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American Men Don’t Sing – Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg recently spoke at Western Seminary. And just before he got into his sermon, he went on a fascinating little digression about the fact that American men don’t sing during worship. It’s not just that we can’t sing, but that we don’t. And, although his primary focus is on worship, he thinks it’s a more widespread cultural phenomenon. In other cultures, especially in the UK, singing is a normal part of life. Men sing at football matches and in the pubs. So when they enter the church, singing is normal. But in America, it’s different. So Begg makes a fascinating point at the end of the clip when he says that he thinks you can really tell that American male has really been converted when he begins to sing during worship.

Check it out. If the video doesn’t start at the right place, jump to the 5:08 mark for the relevant clip.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2hjUPg4Y7U&start=308&end=476

The History of English in 10 Minutes

If you have at least ten minutes to spare today, you need to watch this great video from The Open University on the history of the English language.

Your Daughter Is More Likely to Get a Degree than Your Son (infographic)

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the demise of guys, here’s an infographic on the changing demographics of higher education. As you can see, women now receive well over half of all degrees awarded, with a particularly large share of masters degrees.

This is, of course, one of those good news/bad news situations. The good news is that women are getting more opportunities in higher education and succeeding at higher rates. That’s outstanding. As the father of two daughters, I find it very encouraging to see how well women are doing in higher education. A generation of highly motivated and highly trained young women makes for an exciting vision of the future.

But, as we saw yesterday, some of this appears to be coming as a result of the poor performance of many young men. And that’s not so great. A generation of underperforming and undereducated young men does not speak well for where things are heading.

Now I realize that getting a degree isn’t the only way to pursue excellence. So don’t think I’m saying that any guy who doesn’t get a degree is a lazy loser. But when you see things shift this dramatically, it does raise significant questions about what’s happening with young men in America and why they are not doing well in higher education overall. (And, as Pat pointed out in a comment on yesterday’s post, it also raises questions about what kinds of losers my daughters may end up dating in the future. I’m still a couple years away from dealing with that, but I’m not looking forward to it. So if you’re a loser guy, please stay away and date someone else’s daughters. If you show up at my door, I will be forced to read systematic theology books to you until you go away.)

Young Men are Educationally and Relationally Doomed

According to psychologist Philip Zimbardo, young men in America are doomed–at least they are educationally, relationally, and sexually. As he says at the beginning of his recent TED Talks video, “The Demise of Guys,”

Guys are flaming out academically, they’re wiping out relationally with girls, and sexually with women. Other than that, there’s not much of a problem.

You may remember Zimbardo from his famous “Stanford prison experiment,” which divided students into “prisoners” and “guards” to study the effects of power relationships. Now he’s looking at why it is that young men in America seem to be performing poorly in so many areas. Educationally “girls now outperform boys at all levels from elementary school to graduate school.” And relationally guys are rather clueless. (That’s been true for a long time, but apparently it’s getting worse.)

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Bill Nye the Humanist Guy vs. Ken Ham the Creationist Man

Two weeks ago, Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) created an internet sensation with a You Tube video arguing that creationism is not appropriate for children. Almost 4.5 million views later (as of this morning), that video has certainly made quite the splash.

His basic premise is that since “evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science,” anyone who teaches their kids that evolution isn’t true is really holding their kids back. As he says,

I say to the grown ups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it because we need them.

Now the people from Answers in Genesis have responded. In the video below prominent creationist Ken Ham calls Bill Nye “the Humanist Guy” and critiques him  for having an agenda of his own, creating lots of little humanists. And (big surprise) Ham contends that teaching kids evolution is the truly harmful thing to do.

You can watch the video exchange below. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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What Americans Do on an Average Workday (infographic)

Americans during the work week spend an average of just under 8 minuts a day on “volunteering and religious activities.” Combined. Of course, that’s for all Americans. So that statistic includes quite a few people who don’t do such things at all, bringing the average down considerably. But it’s still revealing to see that Americans spend almost 3 hours a day on leisure activities and less than 8 minutes volunteering.

It’s Labor Day today, so I thought this infographic was fitting. Check it out to see the statistics from the Bureau of Labor on what Americans do during a typical work week. And, if you’re curious about what we’re actually doing with our 3 ours of daily leisure, check out the second infographic below.

And, by the way, 48 minutes on grooming? Every day? And that’s just the average?

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The Church Is Our Best Hope against the Zombies

Being a zombie fan, I couldn’t pass on this article. Sadly, it’s not about the coming zombie apocalypse. But it is an interesting reflection on why zombies are popular today and what that has to do with the church. As the subtitle explains:

Zombies are an apt metaphor for those who feel the emptiness of consumerism. The church offers the promise of new life.

The article goes on to say,

Zombies unlike vampires, or even werewolves, have no glamour. Since George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, zombies in popular culture have been understood as the dead returned to life with an insatiable desire for human flesh. They are slow-moving, ugly, relentless and mindless. I have always been especially scared by them because, more than other monster, they represent our most unthinking and relentlessly hungry selves. They are interested in one thing only: consumption. And they can never be filled.

And that’s what makes them such a powerful metaphor for rampant, and ultimately unsatisfying, consumerism. And the article argues that the church is a powerful response to this cultural challenge:

Insofar as we are living in an age which seeks to zombify us and make us relentlessly hungry, the church…clearly offers the promise of new life and hope. For at the heart of the Christian hope is fullness of life….The very nature of the kingdom – which prioritises the poor and the vulnerable and invites us to be our true selves in Christ – is a work of resistance against the emptiness of rapacious consumerism. This is good news in its rawest form.

I think it’s going a bit far to say that resisting consumerism is part of the “very nature of the kingdom.” And I definitely wouldn’t say that this is “good news in its rawest form.” The essence of the gospel and the good news of the kingdom has something far greater in mind. But this is still a fascinating reflection on “zombie” as a metaphor for hunger, consumerism as an inherently flawed response to that basic emptiness, and the church as a community of hope bringing the message of life to the world. So go read the rest of the article and enjoy.

The Psychology of Social Networking (infographic)

Neal Postman warned that we were Amusing Ourselves to Death. Maybe today the fear is that we publicize ourselves to death. That’s the concern represented on this infographic.

social networking

Just consider some of these statistics:

  • 9 out of 10 internet users are on a social network
  • Every minute we produce 694,980 status updates
  • 80% of social media posts are about the poster

But the best stat of all: “9 out of 10 Americans think people share too much.” Stop and think about that for a minute. 9 out of 10 of us are doing it. And we’re doing it a lot. But we think everyone else should be doing it less. That makes sense.

And why do we do it? To serve the greater good, advance public discourse, or develop larger networks of meaningful relationships? The infographic suggests a different reason: “Talking about ourselves activates the regions of the brain associated with the sense of satisfaction from food, money, or sex.”

Um.

Here’s the infographic. Check it out for yourself.

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This Isn’t Kansas Anymore: Life at a Slovakian Summer Camp

My wife and I lived in Scotland for a couple of years. And, in many ways, making the transition to Scotland was much easier than moving to a place like Papua New Guinea. The language and culture of Scotland are similar enough to America that we could navigate through society fairly easily.

One thing we noticed, though, is that when two cultures are rather similar, it really makes the differences stand out. You have a nice breakfast with bacon, eggs, and toast, all things that any American would be quick comfortable eating, and then they hit you with some smoked haddock, which will stay with you all day long…and then some. You get the hang of driving on the other side of the road, and then you run across a road sign you’ve never seen before. (It took me a long time to figure out what the “no parking” sign was trying to tell me.)

When something seems mostly familiar, the differences really stand out.

That’s been my experience this week. In many ways, the summer camp that we’re helping with in Slovakia is just like the many camps I’ve attended in America. And that’s not surprising given that my church in America has a long-standing partnership with this one. We’ve been helping with camps here for years, and many of the Slovak leaders have interned at my church for as long as a year. So the games, the format of the evening program, the small groups, the free time, these all feel like home.

And, as I discussed in my last post, the students here face the same challenges as early adolescents everywhere. So even new students are old friends.

But the similarities just make the differences stand out that much more.

What do I mean? Here are six differences between a Slovakian summer camp and one in America. Or, to be more accurate, here are six differences between this Slovakian summer camp and the ones I’ve attended in America.

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Do We Still Need Librarians?

As a teacher and book lover, I’m quite interested in what’s going on with libraries today. So I found this infographic fascinating. Among the more notable statistics:

There are 122,101 libraries in the US and only 12,804 McDonalds.

Each Day, U.S. libraries circulate nearly 4 times more items than Amazon handles. U.S. public library cardholders outnumber Amazon.com customers by 5 to 1.

Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 8 percent between 2008 and 2018.

Maybe libraries and librarians aren’t going to disappear as fast as some people have suggested.

library, future of libraries

HT The Gun-Carryin’ Librarian

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