fact: “You killed me.”

It’s so much easier to think of King’s death as inevitable, as that of a martyr, a heroic end to a life of public service. We’d rather not consider the bullet that ripped through his face, entered his neck, and severed his spinal cord, causing a quick, bloody death on that concrete balcony. We like our pictures in black and white.

To feel what his wife felt; to feel what his children felt; to feel what his friends felt; to feel what his supporters felt is to invite pain over celebration, rage over rousing speeches, devastating loss over convenient platitudes.

Rather than think of King as a person, a husband, and a father, we like to think of him as the stone statue in DC—large, strong, unmovable. King’s legacy may be all those things, but he was human. He read lots of books, listened to lots of preachers, worked on the craft of writing and speaking. He was a human who laughed and cried, knew joy and pain.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–The Only Road to Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolence

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens’s claim that, on account of King’s commitment to nonviolence, in “no real as opposed to nominal sense … was he a Christian.” Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King’s understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Atheism, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) Why so many white churches resisted Martin Luther King Jr.’s call

To King and many other Christians, racial justice was core to the biblical message. Racial segregation and the other ills it created — like the wealth gap, unemployment and under-education — were an affront to the image of God in all people. Christians had an obligation to transform the systems and laws that allowed racial inequality to persist.

Many white evangelicals agreed with King’s affirmation of racial equality. They may have believed all people should be treated fairly. They objected to the notion that the government should play a role in bringing about equality and that Christians should concern themselves with material issues rather than simply focusing on conversion.

This difference in approach continues to the present day. In “Divided by Faith,” sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith describe how many white evangelicals emphasize personal salvation and tend to view themselves as individuals rather than members of a race, which affects their view of racial issues overall.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(CT) God, Guns, and Oil A Los Angeles church seeks the good of its neighborhood by confronting crime and environmental distress

For [Richard] Parks, shutting down the oil well is part of a bigger story of how the gospel is transforming the Exposition Park neighborhood. Members of Church of the Redeemer have tied their fate to the fate of the community. They want to see their neighbors flourish.

Shutting down oil wells or nuisance liquor stores, planting trees, tutoring kids, holding neighborhood Bible studies, and making friends with neighbors during a community service project are all part of how a neighborhood is reached with the gospel, Parks says.

“In the context of friendship—there are normal, natural opportunities to talk about our love for Jesus,” he said. “Our church is made up of people that our kids go to school with, our kids play soccer with, neighbors that we clean up trees with. That is how the gospel is going out in our community.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Urban/City Life and Issues

Irwin Stelzer–Silicon Valley at the Intersection of Facebook and the iPhone

“Forgive me Lord, for I knew not what I was doing.”

No, not Victor Frankenstein after creating his monster. Instead, Tony Fadell, co-creator of the iPhone; and Chamath Palihapitiya and Roger McNamee, a former Facebook executive and investor, respectively. Even Mark Zuckerberg confesses concern with his creation, although in a round-about way: “Facebook has a lot of work to do”, … and his “personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues.”

We have here a test of whether corporate capitalism is capable of self-reform, or whether politicians around the world will seize this opportunity to expand the regulatory state, here and abroad. So far, self-correction, driven by the profit motive, seems to be the answer to a set of problems that threaten to convert a host of proudly self-styled “disrupters” from heroes to zeroes.

Eleven years ago almost to the day Apple ended decades in which we were tethered to the wires of telephone company monopolies; Facebook has provided two billion people with a news source and a platform on which to display pictures of their cats and for Vladimir Putin to interfere in nations’ elections. Such radical change inevitably creates problems, just as, for example, Detroit’s creation, the mass-produced automobile, brought enormous benefits but also created environmental problems. So it created a demand for regulations galore, from seat belts to regulations on the content and use of gasoline. Now it’s the turn of the creations of Silicon Valley, which might have spawned social problems only now being understood.

Start with Apple, which has already bruised its reputation in some circles by refusing to help the FBI unlock a terrorist’s iPhone, bowing to Chinese censorship in order to retain access to its market, and turning tax avoidance into a (perfectly legal) fine art, becoming the corporate equivalent of David Goodhart’s rootless man from “anywhere,” described in his much-read “The Road to Somewhere.” It is now charged with harming children and producing an iGen (born in 1995 or later) that is “on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades” according to Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. Studies purport to show that opioids are not the only addictive substances available to teens. They also suffer from cell phone addiction that produces “depressive symptoms” (University of Basle), increased risk of suicide (University of San Diego), and poor scholastic performance after sleep-deprived nights on their cell phones.

Then there is Facebook….

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

CS Lewis for a Saturday–‘Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things’

….the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel….

Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.

–C S Lewis The Weight of Glory 9New York: HarperOne; HarperCollins rev. ed. edition, 2001), pp.154-155

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Poetry & Literature

([London] Times) Pornography no longer a dirty word for millions of women

It was inevitable in the brave new post-Fifty Shades world. Internet searches of “porn for women” grew by 359 per cent last year, according to one of the genre’s most popular websites….

Laurie Betito, a sex therapist and director of the Pornhub sexual wellness centre, said: “2017 seems to have been the year where women have come forward to express their desires.

“From the ‘Me too’ movement to prominent females the likes of Hillary Clinton and Nikki Haley on the world stage, women are feeling more empowered and they have found their voice. This is a sign of things to come.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pornography, Science & Technology, Women

(Yesterday’s Local paper Front Page) South Carolina lawmakers consider electrocuting death row inmates if lethal injection drugs unavailable

South Carolina lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the state to execute death row inmates using the electric chair — something that hasn’t been done since 2008 — if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Under current law, criminals sentenced to the death penalty in South Carolina can choose to die by lethal injection or electrocution.

Like other states, South Carolina has not had access to the necessary drugs to attempt a lethal injection since the last of its stock expired in 2013. That has left the state unable to carry out the ultimate punishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Capital Punishment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, State Government

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–God Loves Those Who Argue

I have become increasingly concerned about the assault on free speech taking place throughout the West, particularly in university campuses.[1] This is being done in the name of “safe space,” that is, space in which you are protected against hearing views which might cause you distress, “trigger warnings”[2] and “micro-aggressions,” that is, any remark that someone might find offensive even if no offence is meant.

So far has this gone that at the beginning of the 2017 academic year, students at an Oxford College banned the presence of a representative of the Christian Union on the grounds that some might find their presence alienating and offensive.[3] Increasingly, speakers with controversial views are being disinvited: the number of such incidents on American college campuses rose from 6 in 2000 to 44 in 2016.[4]

Undoubtedly this entire movement was undertaken for the highest of motives, to protect the feelings of the vulnerable. That is a legitimate ethical concern. Jewish law goes to extremes in condemning lashon hara, hurtful or derogatory speech, and the sages were careful to use what they called lashon sagi nahor, euphemism, to avoid language that people might find offensive.

But a safe space is not one in which you silence dissenting views. To the contrary: it is one in which you give a respectful hearing to views opposed to your own, knowing that your views too will be listened to respectfully. That is academic freedom, and it is essential to a free society.[5] As George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Theology