Getting Millennials to care about the democratic process

This entire piece is a great read, an examination of the growing divide between traditional media outlets (and their rapidly greying audience) and “New Media” like YouTube and Tumblr, which have the attention of Millennials. Problem is, the erosion of our primary news outlets into crazy shouting idiots has also eroded people’s faith in the democratic process. Hank Green writes a good analysis of this in his post on Mention.

A small excerpt, just to entice you 🙂

America needs to convince young people that there are good reasons to be civically involved. Millenials are soon to be the biggest hunk of the electorate and, if the mid-terms are any indication, they simply don’t care. And that shouldn’t be surprising since no one is connecting to them in the ways they connect with each other or talking about issues that matter to them from perspectives they can identify with.

Legacy media accuses young people of being apathetic while actively attempting to remove them from the discussion.

via Holy Shit, I Interviewed the President — Medium.

Questioning the purpose of higher education. What if both sides are wrong?

First an excerpt, and a suggestion that you go off to read this entire article and then come back to my post (which continues after the excerpt):

“If a university is not a place where intellectual curiosity is to be encouraged, and subsidized,” the editors wrote, “then it is nothing.”

The Times was giving voice to the ideal of liberal education, in which college is a vehicle for intellectual development, for cultivating a flexible mind, and, no matter the focus of study, for fostering a broad set of knowledge and skills whose value is not always immediately apparent.

Reagan was staking out a competing vision. Learning for learning’s sake might be nice, but the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for it. A higher education should prepare students for jobs.

Those two theories had long existed in uneasy equilibrium. On that day in 1967, the balance started to tip toward utility in ways not even Reagan may have anticipated.

via The Day the Purpose of College Changed – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article continues with an interesting discussion of the forces deteriorating the value of the liberal arts over the past 40 years in the minds of policymakers, politicians, Americans, and even higher education professionals.

Citing Reagan’s speech in 1967 as the key turning point away from college-as-intellectual-development toward college-as-preparation-for-a-job, the author laments the decline and fall of the liberal education. Even the name “liberal education” is too much of an albatross these days, drawing ire from those who find anything “liberal” to be hogwash.

The question everyone’s asking seems to be, Is a liberal education even valuable anymore?  Or put a little more nicely, Can we make room for humanities majors in a higher education market driven by assessing outcomes, job performance, and economic results?

Wait a minute.

Aren’t both viewpoints (education as intellectual curiosity and education as job training) driven by selfish motives?

Both viewpoints reduce the human being to something less than fully human.

If you’re committed to the idea of college as a playground for intellectual curiosity, no matter how many great innovations sprang forth from the garages of college graduates in the 1970s (thank you, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak), your view of higher education reduces the learner to her intellect.  Sure, curiosity and problem solving and all that are quite important to many of us, but we are more than brains.  We are more than intellectuals.  We exist within a community and there are Great Big Questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything that intellectual pursuit cannot touch.

On the other hand, the current drive to turn college into a manufacturing plant of workers prepped for the economy is an even greater affront to humanity. I guess we aren’t content with turning K-12 schools into prisons factories; now we have to smash all of the exploration and innovation out of higher education as well.  We humans are more valuable than the sum total of our economic output.  I am more than my job.

What neither side in the liberal education vs pre-professional/vocational education argument seems to acknowledge is this:  A holistic education (which, to me, is the only one we should be aspiring toward, even if we can’t hit it yet) must be an education for the whole person to flourish as a human being first, as a human being who lives in relationship with other human beings.

A human being who lives within a community (the world, their hometown, a family, a church, etc) and for a purpose larger than himself.

I cannot escape the claims of the Gospel on my life or my learning.  I don’t go into a career just for ME; my work and the products of my work are valuable both to me and to the people around me whom I am commanded to love.

My work is ultimately for the Kingdom, not just to advance my own agenda (and truly, a rightly-aligned understanding of calling should reveal how my daily work fits into the larger picture of what God is doing through the Church to reconcile the world to Himself).

My education was not just for ME either, as the necessary corollary of the Great Commandments.  It’s not just exploring the humanities until I find myself, or taking the fast-track to a degree in something that would earn me a lot of money. (Clearly I chose poorly, if that was my goal.)  My life is bound up in a web of relationships with everyone around me, whom I am commanded to love.

Christian education institutions are uniquely poised to offer a third perspective on the purpose of education.

The question is, Are Christian educators too caught up in our own pursuit of intellectual prestige or ground down by the economic burden of doing education in a society completely driven by capitalist values to have much of a voice?

Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means – Q Ideas

An outstanding post on Modesty – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Brava, Rachel Held Evans.

What I’ve only just begun to realize is that these two extremes represent different sides of the same coin. While popular culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to get men to look at them, the modesty culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to keep men from looking at them. In both cases, the impetus is placed on the woman to accommodate her clothing or her body to the (varied and culturally relative) expectations of men. In both cases, it becomes the woman’s job to manage the sexual desires of men, and thus it is seen as her fault if a man ignores her on the one hand or objectifies her on the other. Often, these two cultures combine to send out a pulse of confusing messages: “Look cute … but not too cute! Be modest … but not frumpy! Make yourself attractive … but not too attractive!” Women are left feeling ashamed of their bodies as they try desperately to contort around a bunch of vague, ever-changing ideals. It’s exhausting, really, dressing for other people.

But all of this takes the notion of modesty far beyond its biblical context.

via Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means – Q Ideas.

Link: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – Pacific Standard

“Giulia and I fell in love effortlessly, in our carefree teens. We’ve now loved each other desperately, through psychosis. At our wedding we promised this to each other: to love each other and stick together in good times and in bad. In hindsight, we also should have promised to love each other when life is normal. It’s those normal days, now transformed by crisis, that have strained our marriage most. I realize no mad map is going to keep Giulia out of the hospital, nor prevent us from fighting over her care. But the faith required to try to plan a life together feels good and grounding. I’m still willing to do almost anything to make Giulia smile.”

Absolutely fantastic read about living with a loved one with mental illness. Highly recommended.

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society.

It gets better from here, right?

Seriously, y’all, this has been the longest week ever.

I guess that’s always the way it goes when you try to get things rolling again after a long vacation (all hail the two-week Christmas break!) but still, this week was working extra-hard just to be difficult, yannow what I mean?

I’ve found my patience lacking this week as annoyances mounted.  “Annoying” is a funny concept.  Basically, it’s 100% subjective. I’m annoyed because I’m annoy-able.  A lot of it has to do with me. But external circumstances didn’t help either.

The deep cold freeze on Wednesday night broke a pipe under the master bathroom vanity.  To be entirely fair, I have to mention that the pipe was exposed to a lot of cold partly through shoddy construction (thanks, housing boom!) and mostly through the destructive activity of the fire ants who worship at the temple of our air conditioning unit. (I guess the AC unit’s vibration is like…. porn for fire ants. They swarm the area.)  The ants had consumed the insulation around the pipe and the cold snap did the rest.

Nothing like coming home to a flooded bathroom, closet, laundry room, and bedroom (partly).

On the upside, now that the bathroom vanity has been yanked away from the wall and the linoleum removed to help dry the floor, I’ve got all the initiative I need to start that bathroom renovation I’ve always wanted to do.

Anybody got any great bathroom decorating ideas? I’m shopping around….