Category : Psychology

(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.”

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

(RNS) Clergy: Stressed Out Anglican Priests Turn To Trade Unions For Support

“It was isolated, insatiably demanding, and I was, on the whole, working without close colleagues.” The role is, “for many, quite overwhelming and exhausting…” [Archbp Justin Welby] said.

This kind of pressure may well explain why increasing numbers of his priests in the Church of England are seeking help outside the church for their problems. Faced with demanding congregations, rarely being off duty, piles of paperwork and disciplinary procedures they often feel are unfair, priests are turning instead to trade unions for support.

According to one of Britain’s largest unions, Unite, there has been a rapid increase in the past year in the number of Anglican parish priests, or vicars, joining its specialist faith worker branch. Almost 1,500 priests plus a few rabbis and imams joined the union last year — an increase of 16 per cent in 12 months.

The Anglican vicars are joining despite not having the usual British employment rights, because they are termed “officeholders” and cannot take their complaints to an employment tribunal. And while they cannot pursue rights they don’t have as members of Unite, they can seek counsel and support there from others familiar with their travails.

According to Rev Peter Hobson, who is head of the priests’ Unite branch, Church of England Clergy Advocates, vicars are turning to the union because they are under pressure from all sides – from the people in the pews and from their bishops.

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Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stress

(WSJ) Silicon Valley Reconsiders the iPhone Era It Created

A tussle this week between prominent investors and Apple Inc. over iPhone use by young people comes amid a nascent re-evaluation of the smartphone’s social consequences within the industry that spawned it.

The smartphone has fueled much of Silicon Valley’s soaring profits over the past decade, enriching companies in sectors from social media to games to payments. But over the past year or so, a number of prominent industry figures have voiced concerns about the downsides of the technology’s ubiquity.

They include Apple executives who helped create the iPhone and now express misgivings about how smartphones monopolize attention, as well as early investors and executives in Facebook Inc. who worry about social media’s tendency to consume ever more user time, in part by pushing controversial content.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(Time) Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump Promote the Same Populist Theology

Oprah Winfrey’s public image could not be more different from Donald Trump’s.

While the longtime talk show host is famous for getting her guests to open up emotionally, Trump’s signature move on The Apprentice was firing contestants, who often left the boardroom crying.

But beneath their vastly different images, Winfrey and Trump share the same populist theology. Both preach a gospel of American prosperity, the popular cultural movement that helped put Trump in the White House in 2016.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Telegraph) More than 1,000 churchgoers complain of spiritual abuse

[Some] Church-goers at mainstream churches have said they are being “spiritually abused” by leaders.

Research showed that more than 1,000 British Christians said they had experienced the abuse, which usually involves members invoking God’s will or religious texts in order to punish or control and coerce a worshipper.

Two thirds of respondents to the survey carried out by Dr Lisa Oakley of the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at Bournemouth University said they had experienced spiritual abuse in the past.

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Abingdon vicar guilty of ‘spiritually abusing’ boy

A Church of England vicar has been convicted by a tribunal of spiritually abusing a teenage boy.

The Reverend Timothy Davis moved in with the boy’s family in 2013 and held two-hour private prayer sessions in the boy’s bedroom, the panel heard.

Mr Davis, of Christ Church, Abingdon, also tried to end the boy’s relationship with his girlfriend, describing her as a “bad seed”.

The Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal said it would fix a penalty in due course.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology

(PR FactTank) Most dads say they spend too little time with their children; about a quarter live apart from them

U.S. fathers today are spending more time caring for their children than they did a half-century ago. Still, most (63%) say they spend too little time with their kids and a much smaller share (36%) say they spend the right amount of time with them, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August and September 2017.

Moms, by comparison, still do more of the child care and are more likely than dads to say they are satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their kids. About half (53%) say this, while only 35% say they spend too little time with their children, according to the survey.

Fathers without a bachelor’s degree are particularly likely to say they spend too little time with their kids. About seven-in-ten dads with some college or less education (69%) say this is the case, compared with half of dads with at least a bachelor’s degree.

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

(WSJ) David Rosmarin–Psychologists Shouldn’t Ignore the Soul

In my first six months as a predoctoral psychology intern at McLean Hospital, I was approached by at least 10 patients asking essentially the same question: Can I speak to you about God? They wanted to discuss their problems not in psychological terms but in spiritual ones. I guess the yarmulke on my head suggested I was an appropriate person to offer guidance.

I was not. I am a practicing Orthodox Jew and a clinical scientist, but I am no theologian. At the time, I did not even have my supervisors’ permission to speak to patients about their spiritual lives. I typically responded by suggesting the patient ask his case manager about a chaplaincy visit, though I knew the hospital did not employ an on-site chaplain.

It was hardly surprising that patients wanted to speak about God. Psychological science has consistently shown that spirituality can shape how someone thinks. “Religion and spirituality have the ability to promote or damage mental health,” a 2014 review of research into spirituality and mental health concluded. “This potential demands an increased awareness of religious matters by practitioners in the mental health field as well as ongoing attention in psychiatric research.” Why has this been neglected?

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Posted in Judaism, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(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.”

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

A Nation Answers a Sobbing Boy’s Plea: ‘Why Do They Bully?’

When Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton, from school in the Knoxville, Tenn., area last week, he asked her to record a video of him in the car.

Keaton was going home early — not for the first time, Ms. Jones said — because he was afraid to have lunch at school. Classmates, he told his mother, had poured milk on him and stuffed ham in his clothes.

“They make fun of my nose,” he said in the video, which Ms. Jones posted on Facebook on Friday with a plea for parents to talk to their children about bullying. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.”

“Why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” he asked, sobbing. He added: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth

Time Person of the Year–The Silence Breakers

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Psychology, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Guardian) Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? The suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans

Since 2013, net farm income for US farmers has declined 50%. Median farm income for 2017 is projected to be negative $1,325. And without parity in place (essentially a minimum price floor for farm products), most commodity prices remain below the cost of production.

In an email, Rosmann wrote, “The rate of self-imposed [farmer] death rises and falls in accordance with their economic well-being … Suicide is currently rising because of our current farm recession.”

Inside the sunny lobby of the newly remodeled Onaga community hospital, where Joyce Blaske happens to work in the business department, Dr Nancy Zidek has just finished her rounds. As a family medicine doctor, she sees behavioral health issues frequently among her farmer patients, which she attributes to the stressors inherent in farming.

“If your farm is struggling, you’re certainly going to be depressed and going to be worried about how to put food on the table, how to get your kids to college,” she says.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Suicide

(WSJ) Luke Goodrich on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case–Religious freedom is for Christians, too

Most strikingly, a disproportionate share of religious freedom cases are brought by non-Christian minorities. The proportion of religious-freedom cases brought by Hindus was five times their share of the population in the six states under 10th Circuit jurisdiction. The factor was 10 for Native Americans and 17 for Muslims. The most underrepresented group? Christians, who were involved in only one-fourth as many cases as their share of the population.

That means that religious freedom protections remain especially important for non-Christian minorities. But it also raises a question: Why is there so much hand-wringing about a handful of religious-liberty cases brought by Christians?

This is because the political left applies a double standard. If religious liberty is invoked by a favored minority, it is legitimate. But if it is invoked by a Christian with traditional moral views, it is seen as an excuse for hate. Progressives engage in culture-war bullying when religious liberty would stand in the way of their social views. One of the Colorado state commissioners in Masterpiece Cakeshop called the Christian baker’s religious-freedom claim “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use—to use their religion to hurt others.”

But if religious liberty means anything, it means the right to live according to your beliefs when most people think you are wrong.

So when Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, stands before the Supreme Court Tuesday, he may have some unlikely allies rooting for him: non-Christian religious minorities.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Guardian) Liam Beadle–Not even vicars have the patience of saints

The demands are many. A typical day for a member of the clergy begins with morning prayer, reading from the Bible and mentioning to God the needs of the whole community. They can then find themselves going from a lively school assembly to a visit to a bereaved parishioner to plan a funeral service. They may then attend a meeting to discuss repair works to a listed building, take a communion service in an old people’s home, liaise with organists to choose next month’s liturgical music, report a potential safeguarding concern, and in the evening chair a meeting of the parochial church council. No day is quite the same, which is one of the great things about being a vicar. But a schedule requiring such mental, spiritual and emotional agility can take its toll.

One of the things that is sometimes forgotten is that vicars are (or should be) theologians. It isn’t good enough for the vicar simply to have his or her opinions about God and the world. Theology is a serious academic discipline. So what the vicar says about God has to be doctrinally defensible. But it also has to be kind and accessible. Sometimes that seems like a tall order, which means tired clergy either retreat into well-worn platitudes or become regarded as ivory-tower intellectuals in a society increasingly suspicious of experts. It is exciting to be a person of study and prayer in a community, pointing to God and the possibility of new creation in an often weary world. It is also incredibly draining, and sometimes the pressure becomes a bit too much.

I don’t know the specifics of what made Thewlis write the letter to his congregation. But all the clergy I have spoken to know how it feels to want to write that sort of letter. In particular, he says he perceived a lack of warmth among the people he served. That can be very painful for the clergy, who have often moved significant distances to live in a community they don’t know very well, to do a hard job with a lot of public exposure. It doesn’t take more than a few people who are adept at finding fault, or who resent a new person in their community exercising leadership and making decisions, to feel vulnerable and isolated. A throwaway unkind comment or a hastily written angry email can eat away at a parish priest for days.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

([London] Times) Debbie Hayton–We transgender women cannot self identify our sex

People fundamentally believe lots of things but that does not necessarily make them true. We don’t legislate on the basis of astrology or homeopathy, for example, yet the government is considering reforms to the Gender Recognition Act that may allow people to self-identify their legal sex based on their fundamental beliefs.

As a transgender woman I find that deeply troubling. The mechanism by which our legal sex can be changed underpins the equality legislation that protects transgender rights. I am a science teacher, and that protection was vital when I transitioned in school five years ago.

The same piece of legislation defends women’s rights. Some women have perceived a conflict and they are asking hard questions. If anyone can self-identify as a woman, what does the word woman even mean? My dictionary tells me that a woman is an adult human female, but that does not fit well with the claim that “transgender women are women”. This is painful territory for transgender people, and it is tempting to shut down debate and dismiss concerns as transphobia. But concerns don’t go away, they fester, and we risk transgender-acceptance being replaced by transgender-suspicion.

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Sexuality