According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lasting Relationships Depend on 2 Basic Traits


Flickr/Scarleth Marie

Science Says Lasting Relationships
Come Down To 2 Basic Traits
http://www.businessinsider.com/lasting-relationships-rely-on-2-traits-2014-11

by Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic
November 9, 2014

Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.

Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people.

The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.

Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book "The Science of Happily Ever After," which was published earlier this year.

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Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were.

Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?

Psychologist John Gottman was one of those researchers. For the past four decades, he has studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. I recently had the chance to interview Gottman and his wife Julie, also a psychologist, in New York City. Together, the renowned experts on marital stability run The Gottman Institute, which is devoted to helping couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies.

John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington. Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other.

With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects' blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.

From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.

When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters. The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.

But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal — of being in fight-or-flight mode — in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger.

Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other. For example, each member of a couple could be talking about how their days had gone, and a highly aroused husband might say to his wife, “Why don’t you start talking about your day. It won’t take you very long.”

Flickr/Marg

The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. It’s not that the masters had, by default, a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.

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Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat.

He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study — one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish.

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

Flickr/Scarleth Marie

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner's ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.

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Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved.

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

“If your partner expresses a need,” explained Julie Gottman, “and you are tired, stressed, or distracted, then the generous spirit comes in when a partner makes a bid, and you still turn toward your partner.”

In that moment, the easy response may be to turn away from your partner and focus on your iPad or your book or the television, to mumble “Uh huh” and move on with your life, but neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your relationship. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored.

The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.

Flickr/Ian Livesey

“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”

John Gottman elaborated on those spears:

  • “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’
  • Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about your lateness, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”

For the hundreds of thousands of couples getting married each June — and for the millions of couples currently together, married or not — the lesson from the research is clear:

If you want to have a stable, healthy relationship,
exercise kindness early and often.

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When people think about practicing kindness, they often think about small acts of generosity, like buying each other little gifts or giving one another back rubs every now and then. While those are great examples of generosity, kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, whether or not there are back rubs and chocolates involved.

One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down.

Or say a wife is running late to dinner (again), and the husband assumes that she doesn’t value him enough to show up to their date on time after he took the trouble to make a reservation and leave work early so that they could spend a romantic evening together. But it turns out that the wife was running late because she stopped by a store to pick him up a gift for their special night out.

Imagine her joining him for dinner, excited to deliver her gift, only to realize that he’s in a sour mood because he misinterpreted what was motivating her behavior. The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict.

“Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it’s almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing,” psychologist Ty Tashiro told me. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent.”

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Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news. When one person in the relationship shared the good news of, say, a promotion at work with excitement, the other would respond with wooden disinterest by checking his watch or shutting the conversation down with a comment like, “That’s nice.”

We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

In one study from 2006, psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. They psychologists wanted to know how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and active constructive.

Let’s say that one partner had recently received the excellent news that she got into medical school. She would say something like “I got into my top choice med school!”

  • If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event. For example, he might say something like: “You wouldn’t believe the great news I got yesterday! I won a free t-shirt!”
  • If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. A typical passive constructive response is saying “That’s great, babe” as he texts his buddy on his phone.
  • In the third kind of response, active destructive, the partner would diminish the good news his partner just got: “Are you sure you can handle all the studying? And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive!”
  • Finally, there’s active constructive responding. If her partner responded in this way, he stopped what he was doing and engaged wholeheartedly with her: “That’s great! Congratulations! When did you find out? Did they call you? What classes will you take first semester?”

Among the four response styles, active constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy-killers, active constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. In the parlance of the Gottmans, active constructive responding is a way of “turning toward” your partners bid (sharing the good news) rather than “turning away” from it.

Active constructive responding is critical for healthy relationships. In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.

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There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart.

In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.


Personal Well-Being: The One Thing That Will Ruin a Perfectly Good Relationship



The one behavior that can make or break your connection.

December 14, 2012 in Anger in the Age of Entitlement

As Oscar Wilde put it, “Criticism is the only reliable form of autobiography.” It tells you more about the psychology of the criticizer than the people he or she criticizes. Astute professionals can formulate a viable diagnostic hypothesis just from hearing someone criticize.

Criticism is the first of John Gottman’s famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which predict divorce with more than 90% accuracy. In my clinical experience it is the most apocryphal, as the other three tend to follow from it—stonewalling, defensive, and contemptuous partners almost invariably feel criticized.

Criticism is destructive to relationships when it is:

  • About personality or character, rather than behavior
  • Filled with blame
  • Not focused on improvement
  • Based on only one “right way” to do things
  • Belittling

Criticism in close relationships starts out, in most cases, on a low key and escalates over time, forming a downward spiral with increasing resentment. The criticized person feels controlled, which frustrates the critical partner, who then steps up the criticism, increasing the other’s sense being controlled, and so on.

At no time in this downward spiral does an obvious fact occur to critical people: Criticism is an utter failure at getting positive behavior change. Any short-term gain you might get from it just builds resentment down the line.

Criticism fails because it embodies two of the things that human beings hate the most:

  • It calls for submission, and we hate to submit.
  • It devalues, and we hate to feel devalued.

While people hate to submit, we like to cooperate. Critical people seem oblivious to a key point about human nature:

The valued self cooperates; the devalued self resists.

If you want behavior change, show value for the person whose behavior you want to change. If you want resistance, criticize.

Critical people are certainly smart enough to figure out that criticism doesn’t work. So why do they keep doing it in the face of mounting frustration?

They keep doing it because criticism is an easy form of ego defense. We don’t criticize because we disagree with a behavior or an attitude. We criticize because we somehow feel devalued by the behavior or attitude. Critical people tend to be easily insulted and especially in need of ego defense.

Critical people were often criticized in early childhood by caretakers, siblings, or peers. Criticism can be especially painful for young children. They cannot distinguish criticism of their behavior from rejection, no matter how much we try to make the distinction for them, as in the well-intentioned, “You’re a good boy, but this behavior is bad.”

Such a distinction requires a higher prefrontal cortex operation, which is beyond most young children. To a child under seven, anything more than occasional criticism, even if soft-pedaled, means they’re bad and unworthy.

A Shadow of Life or Death

The only thing young children can do to survive is attach emotionally to people who will take care of them. Feeling unworthy of attachment, as criticized young children are apt to feel, seems a bit like life or death. So they try to control the great pain of criticism by turning it into self-criticism—since self-inflicted pain is better than unpredictable rejection by loved ones.

By early adolescence, they begin to "identify with the aggressor"—emulating the more powerful criticizer. By late adolescence, self-criticism expands to criticism of others. By young adulthood, it seems to be entirely criticism of others. But most critical people remain primarily self-critical; I have never treated one who was not. As hard as they are on others, most are at least equally hard on themselves.

How to Tell if You’re Critical

You’re likely to be the last to know whether you’re a critical person. As the joke goes, “I give feedback; you’re critical. I’m firm; you’re stubborn. I’m flexible; you’re wishy-washy. I’m in touch with my feelings; you’re hysterical!”

If someone tells you you’re critical, you probably are. But there’s even a better way to tell: Think of what you automatically say to yourself if you drop something or make a mistake. Critical people will typically think, “Oh you idiot,” or, “Jerk,” or just curse or sigh in disgust. If you do that to yourself, you most likely do it to others as well.

Criticism vs. Feedback

Critical people often delude themselves into thinking that they merely give helpful feedback. The following are ways to tell the two apart.

  • Criticism focuses on what’s wrong. (“Why can’t you pay attention to the bills?”)
  • Feedback focuses on how to improve. ("Let’s go over the bills together.")

  • Criticism implies the worst about the other’s personality. (“You’re stubborn and lazy.”)
  • Feedback is about behavior, not personality. (“Can we start by sorting the bills according to due date?”)

  • Criticism devalues. (“I guess you’re just not smart enough to do this.”)
  • Feedback encourages. ("I know you have a lot on your plate, but I’m pretty sure we can do this together.")

  • Criticism implies blame. (“It’s your fault we’re in this financial mess.”)
  • Feedback focuses on the future. (“We can get out of this mess if we both give up a few things. What do you think?”)

  • Criticism attempts to control. (“I know what’s best; I’m smarter and more educated.")
  • Feedback respects autonomy. (“I respect your right to make that choice, even though I don’t agree with it.”)

  • Criticism is coercive. (“You’re going to do what I want, or else I won’t connect with you or will punish you in some way.”)
  • Feedback is not at all coercive. (“I know we can find a solution that works for both of us.”)

Warning About Feedback

If you’re angry or resentful, any “feedback” you give will be heard as criticism, no matter how you put it. That’s because people respond to emotional tone, not intention. It’s best to regulate the anger or resentment before you try to give feedback.

To give feedback from your core value:

  • Focus on how to improve.
  • Focus on the behavior you would like to see, not on the personality of your partner or child.
  • Encourage change, instead of undermining confidence.
  • Sincerely offer help.
  • Respect his/her autonomy.
  • Resist the urge to punish or withdraw affection if he/she doesn’t do what you want

If you’re a critical person, you must get a handle on your impulse to criticize before it ruins your relationship.


related -



15 Things That Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do



February 3, 2014


There is a particular aspect of mental strength that is the deciding factor of whether or not you will have a good life. There are many levels to mental strength and all are needed to be successful and happy. The one particular area of mental strength that has the greatest impact is that of emotional strength.

Emotions are, of course, a part of our psyche, yet nevertheless, can be distinguished from the remainder of mental qualities because they most directly influence our physical body. They affect the way our body functions and they drive every single one of our actions. Without emotion, we would have no reason to act, to do anything with ourselves.

Emotions are our greatest motivators. Unfortunately, they can motivate us to act in any direction, even the wrong one. For this reason, emotional strength is essential. There are countless situations that emotionally strong people avoid and many actions they never take. Here are 15 of them:

1. They Don’t Beg For Attention

Needing attention is directly linked to emotion. Those who feel the need for recognition only find themselves experiencing feelings of worth when others make them feel needed; it’s as if these people are uncertain of their value, or if they have any ounce of self-worth. Feeling unsure of your worth is a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you don’t know you matter, then no one will ever believe you do.

2. They Don’t Allow Others To Bring Them Down

Emotional strength requires resilience. This world is filled with haters and trolls. There are jealous eyes lurking around every corner. The unfortunate truth is that often the people who hold us back the most are those closest to us. Getting rid of these people is often the best solution, but also the most difficult. If you can quietly remove these people from your life, that’s one fewer bridge burned and much less of an emotional trigger.

3. They Don’t Hold Grudges

If you’re holding a grudge, then you already care more about a situation than you should. If a person apologizes genuinely, forgive him or her. If this person doesn’t apologize, then don’t interact with him or her, but don’t hold grudges. People with whom you seek to alienate and hold grudges against take up too much of your mental energy, doing more harm than good.

4. They Never Stop Doing Their Own Thing

Emotionally strong individuals do what they do because they love doing it. They don’t plan on slowing down or stopping for anyone who deems their happiness inappropriate.

5. They Never Stop Believing In Themselves

Those who love themselves and understand themselves — those who aren’t afraid or proud to be themselves — never doubt themselves. You amount to your own self-worth, not a shilling more.

6. They Don’t Act Like Bitches Or Assh*les

People are mean. But we wonder, why? Being a jerk is only good as an intimidation factor, and if you’re trying to intimidate people, then you better be a negotiator by profession; if you’re intimidating just for the sake of it, you’re obviously overcompensating for a lack of confidence. Do you also drive a very large automobile, perhaps? I hear they make pills for that.

7. They Know Better Than To Let Just Anyone Into Their Lives

The emotionally strong are emotionally strong for a reason: They don’t expose themselves to people who break down their defenses and crush their morale. Most people in the world are lost and will be more than happy to take you along with them. Don’t let an awful acquaintance ruin your happiness.

8. They Aren’t Afraid To Love

If you’re afraid to love, you don’t have enough confidence in yourself. You obviously think you can’t be in a lasting relationship, but only in one that is doomed for disaster. You don’t want to get hurt again because getting hurt really sucks. There is no reason for you to get your heart broken again because you are awesome. If things don’t work out, it’s not you. It’s the two of you together. Unless, of course, you are an awful human being; in that case, it is you.

9. They Don’t Lie In Bed Dreading The Day Ahead Of Them

The best part of your day should be the moment you wake up and realize you’re still alive. We take life for granted too regularly.

10. They’re Not Afraid Of Slowing Down

Emotionally strong people aren’t in need of constant action and excitement. They don’t need to run around all day and keep moving in order to avoid their demons. They appreciate a slow moment because it brings them closer to what it feels like to do nothing but living, breathing. This is not to say that they don’t enjoy excitement in their lives, but they aren’t junkies and are more than happy to just go for a walk and smell the roses.

11. They Don’t Do Things They Don’t Want To Do

We all do things that we don’t love to do, but we should never do things that we don’t want to do. The emotionally strong understand that and almost always manage to figure out a way to focus on what they love, which allows them to figure out what they need to do, in order to do what they love. Although they may not love every second of it, they like doing what they are doing because it’s bringing them one step closer to what they would love to do.

12. They Have No Problem Saying “No”

If you can’t say “no,” you will get abused. You’ll be considered a pushover and no one will ever ask you for your opinion or take it seriously when you give it. Saying “no” reminds people that they don’t have control over you.

13. They Don’t “Forget” To Give Back

We’re not too busy or too poor to donate our money and/or time. We don’t forget, either. Some people just choose to ignore our responsibilities as human beings. The stronger you are emotionally, the more you come to appreciate others and life itself. You give life more worth and you begin to empathize with those who were dealt a bad hand.

14. They Don’t Feel The Need To Fit In

The stronger you are emotionally, the more independent you become. You don’t feel the need to fit in because you fit in where it matters: the world. People form smaller social groups that are often skewed and unhealthy. Wanting to fit in doesn’t say much more than “I’m afraid to be myself.”

15. They Don’t Forget That Happiness Is A Decision

Most importantly, the emotionally strong have learned to understand the power their brains have over both the mind and body. They understand that emotions are reactions, not reactions to direct physical causes, but to the way we perceive those causes. In other words, our emotions don’t reflect reality; rather, our emotions reflect the way we interpret reality. Understanding this gives us near-full control of our emotions and, therefore, our lives.


SA - Science, Public at Odds with Scientists on Major Issues



Despite Esteem for Science, Public at Odds
with Scientists on Major Issues
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2015/01/29/despite-esteem-for-science-public-at-odds-with-scientists-on-major-issues/

by Lee Rainie
January 29, 2015

*The views expressed are those of the author and are not
necessarily those of Scientific American.


Scientists and their work have an important place
in every major aspect of American life

Many hope that advances in science will improve people’s lives and enhance the economy. They are anxious to understand what innovations will disrupt existing daily activities and business routines. Policy arguments about science-related issues have held center stage in the [President] Obama era, starting with the protracted arguments over medical care, insurance and the Affordable Care Act and extending into every cranny of energy and environmental concerns, policies around food, challenges created by digital technology disruptions, and whether educators are preparing today’s K-12 students for a future with greater requirements for science literacy and numeracy.

A report released today by the Pew Research Center, based on surveys of the general public and U.S scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), finds powerful crosscurrents of the views of the two groups. On one hand, there is esteem and wide support for investments in scientific research:

PROS
  • 79% of adults say that science has made life easier for most people and a majority is positive about science’s impact on the quality of health care, food and the environment.
  • 54% of adults consider U.S. scientific achievements either to be the best in the world or above average compared with other industrial countries; 92% of AAAS scientists hold similarly praiseworthy views.
  • 61% of adults say that government investment is essential for scientific progress, while 34% say private investment is enough to ensure scientific progress is made.

On the other hand, there is clear evidence that citizens and scientists often see science-related issues through different lenses. For instance, there is a:

CONS
  • 51-percentage point gap between scientists and the public about the safety of eating genetically-modified foods – 88% of AAAS scientists think eating GM food is safe, while just 37% of the public believes that.
  • 42-percentage point gap over the issue of using animals in research – 89% of scientists approve it, while 47% of the public backs the idea.
  • 40-percentage point gap on the question of whether it is safe to eat foods grown with pesticides – 68% of scientists say that, compared with 28% of citizens.
  • 37-percentage point gap over whether climate change is mostly caused by human activity – 87% of scientists say it is, while 50% of the public does.
  • 33-percentage point gap on the question about whether humans have evolved over time – 98% of scientists say this, compared with 65% of the public.


Moreover, both citizens and scientists are less upbeat about the scientific enterprise than they were five years ago. The share of citizens saying U.S. scientific achievements are the best in the world or above average is down 11 points from 65% in 2009 to 54% today. Among scientists there is a 24-point drop from 2009 to 2014 in the proportion who say it is generally a good time for science and an 11-point falloff in those who think it is a good time for their particular science discipline.

Policy-making without the best science?

Scientists’ somewhat downcast outlook extends to the policy world. Most believe that policy choices, especially those about land use and clean air and water, are not often guided by the best scientific findings. Only 15% of scientists say they believe the best science guides policy choices about land use most of the time or always; 27% think the best science frequently guides regulations about clean air and water; 46% think the best science is frequently used in food safety regulations and 58% say the same when it comes to regulations about new drug and medical treatments.

One of the main points of agreement between scientists and citizens is that both are critical of the quality of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM subjects) in grades K-12. Only 16% of AAAS scientists and 29% of the general public rank U.S. STEM education for grades K -12 as above average or the best in the world. Fully 46% of scientists and 29% of the public rank K-12 STEM as below average. Additionally, 75% of scientists view too little STEM education for grades K-12 to be a major factor in the public’s limited knowledge about science and an overwhelming majority of scientists see the public’s limited scientific knowledge as a problem.

Why the Pew Research Center is studying these issues

The publication of this report begins a major new initiative for the center. It has explored science-related issues in the past. But today’s publication marks a more formal commitment to studying the intersection of science with all aspects of society from public opinion to politics and policymaking, religious and ethical considerations, and education and the economy.

There is considerable interest in the policy community, among scientists themselves, and among engaged citizens to understand how the fast-paced world of scientific inquiry and innovation is shaping America and the world. Pew Research Center hopes to explore that and to understand more fully how news and information about scientific activities make their way to citizens, how they understand it, and how, in some circumstances, they contribute to it.

In the coming months we will issue more findings related to the two surveys I have described in this post:

1 - One will provide a detailed analysis of the partisan and ideological differences that underlie some of the disputed policy areas.

2 - Another will pay particular attention to how people’s spiritual views and practices are tied to these issues.

3 - And yet another will look more directly at issues related to Americans’ general knowledge about science phenomena, updating previous research we have done about citizens’ science literacy.

We will examine these and other issues related to a wide range of science topics and disciplines. In addition to surveys of the public, we will survey and interview scientists for this work and we hope to add research projects built around data that is not necessarily survey data – some of it might be “big data” and some might be small.

We at Pew Research Center are excited to expand our research in these areas and are especially anticipating a deeper engagement with the scientific community and interested members of the public. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and write to us here.

A version of this post of was originally published on the Pew Research Center’s website.

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About the Author: Lee Rainie is the director of internet, science and technology research at the Pew Research Center. He gives several dozen speeches a year to government officials, media leaders, scholars and students, technology executives, librarians, and non-profit groups about the changing media ecosystem. He is also regularly interviewed by major news organizations about technology trends. He is a co-author of Networked: The New Social Operating System and five books about the future of the internet that are drawn from the center’s research. Prior to joining Pew Research, he was managing editor of U.S. News & World Report. He is a graduate of Harvard University and has a master’s degree in political science from Long Island University. He blogs at http://networked.pewinternet.org/blog/. Follow on Twitter @lrainie.


Book Review - Finding God in Suffering, by Bruce Epperly


Book Description

Death. Illness. Divorce. Unexpected. Undeserved. In this world there is going to be suffering and pain. As a person of faith, we are not exempt from that undeniable fact. What do we do? Where is God when the pain is unbearable and the night so long? How do we reach out to others with something more than platitudes? It has been said that theology begins in the experience of suffering. At the very least, debilitating suffering challenges our images of success and security, and invites us on a quest for something solid and dependable when the foundations of our lives are shaking. The book of Job emerges from one person's unexpected encounter with suffering. Job seeks God's presence, and to find a God he can trust again, he must jettison his previous images of God. - Bruce Epperly


Product Details

Paperback: 110 pages
Publisher: Energion Publications (December 10, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1631991078
ISBN-13: 978-1631991073


Book Review

By Dubious Disciple on January 5, 2015
Format: Paperback

I have a love/hate relationship with Job. If I’m reading an insightful exposition, one which highlights the deep, poetic messages of the book, I love Job. If I’m reading a dry commentary drawing traditional conclusions, I want to chuck Job in the round file.

Today I love Job again.

Epperly doesn’t pull punches, yet his writing is tender and honest. As he explains, reading Job is not for the faint-hearted. It is a theology which emerges from the vantage point of excruciating and undeserved pain. It is written in the place where the rubber meets the road. And it is the experience of every man and woman on earth.

The question of why remains unanswered. Are we really supposed to believe that Job’s intense pain is the result of God and Satan sharing a friendly wager? Is God really that amoral, acting no differently than the arbitrary behavior of the surrounding nations’ deities?

God’s ways are beyond our comprehension. Job’s spiritual growth requires stepping out of his comfortable paradigm where the universe is intricately structured, where goodness is always rewarded and evil is always punished, so that he can embrace the unknown and unsolvable … while retaining an intimacy with God even in times of pain. In this chaos, Job finally finds peace.

Here’s an interesting observation by Epperly: “I have found that many people are more reticent to question God’s omnipotence, his unrestricted ability to achieve his will, than God’s love. They can live with God causing cancer or a devastating earthquake, but worry that a loving God might not be powerful enough to insure that God’s will be done…”

Read this one; it’s a journey you don’t want to miss. You may find yourself losing faith in the God you thought you knew, only to find the living God. Comfort hides in deep waters.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Frank Schaeffer - A Political Plea for Awareness, Homeschooling Abuse, and Other Issues


By way of a disclaimer, though I do pay attention to Frank and his writings, I do not necessarily subscribe to demonizing organizations, political parties, church associations and denominations, nor people by label and name. That is not my nature. However I do accept Frank's vim-and-victim that he carries within his own breast as he writes of subjects near-and-dear to his heart.

Moreover I wish to subscribe to a more peaceful means of political cooperation between the citizen and state upon which American government has always been bourne. Hence, my view is one of working honestly and upfront within-and-without established structures without scheme, plot, or twist of fatalism or conspiracy theory.

Nor do I wish to start fashioning panic-laden attacks like so many critical social obliques that I read of everything-and-everyone around me just because someone disagrees with some unspecified fear or anxiety that they think they see or understand more than most.

Generally I subscribe to a kind of social behavior that requires a basic trust in people, the innate ability to speak to concerns with one another in a meaningful way, and to the process of listening patiently with one another. The goal would be one of seeking how a citizen might work with his or her government and private corporations in a manner that gives the greatest voice, liberty, and civil rights to all men and women everywhere.

Along this effort comes Frank's past religious experiences in all the black-and-whiteness that burdens his heart as one in love with Jesus and for any form of government or organization that uplifts liberty in all its many aspects. Frank is very much concerned with religious movements and groups that would make any form of government unjust in the name of its religious preferences - even that of the Christian faith when misunderstanding its center in Jesus and what that focus means for society at large in both a public and communal setting.

Yet, it is true that all forms of government hang in the balances between oppression and true freedom as fed in equal amounts by religious or political ideologies in conjunction with the people that support those organizations. Having as a nation historically witnessed Europe's past 1000 years of theocratic governmental oppression upon dissenting religious minorities it has not been the wish of the American Constitution - nor of this present American government - to return to the bad old days of Protestant or Catholic theocracy where religion rules with an injudicious iron fist. Thus the Magna Carta that preceded the United States Constitution of life, liberty, and equality for all.

As such, these new days demand a more democratic organ that is more pluralistic in legislature, more tolerant of all forms of belief, and more supportive of judicious civil rights set within communal cooperation. To that end let us listen to Mr. Schaeffer's historical review of America's more recent politico-religious past and try to discern how we might better contribute to a more gracious form of governance that respects all people while seeking as it can to right any oversights present in our corruptible systems.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
January 28, 2015



Credit: ehrlif via Shutterstock

I helped start the religious right. This is how we sought to
undermine  secular America -- and build a theocracy

- Frank Schaeffer
January 20, 2015


As someone who participated in the rise of the religious right in the 1970s and 1980s, I can tell you that you can’t understand the modern Republican Party and its hatred of government unless you understand the evangelical home-school movement. Nor can the Democrats hope to defeat the GOP in 2016 unless they grasp what I’ll be explaining here: religious war carried on by other means.

The Christian home-school movement drove the Evangelical school movement to the ever-harsher world-rejecting far right. The movement saw itself as separating from evil “secular” America. Therein lies the heart of the Tea Party, GOP and religious right’s paranoid view of the rest of us. And since my late father and evangelist Francis Schaeffer and I were instrumental in starting the religious right — I have since left the movement and recently wrote a book titled “Why I Am an Atheist who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace“ – believe me when I tell you that the evangelical schools and home school movement were, by design, founded to undermine a secular and free vision of America and replace it by stealth with a form of theocracy.

This happened because Evangelical home-schoolers were demanding ever-greater levels of “separation” from what they regarded as the Evil Secular World. It wasn’t enough just to reject the public schools. How could the Christian parent be sure that even the Evangelical schools were sufficiently pure? And so the Christian schools radicalized in order to not appear to be “compromising” with the world in the eyes of increasingly frightened and angry parents.

My account here of the rise of the home school movement
is not aimed at home-schooling, per se, but at parents who
want to indoctrinate, rather than educate.

The Evangelical home school movement was really founded by two people: Rousas Rushdoony, the extremist theologian, and Mary Pride, the “mother” of fundamentalist home-schoolers. I knew them both well.

Until Rushdoony, founder and late president of the Chalcedon Foundation, began writing in the 1960s, most American fundamentalists (including my parents) didn’t try to apply biblical laws about capital punishment for homosexuality to the United States. Even the most conservative Evangelicals said they were “New Testament Christians.” In other words, they believed that after the coming of Jesus, the harsher bits of the Bible had been (at least to some extent) transformed by the “New Covenant” of Jesus’ “Law of Love.”

By contrast, the leaders of Reconstructionism believed that Old Testament teachings—on everything from capital punishment for gays to the virtues of child beating—were still valid because they were the inerrant Word and Will of God and therefore should be enforced. [Not only that, they said that biblical law should be imposed even on nonbelievers. This theology was the American version of the attempt in some Muslim countries to impose Shariah (Islamic law) on all citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.]

I was [Mary] Pride’s agent and sold her first huge seller “The Way Home.” What, Pride asked, was the point of having all those children and then turning them over to secular public schools to be made into secular humanists and Jesus-hating pagans? The irony was that Pride preached a dogmatic, stay-at-home, follow-your man philosophy for other women while turning her lucrative home-schooling empire into a one-woman industry. And Pride’s successor in the Patriarchy Movement, the wealthy author/guru Nancy Leigh DeMoss, was also one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do best-selling career women doing high-paid speaking gigs while encouraging other women to stay home and submit to their men.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss happened to be the daughter of a former friend of my mother’s, Nancy DeMoss, who was instrumental in my parents’ rise to Evangelical superstardom. Nancy DeMoss was also pivotal in the role of facilitator and financier when it came to seamlessly merging Reconstructionist ideology with the “respectable” mainstream Evangelical community. I worked closely with Nancy on several projects. She generously supported my various Schaeffer-related anti-abortion movies, books and seminar tours. She also took “our” message much further on her own by underwriting a massive multimillion-dollar well-produced anti-abortion TV and print media ad campaign inspired by our work.

Soon after the death of her wealthy husband, Arthur DeMoss, Nancy DeMoss had become my mother’s friend and an ardent Schaeffer follower. She also took over her late husband’s foundation as CEO. Besides underwriting several Schaeffer projects, Nancy contributed millions to Republican and other far right causes (including $70,000 to start Newt Gingrich’s political action committee, GOPAC). She also helped the Plymouth Rock Foundation, a Reconstructionist-aligned group.

When Nancy’s daughter (the aforementioned Nancy Leigh DeMoss) took Pride’s ideas to a bigger audience than Pride could have imagined, she was just taking the next logical step begun by her mother. Like my sisters and I, the DeMoss siblings found themselves in their parents’ orbit. The DeMoss children became co-workers in the “cause,” much as I filled that role in my family. Nancy’s other daughter, Deborah, worked for Sen. Jesse Helms. Nancy’s son Mark worked for Jerry Falwell before founding the DeMoss Group, a P.R. firm used by the likes of Billy Graham’s son Franklin. But unlike the Schaeffers, the DeMoss clan had tens of millions of dollars with which to back its pet far-right schemes, one of which would be the Quiverfull Movement– a group dedicated to early marriage and huge families.

To plumb the depths of the tortured “reasoning” behind the Roman Catholic version of the anti-contraceptive Quiverfull Movement (they preach young marriage and huge families and wives’ obedience to husbands), consider the writing of Roman Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe. She’s a hero to today’s leading conservative Roman Catholics. She wrote passionately in defense of the papal prohibition of contraception:

In considering an action, we need always to judge several things about ourselves. First: is the sort of act we contemplate doing something that it’s all right to do? Second: are our further or surrounding intentions all right? Third: is the spirit in which we do it all right? Contraceptive intercourse fails on the first count; and to intend such an act is not to intend a marriage act at all, whether or no we’re married. An act of ordinary intercourse in marriage at an infertile time, though, is a perfectly ordinary act of married intercourse, and it will be bad, if it is bad, only on the second or third counts. If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here—not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can’t be the mere pattern of bodily behavior in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference!

But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. If you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition. It’s this that makes the division between straightforward fornication or adultery and the wickedness of the sins against nature and of contraceptive intercourse. Hence contraceptive intercourse within marriage is a graver offence against chastity than is straightforward fornication or adultery.

Here is how far right instigator and personal best friend of Antonin Scalia Robert George of Princeton (described by the New York Times as one of the most powerful ultra-conservative instigators in America) lauded this insane “argument” in his gushing Anscombe obituary:

In 1968, when much of the rest of the Catholic intellectual world reacted with shock and anger to Pope Paul VI’s reaffirmation of Catholic teaching regarding the immorality of contraception, the Geach-Anscombe family toasted the announcement with champagne. Her defense of the teaching in the essay “Contraception and Chastity” is an all-too-rare example of rigorous philosophical argumentation on matters of sexual ethics. Catholics who demand the liberalization of their Church’s teachings have yet to come to terms with Anscombe’s arguments.

Another far-right Roman Catholic ideologue (and also an academic) even wrote a book calling on Christians, Jews and Muslims to join together in a jihad against the secular West. In “Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War” a former friend of mine, Peter Kreeft (a professor of philosophy at Boston College), called for “ecumenical jihad.” ”Ecumenical Jihad” was dedicated to Richard John Neuhaus, the late Roman Catholic convert priest, and to the late Charles Colson (who later teamed up with George to author the “Manhattan Declaration”). Neuhaus and I often talked on the phone when he was about to launch his far-fight First Things journal. Neuhaus asked me to contribute articles, which I did. According to what Neuhaus told me, First Things was supposed to be the pro-life version of Norman Podhoretz’s Commentary. “To fill a gap,” as Neuhaus put it to me.

Podhoretz, who at first was friendly with Neuhaus, told me he broke with him over his “extremist anti-American views,” as Podhoretz put it. This was just after Neuhaus had started describing the U.S. government as an illegitimate “regime.” As the Washington Post noted:

In an essay he wrote for First Things, [Neuhaus] likened the legal right to abortion to state-sponsored murder under the Nazi regime. “Law, as it is presently made by the judiciary, has declared its independence from morality,” he wrote. “America is not and, please God, will never become Nazi Germany, but it is only blind hubris that denies it can happen here and, in peculiarly American ways, may be happening here.” The polemical rhetoric offended many Jewish conservatives in particular and threatened to shatter the bonds that had united them.Father Neuhaus played a central role in forging an alliance between evangelicalProtestants and Catholics and in bringing conservative Christians into the Republican conservative coalition in the 1980s and 1990s.

The groups Kreeft, Colson and Neuhaus had in mind to “bring together” in an ecumenical jihad were alienated Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews and conservative Roman Catholics, to which Kreeft added Muslims (not that any actually signed on to his program as far as I know). These groups did not share each other’s theology, but had a deeper link: anger at the “victimhood” imposed on them by modernity.

Kreeft and Neuhaus were calling abortion murder. Thus, the logic of their argument was that of my father’s, too: The U.S. government was enabling murder and was thus disparaged as a “regime,” even a “counterfeit state,” that needed to be overthrown. George and Colson and the others who wrote and then signed the “Manhattan Declaration” (like Kreeft) also called for fundamentalists to unite if need be for civil disobedience to stop the U.S. government from doing its worst—in other words, to pass laws that did not comply with their religious “values.”

So if the U.S. government legalizes gay marriage and thus “compels” all Americans (including church groups) to recognize gay men and women’s civil rights, the government need no longer be obeyed when those laws affect religious people who disagree with them. The “Manhattan Declaration” called believers to “not comply.” And just as Neuhaus dismissed the U.S. government as a “regime”—and my father did the same when saying the government was a “counterfeit state”—George and his co-signers also used dismissive and demeaning language about the U.S. government.

The “Manhattan Declaration” called laws with which its signers disagreed “edicts,” thereby conjuring up images of dictators handing down oppressive rules, rather than legitimately elected democratic bodies passing legislation. In other words, when the right loses in the democratic process, “other means,” like civil disobedience, are encouraged. In fact, George, who authored the “declaration,” then headed up the group that successfully won on the Hobby Lobby case and also won the Evangelical Wheaton College suit to allow them to not cover contraception for women.

Neoconservative intellectuals like Neuhaus helped set the stage for the Quiverfull and Patriarchy movements. They gave a gloss of intellectual respectability to what was nothing more than a theocratic, far right wish list. “Thinkers” like Neuhaus contributed to what I’ll call the ideological background noise accompanying the rise of post-Roe demagogy.

Ironically, at the very same time as Evangelicals like Dad, Mary Pride and I were thrusting ourselves into bare-knuckle politics, we were also retreating to what amounted to virtual walled compounds. In other words we lashed out at “godless America” and demanded political change—say, the reintroduction of prayer into public schools—and yet also urged our followers to pull their own children out of the public schools and home-school them.

The rejection of public schools by Evangelical Protestants was a harbinger of virtual civil war carried on by other means. Protestants had once been the public schools’ most ardent defenders. For instance, in the 1840s when Roman Catholics asked for tax relief for their private schools, Protestants said no and stood against anything they thought might undermine the public schools that they believed were the backbone of moral virtue, community spirit and egalitarian good citizenship.

The Evangelical’s abandonment of the country they called home (while simultaneously demanding change in that society) went far beyond alternative schools or home-schooling. In the 1970s and 1980s thousands of Christian bookstores opened, countless new Evangelical radio programs flourished, and new TV stations went on the air. Even a “Christian Yellow Pages” (a guide to Evangelical tradesmen) was published advertising “Christ-centered plumbers,” accountants, and the like who “honor Jesus.”

New Evangelical universities and even new law schools appeared, seemingly overnight, with a clearly defined mission to “take back” each and every profession—including law and politics—”for Christ.” For instance, Liberty University’s Law School was a dream come true for my old friend Jerry Falwell, who (when I was speaking at his school in 1983 to the entire student body for the second time) gleefully told me of his vision for Liberty’s programs: “Frank, we’re going to train a new generation of judges to change America!” This was the same Jerry Falwell who wrote in “America Can Be Saved,” “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools.”

Recently, Gordon College asked President Obama to exempt them from laws protecting gay civil rights. To understand why the old-fashioned conservative mantra “Big government doesn’t work,” the newly radicalized Evangelicals (and their Roman Catholic co-belligerents) added, “The U.S. government is evil!” And the very same community—Protestant American Evangelicals—who had once been the bedrock supporters of public education, and voted for such moderate and reasonable men as President Dwight Eisenhower, became the enemies of not only the public schools but also of anything in the (nonmilitary) public sphere “run by the government.”

In the minds of Evangelicals, they were re-creating the Puritan’s self-exile from England by looking for a purer and better place, this time not a geographical “place” but a sanctuary within their minds (and in inward-looking schools and churches) undisturbed by facts. Like the Puritans, the post-Roe Evangelicals (and many other conservative Christians) withdrew from the mainstream not because they were forced to but because the society around them was, in their view, fatally sinful and, worse, addicted to facts rather than to faith. And yet having “dropped out” (to use a 1960s phrase), the Evangelicals nevertheless kept on demanding that regarding “moral” and “family” matters the society they’d renounced nonetheless had to conform to their beliefs.

In the first decade of the 21st century the Evangelical and conservative Roman Catholic (and Mormon) outsider victim “approach” to public policy was perfected on a heretofore-undreamed-of scale by Sarah Palin. She was the ultimate holier-than-thou Evangelical. What my mother had represented (in her unreconstructed fundamentalist heyday) to a chalet full of young gullible women and later to tens of thousands of readers, Palin became for tens of millions of alienated, angry, white lower-middle-class men and women convinced that an educated “elite” was out to get them.

Palin was first inflicted on the American public by Sen. John McCain, who chose her as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election for at least one big reason: He needed to shore up flagging support from the Evangelical Republican antiabortion base. McCain wanted to prove that he was fully in line with the “social issues” agenda that Dad, Koop and I had foisted on our country more than 30 years before. Palin lost the election for McCain but “won” her war for fame and fortune.

She presented herself as called by God and thus cast in the Old Testament mold of Queen Esther, one chosen by God to save her people. Palin perfected the Jesus Victim “art” of Evangelical self-banishment and then took victimhood to new levels of “success” by cashing in on white lower-middle-class resentment of America’s elites.

Palin made a fortune by simultaneously proclaiming her Evangelical faith, denouncing liberals and claiming that she would help the good God-fearing folks out there “take back” their country. This “Esther” lacked seriousness. But born-again insiders knew that the “wisdom of men” wasn’t the point. Why should the new Queen Esther bother to actually finish her work governing Alaska? God had chosen her to confound the wise!

So she became a media star and quit as governor of Alaska. Then she battled “Them”—the “lamestream media” (as she labeled any media outlets outside of the Far Right subculture)—in the name of standing up for “Real Americans.” Palin used the alternative communication network that had its roots deeply embedded in those pioneering 1970s and 1980s Evangelical TV shows and radio shows that I used to be on just about every other day. She did this to avoid being questioned by people who didn’t agree with her. By not actually governing or doing the job she’d been elected by Alaskans to do, and by using the alternative media networks as an “outsider”—all the while reacting to and demanding attention from the actual (theoretically hated) media—Palin also made buckets of money.

In the scorched-earth post-Roe era of the “healthcare reform debates” of 2009 and beyond, Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren’t the evil government. The right even decided that it was “normal” for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies—even for military operations (“contractors”), prisons, healthcare, public transport and all the rest.

The religious right/far right et al. favored private “facts,” too. They claimed that global warming wasn’t real. They asserted this because scientists (those same agents of Satan who insisted that evolution was real) were the ones who said human actions were changing the climate. Worse, the government said so, too!

“Global warming is a left-wing plot to take away our freedom!”

“Amtrak must make a profit!”

Even the word “infrastructure” lost its respectability when government had a hand in maintaining roads, bridges and trains.

In denial of the West’s civic-minded, government-supporting heritage, Evangelicals (and the rest of the right) wound up defending private oil companies but not God’s creation, private cars instead of public transport, private insurance conglomerates rather than government care of individuals. The price for the religious right’s wholesale idolatry of private everything was that Christ’s reputation was tied to a cynical political party “owned” by billionaires. It only remained for a far right Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court to rule in 2010 that unlimited corporate money could pour into political campaigns—anonymously—in a way that clearly favored corporate America and the super wealthy, who were now the only entities served by the Republican Party.

The Evangelical foot soldiers never realized that the logic of their “stand” against government had played into the hands of people who never cared about human lives beyond the fact that people could be sold products. By the 21st century, people were still out in the rain holding an “Abortion Is Murder!” sign in Peoria and/or standing in line all night in a mall in Kansas City to buy a book by Sarah Palin and have it signed. But it was the denizens of the corner offices at Goldman Sachs, the News Corp., Exxon and Halliburton who were laughing. As for the likes of the Quiverfull people — the Koch brothers weren’t having babies or not educating their daughters … but they found the religious right useful.

And that is what the Koch brothers know and most Americans don’t: the religious right have been useful pawns. And that is why there is a Republican majority in both houses of government: They have tapped into the energy of the religious right and their hatred of “sinful” America exemplified by the paranoia of the home-schoolers. Taken together the GOP and the religious right are still fighting a religious war against their own country.


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Related Article -


The Right's Home School Conspiracy



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CRHE Fundraising Appeal



Homeschooling’s Invisible Children (HIC) shines a light on the dark side of homeschooling, where a lack of outside protections for homeschooled children has led to some horrifying consequences. Homeschooling can be a useful educational tool in the hands of the right parents, but when it falls into the hands of the wrong parents the results can be disastrous, and it is the children who suffer.

HIC documents and archives cases where homeschooling was not in the best interest of the child and was instead used as a means to isolate, abuse, and neglect, resulting in exceedingly harmful or fatal outcomes. This is for Lydia, Hana, Nubia, the children of the Gravelles and Kluths, and those whose stories we may never hear.

HIC operates under the oversight of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). The two organizations support a common goal, that of safeguarding and protecting the wellbeing of homeschooled children. CRHE works to educate the public, policymakers, and other constituencies, and to promote the need for adequate safeguards for at-risk children who are homeschooled.


Warning: This site’s content includes mention of severe child abuse, torture,
and untimely death and contains pictures of children who died under such conditions.