The Notre-Dame cathedral is still standing, mostly, after a huge fire churned through its insides. The cause of the fire seems to be essentially accidental, related to ongoing renovations of the cathedral. President Macron has vowed that what has been destroyed will be rebuilt.
Tonya Guerrero, writing for the Philippines’ ABS-CBN, tells of the social perils of being an atheist (and, specifically, an atheist parent) in a very, very Catholic country:
Imagine this, last year my daughter’s second grade classmate called her “A bad person” because she isn’t Catholic. Where in the world would an eight-year old get such an idea? From adults, of course. Thankfully, we have a wonderfully patient and level-headed teacher who pulled the child aside and calmly asked if they really thought my daughter was a bad person. After some thought, they said, “No, she’s a good person.”
This, is exactly the kind of critical thinking we need to inspire in our youth.
Washington Post’s conservative-but-definitely-not-Trumpy columnist Jennifer Rubin ponders the “rise of the nones,” particularly among the youths:
The decline in organized religion has wide-ranging consequences, from social isolation to attitudes about science and technology and, of course, to politics. Political candidates who can speak to people of faith as well as religiously non-affiliated voters who nevertheless look at politics as a value-driven endeavor will do well in today’s atmosphere. It should also serve as a warning to religious leaders that misconduct and inattention or disdain for the core tenets of faith will mean further decline in their congregants.
You know, it’s a shame that Michele Bachmann is no longer relevant, because we just don’t get as many gems like this anymore:
I will say to your listeners, in my lifetime, I have never seen a more biblical president than I have seen in Donald Trump. He has so impressed me with what he has done … we will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes. So we need to be not only praying for him, we need to support him, in my opinion, in every possible way that we can.
Julia Belluz reminds us that the measles outbreak in the U.S. pales in comparison to the outbreaks in some other countries:
The reasons for outbreaks differ in each country — from vaccine refusal to problems with health care access or access to vaccines, to civil unrest and low awareness about the need to vaccinate. But what all these causes have in common: These factors are driving down the rate of vaccine coverage.
And in places that used to see very little measles previously, like the US, vaccine skepticism seems to be a common contributor, said [the CDC’s Amanda] Cohn. “There’s vaccine hesitancy in a world where people don’t see measles anymore. We have to continue to remind people how serious measles is.”
Don’t get too cocky, arrogant Americans. The number of measles cases in the U.S. jumped by 90 in the second week of April, bringing our current total to 555.
Americans are treating death very differently than they used to. Karen Heller at the Post reports on how the coming “death boom” (aging boomers, etc.) also heralds a new approach to funerals and memorials:
Change has sparked nascent death-related industries in a culture long besotted with youth. There are death doulas (caring for the terminally ill), death cafes (to discuss life’s last chapter over cake and tea), death celebrants (officiants who lead end-of-life events), living funerals (attended by the honored while still breathing), and end-of-life workshops (for the healthy who think ahead). The Internet allows lives to continue indefinitely in memorial Facebook pages, tribute vlogs on YouTube and instamemorials on Instagram.
Meanwhile, members of Generation X (which now includes me, I think, as I believe my age group was recently retconned into the category) are saturated with despair, or so says Lauren Gaydosh of Vanderbilt University. I thought it was just me. From the press release:
Adolescence was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a rocky time for everyone, followed by a period of improvement in their twenties. By the time the teens were in their late 30s, however, indicators of despair were trending back up across the board, and in some cases were higher for minority populations than they were for low-educated whites or rural adults.
Gaydosh and her colleagues say these findings should be cause for concern, as they suggest midlife mortality may begin to increase across a wide range of demographic groups.
Quote of the Day
Monty Python’s Life of Brian turns 40 this year, and Philip Almond looks back to see if the fuss over it, both in terms of its controversy and its quality, holds up:
Watching it today, it strikes me that, as parody goes, it is a pretty gentle, even, respectful sort. Ironically, to be properly offended by it or even to get the joke — then or now — requires a good knowledge of the life of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels. …
Life of Brian is undoubtedly a criticism of the unthinking nature of religious belief, from the perspective of the freedom and authority of the individual. In a key scene, Brian tells a crowd they are all individuals.
“Yes, we’re all individuals,” the crowd responds.
Then one lonely voice, Dennis, chimes in. “I’m not,” he says.
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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.