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Worst. Pastoral. Care. Ever.

My daughter and I want to nominate Friar Laurence from Romeo and Juliet as the most incompetent pastoral carer ever.
It’s hard to think of anyone who is so genuinely trying to bring about a positive outcome – from which he doesn’t seem to have any personal gain – make so many bad decisions and give such appalling advice in so concise a time frame.
And then he blames God: “A greater power than we can contradict Hath thwarted our intents”.
It’d be a wonder if no one has ended up dead on his watch before this.


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On The Death Of Shopping Malls (via Wired)

Analysis of the situation of Shopping Malls that have closed in the USA in a video report from Wired.
It’s interesting to hear the balance of over-supply, changes in shopping habits, and changes in people’s social gathering habits are all thought to contribute to the change.
No one thing has contributed to the decline, and ongoing developments in demographics have meant that there are no simple responses that can return those facilities to viability.
The situation will continue to evolve, in the face of ongoing social changes, just as malls themselves were a response to post-world-war-2 social changes.
Solutions need to look forward and accomodate sociological developments instead of trying to keep meeting the culture that has passed.
Of interest to Christians is what changes in peoples’ gathering habits mean as we seek to interact with our culture in communicating the Gospel.
Malls were a development in ‘third space’ places beyond home and work and were one of the areas that supplanted churches.
There is a comment about churches taking over disused malls.
Larger churches sort of emulated some aspects of mall structure, and it will be fascinating to see whether that gets wound back or whether they have simply become their own sub-culture in that form.
The video refers to television program Stranger Things, but doesn’t require any familiarity with that program. I’ve never watched it.


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Healthy Consumption Of A Digital Diet (via Harvard Business Review)

This article is measured and seeks to propose that the health effects of a digital overload need to be recognized and strategies developed to deal constructively with a problem that will not go away.
Though referenced in US terms, it would seem that Australia is not far removed from its central points:

Historians and clinicians may someday call this moment “peak content.” American adults now spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media—sometimes longer. That’s more time than we spend eating and sleeping. From YouTube videos to viral tweets, we are ingesting a huge volume of media, and it has consequences.
Out of this cloud of mood-altering material emerges a new set of health challenges. One in five Americans is clinically depressed. Tens of millions more suffer from mild to moderate anxiety and other mood disorders. But current research doesn’t yet support a clear and causal link. More work is required to understand the complex relationship between media diets and depression–mood disorders are not a new phenomenon, even if suicide rates appear to be increasing. The technologies fueling our media consumption are outpacing the rate of scientific inquiry, making real or verifiable effects hard to understand and perhaps harder study appropriately.
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Now is the moment to pursue a three-pronged approach to all digital encounters: literacy, hygiene, and labeling. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to re-shape our still primitive and often unruly digital culture into a safer, healthier, more rewarding domain.

Read the whole post at Harvard Business Review.


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Planes, Rocketships, And Now (via XKCD)

Thoughts like this one give me pause.
I don’t know what they prove, but they give me pause.
Mostly I’m disappointed that we don’t have flying cars yet.
I also wonder if one day gaps like this will measure humanity’s first flight with our first steps on the moon, and the fact that noone’s been back to the moon in over that period of time. Surely one day we’ll return to space.
From XKCD


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The Origin Of Shopping Malls (via Origin Of Everything)

Ten minutes of video about why all shopping centres look the same, along with a bit of lead-up information.
Turns out suburbs and teenagers have something to do with it. And some guy named ‘Gruen.’
US in origin, but since similar developments occurred in Australia roughly around the same time the information seems to ring true.
And rows of shops pointing out with car parks in front of them are ‘extroverted,’ which must be why I prefer parking and going inside to a more ‘introverted’ experience.


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The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’ (via Olga Zhazan at The Atlantic)

The Atlantic is a print and online journal that deals with culture and politics.
This article about people having different learning styles (i.e. visual or aural), a proposition that simply entered public consciousness as truth a decade or two ago, has had profound impacts for teachers and communicators.
The substance of the article is the concept of people being able learn more effectively through the means that is most suited to them is not proven and doesn’t hold true when tested.
The rise of the proposition has more to do with individualism and self-esteem philosophies than effective education.
Just because you prefer a particular means of information communication, it does not necessarily follow that that particular means is actually most effective in every situation.

[a] study published last year in the British Journal of Psychology found that students who preferred learning visually thought they would remember pictures better, and those who preferred learning verbally thought they’d remember words better. But those preferences had no correlation to which they actually remembered better later on—words or pictures. Essentially, all the “learning style” meant, in this case, was that the subjects liked words or pictures better, not that words or pictures worked better for their memories.

A takeaway from this is to focus not so much on the learner, but on what is the best means of communicating the information at hand.
There will be different communication techniques that are appropriate for different outcomes, but the outcome should be a primary determiner of means, rather than the preference of the learner.

Read the whole article online at The Atlantic.


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Lawlessness And Anarchy

I came across the following observation arising out the biblical motif of the book of Judges: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Israel was not beset by lawlessness. People were not paying no attention to laws. They did not see themselves as lawbreakers.
Israel was beset by anarchy. They were doing what they saw as right in their own eyes. People were following the laws of their own devising.
Perhaps we are seeing a time in which our own culture is moving beyond a conscious rejection of authority, to embracing themselves as the only authority they heed.