We also recommend that you follow the Degrees of Debt series in the Times; linked HERE. Stay smart, students (and families). It’s your choice and your future.
On Sunday, The New York Times introduced the series “Degrees of Debt,” which examines “the implications of soaring college costs and the indebtedness of students and their families.”
Regular readers of The Choice would be highly interested in this article, as it examines some serious issues we’ve covered about college affordability, student debt and the roles that students, parents, colleges and lenders have played in the issue. It explores whether student lending is the next bubble that may cause an economic collapse; the rationale behind sticker prices and the actual prices that students typically pay; misleading financial aid letters that saddle students with $42,000 in loans; responsible lending practices; and whether college is even worth the cost.
It also examines how state funding has affected college costs and, ultimately, student borrowing. Ohio State University, for example, used to receive 25 percent of its financing from the state. That was in 1990. Today, state financing only accounts for 7 percent of its budget. “The consequence? Three out of five undergraduates at Ohio State take out loans, and the average debt is $24,840,” our colleagues report.
On the issue of affordability, more college marketing companies are promoting the premise that the expense will work out in the end; they choose their words wisely and “focus on the value of the education rather than the cost,” our colleagues write.
The piece begins with Kelsey Griffith, an Ohio Northern University graduate who owes $120,000 in student debt.
“As an 18-year-old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it,” she said. “I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that.”
The report examines how, over time, student debt has become a central part of the college experience. In 1993, The Times reports, 45 percent of students who earn bachelor’s degrees had to borrow money to pay for college. Nearly everyone has to borrow now; that percentage has soared to 94 percent. The report says:
With more than $1 trillion in student loans outstanding in this country, crippling debt is no longer confined to dropouts from for-profit colleges or graduate students who owe on many years of education, some of the overextended debtors in years past. Now nearly everyone pursuing a bachelor’s degree is borrowing. As prices soar, a college degree statistically remains a good lifetime investment, but it often comes with an unprecedented financial burden.
Ninety-four percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education — up from 45 percent in 1993, according to an analysis by The New York Times of the latest data from the Department of Education. This includes loans from the federal government, private lenders and relatives.
For all borrowers, the average debt in 2011 was $23,300, with 10 percent owing more than $54,000 and 3 percent more than $100,000, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports. Average debt for bachelor degree graduates who took out loans ranges from under $10,000 at elite schools like Princeton and Williams College, which have plenty of wealthy students and enormous endowments, to nearly $50,000 at some private colleges with less affluent students and less financial aid.
The article also includes a detailed interactive chart that shows the increasing levels of student debt at colleges and universities around the country. The data go back to 2004 and allow users to customize the chart using a number of factors, including enrollment size, share of graduates with debt, graduation rates, and whether the school is public or private. It also provides data for a particular college or university, and displays your debt level, adjusted for inflation.
Slowly, as Student Debt Rises, Colleges Confront Costs
E. Gordon Gee, the president of The Ohio State University, says that public colleges and universities need to devise a new business model to pay for the costs of education, beyond sticking students with higher tuition and greater debt.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a wood-paneled office lined with books, sports memorabilia and framed posters (including John Belushi in “Animal House”), E. Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State University, keeps a framed quotation that reads, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
Mr. Gee, who is often identified with a big salary and spendthrift ways, says he has taken the quotation to heart, and he is now trying to persuade Ohio State’s vast bureaucracy, and the broader world of academia, to do the same.
At a time of diminished state funding for higher education and uncertain federal dollars, Mr. Gee says that public colleges and universities need to devise a new business model to pay for the costs of education, beyond sticking students with higher tuition and greater debt.
“The notion that universities can do business the very same way has to stop,” said Mr. Gee, who is also the chairman of a commission studying college attainment, including the impact of student debt.
College presidents across the country are confronting the same realization, trying to manage their institutions with fewer state dollars without sacrificing quality or all-important academic rankings. Tuition increases had been a relatively easy fix but now — with the balance of student debt topping $1 trillion and an increasing number of borrowers struggling to pay — some administrators acknowledge that they cannot keep putting the financial onus on students and their families.
Increasingly, they are looking for other ways to pay for education, stepping up private fund-raising, privatizing services, cutting staff, eliminating departments — even saving millions of dollars by standardizing things like expense forms.
And Wall Street is watching.
Moody’s Investors Service, in a report earlier this year, said it had a favorable outlook for the nation’s most elite private colleges and large state institutions, those with the “strongest market positions” that had multiple ways to generate revenue. Ohio State, for instance, received a stable outlook from Moody’s last fall, though the report cautioned about the school’s debt and reliance on its medical center for revenue.
Click on this photo to see an interactive chart on how student debt has grown at public and private schools since 2004.
But Moody’s issued a negative outlook for a majority of colleges and universities heavily dependent on tuition and state revenue.
“Tuition levels are at a tipping point,” Moody’s wrote, adding later, “We anticipate an ongoing bifurcation of student demand favoring the highest quality and most affordable higher education options.”
Colleges can be top-heavy with administrators and woefully inefficient, some critics say, and some have only recently taken a harder look at ways to streamline their operations.
“Schools are very good at adding new things, new programs,” said Sherideen S. Stoll, vice president for finance and administration at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “We are not so good at looking at things we have been doing for 20 or 30 years and saying, ‘Should we be offering those academic programs?’ ”
At Bowling Green, 62 percent of graduates have debt that averages $31,515, the highest among Ohio public universities that publish the data. In addition to raising tuition, which has been limited by state-mandated caps, the university has laid off employees, encouraged early retirements, required unpaid furloughs and limited pay increases, Ms. Stoll said. The belt-tightening hasn’t yet reached the point that academic quality has suffered, she said, but Bowling Green may not be able to offer as much in the future.
“We’ve done everything and anything to try to operate much more efficiently,” she said.
The problems aren’t confined to public colleges. Administrators at some nonprofit private institutions said they too had come to realize they could not keep raising tuition and fees. Families have become more price-sensitive since the economic collapse and are seeking deeper discounts on the sticker price.
“We know the model is not sustainable,” said Lawrence T. Lesick, vice president for enrollment management at Ohio Northern University. “Schools are going to have to show the value proposition. Those that don’t aren’t going to be around.”
Of each dollar the federal government spends, how much goes to defense? How much goes to Social Security? How much goes to interest on the debt? And how has this sort of thing changed over time?
The graphic below answers these questions. It shows the major components of federal spending 50 years ago, 25 years ago, and last year.
A few notes:
Everything elseis everything not listed separately on the graphic.That includes education, science, NASA, energy, natural resources, justice, and agriculture, among other things.
Defense spending has shrunk significantly as a percentage of total government spending. But it remains the largest single category of federal spending. The figures in the graph include veterans’ benefits as well as funding for current operations.
Medicaid, Medicare and other health services are the huge gainers here. Together, they make up a quarter of government spending. Fifty years ago Medicare and Medicaid didn’t even exist, and federal spending on other health-related services made up a tiny sliver of the whole.
Safety net programs include unemployment compensation, food stamps and housing assistance. Spending on these programs surged during and after the most recent recession, as unemployment rose sharply.
Interest refers to interest the government pays on the national debt. In 1987, the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds was around 9 percent, driving up the share of government spending that went to interest. Today, the rate on 10-year Treasuries is roughly 2 percent.
Bonus Numbers! Federal spending has grown roughly as fast as the overall economy over the past 50 years. In 1962, federal spending was $707 billion and accounted for 18 percent of U.S. GDP. In 2011, federal spending was $3.1 trillion and accounted for 24 percent of GDP. (The dollar figures are adjusted for inflation.)
For More: See the full data set from the Office of Management and Budget.
The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts him as its all in all. Are they who stand before the throne of God justified now?-so are we, as truly and as clearly justified as they who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps. The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was the thief with no service at all.
We are today accepted in the Beloved, today absolved from sin, today acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol’s vine which we shall not be able to gather till we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runneth over the wall. This is not as the corn of the land, which we can never eat till we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro.
We are now-even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of his people. Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth.
Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.
From Belinda Luscombe at Time Magazine; full story HERE.
Feminism and motherhood have long been cast as feuding sisters, one always attempting to undermine the other. In this calculation, women had to choose between the independence, education and self-expression of the feminist path and the nurture, sacrifice and child-centricity of the family path. The more feminist a woman is, the less appetite, it has been suggested, she will have for mothering.
Ironically, however, the opposite is true.
Women’s rising social and economic power has not squelched their desire to be mothers. Quite the opposite: it has enabled women to mother with ferocity. They research; they seek out best practices; they join a group, form a committee and agitate for their version of feeding/disciplining/sleeping. If you don’t believe me, just visit a breast-feeding support group with former litigators, marketing executives and investment bankers. Reluctant sucklers don’t stand a chance.
At heart, the reality of the feminist revolution was that women could do just about anything. But to get the opportunity to do it, they had to surmount men’s — and other women’s — assumptions. They had to get educated, work hard and exceed the expectations of those around them. And it worked, pretty much.
More women now graduate from college than men. Young working females in dozens of big cities across the country earn more than young working males. A Big Business CEO with ovaries, while not common, is no longer a miraculous being.
But as women have brought more education and commitment to their careers, they have also brought those qualities to their other job: having and raising children. From the labor room onward, women strive to overdeliver. Attachment parenting requires sacrifice, dedication, strategizing and a lot of long hours doing thankless tasks. In other words, it’s exactly like climbing the corporate ladder. Except there is no glass ceiling. Or annual bonus.
This is not to say that the aims of motherhood and feminism are always in harmony. The affluent, slightly older and well-educated moms who are most likely perusing parenting books like those written by William Sears have already tasted financial independence, self-sufficiency and freedom of movement. They quickly become acutely aware that parenting severely curtails those things. And they want to make their sacrifices mean something. If they’re giving up so much to raise this new human, they’re going to make sure the kid is raised like a blue chip stock price.
Having been urged all their lives to make choices, take charge of their lives and be their best selves, they have become parents reflective of that push. We’ve educated women to forge a new path. Why did we think they’d treat raising children any differently?
Same-sex couple barred from Lexington Catholic prom
Two female students say they were not allowed to attend Lexington Catholic High School’s prom as a couple Saturday night, upsetting a number of students at the school.
Hope Decker, 18, a senior, and sophomore Tiffany Wright, 16, had already gotten their dresses for the event, but Friday afternoon they were told by school administrators they could not attend as a couple because of the church’s stance on same-sex relationships, Wright said.
In an email Sunday, Lexington Catholic president Steve Angelucci said, “As a Catholic high school, we uphold every teaching of the Catholic Church. The policies and procedures of our school reflect those teachings.”
When the couple tried to enter the school’s gymnasium, where the prom was held, they were turned away, so Wright said they held their own prom in the school’s parking lot.
"I would understand and respect the school’s decision if they truly upheld church teachings," Wright said Sunday night. "They didn’t forbid the entrance of all the couples who’ve had premarital sex and all the kids who planned to get drunk after the prom."
Wright said Decker was “overwhelmed with all of the attention” and did not want to comment for this story. Decker later called and asked the story not be printed because she didn’t want to hurt the reputation of the high school.
Wright said the couple’s parking-lot prom was great.
"We had a wonderful night, and we were surrounded by true friends," Wright said. "I’ll remember it for the rest of my life."
Among the other students outside with them were Lexington Catholic senior Suzie Napier, who said she wrote a letter to school administrators expressing displeasure at their decision. Napier said 107 fellow students signed it.
"I think that it is unfair that Hope and Tiffany were not allowed to attend prom together," Napier said. "I can understand why, but I don’t agree with it."
"Universal love and acceptance," she said, is a greater Catholic tradition than its stance on same-sex relationships.
Napier said the students played music from their parked cars at the outside prom and set up a table for refreshments.
"I definitely think this prom will be much more memorable than any prom the school hosted," Napier said.
Megan Carter-Stone, a senior, also attended the outside prom.
"It was a wonderful time, and I think we got our point across," Carter-Stone said. "At least I hope we did."
From the Lexington Hearald-Leader; full story HERE.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:20-21
I am frequently asked, “What happens to the poor, innocent native in Africa who has never heard of Jesus?” That poor, innocent native in Africa goes straight to heaven when he dies. He has no need for a Savior. Jesus did not come in the world to save innocent people. There are no innocent natives in Africa or in Australia, South America, Europe, Asia, or anywhere else. People think that those who have not heard of Jesus are surely innocent, but Jesus came into a world already under the indictment of God the Father because it has rejected him.
We must disavow ourselves of the idea that there are innocent people anywhere. People also ask, “Will God send people to hell for rejecting Jesus, of whom they have never heard?” God is not going to punish someone for rejecting somebody he has never heard of, but their destination is hell for the rejection of the One they have heard of. Every human being knows of God and clearly perceives God but rejects that knowledge. For that, every person is exposed to the wrath of God. The only possible way someone can be rescued from that wrath is through the Savior. Paul is setting the foundation for the urgency of the gospel.
God’s eternal power and his inherent attributes—immutability, omniscience, omnipresence, and all that fits deity—are made clear through nature. God is also revealed by his moral perfection, holiness, righteousness, and sovereign right to impose obligations upon his creatures without their permission or ascent. God inherently has the right to command from his creatures what is pleasing to him. Paul says that all these things are made clear to us.
When Paul writes to the Corinthians about the Spirit, who gives that kind of knowledge, he says that the natural man does not know God in that sense (2 Corinthians 2:14). Here in Romans he says that man’s problem is not that the knowledge fails to get through in the sense of a cognitive awareness of the reality of God. God is angry because that knowledge does get through. It is what we do with the knowledge that provokes the wrath of God. Knowing God, we refuse to honor him as God; neither are we grateful.
People say God is a God of love, not a God of wrath, but that is not the God of Scripture. The God of love revealed in Scripture is also angry with sin. He is the God of justice, righteousness, and holiness. We cannot embrace the attributes of God that make us comfortable and reject the rest. When we do that, we join the throng of humanity that suppresses the truth of God and refuses to honor him as God or be thankful.
If, at the very beginning of the pursuit of knowledge, people categorically deny what they know to be true—the reality of God—then, frankly, the farther away they will go from God. They have built their house on a lie so that their thinking becomes an exercise in futility, and their foolish hearts are darkened. The indictment on all people is this: they refuse to honor God as God. It is not that they fail to know God and therefore do not honor or thank him. They do know God but will not honor him or be grateful. That is the massive perdition in which we find ourselves as fallen human beings, and against that background the gospel comes.
”—Romans: St. Andrews Expositional Commentary, R.C. Sproul
A Brief Histroy of Mother's Day: For Peace and to Celebrate the Strength of Mothers
A history of Mother’s Day from Mother’s Day Central; full story HERE.
A holiday to honor Motherhood can be traced to Europe. It fell on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40 days of fasting preceding Easter Sunday). Early Christians initially used the day to honor the church in which they were baptized, which they knew as their “Mother Church.” This place of worship would be decorated with jewels, flowers and other offerings.
In the 1600’s a clerical decree in England broadened the celebration to include real Mothers, referring to the day as Mothering Day. Mothering Day became an especially compassionate holiday toward the working classes of England. During this Lenten Sunday, servants and trade workers were allowed to travel back to their towns of origin to visit their families. Mothering Day also provided a one-day reprieve from the fasting and penance of Lent so that families across England could enjoy a family feast—Mother was the guest of honor. Mothers were presented with cakes and flowers, as well as a visit from their beloved and distant children.
When the first English settlers came to America, they discontinued the tradition of Mothering Day. While the British holiday would live on, the American Mother’s Day would be invented—with an entirely new history—centuries later.
The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers. She called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood.
Arise all women who have hearts, Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage, For caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
"We women of one country Will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
At one point Howe even proposed converting July 4th into Mother’s Day, in order to dedicate the nation’s anniversary to peace. Eventually, however, June 2nd was designated for the celebration. In 1873 women’s groups in 18 North American cities observed this new Mother’s holiday. Howe initially funded many of these celebrations, but most of them died out once she stopped footing the bill. The city of Boston, however, would continue celebrating Howe’s holiday for 10 more years.
Despite the decided failure of her holiday, Howe had nevertheless planted the seed that would blossom into what we know as Mother’s Day today. A West Virginia women’s group led by Anna Reeves Jarvis began to celebrate an adaptation of Howe’s holiday. In order to re-unite families and neighbors that had been divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War, the group held a Mother’s Friendship Day.
After Anna Reeves Jarvis died, her daughter Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for the creation of an official Mother’s Day in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace. In 1908, Anna petitioned the superintendent of the church where her Mother had spent over 20 years teaching Sunday School. Her request was honored, and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The West Virginia event drew a congregation of 407 and Anna Jarvis arranged for white carnations—her Mother’s favorite flower—to adorn the patrons. Two carnations were given to every Mother in attendance. Today, white carnations are used to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations pay tribute to Mothers who are still alive. Andrew’s Methodist Church exists to this day, and was incorporated into the International Mother’s Day Shrine in 1962.
In 1908 a U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Elmer Burkett, proposed making Mother’s Day a national holiday at the request of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). The proposal was defeated, but by 1909 forty-six states were holding Mother’s Day services as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.
Anna Jarvis quit working and devoted herself full time to the creation of Mother’s Day, endlessly petitioning state governments, business leaders, women groups, churches and other institutions and organizations. She finally convinced the World’s Sunday School Association to back her, a key influence over state legislators and congress. In 1912 West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day, and in 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed it into national observance, declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
The holiday flourished in the United States and flowers, especially white carnations, became very popular. One business journal, Florists Review, went so far as to print, “This was a holiday that could be exploited.” But the budding commercialization of Mother’s Day greatly disturbed Jarvis, so she vociferously opposed what she perceived as a misuse of the holiday. In 1923 she sued to stop a Mother’s Day event, and in the 1930’s she was arrested for disturbing the peace at the American War Mothers group. She was protesting their sale of flowers. In the 1930’s Jarvis also petitioned against the postage stamp featuring her Mother, a vase of white carnations and the word “Mother’s Day.” Jarvis was able to have the words “Mother’s Day” removed. The flowers remained. In 1938, Time Magazine ran an article about Jarvis’s fight to copyright Mother’s Day, but by then it was already too late to change the commercial trend.
In opposition to the flower industry’s exploitation of the holiday, Jarvis wrote, “What will you do to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?” Despite her efforts, flower sales on Mother’s Day continued to grow. Florist’s Review wrote, “Miss Jarvis was completely squelched.”
Anna Jarvis died in 1948, blind, poor and childless. Jarvis would never know that it was, ironically, The Florist’s Exchange that had anonymously paid for her care.
"I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2 Corinthians 6:16
What a sweet title: “My people!” What a cheering revelation: “Their God!” How much of meaning is couched in those two words, “My people!” Here is speciality. The whole world is God’s; the heaven, even the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s, and he reigneth among the children of men; but of those whom he hath chosen, whom he hath purchased to himself, he saith what he saith not of others-“My people.”
In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner the “Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” All the nations upon earth are his; the whole world is in his power; yet are his people, his chosen, more especially his possession; for he has done more for them than others; he has bought them with his blood; he has brought them nigh to himself; he has set his great heart upon them; he has loved them with an everlasting love, a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice in the least degree to diminish.
Dear friends, can you, by faith, see yourselves in that number? Can you look up to heaven and say, “My Lord and my God: mine by that sweet relationship which entitles me to call thee Father; mine by that hallowed fellowship which I delight to hold with thee when thou art pleased to manifest thyself unto me as thou dost not unto the world?” Canst thou read the Book of Inspiration, and find there the indentures of thy salvation? Canst thou read thy title writ in precious blood? Canst thou, by humble faith, lay hold of Jesus’ garments, and say, “My Christ”?
If thou canst, then God saith of thee, and of others like thee, “My people;” for, if God be your God, and Christ your Christ, the Lord has a special, peculiar favour to you; you are the object of his choice, accepted in his beloved Son.
Christianity in Crisis: Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests, and get-rich evangelists. Ignore them, writes Andrew Sullivan, and embrace Him.
Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, weekly columnist for the Sunday Times of London, brought his hugely popular blog, The Dish, to the Daily Beast in 2011. He’s the author of several books, including “Virtually Normal,” “Love Undetectable,” and “The Conservative Soul.” This is an excerpt from his article on the Church and his idea that the Church is in crisis. His point: Forget the Church and follow Jesus. His views will excite you or make you mad, but it is a thought-provoking read that many of us need to consider and digest.
When we think of Thomas Jefferson as the great architect ofthe separation of church and state, this, perhaps, was what he meant by “church”: the purest, simplest, apolitical Christianity, purged of the agendas of those who had sought to use Jesus to advance their own power decades and centuries after Jesus’ death. If Jefferson’s greatest political legacy was the Declaration of Independence, this pure, precious moral teaching was his religious legacy. “I am a real Christian,” Jefferson insisted against the fundamentalists and clerics of his time. “That is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.
What were those doctrines? Not the supernatural claims that, fused with politics and power, gave successive generations wars, inquisitions, pogroms, reformations, and counterreformations. Jesus’ doctrines were the practical commandments, the truly radical ideas that immediately leap out in the simple stories he told and which he exemplified in everything he did. Not simply love one another, but love your enemy and forgive those who harm you; give up all material wealth; love the ineffable Being behind all things, and know that this Being is actually your truest Father, in whose image you were made.
Above all: give up power over others, because power, if it is to be effective, ultimately requires the threat of violence, and violence is incompatible with the total acceptance and love of all other human beings that is at the sacred heart of Jesus’ teaching. That’s why, in his final apolitical act, Jesus never defended his innocence at trial, never resisted his crucifixion, and even turned to those nailing his hands to the wood on the cross and forgave them, and loved them.
Whether or not you believe, as I do, in Jesus’ divinity and resurrection—and in the importance of celebrating both on Easter Sunday—Jefferson’s point is crucially important. Because it was Jesus’ point. What does it matter how strictly you proclaim your belief in various doctrines if you do not live as these doctrines demand? What is politics if not a dangerous temptation toward controlling others rather than reforming oneself? If we return to what Jesus actually asked us to do and to be—rather than the unknowable intricacies of what we believe he was—he actually emerges more powerfully and more purely.
Christianity itself is in crisis. It seems no accident to me that so many Christians now embrace materialist self-help rather than ascetic self-denial—or that most Catholics, even regular churchgoers, have tuned out the hierarchy in embarrassment or disgust. Given this crisis, it is no surprise that the fastest-growing segment of belief among the young is atheism, which has leapt in popularity in the new millennium. Nor is it a shock that so many have turned away from organized Christianity and toward “spirituality,” co-opting or adapting the practices of meditation or yoga, or wandering as lapsed Catholics in an inquisitive spiritual desert.
The thirst for God is still there. How could it not be, when the profoundest human questions—Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? What happens to us after death?—remain as pressing and mysterious as they’ve always been? That’s why polls show a huge majority of Americans still believing in a Higher Power. But the need for new questioning—of Christian institutions as well as ideas and priorities—is as real as the crisis is deep. And more intensely relevant to our times.
Jefferson’s vision of a simpler, purer, apolitical Christianity couldn’t be further from the 21st-century American reality. We inhabit a polity now saturated with religion. On one side, the Republican base is made up of evangelical Protestants who believe that religion must consume and influence every aspect of public life. On the other side, the last Democratic primary had candidates profess their faith in public forums, and more recently President Obama appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast, invoking Jesus to defend his plan for universal health care. The crisis of Christianity is perhaps best captured in the new meaning of the word “secular.” It once meant belief in separating the spheres of faith and politics; it now means, for many, simply atheism. The ability to be faithful in a religious space and reasonable in a political one has atrophied before our eyes
I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world. But I do know it won’t happen by even more furious denunciations of others, by focusing on politics rather than prayer, by concerning ourselves with the sex lives and heretical thoughts of others rather than with the constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God. What Jefferson saw in Jesus of Nazareth was utterly compatible with reason and with the future; what Saint Francis trusted in was the simple, terrifying love of God for Creation itself. That never ends.
This Christianity comes not from the head or the gut, but from the soul. It is as meek as it is quietly liberating. It does not seize the moment; it lets it be. It doesn’t seek worldly recognition, or success, and it flees from power and wealth. It is the religion of unachievement. And it is not afraid. In the anxious, crammed lives of our modern twittering souls, in the materialist obsessions we cling to for security in recession, in a world where sectarian extremism threatens to unleash mass destruction, this sheer Christianity, seeking truth without the expectation of resolution, simply living each day doing what we can to fulfill God’s will, is more vital than ever.
It may, in fact, be the only spiritual transformation that can in the end transcend the nagging emptiness of our late-capitalist lives, or the cult of distracting contemporaneity, or the threat of apocalyptic war where Jesus once walked. You see attempts to find this everywhere—from experimental spirituality to resurgent fundamentalism. Something inside is telling us we need radical spiritual change. But the essence of this change has been with us, and defining our own civilization, for two millennia. And one day soon, when politics and doctrine and pride recede, it will rise again.
“She’s a Rainbow" was featured on the Rolling Stones 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “She’s a Rainbow” was recorded on 18 May 1967. It is most famous for its vibrant piano by Nicky Hopkins, Brian Jones’ use of the mellotron, and its rich lyricism by Jagger. John Paul Jones, later of Led Zeppelin, arranged the strings of this song during his session days.Despite rumors, none of The Beatles perform on this track. Backing vocals were by Jagger and Richards.
The Rolling Stones’ sixth studio album, was recorded in London in between February and October 1967. It is completely unlike anything else they ever recorded and continues to polarise opinion - is it a copycat response to Sgt Pepper, or a genuine reflection of an increasingly difficult year for a band in transition?
More On The War On Youth: Education Slowdown Threatens U.S.-Part Two
About 30% of American adults have four-year college degrees, and there is little evidence that is a natural ceiling. Thirty years ago, the U.S. led the world in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with the equivalent of at least a two-year degree; only Canada and Israel were close. As of 2009, the U.S. lagged behind 14 other developed countries, the OECD says.
President Barack Obama has vowed to change that. “By 2020,” he has said, “America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world,” defining that broadly to include two-year degrees. He has proposed that all states require students to graduate from high school or stay in school until age 18 (as 21 states do already) and pushed successfully for increases in federal student aid.
While not every college grad does better in the job market, statistics consistently show that, on average, the more educated the worker, the better he or she fares in today’s job market. For example, 54% of high-school graduates over age 25 were working in March, the Labor Department says, while the rest were either looking for work or out of the labor force altogether. Among those with some college, 64% were working while 73% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more were working.
The problem has evolved over the past few decades. Until the mid-1970s, the share of American men and women in their late 20s with four-year college degrees rose steadily, fueled by federal student aid for veterans after World War II and Korea and a further expansion of student aid in the 1960s.
Then something changed, particularly among men. The fraction of 25- to 29-year-old men who had earned four-year degrees began a two-decade-long slide around 1975. After that, fewer young men sought refuge from the Vietnam War draft by going to college. Moreover, a decline in the size of the bonus that college graduates commanded, compared with high-school graduates, provided less reason to go to college.
More men began going to college in the early 1990s. Changes in the economy and technology as well as a shortage of educated workers pushed the wages of college grads well above those of high-school graduates. The fraction of men in their late 20s with four-year degrees has been climbing since 1994, hitting 27.8% in 2010. Despite the uptick, however, that is barely above the 27.5% reported for 1976, according to the Census Bureau.
For women, the trend is strikingly different. While male college-going fell off in the 1970s—in part because men were more likely than women to think they could get well-paid construction or factory jobs without degrees—women kept going. In 2010, 36% of women in their late 20s had earned at least a bachelor’s degree, up from 20% in 1976.
Men drag down the average, though. The net result is that a supply of educated workers is rising much more slowly than the apparent demand. Scholars blame leaks and clogs along the entire educational pipeline.
While college enrollment has risen lately—as often happens when people flee a lousy job market—completion rates are disappointing. “We’ve become very good at getting people to start college,” says Harvard’s Mr. Katz. “We are not very good at getting people through college.” About 70% of high-school graduates enroll in a two- or four-year college soon after finishing high school, but many never get a degree or any other credential. At four-year colleges, 43% of those who enrolled as freshmen in 2002 hadn’t received a degree six years later, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Mack Smith, 22, whose father has a bachelor’s degree in political science, did one semester at Southern Utah University, dropped out, joined the Marine Corps briefly, and then spent a semester at Salt Lake Community College. Today he is working at Whole Foods training new hires in the meat department. He talks about going back to college, though. “I want to be able to take my kids hunting and be able to afford a house and a car,” he says. “I’ll need more education to get a job like that.” His dad, Michael Smith, wishes his son had stuck with college. “Sometimes,” he says, “it takes kids a while to figure out what they want and then figure out how to get it.”
Lately, the rising cost of higher education has emerged as an increasingly visible obstacle to going to—and staying in—college, and the spotlight on the mountain of student debt has discouraged others.
Tuition is up, particularly at public colleges that draw the most students. Over the past 10 years, for instance, average published tuition and fees (not counting room and board) at four-year public colleges rose by 72% to $8,240 from $4,790, adjusted for inflation, according to the College Board. Sticker prices are misleading because student aid has become more bountiful. After grants as well as tax deductions and credits, the average net price rose by a much smaller sum—$1,160—to $2,490 over the decade, but that is still an 87% increase.
Governments and colleges have offered more financial aid, but the complexity of the American system—a dizzying array of grants and loans, tax deductions and scholarships—confuses and sometimes scares off some potential college-goers, says University of Michigan economist Susan Dynarski.
Today, student debt outstanding now exceeds Americans’ total credit-card debt. In 2009-10, about 55% of public four-year college students graduated with debt; on average, they owed $22,000, the College Board says.
Alex Gavic, 21, is one of those who don’t want to take on college debt. As a teenager, he had fleeting thoughts of studying marine biology in college. Instead, he dropped out of high school—eventually receiving a high-school diploma in a second-chance program at a community college. Today, he makes $12 an hour at a Park City, Utah, landscaping firm during the summer so he can snowboard daily during the winter.
"The greater society told me I had to go to college if I want to make it in life, but it’s not true," said Mr. Gavic, who competes semiprofessionally in snowboarding. "I don’t care about making a lot of money because I’m happy. I’m just living the life."
Mr. Gavic said he hopes to have his own landscaping business one day. But in the meantime, he doesn’t envy his peers who went to college, many of whom have loans to repay and still haven’t found jobs.
"You spend all this time in school, then you are in debt, then you have to find a job to spend 20 years paying it back," he said. "That never made sense to me."
More On The War On Youth: Education Slowdown Threatens U.S.-Part One
Throughout American history, almost every generation has had substantially more education than that of its parents.
That is no longer true.
When baby boomers born in 1955 reached age 30, they had about two years more schooling than their parents, according to Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, who have calculated the average years of schooling for native-born Americans back to 1876. In contrast, when Americans born in 1980 turned 30 in 2010, they averaged about eight months more schooling than their parents.
This development already has broad ramifications across the U.S. job market: Those with only a high-school diploma had an 8% unemployment rate in March, roughly double that of college graduates, who had a 4.2% unemployment rate. Workers with bachelor’s degrees earn 45% more in wages on average than those of demographically similar high-school graduates. And in today’s highly automated factories, many manufacturers demand the equivalent of a community-college degree, even for entry level workers.
More serious consequences may be felt in the future. Without better educated Americans, economists say, the U.S. won’t be able to maintain high-wage jobs and rising living standards in a competitive global economy. Increasingly, the goods and services in which the U.S. has an edge rely more on the minds of American workers—than on their muscle. “The wealth of nations is no longer in resources. It’s no longer in physical capital. It’s in human capital,” says Ms. Goldin.
The reasons American education levels are no longer increasing as they once did are numerous: Despite years of effort, high-school dropout rates remain stubbornly high. College tuition is rising and the prospect of shouldering heavy debt discourages some high-school graduates from enrolling in college or sticking with it.
There is also growing skepticism among some Americans about whether a college degree actually translates into a well-paying job. Particularly during the recent recession, there have been gluts of college graduates in some industries and shortages in others.
Extending the extra-low interest rate on student loans has become a hot issue in the presidential campaign, but the impact of such a proposal would be small, some academics and economists say. For instance, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering earned $120,000 a year and those with a degree in math and computer science earned $98,000, according to 2010 census data analyzed by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. In contrast, the median worker with a degree in counseling psychology earned just $29,000 and those with degrees in early childhood education earned $36,000.
"Not all bachelor’s degrees are the same," Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce said in an extensive analysis issued last year. "While going to college is undoubtedly a wise decision, what you take while you’re there matters a lot, too."
Mary Brown, 25, of Woodland Hills, Calif., saw friends who finished college with massive debts and were unable to find jobs in their fields, if at all. She took a different approach, earning an associate degree and a certificate in massage therapy from Anthem Career College in Nashville, Tenn. “I wanted a college that taught me how to do the work, but didn’t make me pay to take a lot of other classes in subjects that are irrelevant to my career,” she says.
In contrast, her mother, Irena Tolliver, has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in reading education. When Ms. Tolliver was growing up, her parents, Belarussian immigrants, told her to “take advantage of the great educational resources that were available,” Ms. Tolliver recalls. “That’s what America was all about to them.” But Ms. Brown feels differently. After graduating, she landed a $20-an-hour job at a Rockford, Ill., spa, then moved to California but was unable to find a massage-therapy job. So she recently moved back to Illinois. All but about $5,000 of the $21,000 she borrowed for her 18-month program has been paid back. “I was working in a career I loved, making a pretty good living, while a lot of my friends were in college and not loving it so much,” she says. “Now they are facing tons of debt and I don’t have to worry about that.”
Ms. Brown isn’t unique. Among Americans who turned 25 in the 1970s, only 5% had less education than the parent of the same sex, according to an analysis by Michael Hout and Alexander Janus, sociologists at the University of California, Berkeley. Among those who turned 25 in the 2000s, 18% of men and 13% of women had fewer years of school than their parents.
There is a limit to how much schooling a person can get and to how many Americans have both the ability and interest in a four-year college degree. But the U.S. is nowhere near that point. Twenty countries have higher high-school graduation rates than the U.S.—including Slovenia, Finland, Japan, the U.K. and South Korea, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the U.S., about one in five ninth-graders drop out before getting a diploma.
"I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another." Isaiah 42:8
The great end of God in Christ was the manifestation of his own glorious attributes—a simple truth, but big with comfort, for should the sinner who has been an atrocious offender against laws human and divine conceive himself to be an improper subject for the grace of God, I would take him by the hand, and lest despair drive him to further sin, I would put this truth clearly before him. Where is mercy most glorified? Is it not in passing by the greatest offenses? Thou hast great offenses; there is room in thee for mercy to be greatly displaced. Where is grace glorified? Is it not in conquering the most violent passions? Thou hast such; grace may therefore be glorified in thee.
Why, great sinner, instead of not being a fit subject for grace, I will venture to say that thou art in all respects one of the most suitable. There is elbow-room in thee for grace to work. There is room in thine emptiness for God’s fullness. There is a clear stage in thy sinfulness for God’s superabounding grace. But you have been a ringleader in the devil’s army. Yes, and how can God strike a more telling blow against the hosts of darkness than by capturing you?
But you tell me that you are an enormous sinner. How will the Lord of love encourage other sinners to come better than by calling you? For it will be rumoured about among your fellow-sinners:-“Have you heard that such an one is saved?” I know they will jeer, but still, in their secret hearts, they will think it over, and they will say, “How is this?” and they will be led to enquire into the ways of God’s grace.
If the Lord saved men because of their merits, there would be no hope for great sinners, nor indeed for any one; but if he saves us for his own glory, that he may magnify his grace and his mercy among the sons of men, then none need despair.
Up to the very gates of hell would I preach the gospel, and between the jaws of death would I proclaim it. God to glorify his grace sets free the captives, then why should not the most hell-deserving sinner, whose heart is like hardened steel, yet become a monument of Christ’s power to save? I remember one who used to say that if God would but have mercy on him he should never hear the last of it, and it may well be the resolve of all of us, that earth and heaven shall never hear the last of our praises if grace shall but save us.
From Victor Emmanuel, Emancipator, a sermon delivered by Charles Spurgeon on Isaiah 42 in 1871 in Newington, England
There are songs from the past that just never age. “I Only Have Eyes for You” is one of those songs for me. It was originally recorded in 1934, but found like again in 50’s and 60’s through covers from Peggy Lee and later The Flamingos (the most popular version). In the late 90’s it was featured in one of my personal favorite episodes of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and now it’s being featured in Doug Aitken “Song 1” art installation for the Hirshhorn Museum in which he’s asked 6 artists to contribute covers of the song. Beck, being the most notable of those artists (others inclube No Age, Devendra Banhart, and High Places), also turns in the most traditional, and in turn, gorgeous, cover. Give it a spin (or head over to Pitchfork to hear all six) and get lost in the haunting, gorgeous, doo wop, pop gem that still feels fresh, but also lost in time. Highest recommendation.
Only 58 percent of Boomers have more than $25,000 put aside for retirement, so the rest will either starve or the government will have to pay for them. But the government’s future ability to pay is decreasing rapidly precisely because the Boomers splurged so heavily during the Bush and Clinton years. Public debt per person in the United States currently stands at $33,777. George W. Bush inherited a public-debt-to-GDP ratio of 32.5 percent and brought it up to 54.1 percent during a period of economic growth. (The money borrowed from the future paid for massive tax cuts, with no serious reductions in domestic spending, two expensive wars, and a prescription-drug benefit added to Medicare.) Under Obama, the debt-to-GDP ratio has risen to 67.7 percent and is projected to rise to 74.2 percent this year.
This is no conspiracy; no nefarious backroom deal by political and corporate overlords. The impasse of the moment is, tragically, the result of the best aspects of the Boomers’ spirit. The native optimism that emerged out of the explosively creative postwar world led them to believe that growth would go on forever; that peace and prosperity were the natural state of things. Their good intentions seem like willful naivete today, but the intentions were genuine. Clinton actually believed that globalization would export the First World rather than bring the Third World home; it did both. The prescription-drug benefit was the “compassion” in compassionate conservatism. All those tax cuts were intended to liberate opportunities, not destroy them.
Cynicism rises to fill the emptied space of exaggerated and failed hope. It’s all simple math. If you follow the money rather than the blather, it’s clear that the American system is a bipartisan fusion of economic models broken down along generational lines: unaffordable Greek-style socialism for the old, virulently purified capitalism for the young. Both political parties have agreed to this arrangement: The Boomers and older will be taken care of. Everybody younger will be on their own. The German philosopher Hermann Lotze wrote in the 1870s: “One of the most remarkable characteristics of human nature is, alongside so much selfishness in specific instances, the freedom from envy which the present displays toward the future.” It is exactly that envy toward the future that is new in our own time.
And we will not talk about any of it. We will keep mum. We will hold our tongues lest we seem ageist, lest we seem bitter, lest we seem out of touch, lest we seem pessimistic, lest we seem divisive.
Let’s say you just graduated from high school.
College, right? You have to go to college. That’s not just what your career counselor told you. That’s in the numbers. If you go to college, you’re significantly less likely to lose your job. The pay of college graduates has risen over the past twenty-five years and everybody else’s pay has declined. Which curve do you want to be on?
And yet, at the exact moment when an education has never been more necessary, education is increasingly out of reach. From 1980 on, the price of attending a four-year college has risen by 128 percent. While the price has spiked, the quality has tanked. Students at college in 2003 did two-thirds the homework that students in 1961 did. In a survey published in 2011, 45 percent of students showed no improvement in “critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing” after two years of college. You did not read that incorrectly: That’s no improvement. None. And how could the results be any different? Three decades ago, 43 percent of professors were adjuncts. Now, with colleges bloated by older, tenured professors who take up huge slices of academic budgets while teaching crumbs of courses, the vast majority of classes are taught by adjuncts. On college campuses, the supposed hotbeds of liberalism, the young are instructed primarily in the mechanics of crony capitalism.
Once you’re out of college, you’ll have to intern. Again, no choice. The practice of not paying young people for their labor has become so ingrained in the everyday practice of American business that we’ve forgotten how bizarre and recent the development is. In the early 1980s, 3 percent of college grads had had an internship. By 2006, 84 percent had done at least one. Multiple internships are common. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 75 percent of employers prefer students who have interned or had a similar working experience.
Employers have feasted on despair — and these aren’t internships for struggling small presses or rarefied design companies. Subsidiaries of General Electric, a company worth $200 billion, employ them regularly as an “important recruiting tool.” Disney uses eight thousand of them in dismal working conditions. Jennifer Lopez Enterprises uses them. So does The Daily Show. So does the pope. And because internship programs are sheltered from the violation of labor laws by the complicity of universities that give students “credit” for them — as long as the students pay thousands of dollars for those credits — American companies can operate these programs for the most part hidden from scrutiny. The best study of intern life in America found that companies save annually around $2 billion from pseudo-employment.
But maybe you’re an overachiever — instead of interning, you want to get a master’s or a professional degree. With entry to the professions comes another opportunity to be taken advantage of, and it’s not just the inherently ridiculous price of a creative-writing M.F.A. or journalism school, where on some level, everybody understands the students are being played for suckers. The cost of medical school has spiked over the past three decades. In 1981, average medical-school debt was less than $20,000. Today it is $158,000. Law-school tuition rose 317 percent between 1989 and 2009 while American laws schools wildly increased the number of lawyers they graduate. Naturally, a glut of lawyers decreases their value. So kids pay more for a worse education that leads to lesser prospects in order for the schools to prosper temporarily. Even for doctors and lawyers, an accrual of property or any rise in net worth happens much later in life than it did twenty years ago. The standard debt-repayment plan for physicians is ten years, but twenty-five is a commonly accepted option. For the new professional class today, life begins at forty. That’s not just an expression.
And if you didn’t take your high school advisor’s advice to go to college? Well, you should have listened. What goes for the white-collar young person applies even more ferociously to the blue-collar world, or what’s left of it. The nature of the generational setback for unionized labor can be summed up in a single devastating phrase: New workers will earn a “globally competitive wage.” Manufacturing jobs, having been exported to the Third World, are now returning to America at Third World rates. Newer workers at unions across the country earn ten to fifteen dollars an hour less than established workers, and the unspoken but widely reported understanding with the AFL-CIO is that the wage of these workers will not increase. In other words, Boomer workers make almost double what their young counterparts do, and will continue to do so regardless of how long a young worker stays in the same job. As one older worker in one of these bifurcated factories told The New York Times, by the time the young reach their maximum earning, their elders “won’t be here any longer to remind them of what they are missing.”
Government, academia, the professions, corporations, unions, and both political parties — all continue to mine the vulnerability of youth in service of the needs of their aging power base. Separately, each of these cases would amount to a minor scandal, but taken together they point to a broader and more significant alteration to the way of the world. From every corner of the institutional spectrum, the whole of American society has been rearranged so that the limits of vision coincide exactly with the death of the Boomers.
Nobody wants this. The Boomers did not set out to screw over their kids. The wind just seemed to blow them that way. But no matter what their motivations, a painful truth grows truer with every passing year: Through its refusal to act, the generation in power is willing to do what other generations before them would not — sell their children’s birthright for a mess of their own pottage.
The War Against Youth Part One: The recession didn't gut the prospects of American young people. The Baby Boomers took care of that.
Great article from Esquire; read all of it HERE. I’ll post Part Two shortly.
Twenty-five years ago young Americans had a chance.
In 1984, American breadwinners who were sixty-five and over made ten times as much as those under thirty-five. The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation.
This bleeding up of the national wealth is no accounting glitch, no anomalous negative bounce from the recent unemployment and mortgage crises, but rather the predictable outcome of thirty years of economic and social policy that has been rigged to serve the comfort and largesse of the old at the expense of the young.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human potential has been consistently growing, generating greater material wealth, more education, wider opportunities — a vast and glorious liberation of human potential. In all that time, everyone, even followers of the most corrupt or most evil of ideologies, believed they were working for a better tomorrow. Not now. The angel of progress has suddenly vanished from the scene. Or rather, the angel of progress has been sent away.
Nobody ever talks about generational conflict. Who wants to bring up that the old are eating the young at the dinner table? How are you going to mention that to your boss? If you’re a politician, how are you going to tell your donors? Even the Occupy Wall Street crowd, while rejecting the modes and rhetoric and institutional support of Boomer progressives, shied away from articulating the fundamental distinction that fills their spaces with crowds: young against old.
The gerontocracy begins at the top. The 111th Congress was the oldest since the end of the Second World War, and the average age of its members has been rising steadily since 1981. The graying of Congress has obvious political ramifications, although generalizations can be deceiving. The Republican representatives tend to be younger than the Democrats, but that doesn’t mean they represent the interests of the young. The youngest senators are Tea Party members, Mike Lee from Utah and Marco Rubio from Florida (both forty). Here’s Rubio: “Americans chose a free-enterprise system designed to provide a quality of opportunity, not compel a quality of results. And that is why this is the only place in the world where you can open up a business in the spare bedroom of your home.” He is speaking to people who own homes that have empty spare bedrooms. He will not or cannot understand that the spare bedrooms of America are filling up with returning adult children, like the estimated 85 percent of college graduates who returned to their childhood beds in 2010, toting along $25,250 of debt.
David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter, had the guts to acknowledge that the Tea Party’s combination of expensive entitlement programs and tax cuts is something entirely different from a traditional political program: “This isn’t conservatism: It’s a going-out-of-business sale for the Baby Boom generation.” The economic motive is growing ever more naked, and has nothing to do with any principle that could be articulated by Goldwater or Reagan, or indeed with any principle at all. The political imperative is to preserve the economic cloak of unreality that the Boomers have wrapped themselves in.
Democrats may not be actively hostile to the interests of young voters, but they are too scared and weak to speak up for them. So when the Boomers and swing voters scream for fiscal discipline and the hard decisions have to be made, youth is collateral damage. Medicare and Social Security were mostly untouched in Obama’s 2012 budget. But to show he was really serious about belt tightening, relatively cheap programs that help young people like the Adolescent Family Life Program and the Career Pathways Innovation Fund were killed.
His intentions may be good — he may want to increase support for AmeriCorps — but the program shrunk last year. Three quarters of the applicants were turned away. He resisted Republican efforts to slash Pell grants by $845 per student, but then made other changes to the program that will save the government — or cost students, depending on your perspective — a projected $100 billion over ten years.
The youth vote still supports Obama, but in a chastened, conditional way. In hindsight, Obama’s 2008 campaign looks like an indulgent fantasy in which the major conflicts in life simply don’t exist. There may be no white America and no black America, no blue-state America and no red-state America, but one thing is clear: There is a young America and there is an old America, and they don’t form a community of interest. One takes from the other. The federal government spends $480 billion on Medicare and $68 billion on education. Prescription drugs: $62 billion. Head Start: $8 billion. Across the board, the money flows not to helping the young grow up, but helping the old die comfortably. According to a 2009 Brookings Institution study, “The United States spends 2.4 times as much on the elderly as on children, measured on a per capita basis, with the ratio rising to 7 to 1 if looking just at the federal budget.”
The biggest boondoggle of all is Social Security. The management of entitlement programs, already weighted heavily in favor of the older population, has a very specific terminal point that coincides neatly with the Boomers’ deaths. The 2011 report by the Social Security trustees estimates that, under its current administration, the fund will run out in 2036, so there’s just enough to get the oldest Boomers to age ninety.
For millions of Americans, this weekend is a time to celebrate redemption at God’s hand. Tonight, Jews will gather for a second Seder, where they will retell the story of the Exodus. And tomorrow, my family will join Christians around the world as we thank God for the all-important gift of grace through the resurrection of His son, and experience the wonder of Easter morning.
These holidays have their roots in miracles that took place thousands of years ago. They connect us to our past and give us strength as we face the future. And they remind us of the common thread of humanity that connects us all.
For me, and for countless other Christians, Easter weekend is a time to reflect and rejoice. Yesterday, many of us took a few quiet moments to try and fathom the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for all of us.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate the resurrection of a savior who died so that we might live.
And throughout these sacred days, we recommit ourselves to following His example. We rededicate our time on Earth to selflessness, and to loving our neighbors. We remind ourselves that no matter who we are, or how much we achieve, we each stand humbled before an almighty God.
Christ’s triumph over death holds special meaning for Christians. But all of us, no matter how or whether we believe, can identify with elements of His story. The triumph of hope over despair. Of faith over doubt. The notion that there is something out there that is bigger than ourselves.
These beliefs help unite Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. They shape our values and guide our work. They put our lives in perspective.
So to all Christians celebrating the Resurrection with us, Michelle and I want to wish you a blessed and Happy Easter. And to all Americans, I hope you have a weekend filled with joy and reflection, focused on the things that matter most. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
”—President Barack Obama Easter Address, April 6, 2012
HERE are two things about Easter that hop: the bunny and the date.
Unlike the fixed star of Christmas, Easter moves with the planets. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after March 21, the vernal equinox.
It was Dionysius Exiguus, a sixth-century monk who worked out the formula for the date. In so doing, he accomplished two things: he doused the flames of a controversy that had burned since the second century, and he created the B.C. - A.D. system for numbering years.
Arguments over when to celebrate Christianity’s most important feast day raged early, fiercely and often. In the first and second centuries after the death of Christ, Christianity was a highly diverse landscape of regional practices and beliefs. In Asia Minor, Christians, following the Gospel of St. John, celebrated Easter on Passover, the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. They came to be known as Quartodecimans, from the Latin for “14 days.”
The Roman practice, also followed in Egypt and North Africa, was based on the Julian calendar and on the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which present the Last Supper as the Passover meal. It placed Easter on a Sunday, the day of the Resurrection.
Eventually, with the rising power of the Roman church, Roman practice prevailed, and at the Council of Nicaea in 325, Quartodecimanism was specifically condemned and its practitioners denounced as “Judaizers.” But it lingered on in Asia Minor and far-flung outposts for centuries.
"This may seem like a tempest in a teapot, but calendars are an important issue, regardless of the faith," said Arthur Droge, a professor of early Christianity at the University of Chicago. "If you don’t have the calendar right, that means something has gone terribly wrong."
So true. The Easter problem did not end with the Council of Nicaea, because even those churches that followed the Roman practice had different systems for reconciling the Julian calendar (based on the solar year) and the date of Passover (derived from a lunar calendar). To predict the date of Easter in years to come, Rome used an 84-year cycle. In Alexandria, whose astronomers were renowned for their skill in performing calculations, a 19-year cycle was developed.
By the fourth century, Easter was being celebrated on different Sundays all over Christendom, with the Roman and Alexandrian cycles vying for the lead. Despite a bravura effort by Victorius of Aquitaine, who came up with a 532-year cycle in the fifth century, disorder reigned.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29 )
…God will crucify without pity those whom He desires to raise without measure!…
God wants to crucify us from head to foot-making our own powers ridiculous and useless—in the desire to raise us without measure for His glory and for our eternal good….
Willingness to suffer for Jesus’ sake—this is what we have lost from the Christian church. We want our Easter to come without the necessity of a Good Friday. We forget that before the Redeemer could rise and sing among His brethren He must first bow His head and suffer among His brethren!
We forget so easily that in the spiritual life there must be the darkness of the night before there can be the radiance of the dawn. Before the life of resurrection can be known, there must be the death that ends the dominion of self. It is a serious but a blessed decision, this willingness to say, “I will follow Him no matter what the cost. I will take the cross no matter how it comes!”
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. Christians remember it as the day of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and established the ceremony known as the Eucharist.
The night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The word maundy comes from the command (mandate) given by Christ at the Last Supper, that we should love one another.
In Roman Catholic churches the anthem Mandatum novum do vobis (a new commandment I give to you) would be sung on Maundy Thursday.
In many other countries this day is known as Holy Thursday.
Maundy Thursday ceremonies
In Britain, the sovereign takes part in the Ceremony of the Royal Maundy.
This ceremony, held at a great cathedral, involves the distribution of Maundy money to deserving senior citizens (one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign’s age), usually chosen for having done service to their community.
They receive ceremonial red and white purses which contain coins made especially for the occasion. The white purse contains one coin for each year of the monarch’s reign.
The red purse contains money in place of other gifts that used to be given to the poor.
In the 17th century, and earlier, the King or Queen would wash the feet of the selected poor people as a gesture of humility, and in remembrance of Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples. The last monarch to do this was James 2. The ceremony of the monarch giving money to the poor on this day dates back to Edward 1.
Pedilavium: the washing of the feet
Roman Catholic church services feature a ceremony in which the priest washes the feet of 12 people to commemorate Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples.
It was common in monasteries throughout history for the Abbot to wash the feet of the monks in a similar gesture.
Some other churches nowadays also have foot-washing ceremonies as part of their Maundy Thursday services.
The consecration of holy oil
In Roman Catholic churches, Maundy Thursday is usually the day on which the supply of anointing oil to be used in ceremonies during the year is consecrated.
And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus” (Luke 23:26).
We see in Simon’s carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.
But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon’s, it is not our cross, but Christ’s cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety; when your religion brings the trial of cruel mockings upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ’s cross; and how delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus! You carry the cross after Him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of His blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. It is His cross, and He goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep.
Take up your cross daily, and follow Him. Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible; Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you; you do but carry the light end of the cross, Christ bore the heavier end.
And remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honor. Even so the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross, and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, when it works out for us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
In a statement issued to parents and obtained by HuffPost, the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District cited regulations to defend their decision to ban an adult film star from attending the event.
The following is an excerpt from the Bruce Springsteen cover story in the March 29th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone, on news stands now.
Springsteen arrives at The Daily Show's Manhattan studios on foot one icy day in late January, fresh from Jersey – he fought the wind for the dozen blocks from the Lincoln Tunnel along 11th Avenue, wearing only a thin leather jacket. “There was traffic,” says Springsteen, “so Patti dropped me off.” (“The Freehold is strong in that one,” Stewart says, picturing this journey.) Back from taping that night's Daily Show, Stewart joins Springsteen in his cluttered office – where there’s already a photo of the two men together pinned to the wall – after exchanging his suit and tie for khakis and a long-sleeved T-shirt.
In recent years, Stewart has seen his decades-long Springsteen fandom turn into a friendship. “It’s in no way surreal,” Stewart says with heavy sarcasm. “It’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s very hard to reconcile sitting and fishing in a little pond in New Jersey with a guy you spent many years hitchhiking the I-95 corridor to see in Philadelphia back in the day. The only band I think I’ve seen more than Bruce Springsteen is the Springsteen tribute band Backstreets. I try not to let him know how pathetic I truly am.”
Stewart grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, 30 miles northwest of Springsteen’s Monmouth County hometown. “Every car he sang about you were like, ‘I’ve seen that up on blocks in the backyard right near where I live.’” He saw his first Springsteen show on 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town tour, when he was about 15. “The first time you hear Darkness, you begin to plan how to move out of New Jersey,” says Stewart. (Like Springsteen, Stewart eventually returned, and has a home in the Garden State: “You realize, hey, New Jersey’s all right, actually!”)
On Springsteen’s new album, Wrecking Ball, his characters aren’t looking for escape – they just want a job. With fiercely populist tunes like “Death to My Hometown” and “Jack of All Trades,” Springsteen paints a picture of an America where “the banker man grows fat/Working man grows thin.” Springsteen wanted the new songs to address “what happened to the social fabric of the world that we’re living in.”
"Hope and Dreams" and other songs on the album’s second half seem to move from the personal and political to a sense of the spiritual. Well, on the first half of the record, you’re just pissed off. The first cut, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is where I set out the questions that I’m going to try to answer. The song’s chorus is posed as a challenge and a question. Do we take care of our own? What happened to that social contract? Where did that go over the past 30 years? How has it been eroded so terribly? And how is it that the outrage about that erosion is just beginning to be voiced right now? I’ve written about this stuff for those 30 years, from Darkness on the Edge of Town to The Ghost of Tom Joad through to today. It all came out of the Carter recession of the late Seventies, and when I was writing about that, my brother-in-law lost his construction job and went to work as a janitor in the local high school. It changed his life.
So these are issues and things that occur over and over again in history and land on the backs of the same people. In my music – if it has a purpose beyond dancing and fun and vacuuming your floor to it – I always try to gauge the distance between American reality and the American dream. The mantra that I go into in the last verse of “We Take Care of Our Own” – “Where are the eyes, where are the hearts?” – it’s really: “Where are those things now, what happened to those things over the past 30 years? What happened to the social fabric of the world that we’re living in? What’s the price that people pay for it on a daily basis?” Which is something that I lived with intensely as a child, and is probably the prime motivation for the subjects I’ve written about since I was very, very young.
Someone wrote in The New York Times that “We Take Care of Our Own” was “jingoistic.” Whoever said that, they need a smarter pop writer.
[Laughs] It takes you back to the days of “Born in the U.S.A.,” which was so widely misunderstood. Yeah. I didn’t feel that so much from this particular instance, but you write the best piece of music you can, and you put it out there, and then you see what comes back at you. Lately, it seems as if the polarization of the country has gotten so extreme that people want to force you into being either a phony “patriot” or an “apologist.” Nuanced political dialogue or creative expression seems like it’s been hamstrung by the decay of political speech and it’s infantilized our national discourse. I can’t go for that and I won’t write that way.
To read the rest of this cover story, pick up the March 29th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone, available on stands and in Rolling Stone All Access.
Black Tambourine could cover the phone book and i’d be interested in hearing it, so it’s with great pleasure that I listen to their new EP which is comprised of covers from the catalog of The Ramones. “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” is shifted from a power punk pop jam into a bleary eyed shoegazer and it fits the track nicely. Definitely something you should be listening to on repeat this evening.