Q & A: John Piper on Racism, Reconciliation, and Theology after Trayvon Martin’s Death @ChristianityToday

John Piper was one of the first and the few white evangelical pastors to make a public statement on the controversial shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Not only is his passion for racial reconciliation informed by his self-proclaimed history as a Southern racist; it also fueled by his experience as the father of an adopted African American teen daughter. Piper is the author of Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, a book that inspired a public discussion about Race and the Christian at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in New York City Wednesday night. The Minneapolis, Minnesota, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church was joined onstage by New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church pastor Tim Keller and Anthony Bradley, a theology professor from the King’s College in New York City. Christianity Today spoke with Piper on Thursday about various kinds of reconciliation, including what it would mean to reconcile with someone like author Rob Bell. …

Read the interview at Christianity Today.

Religion + Life with Elaine H. Ecklund, Part 1 @TheHighCalling

Retreat, Mt. Bethel, Pa

“Social scientists are always thinking of big theoretical projects. As a social scientist, I’m very interested in how individuals who are different from the institutions that constrain them bring change to those institutions.” That’s how Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow Elaine Howard Ecklund described the underlying theme of her work in a recent interview with The High Calling.

Ecklund’s research thus far has focused on the often contentious areas of religion, immigration, science, and culture. Her 2010 book, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think, for example, confronted the popular notion that scientists are antagonistic to religion. We’ll study its content in three upcoming articles. …

Read the whole introduction at The High Calling.

Taking Aim at Technology Instead of the Problem @TheHighCalling

Water guns

What would you do if your teenager posted a note on Facebook essentially calling you a tyrant and saying she’s tired of being your slave? I would be horrified, but since my children were grown before the advent of social media, I really can’t say for sure. One North Carolina dad who faced this situation chose an act of dramatic retaliation that got the attention of more than 28 million people. Tommy Jordan is an internet technology professional who discovered a profanity-laden note posted on his 16-year-old daughter’s facebook page, in which she complained about onerous chores like sweeping and making beds. Because it was her second social media offense, he got so mad that he video-taped himself reading her note aloud and ranting about it. He then shot her laptop with hollow-point bullets and said that if she wants another one, she’ll have to buy it herself. Jordan uploaded this video to YouTube and has since become famous, or infamous, (depending on one’s perspective) for his foray into what some would call “extreme parenting.”

The High Calling talked to Laity Leadership Institute senior fellow and child psychiatrist Allan Josephson, M.D. about the video. Josephson said the reason it has gone viral is because it taps into the frustrations many families in our culture feel. The immediacy of social media is a problem, but the underlying one is more fundamental. …

Read the rest at TheHighCalling.org.

Image by Jenny Huey. Sourced via Wikimedia Commons.

Photojournalism from Whitney Houston’s Home-going Service

Whitney Houston funeral guest showing program to journalists

Whitney Houston funeral guest showing program to journalists (photo by Christine A. Scheller)

For more photos from Whitney Houston’s Homegoing Service, click here.

Reporting on Whitney Houston funeral

Trying to Get the Money Shot at Whitney Houston's funeral (photo by Christine A. Scheller).

Trying to Get the Money Shot at Whitney Houston’s funeral (photo by Christine A. Scheller).

More from Reporting on Whitney Houston’s funeral here.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: February 13 – February 17

Hitchhiker, NYC

  • On Location at Whitney’s Farewell: What reporting on location at Whitney Houston’s semi-private, gospel-filled funeral taught me about spiritual battles, grace, and celebrity.
  • Marriage Is for Black People, TooRalph Richards Banks’ book ‘Is Marriage for White People?’ made him the target of angry critics. Now, the author has his say about interracial dating, the link between fewer marriages and the crisis in black communities, and his take on conservative scholar Charles Murray’s latest book on class and race.
  • Obama Birth Control Compromise Take 2Activist Lisa Sharon Harper and ethicists Cheryl J. Sanders and Charles C. Camosy weigh in on the Obama administration’s contraception mandate accommodation.

Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 6: Holistic Mental Health @TheHighCalling

Aging Well

When my son first began exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression as a sophomore in high school, my husband and I both worked at a California mega-church whose leaders openly preached against psychiatry and psychology.

The message reached a wide audience— from the pulpit, over radio, through books, and at conferences—thus cementing in place a culture in which getting professional help for mental and emotional suffering was discouraged and stigmatized.

This was a new phenomenon for us, one that may have delayed our son getting the help he needed. After I heard about the third suicide of a young Christian that I knew back home in New Jersey, however, I no longer cared what my church community thought. I knew my son needed help and was determined to get it for him.

Nonetheless, I was concerned that the mental health practitioners who treated him would respect his tender faith and the spiritual dimension of his suffering, some of which was directly related to our family’s decision to respond to a vocational ministry calling with a cross-country move and to the culture of the church where that calling was initially lived out. …

Read the whole article at TheHighCalling.org.

A Quarter Century of Jersey Shore HIV/AIDS Response @NJShorePatch

Tyler Alyxander and Ina Kaplan at "A Night of Illusion" fundraiser.

I well remember when the thought that I could have AIDS first occurred to me. It was 1986 and I was newly married. I had gotten pregnant by an East African man two years earlier and my husband had fallen in love with both me and my baby.

All seemed well, until I began paying attention to the news that AIDS had first appeared in sub-saharan Africa among heterosexuals. I dutifully got tested, then waited anxiously for the phone call that told me I was not infected.

Other people I knew heard different news. There were whispers that a high school classmate who had been an intravenous drug user and died of a drug overdose had taken his own life after getting the diagnosis.

It was a scary time, especially for anyone who had been anything but virginal. …

Read the rest at Manasquan Patch.

Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 5: Social Supports & Storytelling @TheHighCalling

Aging Well

Stories help us make sense of the world. True stories told by our elderly relatives help us understand ourselves, and the telling also helps the storytellers make sense of their lives, says Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow Dan Blazer, M.D.

“One of the most critical things a family can do is to try to recognize the value of an older person, and one of the best ways to do that is to get the older person to talk about himself or herself, or maybe write about himself or herself. Then actually pay attention to what they write,” Blazer said when The High Calling talked to him recently. …

Read the whole article at TheHighCalling.org.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: January 9-13

Hitchhiker, NYC

  • Religion Wins Big; Pastors Protest Loss: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religious schools can fire ministers and more New York City pastors were arrested while protesting fallout from the court’s decision not to hear a Bronx church’s appeal.
  • Politics Are Personal: In her new book ‘Left, Right, and Christ,’ Lisa Sharon Harper models a civil and redemptive discussion of divisive political issues. She spoke to UrbanFaith about Christians in the public square, and the dangers of winning political and religious debates but missing the truth.
  • Pastors Protest School Worship BanSome New York City pastors are protesting the Board of Education’s ban on worship in public school space as the ban threatens to spread beyond schools.

Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 4: Geriatric Depression @TheHighCalling

Aging Well

Depression causes more disability than any other psychiatric disorder,” Laity Leadership Institute senior fellow Dan Blazer, M.D. said his 2005 book The Age of Melancholy: Major Depression and Its Social Origins.  In fact, depression is as disabling or more disabling than diabetes and hypertension, he said, and the World Health Organization estimated that it will be the second leading contributor to the “global burden of disease” by 2025.

Although those born in the later part of the 20th century suffer higher rates of depression than those born earlier, roughly 15 percent of the elderly experience significant symptoms.

A Crossword Puzzle Case Study

When The High Calling interviewed Dr. Blazer last fall, he talked about a patient who is close to 90 years old. The man had called Blazer a few weeks earlier to say he was feeling “terrible,” that he wasn’t sleeping and was losing weight, all of which are symptoms of depression.

The patient also said, “I’m not doing my crossword puzzles.”

“He had been doing crossword puzzles for 80 years,” said Blazer. “All of a sudden he wasn’t doing them. That signals loss of interest, which is another symptom of depression.”

Blazer prescribed medication. When he talked to the patient a few weeks later, he said he was feeling much better.

Blazer asked, “Are you doing your crossword puzzles yet?”

“No,” he replied.

The doctor knew then that the man wasn’t well yet …

Read the whole article at The High Calling.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: January 2-6

Hitchhiker, NYC

Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 3: The Role of Perception in Geriatric Health @TheHighCalling

Aging Well

Proverbs 23:7 says, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). When it comes to geriatric health, this statement has repeatedly proven true.

“Self-perceptions of older adults about their health and well-being may be at least as important as objective data for predicting the course of their health over time,” Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow Dan Blazer, M.D. wrote in a 2008 article that was published in The Geriatrist.

“Most clinicians treating adults focus on facts: facts about the behaviors of their patients (eg. the number of times a patient gets up at night to use the bathroom), facts about their physiological function (eg. lab values), and facts about their daily function ( eg. activities of daily living). Nevertheless, research has shown over the years that the perceptions of older adults about their health and well-being may be at least as important as facts,” he explained. …

Read the whole article at The High Calling.