Human Brain Evolves: Human Life Devolves?

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So the human brain is evolving huh?

This report in the journal Science was released the same day another researcher described the “gold-collar generation,” saying “This is the best-dressed, least-able, least-equipped generation ever,” and the same day Hunter Thompson’s suicide note was published revealing, sadly, the literary darling of free spirits everywhere, found it difficult to survive the end of NFL football each February.”

Here it is: “Football Season Is Over.” “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun _ for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax _ This won’t hurt.” (Brinkley Adds: “February was always the cruelest month for Hunter S. Thompson. An avid NFL fan, Hunter traditionally embraced the Super Bowl in January as the high- watermark of his year. February, by contrast, was doldrums time.”)

The next day Lasse Hallstrom’s work on the new film, “An Unfinished Life” was trashed by NYT film critic Stephen Holden, who said of this protégé of Ingmar Bergman, the film represents “the final descent into ponderous, cliché-ridden pseudo-profundity by a filmmaker who became the studio’s go-to guy to direct Oscar-seeking middlebrow kitsch (“Chocolat,” “The Shipping News”). His gradual softening into a director of Hallmark-style sentimentality offers a cautionary case study of an artist succumbing to the bottom-line mentality of Hollywood.”

The good news story of the day was on the stand-out contribution of churches in the aftermath of Katrina.

1) They are getting the job done when the government couldn’t: “From sprawling megachurches to tiny congregations, churches across the country have mobilized in response to Hurricane Katrina, offering shelter, conducting clothing drives and serving hot meals to evacuees, many of whom have had difficulty getting help from inundated government agencies. “You just walk in,” said Ethel Wicker, 57, who fled the Ninth Ward in New Orleans ahead of the storm that flooded it, as she dug into a Styrofoam container of oriental chicken in the gym of Florida Boulevard Baptist Church. “They have clothing. They have drinks. They have candy. And they treat you very well.”

2) They are fulfilling the call of Jesus to the poor: “Certainly, in my history of 41 years as a Salvation Army officer, this is the greatest mobilization of churches in general, but definitely the Christian churches, who in my mind have come to truly realize what Jesus said in Matthew in the 25th chapter: ‘Inasmuch as you do unto the least of me, you do unto me,’ ” said Commissioner W. Todd Bassett, the Salvation Army’s national commander. The Southern Baptist Convention, which works closely in relief operations with the Red Cross, has served more than a million meals so far and has provided 5,000 volunteers, according to Jim Burton, the director of volunteer mobilization for the convention’s domestic missions board.

3) They are proving the importance of their physical presence in the community: “One of the principal advantages of churches in responding to a disaster is that they are there, said Bryan Jackson, a spokesman for the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy, a research group looking at faith-based social service programs. “One of the things we have to remember and look at is that churches are in these communities that are being affected; they’re already there so they represent a focal point in the community where people can come together or they can marshal resources or marshal people.”

But even that story reveals evangelical struggles with defining the gospel other than “conversion-driven verbal evangelism.” “After members of Southern Baptist disaster response teams from North Carolina finish clearing debris or doing temporary repairs on damaged houses in Gulfport, Miss., they give the homeowners a signed Bible and say a prayer with them.

Jim Burton, the director of volunteer mobilization for the Southern Baptist convention’s domestic missions board said “the bottom line is we’re Christian unapologetically and we’re not ashamed of that,” said Mr. Burton. “But we take a very low key approach because this is a highly sensitive situation.”

Burton’s comments make it sound like he may think while feeding the hungry is important, it is somehow less important than giving out Bibles and “evangelizing four-spiritual laws style.” Being sensitive means restraining yourself from doing what you think is most important to do (winning souls) something of lesser importance (like feeding hungry person)?

Fortunately, “several volunteers said the emphasis is on the work. If souls are won in the process, well, so much the better.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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