Catch a Good Social Habit

Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard, found when examining data from a long-term study of the residents of Framingham, Mass., health habits can be as contagious as a cold virus. By his calculation, a Framingham individual’s chances of becoming obese shot up by 57 percent if a friend became obese. –People Who Forget To Die

What is the Impact of Religion on Society?

Some apologetics and opinions:

Why the World Needs Christianity. Aren’t Christians the source of intolerance and trouble?

What is Christianity? define Christianity for me.

Christians and Money. Aren’t Christians supposed to be poor and humble?

God Politics. Religious people in science and politics are just plain scary, aren’t they?

Impact of Religion on Society. Religion, Marriage, Homosexuality, Theocracy…it’s all in there somehow.

…are all religions the same?
Difference between the Western and Islamic worlds.

Helpless Secularism.

Christian muslims?

Lies We Live and Die By

keelthepot blog writes Dean’s Divorce Proceedings was a really good read. The writer quotes Jen Abbas’ Generation Ex:

I’m still, at 31, working on being happy with myself. Sociologists, psychiatrists, and academics can downplay it all they want. Divorce affects us. Watching a parent walk out the door on your mother and on you is something traumatic. In the 80’s, parents who divorced used to talk about how the parent “left the other parent, but not the kids.” Taurus Feces. You leave the wife, you break the family. They also used to say that people shouldn’t stay together “for the kids.” Ditto. All you tell your children when you walk out is, “you are not important enough for me to stay.”
This sounds like I blame my father. I do. I also blame my mother. Neither one of them put the kind of work, love, and sacrifice into their marriage that they should have. Unkind? Maybe. I’m sure I didn’t know everything about their marriage since I was only there for six years of it. But I’m also certain that if they had asked for help, gone to some kind of therapy, and really died to self the way that Christ asks of us, they would still be together today. And I would be a very different person.

It is very hard to find honesty about the effects of divorce and other such cultural issues. A few years ago, I might not have said that… I might have held out hope that we are facing these things and looking at the consequences and outcomes that are now obvious. But we aren’t. Science isn’t- at least not in a way that gets reported in the media. And so…. it is in the shadows… in the secret places where people confess their weakness and their hurts that we see glimpses of the truth.

We are helping to weave the lies of the present generation- we are passing on and we are lending our support to lies that will unravel our children and grandchildren, that will strangle their hopes for happiness… because they will have believed it until it turns and devours what they hold most dear and runs away laughing, mocking, and leaving them shattered.

Didn’t we feel enough pain from our own shattering under the weight of the lies that we had embraced. Didn’t we? Or are we only pimps and madams who lure them into our own web of immorality and degradation? Our own sins seeming to be forgiven if only we shut our eyes to the fact that they exist? Continuing to make merchandise of their lives that we might comfortable continue in our sins untroubled.

No it isn’t easy to sort out. I know that. But exchanging lies will never bring the wholeness to humanity that is so needed.

The Mommy Wars

Reposting this from Nov. 3, 2004 in the interest of defining some things about SAHM’s and some of the cultural myths that are *still* with us.

Prologue:
While keeping track of the election results and discovering new blogs I came across a set of things that caught my interest and have the common thread of comments on parenting, and being a mommy in particular.

The first was a book,Home Alone America, which the webpage headlined as reopening “The Mommy Wars”. I suppose that is related to the “Cultural Wars”, or a subset of sorts. I read the interview with the author, Mary Eberstadt , and she basically uses research to point up the problem of parental absenteeism, which includes the role of Mom, though it doesn’t restrict the problem to that. ( According to reviews).

The second thing was an article from the Wall Street Journal, which you can access in pdf form, here or look up on the Wall Street Journal site, it is called, “The Carriage Trade: Stay At Home Moms Get Entrepreneurial”.

The third, also a book review article, is

The all-too-female cluelessness of “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
from Salon.com.

Those were the inspiration, here are my thoughts-

…. but first, know that I am not wading into the mommy wars. If you are going to read my thoughts, get ready for a realistic look at what it is to be a SAHM in our culture, and not a blow by blow dissection of working women’s choices.
Continue reading The Mommy Wars

Impact of Religion on Society

[repost from October 24, 2004 @ 12:42]
More about the impact of religion on society

The Means and The End

It was questioned where I would weight the impact of religions on society,”you seem to think that religion has a smaller impact on society than homosexual marriage.”

I believe religion has the greatest impact of any single influence in society, if we include the philosophy/world view that comes from that religion. If we speak in spiritual terms -eternal reality-, I believe that your religion becomes the only determining factor in the outcomes of your society.

But I also strictly believe in specific means for promulgating religion, and that includes allowing the greatest freedom for expressing it while having the greatest restriction in forcing it. I do not believe in instituting any sort of theocracy.

I’ll tell you why. For a Theocracy to work you have to have God at the head of it. He has to agree to it…. and as far as I can see He is not agreed to any of the forceful, temporal means. If you are Christian, then you know that Jesus taught that His Kingdom was not of this world, or else His disciples would have physically fought. His Kingdom is spiritually established and spiritually enforced, and that is the way its influence will be established in the earth.

Because there is a place for that influence to be established, through the personal jurisdictions of His disciples. In our lives, in our homes, through our activities in our communities, through our votes, through our acceptance or our eschewing of mores, these are the means of religious impact in society.

That is why imposing religion from a legal status will never accomplish the goals of a free and willing people who serve God from their hearts. And that is God’s standard, the willing love of peoples hearts. But the world goes on….

The world is a place of conflict of values, it is not under that willing governorship of united willing hearts, it is a place where trespass abounds and so laws are necessary to contain the damage of that trespass. That is why thieves and murderers go to jail. It has to be that way for society to function and survive. The more breakdown, the weaker the society, the more order, especially when fueled by personal responsibility, the better the function for all the members.

Simple civics 101.

I think anyone familiar with philosophy will understand me when I say that it is the systems of thought which give birth to the realities of the culture. It sometimes takes a generation to filter into mainstream life, but this is what gives form and drive to our society. What we believe.

What we believe is not static, it is a constant swirl of influences and responses, it follows precedents, and it anchors and loosens anchor. The basic religious beliefs will dictate that in individuals and groups, and it has often been seen in history how new forms of religious thought has impacted society.

Sometimes hurried along with forced means, and this is the point of contention for all those who fear religious influence. I don’t dispute that, but I won’t acquiesce to the pendulum swing of “excise religion”, because that is a ruse. You never excise religion, you only replace one religious influence for another…. even when you call it secular, humanism, or atheism, it is a system of thought that replaces the role of religion and becomes religion, de facto.

So, no, I don’t think homosexual marriage laws have greater impact, but I do believe they are a demanded change to the most basic institution on the basis of yet unspoken philosophy. Unspoken because no one is defining what marriage is in this mode of thinking. We accepted for a long time the Christian model of marriage of two heterosexual people who then establish a home, given specific rights in the sight of society and in the sight of God. It has changed in details over the years, but with homosexual marriage… what is new definition? Who is included and excluded and under what circumstances? What are the new responsibilities for the law?

So my next question is what is the impact for society? Have we established that, at all? As I understand it, there are procedures that can insure ones partner, will ones worldly good to them, establishing lives together are available in the present system. I am having a very hard time seeing what the advantage is for legal marriage apart from the religious connotation.

I have to confess that I don’t see the full picture. On one hand, I am willing to say if the majority votes it in …let it. But on the other hand, I don’t have any of my questions answered on the impact of this change and what it means. And it is much easier to prevent societal chaos, than it is to remedy it. Or keep patching it as one goes along. Is marriage over for our society? Is its usefulness gone, so that it is merely an ornamentation for ones relationship?

Can marriage continue to be a strong institution, with the many rights and benefits it holds for women and children, without the Western structure it has had? Do societies with looser divorce and polygamous laws have as much protection for women’s rights? What is the argument for instituting homosexual marriage, but not polygamy? Just ’cause we haven’t done it thus far?

Do you see all these question marks? They are there because I am not solidly formed in how I look at this matter, yet. I am asking for compelling arguments to be made. My acceptance of the Word of God means I will never change the fact that homosexual relationship is immoral, but that same view will recognize the human rights of said individuals. Rights that I believe are outlined by that same God of the Bible.

Not all people have rights to be married if they wish it.

What I want to be assured of is just what the actual change is, that is being proposed. So I can make a considered decision on it. What I am saying is I want to know if this is something that I will vote against, but accept from the 51% majority? Or is this something I will fight whatever the cost to me? What is at stake in this decision?

I think this is reasonable.
Continue reading Impact of Religion on Society

The Black Social Experiment

City Journal Summer 2005 | The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies by Kay S. Hymowitz

The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies
-Kay S. Hymowitz

Read through the megazillion words on class, income mobility, and poverty in the recent New York Times series “Class Matters” and you still won’t grasp two of the most basic truths on the subject: 1. entrenched, multigenerational poverty is largely black; and 2. it is intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city.

By now, these facts shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Almost 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Those mothers are far more likely than married mothers to be poor, even after a post-welfare-reform decline in child poverty. They are also more likely to pass that poverty on to their children. Sophisticates often try to dodge the implications of this bleak reality by shrugging that single motherhood is an inescapable fact of modern life, affecting everyone from the bobo Murphy Browns to the ghetto “baby mamas.” Not so; it is a largely low-income—and disproportionately black—phenomenon. The vast majority of higher-income women wait to have their children until they are married. The truth is that we are now a two-family nation, separate and unequal—one thriving and intact, and the other struggling, broken, and far too often African-American.

The tragedy of African-Americans is a tragedy for us all. As much as slavery was terrible for them, the interference of white social work do-gooders was, as well. In fact, they did their job so well that an insightful thinker on Black culture such as Thomas Sowell is often lambasted by his own for speaking the truth.

There is still a condescension among whites, and among the black leaders who like to have followers deeply dependent on victim mentality that buys into the man-rejecting Mother goddess idea of a matriarchal-oriented society.

But our humanity tells, doesn’t it? We can no more raise children as we should without the men, then they can have a strong society demeaning and objectifying the women. And raising children somehow produces the substance of the society. The metaphor of spinning straw into gold: the children who seem such raw material will at some point rule, direct and create. And we will pass on the mantle to them. As we are doing, even today…..

“The first was empirical and would quickly become indisputable: single-parent families were on the rise in the ghetto. But other points were more speculative and sparked a partisan dispute that has lasted to this day. Moynihan argued that the rise in single-mother families was not due to a lack of jobs but rather to a destructive vein in ghetto culture that could be traced back to slavery and Jim Crow discrimination. Though black sociologist E. Franklin Frazier had already introduced the idea in the 1930s, Moynihan’s argument defied conventional social-science wisdom. As he wrote later, “The work began in the most orthodox setting, the U.S. Department of Labor, to establish at some level of statistical conciseness what ‘everyone knew’: that economic conditions determine social conditions. Whereupon, it turned out that what everyone knew was evidently not so.”

But Moynihan went much further than merely overthrowing familiar explanations about the cause of poverty. He also described, through pages of disquieting charts and graphs, the emergence of a “tangle of pathology,” including delinquency, joblessness, school failure, crime, and fatherlessness that characterized ghetto—or what would come to be called underclass—behavior.”
…..”More than most social scientists, Moynihan, steeped in history and anthropology, understood what families do. They “shape their children’s character and ability,” he wrote. “By and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child.” What children learned in the “disorganized home[s]” of the ghetto, as he described through his forest of graphs, was that adults do not finish school, get jobs, or, in the case of men, take care of their children or obey the law. Marriage, on the other hand, provides a “stable home” for children to learn common virtues.”

It has been written over and over how important the structure of family is, and how fragile it is when not protected, but we just don’t seem to learn.

In a book I had read a while back, “The Millionare Next Door”, which had many practical steps for building and protecting wealth, some of the main ones involved family structure, being in a longterm marriage, and both partners invested in building the stability of their home, including the financial profile. It was a book that I found helpful to see the areas where my own family made mistakes. But one of the important lessons had little to do with finances alone, it had to do with seeing the big picture of how important family ties are for us personally,in our society, and in living a worthwhile life.

There is much at stake in the issue of what style and form a family takes. One of the great bulwarks of the family is the church. Or it can be and should be. The church has a vision of the family with strong men, fulfilled women, and protected children, if only it is not consuming the self-gutted version with members gnawing their own feet off. And this is exactly what we see growing in our society. If the church can’t exemplify healthy social order, there will be no picture for the world. No vision.

And as we are seeing with our own eyes: a people without vision will perish. I would like to see the outcome of a different social experiment: people who call themselves Christians get serious about their committments in their marriages, to their children, and amongst each other, not looking behind, but right where they are…. you can’t start any sooner. But you can start now, …. will you? All the social services in the world will not make up for what is lacking if we don’t pull together in our relationships. I think that is what the social experiments have shown us thus far… the institutions are breaking under a load they cannot possibly carry.

But we can start to carry our own…. remember that song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”? Remember the story that inspired that? Brotherhood starts at home. You can’t learn it there, you aren’t learning it.

I think Thomas Sowell most recently pointed up a truth…. our problems reach down deep into the cultural platitudes that we continue to cultivate. We keep passing on the same dispositions to failure instead of renewing the dialogue. And we are compounding that by so elevating those cultural faultlines that they then spread further.

To borrow someone elses buzz: it is time to stop the madness. Mothers and Fathers are on the first line of the initiative.

though they always caution that “marriage is not a panacea,” social scientists almost uniformly accept the research that confirms the benefits for children growing up with their own married parents

H/T Joe Dartblog

The Making of Radicals

I was reading several articles and together they started to send my thinking in some separate directions. ‘A poverty of dignity and a wealth of rage’ by Thomas Friedman was one, another, written by Caryle Murphy, was based upon the views of Robert Pape, expressed in his book, ‘Dying to Win’. The sleeper is an article on the rise of feminism in Africa, highlighting the matriarchal village of Umoja, Kenya.

I, myself, most strongly see the Islamic religious tenet factors, but in looking over some of this I wonder if some of the classic steps towards radicalism aren’t also at work. Because while radicalism and fanaticism are related, they do have some differences, I think.

virtually all suicide bombers, of late, have been Sunni Muslims. There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans. Angry Africans. Angry Norwegians. But the only ones who seem to feel entitled and motivated to kill themselves and totally innocent people, including other Muslims, over their anger are young Sunni radicals.

….. “When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of ‘martyrdom’ by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the ‘decadence’ in our own.”

This is not about the poverty of money. This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger.

Friedman talks of the religious factor, quoting Bouyeri, who killed Theo Van Gogh, and he talks of the isolation of young Muslims in Europe. Social alienation. Another factor he covers is the faultline between the history of Sunni Islam and its role today, all of which Friedman concludes lead to the solution that one is looking at a cult religion with sudden and fanatic devotion.

I wouldn’t dismiss that out of hand, but I’m not so sure. On to the Pape piece, written by Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post.
Continue reading The Making of Radicals

Does race matter anymore?

What price, race?

Salon.com Life | Was he black or white? -googled because otherwise you have to jump through Salon.com’s hoops.

Cecelie S. Berry wrote an interesting piece from a slice of pie in her day. She came across an ideal in the coming generation:

Even as the conversation unfolded, I knew that it would change us. It was a turning point in the compass of our relationship: a black mother and her children having careless fun, and then the issue of race spins us clockwise or counter — I’m still not sure which. That night, I stumbled upon the mores of a new generation that believed — they didn’t just say it, they believed — that race didn’t matter. My children’s utter faith in this impressed me. They exhibited unwavering conviction and — warming to a mother’s heart, if contrary to my will — they were fierce allies, utterly united. They fought me (me!) for an ideal world where they were ultimately human, and race was simply not worth mentioning. I had discovered the vast new territory of their idealism, as unspoiled and fertile as the Americas must have been to explorers of yore.

I have seen this, as well, I just didn’t think much of it, from my white ‘it is good to be unbiased’ perspective. It didn’t hit me in my culture comfort zone.

I wonder what will be the long range outcome of this? Have we taken things too far in our idealistic homogenization? It seems a pity to lose the sense of individual flavor in culture and heritage, histories and celebrations of who we are.

“Sam, ever loyal to his mother, gave in. “He was black.”

That’s what I thought.”

But it doesn’t make it go away to idealize it away. As men and women we have our distinctive differences, As races, as cultures, we have things that identify us…not for comparison purposes, but for the varied beauty that is life.

But maybe wiping the slate lean rids us of the filters that distorted the true picture.

“Our speech, dress, interests are expected to conform to the topography of “blackness” as we know it.”

Maybe it gives us a chance to see with new eyes of discovery and move toward improving ourselves- apart from being judges as worthy or unworthy by others.

Interesting to note….

Sidetracked: Andrea Dworkin

I’m interested in Andrea Dworkin, now. I have held opinions that prostitution and pornography are damaging to women, especially on the macro social scale of degradation of image and the ensuing degradation of status.

And yes, the way we view women as a whole matters.

So Andrea Dworkin interests me. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily subscribe to her theories, I want to know something of what she thought on the subject.

The trouble is that she, and many feminists do this, railed against the ‘what is” of there being the male side to the human race. If things are awry-even as terribly awry as they obviously are, the answer is not to get rid or suppress the entire other in the group.

Maybe that is part of the problem in focusing on problems… you become convinced that you can make things better by eradicating somebody. It is the surrender of hope, not believing that understanding will accomplish anything to solve any problems. Not believing in the possibility of change, not willing to protect the boundaries of another.

Perhaps that is why people get so solidified and rigid, they look only at the negative and think that the positive will prevail if they take out more. When the positive has a presence and substance and needs to be grown and cultivated.

Maybe that is why so many revolutions have so many bad endings… they only make room for more of the same negative results, rather than transforming the situation and solving the problems.
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To any proponent of pornography I demand that they answer on the rising exploitation of women and children in the modern form of slavery that we see proliferating today. Women and children sold into the sex trade, tricked into its confines.

If it is such a victimless crime, why do you have to fill your coffers with the fresh blood of the unwilling?
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Anytime you objectify a person you wipe the face from them, they are no longer more than a thing…they seem devoid of feeling or vulnerability. They are some cartoon character on a two dimensional surface, which you get to erase and rewrite at will. That is a deadening exercise. When you do not try to capture the spirit, but instead so stylize something that it is no longer defined for you.

Maybe this is what deadens a marriage. You are no longer interested in the person, in discovering the uniqueness of who they are.

This doesn’t just happen within one category in the idealized woman, the cobbling together of physical and personality attributes, results in a fantasy woman, one that changes at the will of the imagination. What real woman can live up to that? But how many women lose themselves trying?

Perhaps this is something affecting men, too, but I have never given that much thought. It seems it could work in reverse, but I think the reason so many people define themselves by their work is that this is a time honored way to escape the insecurity of whether you match up to society’s, or significant others, expectations. You just have your nice neat job description and your bona fide paycheck and there you go!

Not always so easy, but the drift is there….

Is real so very hard to face? Is real so unappealing? I always look at the message of The Matrix when I think of this. For some reason real is so much more satisfying that we are willing, at least some of us are willing, to have the very ugly real over the surface perfection of the manufactured.

Strange, isn’t it? for all the hype of the manufactured, we want something more…… intangible.

Plugging In…To the Euthanasia Issue

Because there is so much discussion surrounding the Schiavo case, I felt that some further clarification of thought would be useful.

I’ve read comments from people I respect, and some from those I am indifferent to, which speak of the “passive euthanasia” or “right to die”, and similar phrases. There are often personal anecdotes of life experiences which explain their reasoning for a conviction or quandary that the discussion of Terri Schiavo is engendering.

The fear of unduly prolonging life is vibrating through many of them. This is a real concern that was last in the public eye in the Karen Quinlan case. There are so many complicating factors since that case. Ethical and economic. We should move cautiously and deliberately forward in forging out our social policies.

~——~
I, too, have personal experience with this type of situation, and with my own ambivilance. I feel strongly that what we want to address is medical procedure rights, not a right to die. If people are dying and medical procedures are prolonging that, then the DNR, ‘do not resusitate’, or the waiving of those procedures ought to be in the hands of the patient or their designated proxy.

I don’t think that we should be writing laws that grant the taking of life, for whatever medical reason, to the end that we are institutionalizing euthanasia. That is exactly the type of thing that has led to the Schiavo travesty.

The only thing comparable is criminal execution, which is why it is so horrific to see it used on innocent people. What did Terri do to deserve the deliberate termination of her life in an inhumane way? She survived, but not to the levels of that many in our society have set as acceptable. Many of us are questioning the desiribility of that criteria.

My personal experience was recently, last year, in the exercise of the medical power of attorney for my father. His wish, officially was for DNR, but before my role was activated he had made more than one choice for life prolonging procedures, including help with respiration. My father was one of those individuals who give completely opposing messages. You had to know him well to guess at what his true wishes were- and then it still was a guess.

I personally felt the importance of his life choices at the end included the chance to say goodbyes to those who meant most to him: his brothers and sisters, and his children and grandchildren. All had their opportunity, and it appeared to make a great deal of difference in his facing his end.

The weight of making choices for your loved one when they can no longer make it for themselves is immense. The opinions of doctors are often conflicting. It is hard to know who to listen to. There are factors that institutional medicine deals with that have little to do with comfort or with what is best for the patient. It is difficult to impossible to know when those things are activated in a case. So the best thing, in my personal opinion, is that we stick with patients rights to make choices in procedures, not put power to make the call for life and death into institutional or the courts hands. It is a matter of placing your proxy where you most trust it will abide by your wishes.

In spite of this, we see that Terri’s husband is primary in obstructing her care.

It appears difficult to see how Terri’s ordeal could have been circumvented by reasonably constructed law. The laws we have can only be constructed for reasonable situations, and tests in place for the unreasonable aberrations. As one blogger pointed out, what sane judge allows a husband, who has already moved on with making another family and seems to have no other interest in his wife’s welfare than to inherit her estate, make the life and death request and decision? There should be valid tests in place, to flag and divert that sort of injustice.

Not everyone will get Congress to intervene in their situation. Now is the time to place safeguards for personal rights and delinate some of the boundaries for the medical and judicial profession.