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March 22, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

What Judeo Christian values was America founded on?

Jurgen Habermas, the most influential agnostic philosopher of our time:

“Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”

(Jürgen Habermas – “Time of Transitions“, Polity Press, 2006, pp. 150-151, translation of an interview from 1999).

You can read more about the influence of Christianity on culture: The Impact of Christianity

Christianity was responsible for the founding of our first colleges and universities, including Harvard. Thats why the seal of Harvard reads VERITAS. What does veritas mean in Latin? Veritas means truth.

But founding Harvard isn’t that big of a deal, because not that many smart people come from Harvard and that Zukerberg and the founder of Quora went there isn’t that of a deal either.

Every city with San in the title was founded because of Christians. That means the vast majority of Texas, Christians. The vast majority of California, including San Fransisco and San Diego. Christians. Ergo, Christians founded the backbone of Silicon Valley. Thats no small feat.

And there is a ton of philanthropy and community service done by Christians both in church and beyond the walls of church.

Christians were responsible for the founding of thousands of hospitals. Specifically hospitals with Methodist or Saint or Baptist in the title were likely founded and funded by Christians—who did so because they were passionate about giving back and contributing.

The Declaration of Independence was written by spiritual deist, sure, but the language is quite emphatic and specific. It echoes over the past 200 years with a roar of independence, freedom, and is animated with a theological underpinning from its very first words. Our founding was emphatically Christian.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That kickstarted the experiment known as the American experiment. If not for there words, the core values of America would have have likely been far, far, far more British and far, far, far less independent. And that influence over time, year over year would have been far less and far more blandly British and less uniquely American.

I find it interesting that the greatest critics of Christianity find themselves in Brittain, without a full understanding of the history, culture, and dynamics and ultimately the political philosophies of our founders. For instance, Jefferson basically stole those words from John Locke, and his Second Treatise on Government, who definitely wrote with a Christian perspective, albeit one with a rationalist edge as well (Life, liberty, and property versus life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—his influences sings through the rythms text. And Second Treatise speaks to the implicit contract of government that the Declaration speaks to.). No John Locke, and Jeffersons’ words and even logic would have been totally different—and America would likely have been more like a blueprint of France or Brittian, and not uniquely American.

But reading about the ultimate influences of Christianity on history and specifically the culture of America is worth checking out: The Impact of Christianity

March 15, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Team Rules, Values, and Good Sportsmanship Defined by Coach Wooden

Coach Wooden Rules for Players:

  1. Always be a gentleman.
  2. Always be a team player.
  3. Always be on time whenever time is involved.
  4. Always be learning
  5. Always be earning the right to be proud or confident.
  6. Always keep emotions under control without losing fight or aggressiveness.
  7. Be spirited, not temperamental.
  8. Always work to improve, knowing you can never improve enough.

This has an achievement oriented bias (particularly in relationship to 5 and 8).  I’m not sure how to frame those, but overall this is a pretty decent list.

Top 10 Team Tips

Do you have other similar list of team rules?  Do you have any suggestions for additional team rules?

You can find other posts about Coach Wooden and values here.  This post on leadership and team values from Wooden is particularly helpful and insightful.

March 15, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

The Wisdom of Dorothy Day on Poverty and Social Justice

Dorothy Day, a staunch advocate of the poor and founder of the Catholic Worker movement, once remarked:

“There are days when I want to stop all those poor people giving their coins to the church, and tell them to march on the offices of the archdiocese – tell all those people inside those offices to move out of their plush rooms and share the lives of the hungry and the hurt. Would Jesus sit in some big, fancy, air-conditioned room near the banks and the department stores where the rich store their millions and spend their millions? Would he let himself be driven in big, black limousines, while thousands and thousands of people who believe in him and his Church are at the edge of starvation? Would he tolerate big mansions and fancy estates and luxurious traveling, while people come to church bare-footed and ragged and hungry and sick, children all over the world? In my mind, there is only one answer to questions like these: No!

“I’m afraid that going to church puts many of us to sleep. We become so pleased with ourselves – our virtue, for attending Mass – that we forget about how others are living, who don’t have the kind of lives we have.”

March 2, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Best Quotes from Stoic Philosophers

Ethical Quotes by Stoic Philosophers:

“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.”

― Seneca

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. ”

― Seneca

“It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more.”

– Seneca

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“For what prevents us from saying that the happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast – a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it?
A man thus grounded must, whether he wills or not, necessarily be attended by constant cheerfulness and a joy that is deep and issues from deep within, since he finds delight in his own resources, and desires no joys greater than his inner joys.”

– Seneca

Practical/Perceptions Quotes By Stoic Philosophers:

“What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.”

– Epictetus

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

– Seneca

(link)

March 1, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

My page of writing and publishing resources and links

Resources from Jane Friedman (link)

Finding Agents and Publishers (link)

Jamie Chavez (link)

Janette Hanscome Editoral Services (link)

James Watkins (link)

Kathy Ide (link)

Bonnie Harvey (?)

Christian PEN (link) ???

Writers Edge Service–Resources (link) [but editors don’t look at the type of service]

March 1, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Critique of the Secular Policy Institute

As the footnotes of his wikipedia page point out: “Zuckerman’s work is based on his studies conducted during a 14-month period in Scandinavia in 2005–2006.” or this key distinction: “Zuckerman interviewed Danes and Swedes. He didn’t interview Finns or Norwegians.” Initially, that seems to be a rather small data points. The question of representativeness and sample size is certainly in question. He only had 149 interviews.
The question of the Dane’s Christianity or religiousity is intitially problematic:

>The problem of interpreting religion in Scandinavia is highlighted in Ina Rosén’s 2009 dissertation, I’m a Believer—but I’ll be Damned if I’m Religious. x It concerns the difficulty of using traditional religious language in interviews and surveys. When the focus groups in her survey/interviews talked about religion, they connected to what Rosén calls “routinized religion,” a category in line with her concept “packed religion.” When using this type of category or conception, religion appears “thin, cultural, declining or diffuse” in Denmark—a statement, therefore, in accordance with Zuckerman’s findings. **However, when Rosén used an “unpacked” conception of religion, she was able to conclude that three-quarters of the Danes are believers;xi a “glaring contrast” to Zuckerman’s results. In sum, after passing a religious language barrier, this recent study shows that a “majority of Danes believe or are willing to identify as religious to a lesser or greater extent.”xii Putting the pieces of evidence together thus allows a critical perspective on Zuckerman’s contention that the Scandinavian societies are secular.**

Not to mention, I think the notion of secularism is a historical one too, which some have critiqued Zuckerman about.
But more to the point, the level of analysis (countries and states) is particularly odd. Studies at the level of the individual, which is ultimately where we make decisions like this favor religion as a means to happiness and well-being. Large swaths of research point in this direction, such that its one of the core principles that the research aggregated at the University of Pennsylvania (and others) points to this connection. The Berkeley Center for Good even points to the importance of character, wisdom, and religion for happiness.

>**Such analyses of secularity and civility have been faulted for cherry-picking both their social health measures (for example, excluding suicide) and their countries (omitting North Korea, China, Vietnam, and the former Soviet states). Instead, they focus on secular countries whose values were fed by a Judeo Christian heritage. Still, ]* Zuckerman’s point can be extended to U.S. state-by-state comparisons.**
>The Southern states all have higher religious-adherence rates than the West Coast states. They also have slightly higher divorce rates and much higher crime and smoking rates. So once again, it looks like the least religious places are the healthiest and most flourishing.
>**But it’s individuals who experience more or less faith, happiness, and health. And, surprise, the correlations across individuals run the other direction. Among 45,859 American adults responding since 1972 to National Opinion Research Center surveys, the percentage of “very happy” people ranged from 28 percent of those who never attended religious services up to 48 percent of those who attended more than once a week.**

The Heritage Foundation has two white papers on this topic which summarize social science on this question:
1. *“Why Religion Matters”*
2. “Why *Religion Matters Even More”*

I highly recommend scanning the conclusions here in bullet list form:
Why Religion Matters Even More: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2006/12/why-religion-matters-even-more-the-impact-of-religious-practice-on-social-stability)
Professor Philip Zuckerman even admits to alternative causalities, which is at least honest. And moreover, even atheists admit this connection (see the *The Atheist Case for Religion*).

David Myers, a psychologist points to the weaknesses of these comparisons:
* http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/ChronicleEssay.LTE.pdf (http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/ChronicleEssay.LTE.pdf)
* http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/Perspectives_NatSecularity.pdf (http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/Perspectives_NatSecularity.pdf)

You can read about the religion and well-being connection here:
>A 2012 review of more than 326 peer-reviewed studies of mainly adult populations found that out of those 326 studies, 256 (79%) found only significant positive associations between religiosity/spirituality and well-being. The author postulated that the positive influence of religion or spirituality on well-being can be explained through a few key mechanisms, such as religion’s role as a coping strategy and as a support system for prosocial behaviors. In addition, religious beliefs can potentially alter the way individuals cognitively react to stressors, and often, the regulations of most faiths decrease the likelihood of individuals experiencing particularly stressful life events (such as divorce or incarceration) (2).
I also don’t think Zuckerman looks at the benefits of the US system (innovation in health care, freedom, etc…). Also, the US defends the world, so that military spending is what enables a socialist experiment like those countries to survive in the first place. And, there is no way to know if the US had a more robust social safety net if similar cultural features would arise, which puts significant holes in his overall thesis if its mean to be comparative and/or apply to the US (and be, well scientific in any sense of the term).
Not only that but as sociology professor Lisa Graham McMinn points out
>Zuckerman sells humanity short. If people are content but no longer care about transcendent meaning and purpose or life beyond death, that’s not a sign of greatness but tragic forgetfulness. Their horizon of concern is too narrow. They were made for more. What does it profit a society if, as this book’s jacket notes, it gains “excellent educational systems, strong economies, well-supported arts, free health care, egalitarian social policies, outstanding bike paths, and great beer,” but loses its soul? Can a country build strong social systems *and* keep its soul? While I am thankful for Zuckerman’s reminder about Christianity’s social implications, and the example of a place that meets those obligations differently than we do, I am sad he misses the rest.

Given that, this points to:
1. significant problems with Zuckermans study and method which call his study question
2. a large swath of counter-veiling peer reviewed studies (over 326) which focus on the individual, which call his conclusions into serious question.
3. A question about Zuckerman’s goals and priorities and assumptions.
Its worth noting that one of the main advocates of the secularism thesis from Boston University recanted.
Moreover, the work of Randy Foster has demonstrated the massive economic value of Christianity in quantiatative numbers, and its specific to the US’s history.
Sources:
* Critique of Zuckerman: http://liu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:438951/FULLTEXT01.pdf (http://liu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:438951/FULLTEXT01.pdf)

* Well Being Research: Spiritual Engagement and Meaning (http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/spiritual-engagement/)
And here’s more evidence: Religion and Well-being: Assessing the evidence (http://www.bethinking.org/is-religion-harmful/religion-and-wellbeing)

Source: Review: Society without God (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/13.57.html?start=1)

Update:
Rate of divorce, mental health overall, and rate of suicide is significant detractors from the Scandanavian story which Zuckerman omits. Each represents a problem for his thesis. Specifically:
*Scandinavia is a great place to live although perhaps not quite the utopia that Mr Zuckerman sometimes gets all misty-eyed about. Cultural religion is very strong here, the church is very liberal and the alternatives small or invisible. However society is changing, the consumerism and narcissism of modern life is proving to be wearing and empty. Scandinavians are prodigious users of antidepressants which seems at odds with the fact that it’s such a great place to live.*
Source: http://thesimplepastor.co.uk/book-review-a-society-without-god/ (http://thesimplepastor.co.uk/book-review-a-society-without-god/)
I think the historical context might also have some interesting things to say, not to mention what gave rise to these egalitarian leanings in the first place.
It seems particularly challenging that secularism leads to a kind of nihilism and lack of hope which feeds into the problems outlined above.
Another Update:
This cites another article that reviews Zuckerman’s thesis:
#51 Society Without God (https://thenakedtheologian.com/2011/04/01/51-society-without-god/)

I haven’t been able to access full version of this article:
Michal Pagis, review of *Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment* by Phil Zuckerman, *Journal of the American Academy of Religion* 79:1 (March 2011): 264-267
Update:

Finally, if you look at other evaluations of what countries are secular, his analysis seems to fall apart: List of countries by irreligion – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_irreligion)
[click on each one of the frameworks and you get a different answer for which countries are secular, which dramatically swings all these kinds of evaluations]

February 28, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Health, Nutrition, and Wellness Coaching for Senior Citizens

The Value of Change:

  • The Value of Nutrition for Seniors (Articles):
  • Quick article on nutrition for seniors
  • The Value of Nutrition for Seniors (Videos)
  • Specific Options/Plan for Working out for Seniors
  • The Value of Working Out for Seniors (Articles):
  • The Value of Working Out for Seniors (Videos):
  • Specific Options/Plan for Working out for Seniors

The Checklists:

  • Checklist/Calendar for Nutrition
  • Checklist/Calendar for Exercise
  • Checklist/Calendar for Water
  • Checklist/Calendar for Budgeting
  • Checklist/Calendar for Home & Car repairs