Category : Health & Medicine

(Guardian) Loneliness is a ‘giant evil’ of our time, says Jo Cox commission

One of the key architects of Britain’s welfare state would have added loneliness as society’s sixth “giant evil” if he were alive today, Rachel Reeves will say after completing a year-long study into the issue.

The Labour MP, who co-chaired the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness after her friend and colleague was murdered last year, will argue that the weakening of trade union, church, local pub and workplace ties have left a disconnected society.

“When the culture and the communities that once connected us to one another disappear, we can be left feeling abandoned and cut off from society,” she will say, describing the issue as a new social epidemic.

“In the last few decades, loneliness has escalated from personal misfortune into a social epidemic. More and more of us live alone. We work at home more. We spend a greater part of our day alone than we did 10 years ago. It sometimes feels like our best friend is the smartphone.”

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

(SN) Will Parents may one day be morally obligated to edit their baby’s genes?

Soon, designer babies like those described in the film may even become morally mandatory, some ethicists say.

Gattaca’s narrator tells us that such genetic manipulation of in vitro fertilized embryos has become “the natural way of giving birth” in the near future portrayed in the film. It has also created an underclass of people whose parents didn’t buy those genetic advantages for their children.

Until recently, that sort of fiddling with human DNA was only science fiction and allegory, a warning against a new kind of eugenics that could pit the genetic haves and have-nots against each other. At a symposium sponsored by the Hastings Center on October 26 before the World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco, ethicists and journalists explored the flip side of that discussion: whether parents have a moral obligation to make “better” babies through genetic engineering. Technology that can precisely change a baby’s genes is quickly becoming reality. This year, scientists reported using CRISPR/Cas9 in viable human embryos to fix mutations that cause heart and blood disorders. CRISPR/Cas9 acts as a molecular scissors that relatively easily and precisely manipulates DNA. Scientists have honed and developed the tool in the roughly five years it has been around, creating myriad “CRISPR” mice, fish, pigs, cows, plants and other creatures. Its use in human embryos has been hotly debated. Should we or shouldn’t we?

Read it all.

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

My Favorite Story of the Week–How A Fire Department Saved A 7-Year-Old’s Birthday

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire

(Dio of London) Memory Café: How to Engage with Memory Loss and Build Community

The Vicar of a North London Church has published a new book sharing his experiences of running a Memory Café in his parish in the hope of encouraging other churches to do the same.

The Revd Steve Morris, Vicar of St Cuthbert’s Church in Wembley, established a memory café in May 2015 as a way to help tackle loneliness and isolation in his parish, and enable the church to play a central role in the heart of community life in Brent.

The memory café concept brings together isolated people from different backgrounds and faiths in a safe environment, allowing them to forge connections, share companionship, and keep mentally active and physically fit through chair aerobics and healthy eating projects. Such has been the success of the initiative that St Cuthbert’s have even assembled a memory café choir, which recently performed with the choir of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Wa Po) Jean Twenge–Teenage depression and suicide are way up — and so is smartphone use

Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.

In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless — classic symptoms of depression — surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13-to-18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.

In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background: more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities, and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” — those born after 1995 — is much more likely to experience mental-health issues than their millennial predecessors.

What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology

(ACNS) Victorian euthanasia vote a cause for lament, says Australian primate

The state of Victoria is set to become the first in Australia to legalise euthanasia after the upper house of the state’s parliament approved a Bill earlier today. The 40-member Legislative Council approved an amended version of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill by 22 votes to 18. Because the Bill was amended by the upper-house, it will need to be approved again by the 88-member Legislative Assembly next week before becoming law.

In August, the lower house had approved the original version of the Bill by 47 votes to 37. That vote came as the Melbourne Diocesan Synod – meeting metres away, urged politicians to reject it.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, and six other senior leaders from Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox churches took the unusual step of placing an advert in the Herald-Sun newspaper in August setting out their objection to the Bill. Their advert said that “human dignity is honoured in living life, not in taking it.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(The Australian) Euthanasia laws passed in Victoria’s upper house

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

Visibly emotional government MPs including Jaala Pulford, Jaclyn Symes, Cesar Melhem all embraced in the wake of the vote, which occurred in front of a packed public gallery where pro-euthanasia advocates including Andrew Denton, Dr Sally Cockburn sat alongside pro-life campaigners including Australian Christian Lobby Victorian chief executive Dan Flynn.

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

The scheme, which is expected to come into play by 2019 will grant terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months the ability to choose when they die.

The government has not yet released details on the lethal formula that will be given to patients, but has drafted the plan in which the drugs will be issued to patients in a locked box to which only they have the key.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

A Great ABC Nightline story of hope here–One family’s story of hardships, triumphs with son who has rare craniofacial disorder

It was a frigid February night in New York City when Magda Newman was in labor with her first child. With her husband Russel Newman by her side, she labored for nearly 17 hours before giving birth to their son.

But when she finally delivered, the couple’s moment of expected happiness quickly turned to anguish.

“I don’t remember fainting, but I certainly remember screaming… ‘Oh my god, oh my god, what happened? What’s happened? What’s happening?” Russel said.

“I saw just shock on people’s faces, big eyes, and I [asked], ‘What’s going on here? Who—what happened?’” Magda said. “And I see them put him [her son] in a little back room. There’s 20 people running in there, doing something. I don’t hear [the] baby crying.”

Read it all (or watch the video report which I would highly recommend).

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

(BBC) California Doctors attempt first treatment involving gene-editing in the human body

Gene-editing has been attempted on cells inside a patient, in a world first by doctors in California.
Brian Madeux, 44 from Arizona, was given the experimental treatment to try to correct a defect in his DNA that causes Hunter’s syndrome.
Mr Madeux says he was prepared to take part in the trial as he is “in pain every second of the day”.
It is too soon to know whether or not the gene-editing has worked in Mr Madeux’s case.
Hunter’s syndrome is rare. Patients are born without the genetic instructions for an enzyme that breaks down long sugary molecules called mucopolysaccharides.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Chasing a new type of Buzz–Big Brewer Makes a Play for Marijuana Beverages

The U.S. distributor of Corona beer is chasing a new type of buzz.

Constellation Brands Inc. has agreed to take a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corp. , a Canadian marijuana company, and plans to work with the grower to develop and market cannabis-infused beverages.

Canopy Growth is the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis company, with a market valuation of 2.2 billion Canadian dollars on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The C$245 million (US$191 million) deal gives Constellation a toehold in an industry that the brewer expects to be legalized nationwide in the U.S. in the coming years.

Read it all.

Posted in Alcohol/Drinking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

My Favorite Veteran’s Story of the last Few Years–An ESPN piece on the Saratoga WarHorse Program

Saratoga Springs, N.Y., famous for its historic racetrack, is among the most idyllic places in America. But on a recent fall weekend, not far from the track, horses were serving a different mission: retired thoroughbreds were recruited to help returning veterans at Song Hill Farm. A group from the US Army 2nd Battalion, 135th infantry, united in grief over the death of a fellow solider, gathered for the first time in five years to be part of Saratoga Warhorse, a three-day program that pairs veterans with horses. Tom Rinaldi reports the emotional story of the veterans, paired with their horses, undergoing a rebirth of trust and taking a first step toward healing.

Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Animals, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, History, Military / Armed Forces

(Guardian) ‘Any taboo has gone’: Netherlands sees rise in demand for euthanasia

This year, 18,000 requests for help to die have been made, including 2,500 – up from 1,234 in 2015 – to the Levenseindekliniek – the only medical facility in the Netherlands that specialises in euthanasia.

The clinic is a charity whose costs are covered by a standard Dutch health insurance policy.

Steven Pleiter, director at the clinic, said that in response to growing demand he was now on a recruitment drive aimed at doubling the number of doctors and nurses on his books willing to go into people’s homes to administer lethal injections to patients with conditions ranging from terminal illnesses to crippling psychiatric disorders.

Pleiter has 57 doctors on call but he believes he could need more than 100 by the end of next year with a growing number of people in Dutch society seeking an organised death.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, The Netherlands

(WS) A Must-not-Miss from Mary Eberstadt–The Primal Scream of Identity Politics


The founding document of identity politics, in other words, reflects reality as many African American women would have found it in the 1970s—one in which they were the canaries in the coal mine of the sexual revolution. It’s a world in which men are ever less trusted, relations between the sexes are chronically estranged, and marriage is thin on the ground. African American women were—and still are—disproportionately affected by aspects of the sexual revolution like abortion, out-of-wedlock births, and fatherless homes. Isn’t it suggestive that the earliest collective articulation of identity politics came from the community that was first to suffer from the accelerated fraying of family ties, a harbinger of what came next for all?

Identity politics cannot be understood apart from the preceding and concomitant social fact of family implosion. The year before the Combahee document’s publication—1976—was a watershed of a sort. The out-of-wedlock birth rate for black Americans tipped over the 50-percent mark (the 1965 Moynihan Report worried over a rate half as high). This rate has kept climbing and exceeded 70 percent in 2016. At the same time, other measures indicating the splintering of the nuclear and extended family expanded too. By 2012, Millennial women—who were then under the age of 30—exhibited for the first time the out-of-wedlock birth rate of black women in 1976: i.e., more than 50 percent. Millennials, of course, are the demographic backbone of identity politics.

And the out-of-wedlock birth rate is just one measure of the unprecedented disruption of the family over the last half-century-plus. Consider, just in passing, the impact of abortion. In 2008, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 61 percent of women terminating pregnancies were already mothers of at least one child. Many children—and many grown children—have been deprived of potential siblings via pregnancy termination.

Abortion, like single motherhood, is only one engine of a phenomenon that has come to characterize more and more American lives during the past half-century: what might be called the “family, interrupted.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

First step towards Covenant for Church of England Clergy Well-being

Plans for a new deal between clergy and the wider Church of England – modelled on the ideas behind the Military Covenant – have taken a step forward after a panel was established to begin drafting.

The Church of England’s Appointments Committee has set up a group, made up of members of General Synod, both lay and ordained, alongside others with expertise in areas such as health and education, to draw up a Covenant for Clergy Well-being.

It is being produced in response to a vote in the General Synod in July of this year after a debate which heard of the impact of stress, isolation and loneliness on clergy’s lives and ministries.

The debate heard how the Military Covenant recognises that the nation relies on the sacrificial service of those in the armed forces and in return has a duty to support and value them in practical ways.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A NY Times profile of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, Gunman

Before a gunman entered a rural Texas church with a ballistic vest and a military-style rifle, killing at least 26 people on Sunday, he was convicted of assaulting his wife and breaking his infant stepson’s skull.

In 2012, while stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Devin P. Kelley, 26, was charged with “assault on his spouse and assault on their child,” according to the Air Force.

“He assaulted his stepson severely enough that he fractured his skull, and he also assaulted his wife,” said Don Christensen, a retired colonel who was the chief prosecutor for the Air Force. “He pled to intentionally doing it.”

He was sentenced in November of that year to 12 months’ confinement and reduction to the lowest possible rank. After his confinement, he was discharged from the military with a bad conduct discharge. It is unclear whether his conviction would have barred him from purchasing a gun.

The case marked a long downward slide that included divorce and being charged with animal cruelty.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence