December 5, 2013
A New York Times columnist is wondering: Where is the love? Nicholas D. Kristoff says there's a “profound lack of empathy” these days, after columns he wrote about food stamp recipients, prison inmates and those without health insurance drew scornful responses from readers. After acknowledging that some people end up in jail or poverty because of their own bad decisions, he asks: “Do we really think that kids should go hungry if they have criminal parents? Should a little boy not get a curved spine treated properly because his dad is a deadbeat?
October 25, 2013
The argument between believers and atheists has found a new and very public forum in recent years - billboards. Pro- and anti-religion advertisements and messages have been appearing on the sides of buses in places as diverse as London and Dallas, on billboards in Australia and California, and now in New York's Times Square. Paid for by the evangelical group Answers In Genesis, an electronic billboard there displays what the New York Times describes as “a friendly jab” at atheists: “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong.” The battle of the billboards has also been used provocatively, as when an atheist group paid to have the message, “You Know it's a Myth: This Season Celebrate Reason,” about Christmas, put above the Lincoln Tunnel in New York.
September 27, 2013
A pair of scientific reports released in recent weeks are related to life on Earth: One raises the possibility that the planet was jump-started by a comet, and the other calculates that Earth will end in 1.75 billion to 3.25 billion years. Q: How do these reports fit in with your teachings or beliefs? There's a joke about some scientists who tell God that he's no longer needed because they believe they have the knowledge to make a man just as God reportedly did in the Bible.
September 5, 2013
The birthrate in America has fallen to an all-time low, with one in five women not having children in 2010, compared to one in 10 in the 1970s. In Orange County, the rate has dropped from 50,000 a year in the '90s to about 38,000 in 2011. Many couples defend their childless lives, pointing out that it's their choice, it means more time to do what they want, and the world's population is rising too fast. They also point to the cost of raising a child to adulthood, estimates of which range from $200,000 to $300,000.
August 30, 2013
Aug. 28 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous “I have a dream” speech, which some say was so peppered with scriptural allusions that it was more sermon than speech. Clarence Jones, a civil rights activist who stood on the dais with Dr. King that day, is said to have turned to the person beside them and muttered, at the start of the speech, “These people don't know it, but they're about to go to church.” Q: If you were to give your own “I have a dream” speech today, how would your faith inform your dreams for a transformed nation and world?
July 26, 2013
A post has been making the rounds recently on social media sites such as Facebook in which a man asks God a series of questions and God answers. The man starts off by asking, "Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?" He goes on to list several grievances that may seem trivial - his car not starting, his sandwich being made wrongly and his phone going dead. God answers each question with an explanation of why these things happened. For example, he tells the man that he prevented his car from starting because if it had, the man would have been hit by a drunk driver.
July 11, 2013
Religion may be good for the soul, but there's now evidence it's good for a healthy mind, too. A study by researchers in Canada has discovered that regular attendance at religious services can provide "significant protection against depression" - with the incidence of clinical depression dropping by 22% among those who regularly attend church. Marilyn Baetz, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan and a co-author of the study, which tracked 12,000 Canadians over 14 years, said she's a little puzzled as to why regular religious attendance helps so much.
April 12, 2013
Jews are most likely to marry outside their religion, while Mormons are least likely, according to the results of a 2010 survey of interfaith marriage . The study found that the rate of interfaith marriage in America is around 42%. But, says writer Stanley Fish, many couples of different faiths who decide to marry don't know what they're getting into. "Interfaith couples tend to marry without thinking through the practical implications of their religious differences. They assume that because they are decent and tolerant people … they will not encounter difficulties being married to someone of another faith," he says.
July 9, 2012
"It's a jobs creator, and thank God we got it," Gov. Jerry Brown said of funding for high speed rail, narrowly approved by the Legislature last week. He and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were at the Port of Oakland on Monday to take a victory lap. The state Senate barely passed $8 billion in state and federal spending on the bullet train and related transportation projects on Friday, sending the bill to Brown for his signature. The federal funding was contingent on the state allocating money.
March 19, 2011
Brigham Young University recently suspended its star basketball center, Brandon Davies, for violating the college's strict Honor Code. Davies admitted to officials that he'd had pre-marital sex with his girlfriend, an Arizona State University freshman. Although he currently remains a student, there is still a chance the 19-year-old will be expelled from the school. He has publicly apologized to his teammates and fans. The Honor Code, which students are obligated to abide by, requires them to be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, obey the law and all campus policies, use clean language, respect others, abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse, participate regularly in church services and observe a dress and grooming standard.