The Weekend Reading: Will SF ban circumcision?, too much tube time damaging kids’ brains, Gettysburg address, Christmas meaning

Group Calls on San Francisco to ban circumcision: I thought this was a joke. It’s true (but it’s still a joke)

(CNN) — In the California city that banned Happy Meal toys,outlawed sitting on sidewalks during daylight hours and fined residents for not sorting garbage into recycling, compost and trash, Lloyd Schofield wants to add a new law to the books in San Francisco: A ban on all male circumcisions. Those who violate the ban could be jailed (not more than one year) or fined (not more than $1,000), under his proposal. Circumcisions even for religious reasons would not be allowed. At this point, Schofield’s proposal is an idea that would have to clear several hurdles to be considered.

 Screentime vs Greentime: Studies show that our entertainment-soaked culture is damaging kids’ brains.The games children play are designed to bring effortless pleasure (movies and music have the same effect). Over time, this slickly produced entertainment “tricks” the brain into by-passing the executive center, making it more rewarding to pursue entertainment and less rewarding to accomplish anything of value. Academic work plummets. Social relationships suffer. And massive entertainment corporations make out like bandits, reaping billions in profits.

The antidote:

Do real things.

•  Take out TVs, Ipods, video game consoles, and computers from your kids’ bedrooms.

•  Allow no more than 30 minutes of video gaming per week.

•  Set a bedtime of 9pm on weeknights, 10pm on weekends.

•  Provide three nutritious meals a day

•  Plan for one hour of playing outside every day, and three hours on the weekend days.

Engage them in conversation.

Language lights up the brain. And as David Caplan, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, points out: in order to trigger the use of language, both motivation (from the executive center) and arousal (from the pleasure center) are required.

Language seems to be a bridge that reconnects the broken-down relationship between the executive and pleasure centers of the brain. Notice that this involves active language use, not just passive language reception. We’re talking two-way, engaging, in-person conversations. And that puts the ball squarely in your court to communicate with kids in a way that engages them in communicating with you.

 The Gettysburg AddressSeven score and seven years ago today:  

President Abraham Lincoln

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Vatican Acting to Curb Abuse: The Vatican is cracking down on the massive scandal that has rocked the church:  

ROME—The Vatican plans to send guidelines around the world instructing church officials on how to lead a “coordinated” crackdown on abusive priests, in the Holy See’s latest attempt to address the sex-abuse scandal that has hit the Catholic Church over the past year. Cardinals from around the world met with Pope Benedict to discuss the response of the Roman Catholic church to the multitude of cases of sexual abuse by priests worldwide. Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican office that disciplines abusive priests, told a worldwide meeting of cardinals on Friday that his office is drafting a circular that will contain guidelines for bishops to take measures in protecting children, assisting victims and working with civil authorities, the Vatican said in a statement issued late Friday. The group was informed of “preparation work for a circular…on the guidelines to offer a coordinated and efficient program,” against abuse, the statement said.

Giving the Good Life at Christmas: At the Flourish Blog, Corbyn Small of Plant with Purpose helps us focus our generous Christmas attention not only on what we can buy for the person who has everything, but what we can do for people who have too little.   

It is possible to give gifts that will not only bless your loved ones, but also make a world of difference in the life of someone who is less fortunate. What if, instead of giving gifts that will eventually break or go out of style, we gave in a way that honored the gift of Christ’s birth: restoring relationships, fostering peace, and bringing hope and life to the broken?


About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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2 Responses to The Weekend Reading: Will SF ban circumcision?, too much tube time damaging kids’ brains, Gettysburg address, Christmas meaning

  1. I have to disagree. Protecting children from unnecessary cutting their genitals is no joke. The US only make genital cutting of girls illegal in 1996. It is about time that boys got equal protection and are allowed to keep their full genitalia. Circumcision is surgery that removes healthy tissue from baby boys. It only continues in the US because of culture. It is time it stopped.

  2. Jim Jewell says:

    Thanks for your comment. You cannot equate male circumcision with the maiming of female gentalia for reasons I won’t go into here, but you certainly know. I believe the circumcision of male babies is a healthy practice that God made part of his law for reasons of health. If parents choose not to circumcise their sons, that’s fine. But the state has no right to forbid the ancient and salutory practice.

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