Faucet Discussion Starter, December 3, 2009

At Church Cafe, Eat What You Want and Pay What You Can

Check out this article released by Religion News Service and share your thoughts–Todd

 

By Karen Keller

HIGHLAND PARK, N.J. (RNS)–At A Better World Cafe, it’s not exactly “all you can eat.” It’s more like whatever you can pay.

 

The new church-affiliated restaurant is offering customers an innovative new dining option: choose the size of your portion, then pay what you want. People who can afford to pay extra help subsidize those less fortunate.

 

A Better World Cafe, housed at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, is the fifth restaurant of its kind in the nation, which some are nicknaming “Robin Hood restaurants.” The original socially conscious eatery was opened in Salt… Read Full Article Here

Discussion Starter from August 14, 2009 FYI

Check out this article from The Wall Street Journal shared with me by my friend Will Cordis.  Read the article here and add your comments to mine below.

 

New Therapy on Faith & Sexual Identity:
Psychological Association Revises Treatment Guidelines to Allow Counselors to Help Clients Reject Their Same-Sex Attractions

by Stephanie Simon, August 6, 2009

 

The men who seek help from evangelical counselor Warren Throckmorton often are deeply distressed. They have prayed, read Scripture, even married, but they haven’t been able to shake sexual attractions to other men — impulses they believe to be immoral.

 

Dr. Throckmorton is a psychology professor at a Christian college in Pennsylvania and past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He specializes in working with clients conflicted about their sexual identity.

The first thing he tells them is this: Your attractions aren’t a sign of mental illness or a punishment for insufficient faith. He tells them that he cannot turn them straight.

 

But he also tells them they don’t have to be gay.  Finish Article Here
  • See this week’s FYI, the weekly newsletter for Canton Adventist, here.
  • See Ted Haggard’s interview with Oprah Winfrey here.  This is a YouTube page where you can watch the entire interview, broken into five segments.  I have not reviewed each YouTube video to see if there is any content added outside of the show.  I do not take responsibility for what is added or deleted from these clips.

Time.com Article on Self-Esteem

Yes, I Suck: Self-Help Through Negative Thinking

John Cloud, Time.com, Wednesday, July 8, 2009, Thanks to Chris Bullock for sharing this article
The fascinating premise of the study referenced in this article is that all the work being done in the counseling and religious communities and our pop-psych society to talk people into thinking positively about themselves is a waste of time.  Go check out the article HERE and then share your feedback by clicking on “Add a Comment.”

Time Magazine on the State of the American Marriage

The cover story of the July 2, 2009 edition of Time looks at the deteriorating state of marriage in the United States and discusses why it is important to save the institution for the sake of the nation’s future.  Take a look and share your comments here.
 
Is There Hope for the American Marriage?

by Caitlin Flanagan, Thursday, July 2, 2009

Around the time of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, I turned to my father at the dinner table one night and said, "It’s amazing, Dad — 50 years, and you never once had an affair. How do you account for that?"

He replied simply, "I can’t drive."

Watching the governor of South Carolina cry like a little girl because his sexy e-mails got forwarded to his local newspaper, the State, made me wonder whether the real secret to a lasting marriage lies in limiting your means of escape. Whether you’re putting the Buick Regal in reverse or hitting Send on a love note, you’re busting out of your marriage, however temporarily, and soon enough there will be hell to pay…  Continue Article Here

FYI Discussion Starter

‘Jesus in Jeans’ Sculpture Unveiled

A church in East Sussex has unveiled a Marcus Cornish bronze statue dubbed “Jesus in jeans” depicting Christ as a man of the 21st century.

Father David Buckley unveiled the £35,000 seven-foot high bronze statue at the Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri Catholic church in Uckfield.

Cornish’s sculpture was funded by money left by Winifred Gregory, 87, a member of the congregation who passed away last year.

Christ is wearing jeans and a shirt billowing in the wind while his hair and beard are neatly and fashionably trimmed.

Father Buckley said: “You are always looking for new ways to enrich people in the experience of Christianity and it is good people can be open-minded to appreciate it.

“On the continent you often encounter modern representations of Jesus but it is not so common over here. We wanted a figure of Christ not in suffering but dynamic and welcoming.

“We felt this design summed up the spirit and activity of Christ perfectly and I think it speaks for itself.

Members of a congregation committee opened a competition last year to find a winning statue to mark the church’s 50-year anniversary.

Mr Cornish’s design was the overwhelming favourite with more than 200 voting in favour last May and only 14 parishioners against.

The statue will be hoisted 100-feet in the air later this week to sit at the top of the church’s bell tower after a gold leaf halo has been added to the head.

Mr Cornish, who is based in nearby Lewes and whose work has been bought by The Prince of Wales in the past, said: “The sculpture is simple and direct and I hope it sums up the feeling that Christ is always with us and that we are not to be afraid.

“His clothing is being blown vigorously to add the sense of him being alive and his strength in defying earthly cares.

“The clothing is loosely contemporary in order to connect Christ to his people now as much as to his past.

“I hope this sculpture will inspire and communicate in very human terms, reaching out and being relevant to both the congregation and local community.”

This article was originally published in the London Telegraph online edition on May 13, 2009.  See original article here.  Thanks to Ed Figueroa for sharing

FYI Discussion Starter, April 17, 2009

Look forward to your comments on this…

Shaky Economy Forces Americans to Rediscover Community

John Blake, CNN

She was working as an architect for a small company in Atlanta, Georgia, when the company’s founder asked her into his office. He took off his glasses and rubbed his hand against his forehead.

"We just can’t afford to keep you."

Gage doesn’t remember what he said next. She does remember what followed for her: denial, depression and long days of watching cable TV alone at home.

She eventually joined a nonprofit group that renovated homes in her neighborhood, but she also built something else: a place in her community.

Now she wonders whether more Americans will arrive at the same conclusion that she has: We have to rebuild our sense of community, not just our banking system, if we’re going to survive.

"This is when we’re going to define ourselves for future generations," Gage said. "Are we the type that turn inward, or are we the type that turn outward and help one another?"

The answer to Gage’s question is mixed: Some Americans are turning to community while others are retreating to their cocoons. Fewer, however, are turning to organized religion for support.

According to one perspective, more Americans turn to their remote, not their neighbor, in bad times. Netflix officials reported a 45 percent jump in profits during the end of 2008. Gross movie ticket sales are up 18.8 percent this year, according to BOXOfficeMojo.com. And home entertainment business sales are surging, according to sales figures.

Yet there are other signs that the economy is also inspiring Americans to turn to one another for everything from solace to stew.

Making stew for the neighbors

Nonprofit groups report a surge in volunteers. Peace Corps applications are up 16 percent from last year. Online applications for AmeriCorps, a federal program where volunteers tutor needy children and build housing for the poor, have increased three times faster than a year ago.  

Americans have long prided themselves on being a self-reliant, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of people. But there’s another part of the nation’s character that’s as old as farmers looking out for their neighbor’s home on the frontier that seems to be spreading across the country, some say.

Thousands of Americans have organized Economic Recovery House Meetings in all 50 states at the urging of President Obama to talk about the stimulus plan and help one another get through the economic crisis.

Claire Anderson, who organized one of those house meetings in Seattle, Washington, said people have have established barter networks, organized lending networks and planted community gardens.

Bad times make good neighbors, she said.

"I hear people say I make more dinners for my neighbors way more than I did five years ago, when I didn’t even talk to them," Anderson said.

Anderson said she’s inspired by reading stories of how Americans acted during the Great Depression. They weren’t too proud to ask for or give help.

"Now I wouldn’t think of making a big pot of stew without taking it to my neighbors," she said.

Turning to Google instead of God

The duty to one’s neighbor is a fundamental belief in most religions. It would seem natural that more people would turn to their church, mosque or synagogue for community in tough times.

But don’t expect a shaky economy to lead to a national religious awakening, said Nancy Dallavalle, chairwoman of the Department of Religious Studies at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

While individual communities of worship may see some uptick in their numbers, Dallavalle said, fewer Americans depend on traditional religion for support.

Some studies reinforce her point. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, almost all religious denominations have lost members since 1990. Membership in mainline Protestant denominations has fallen for the past 30 years and has been widely documented.

Dallavalle says most Americans will turn to pop culture rather than the church for inspiration.The infomercial that promises wealth or the reality TV makeover show — more Americans will look at these for inspiration, she said.

The Internet also siphons people away from traditional religious communities during tough times, she said. Americans who have grown up outside organized religion prefer to get their inspiration through the Internet: online motivational tracts, inspirational speakers and self-help gurus.

"Folks might not turn to God as much as they turn to Google," she said.

Whether people turn to God or Google, this economic crisis will shift people’s values, said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a commentator and political science professor at Princeton University.

"Having less immediately forces us to decide what we value," she said. "Our priorities in times of crisis reveal our core beliefs."

An economic crisis may even cause Americans to rethink what’s worth admiring, she said. Instead of watching the "Real Housewives of Orange County," more might become drawn to the real families of ordinary America, where couples lose jobs and get sick, but they still stick together, she said.

"We say that people are valuable based on what they can produce, and now we see huge portions of our country that are unable to consume in the ways they previously had," Harris-Lacewell said. "We’ll have to create a new measuring stick of what makes us valuable as people."

Gage, the Atlanta architect, had to do the same for herself. After she was laid off, she experienced an emotional tailspin. For several weeks, she refused to apply for unemployment benefits because she didn’t want to get more depressed shuffling along an unemployment line.

"I didn’t have the motivation to get up and go," she said.

Then she volunteered at the Atlanta Community ToolBank. The nonprofit group lends tools and renovates home for the elderly and disabled. She quickly realized that people weren’t just inviting her into their homes. They were inviting her into their lives.

She still remembers the first neighbor she visited on behalf of ToolBank. The woman offered her breakfast in her living room and directed Gage’s attention to her "Wall of Fame," which held portraits of her children.

"She had 13 children, all of them grown and several with college degrees," Gage said. "She was so proud of each and every one of them because, as she said, education of any kind was hard to come by when she was a girl. … I won’t ever forget that."

Why economic uncertainty is ‘awful’ for bringing people together

Gage’s story may be touching, but it doesn’t mean it fits into a larger pattern, said one influential sociologist.

David Putnam is the author of "Bowling Alone," a 2000 book that argued that many Americans are living more isolated lives. The book concluded, after wide-ranging interviews and numerous studies, that Americans belong to fewer civic groups, know their neighbors less and meet less often with family and friends.

That solitary impulse in Americans actually gets worse during hard economic times, Putnam said.

He said economic uncertainty has an "awful" effect on social connections because people become depressed and lose their sense of self-esteem when they lose a job, he said.

One study looking at the Great Depression demonstrated this, Putnam said. He said that civic engagement, measured by involvement in groups such as local PTA groups and Elks lodges, steadily rose in the U.S. from the turn of the 20th century.

But between 1930 and 1935, during the height of the Great Depression, many civic organizations lost half of their membership, he said.

"Almost everybody believes that during the [Great] Depression that everyone got cuddled up next to each other and said, ‘we’re all in this together,’ " Putnam said. "I’m not denying that some of that occurred, but what’s more typical is that people hunker down and pull in."

Americans eventually recovered their engagement in community. He said the country’s greatest civic book occurred between 1940 and 1965. That boom was driven by "the Greatest Generation," the men and women who came of age during World War II.

"They had just been exposed to five years of war bond drives, scrap metal drives and Boy Scouts asking people to give up rubber mats in their car for the war," Putnam said. "They lived with a sustained notion of we’re all in this together."

Perhaps that will happen now. Gage said she’s seen it happen in the United States before.

Gage lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina demolished much of the city. What she remembers most is not what was destroyed by Katrina but what was borne out of it: a luminous sense of community.

As she walked through the neighborhoods, she said, she kept encountering people who were cleaning up and looking to help others.

"People I had never seen before were asking me, ‘Do you need any help? How are things going with you? Do you need any help moving that refrigerator?’ And they were serious. It was all over the city, and I heard the same stories."

Gage has found a job at an ecofriendly architectural firm in Atlanta. But her memories of her neighbors in New Orleans, and the people she met through the ToolBank, convince her that Americans won’t live by Netflix alone in the days ahead.

"It was a tough time, but I saw the entire city come together," Gage said. "I don’t see why we can’t do that."

Article originally appeared on CNN.com on March 27, 2009: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/03/26/community2/index.html

Discussion Starter from FYI

The following article was republished in Canton Adventist’s weekly e-newsletter FYI.  This article, appearing in the Thursday, March 12 edition of the e-newsletter published by Religion News Service, speaks to an issue that any church or Jesus-follower must take seriously.  What should Christians do in light of this information?  I have posted a comment–please post yours.

 

Survey shows U.S. growing less religious, less ‘Christian’
By Adelle M. Banks


The nation has grown less religious in the last two decades, a new study shows, with a 10 percent drop in the number of people who call themselves Christians and increases in all 50 states among those who are not aligned with any faith.

 

Between 1990 and 2008, the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Christian dropped from 86 percent to 76 percent, reports the new American Religious Identification Survey, a wide-ranging survey released Monday (March 9).

 

The group that researchers call the "Nones"-atheists, agnostics, and other secularists-have almost doubled in that time period, from 8.2 percent to 15 percent.

 

And, in a further indication of growing secularism, more than a quarter of Americans-27 percent-said they do not expect to have a religious funeral when they die.

 

"Traditionally, historically, people are interested in their immortal soul, salvation, heaven and hell," said Barry Kosmin, the co-author of the survey and director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College in Connecticut. "If you don’t have a religious funeral, you’re probably not interested in heaven and hell."

 

The survey of more than 54,000 respondents followed similar large studies in 2001 and in 1990. Though the largest increase in "Nones" occurred between 1990 and 2001 (from 8.2 percent to 14.1 percent), Kosmin said more people have been willing to identify themselves as atheist or agnostic in the last seven years.

 

"There’s the anti-religious group among what we call the `Nones,"’ he said, "but then the kind of nonreligious, the irreligious … have also increased." 
 

In the past, the typical "None" was a young, single male living in the West, but the image of the nonreligious is broader now, even if it remains 60 percent male.

 

"It’s increasingly middle age and relatively across the board, less specific now," Kosmin said. "It’s increasingly ex-Catholics in New England."

 

In fact, researchers found that while there was a 14 percent drop in self-identified Catholics in New England-from 50 percent to 36 percent-there was an increase in Nones of exactly the same percentage-from 8 to 22 percent.

 

Mark Silk, who directs Trinity College’s Program on Public Values and helped design the new study, said the almost threefold increase in "Nones" in New England was larger than the increases in other states.

 

"You’ve got Vermont, 34 percent Nones," said Silk, co-author of One Nation, Divisible: How Regional Religious Differences Shape American Politics. "Northern New England now is more the None zone. The Pacific Northwest is still up there but the increase in New England, that’s very striking. It says a lot about the decline of Catholicism."

 

The research echoes findings of a recent Gallup Poll that revealed that 42 percent of Vermonters said that religion is "an important part" of their daily lives-the lowest percentage of state residents polled across the country.

 

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said the findings-including that more than one quarter of Americans don’t expect a religious funeral-really bring home the secular nature of a sizable slice of the U.S. population.

 

"As an evangelical Christian, I see this as further evidence of the fact that American Christians live in the midst of a vast mission field and this should be a wake-up call-I would say, yet another wake-up call-to the magnitude of our task in sharing the gospel in modern America," he said.

 

Beyond the secular nature of the country, the survey found a surge in the number of people who called themselves "nondenominational Christians," from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in 2008.

 

"Brand loyalty is gone," Kosmin said. "Those labels are no longer meaningful."

 

Researchers also found that 45 percent of American Christians consider themselves born-again or evangelicals-including 39 percent of mainline Christians and 18 percent of Catholics-which could indicate that exit pollsters may be hearing from a broad range of "evangelicals."

 

Experts say the "Nones" figure, combined with increases in "nondenominational" numbers, explain why mainline Protestantism continues to be a shrinking phenomenon, from 18.7 percent in 1990 to 12.9 percent in 2008.

 

"What you see is the erosion of the religious middle ground," said Kosmin. "Liberal (mainline Protestant) religion has been eroded by irreligion and conservative religion."

 

The overall findings are based on phone interviews with 54,461 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. Certain questions, including the one about religious rituals such as funerals, were asked of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

 

Breakdown of religious self-identification of U.S. adult population:

 

1990

  • Total Christians: 86.2 percent
  • Catholic: 26.2 percent
  • Other Christians: 60.0 percent
  • Other religions: 3.3 percent
  • Nones: 8.2 percent
  • Don’t know/refused: 2.3 percent

2008

  • Total Christians: 76.0 percent
  • Catholic: 25.1 percent
  • Other Christian: 50. 9 percent
  • Other religions: 3.9 percent
  • Nones: 15.0 percent
  • Don’t know/refused: 5.2 percent