Tuesday, May 31, 2016
There are 80 million photos posted in Instagram a day. Facebook has 1.49 billion active users per month. Twitter has 316 million active accounts; Tumblr 230 million. Pinterest has 47.66 million unique visitors from the US alone and is the fastest-growing independent site in history. Increasingly, most of us are living two lives: one online, one off. And studies show that this makes us more vulnerable to depression, loneliness and low self-worth. In 2013, scientists at two German universities monitored 584 Facebook users and found one out of three would feel worse after checking what their friends were up to — especially if those friends had just posted vacation photos. Even smaller details had the same effect. “Overall,” wrote the study’s authors, “shared content does not have to be ‘explicitly boastful’ for feelings of envy to emerge. In fact, a lonely user might envy numerous birthday wishes his more sociable peer receives on his Facebook wall. Equally, a friend’s change in the relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ might cause emotional havoc for someone undergoing a breakup.” (Read more.)Share
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active. People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.Share
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. (Read more.)
Monday, May 30, 2016
Should one of its most prosperous members vote to leave this Union, many other members will ask what a French friend recently asked me when I posed the possibility of Brexit: “Pourquoi pas nous?” Even more interesting, again, for those paying attention, is that visa-free travel is being extended to Turkey on June 1, just one week from now. Surely the significance of legally opening the doors to the descendants of those who besieged Europe for centuries is lost on a populace that seems not to know that Britain existed (and even prospered) before the drafting of the constitution of the European Union.Share
Brexit would allow the EU to take a hard look at their emulate-the-USA project. They could ward off the rise of right-wing parties everywhere in Europe (gasp!), which saw its most recent surge in yesterday’s near-election of Norbert Hofer in Austria. It might allow the EU to realize that the road to peace and prosperity doesn’t run through Brussels (as if Brussels can even keep itself safe), and doesn’t operate in a secularist vacuum that pretends that history, money, and religion have no previous lessons to teach us. In restoring subsidiarity to Europe by allowing free and uncoerced cooperation in areas like currency and immigration, free from ideologically-driven treaties, the EU could regain safety for the long term, a safety which is currently only preserved in the most fragile and temporary way.
And yet most cannot help but think that the epiphany of Brexit might cause a Macbethian reaction among the EU elites, who have not been above removing democratically elected leaders in Greece: already halfway through a river of misery, it would be just as far to the other side of “ever closer union” as to turn back to the original point of departure, the 1951 “European Coal and Steel Community.” Furthermore, that further bank would now be more easily reached without Britain on its back, the Britain that Churchill always claimed was “with Europe, but not of it, linked, but not combined . . . interested and associated but not absorbed.” (Read more.)
After the onslaught of multiple feminist movements, the sexual revolution of 60s onward, and the gender bending movements of today, men find themselves in an oddly precarious position in society. Not only have these trends undermined men’s role as protector and provider; they have demonized manhood itself and hope to force a revolution in thinking. First, feminists simply requested equal political status with men through voting, then equal economic status through employment, then equal sexual status through contraception and abortion. Now, radical feminists and the LGBT community hope to erase divisions of sex altogether and demand equal natures, either through mass indoctrination (political correctness and “gender acceptance”) or subsidized sex-change operations.Share
Instead of addressing this reality by reconsidering their rejection of traditional roles, feminists today now demand that men change their very natures. This comes as a result of feminism’s past successes: the workplace has become feminized; the Church has become feminized; politics has become feminized; art and literature have become feminized; and morality and education have become feminized. Unfortunately, rather than having the intended effect of making women happier (which it hasn’t), this has only made men sadder.
Boys today grow up in a confusing world that has marginalized them completely. Often fatherless, they grow up with no actual role models except perhaps superheroes and hip hop performers. Their education only reinforces this denial of masculinity. Rather than reading about courageous virtuous men, they now read revised histories characterizing great men as cruel sexist pigs; rather than reading exciting stories about men going on adventures, they read boring stories about young women of color overcoming adversity; instead of seeing intellectual pursuits as a desirable component to a complete life for men, they only see sports as the only outlet for their manhood. Not surprisingly, many will end their education at high school at a loss with what to do with themselves while the girls go on to college, wondering where all the boys went. (Read more.)
Sunday, May 29, 2016
In May of 1774, 15 years before the French Revolution, the 18-year-old Marie Antoinette ascended the throne as queen of France. Less than a month before that, German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck, her former music teacher — and the son of a gamekeeper — made his debut in Paris with his opera “Iphigénie en Aulide.”Share
Thanks to Gluck’s tutelage, the new queen had become a passionate musician (she was known for her love of playing the harp), and her patronage ensured the composer access to the influential Parisian opera scene, for which he wrote his final sequence of stage works.
Gluck had started fomenting a revolution of his own with “Orfeo ed Euridice,” which premiered in 1762 in Vienna, Marie Antoinette’s native city. In August 1774, soon after “Iphigénie en Aulide,” he unveiled a substantially revised, expanded version of “Orfeo.” Now titled “Orphée et Eurydice,” it incorporated French musical practice of the time — by recasting Orpheus, for example, from a castrato to a high tenor role. (Read more.)
The supernatural is the greatest gift that God has given us. We are humble, modest creatures. The human male was made from the dust of the earth, a very un-aristocratic origin; the human female did a little bit better and was taken from the body of a human person. (This is one of the big triumphs that women have, one of the advantages that they have over men!) The supernatural is a partaking in God’s very life. There is not one single religion that can compete with Christianity, a religion allowing us to become God-like by participation in His life.Share
The supernatural is something that could never have been invented by the most inventive human person. The supernatural is a new song, a new music coming from above that never entered man’s head. In some way you can prove the Divinity of Christ by saying no human being would ever have invented a God who chose to take the form of a slave, to suffer and to die, to re-open for us the gates of Heaven, Humanly speaking, it is sheer madness.
It was the supernatural which converted Edith Stein, who studied under Husserl with my husband. She was an atheist who one very fine day read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. She started at seven in the evening and the next morning at seven o’clock she said “I’m going to become a Roman Catholic” and she became a Roman Catholic saint (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). (Read more.)