08 December 2015

The Semantics of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates the Roman Catholic doctrine that:
A) Mary, from her moment of conception, was sinless
B) Mary conceived Jesus without having sex
C) Mary conceived Jesus who was sinless
D) Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist after being barren for many years

This is probably one of the most misunderstood doctrines in Catholicism, confused by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The answer is A, although many people will answer B because the readings at mass today are about Gabriel announcing Mary's pregnancy. This confusion has a few interesting semantic implications.

04 November 2015

Millennials: The Modern Zealots

Today, one needs only to walk into a random church on Sunday morning to see that attendance is down. The faithful are dwindling, especially among the younger generation, or the "millennials." At least, that is what the general public, media, and news says. U.S. News and World Report published a news article today "Americans Becoming Less Religious Thanks to Millennials," documenting the decline in percentages of young people who identify with a religion or even believe in God. While all very interesting, the truth is that millennials are not less religious today; simply, their religion lies elsewhere: politics.

28 October 2015

Imprisoning America's Future through Incarceration

Let me throw some statistics your way.
  1. 1 in 14 children today in the United States have had at least 1 parent in jail. 
  2. 1 in 9 black children have had at least 1 parent in jail
  3. 3x: the likelihood of poor children compared to others to have had a parent in jail
  4. >1/2 of those children come from a household affected by divorce
  5. >1/3 of those children come from a household affected by domestic violence
  6. 5 million children have had a parent in prison
An article by USA Today reports on a study by the organization Child Trends on how children are influenced and affected by the immense incarceration rates in the United States. Approximately 2.3 million people are in prison in the United States, according to the NAACP.  That leaves approximately 2.7 million children with a parent in jail.

22 October 2015

Plugged into Productivity

Today we understand the word “connection” in a different way than ever before. Its meaning has increased tenfold and the way life functions has changed because of it. Thanks to the internet, we became connected to a world of information. Any question on the tip of our tongues could be answered with a tap of the fingertips. From Ask Jeeves, to Yahoo, to Google taking over the world, the weather in Mongolia could be discovered just as easily as what farts smell like in space. Internet connection soon led to virtual human connection with Myspace, AIM, and Facebook (and everything else that followed), changing the way friendships are not only maintained but created. Gone are the days of easily getting rid of people you never wanted to hear from again, because to be sure, someone in your news feed is connected with them and will know everything. On the other hand, the new-found connection of social media is wonderful because it provides a plethora of interesting and easy ways to keep in touch, organize meetings and events, and check out that guy you met at the bar last night that may or may not be creepy.

20 October 2015

American as Apple Pie

Suddenly this week, the temperature has dropped drastically and the wind has blown in with it. October is surely upon us (and perhaps December, too). With the autumn harvest come merry dreams of sunny days in pumpkin patches and the deliciously haunting scent of cinnamon in the air. These days, fall is more often defined by the availability of the PSL than the changing colors of the trees. Marketing ploys and tactics are trying their best to turn autumn into a commercial sensation much the same as Christmas. Pumpkin beers are tapped sooner and sooner and how dare you resist a pumpkin scone that is shoved your way, hot and steaming. These efforts are certainly delicious and I am glad pumpkin is being revived beyond its jack-o-lantern possibilities into the culinary workhorse fruit (yes, fruit) that it is.