It feels strange to post LL on this, the darkest day of the year for Christians. Buta) maybe it's helpful to get a picture of this wild, crazy, illogical, beautiful world that God so loved, b) not all of you are Christian, and c) many of you are pastors and might need a little light. And in that vein, how about a screen cleaning?
Trickle-Down Consumption: How Rising Inequality Can Leave Everyone Worse Off -- Washington Post
As the wealthy have gotten wealthier, the economists find, that’s created an economic arms race in which the middle class has been spending beyond their means in order to keep up. The authors call this “trickle-down consumption.” The result? Americans are saving less, bankruptcies are becoming more common, and politicians are pushing for policies to make it easier to take on debt.
And a related issue:
Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity -- The Atlantic
The people who can least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.
In a series of controlled experiments, lower-income people and people who identified themselves as being on a relatively low social rung were consistently more generous with limited goods than upper-class participants were. Notably, though, when both groups were exposed to a sympathy-eliciting video on child poverty, the compassion of the wealthier group began to rise, and the groups’ willingness to help others became almost identical.
One hears from fiscal conservatives that if we get rid of "big government" safety nets, that individuals, charities and churches will pick up the slack. I don't see how, but I'd like to engage with a fiscal conservative on this topic, especially the results of the study.
100 Rules of Dinner -- Dinner, A Love Story
DALS is a recent discovery. A fun list for people who want to take cooking beyond the paint-by-numbers approach:
11. No need to sift. Whisking is just as effective.
12. Herbs in the salad.
13. Horseradish in the mashed potatoes.
14. Cinnamon in the chili.
37. When someone says they drink “one to two” glasses of wine a night, you can pretty much assume it’s two.
The Case for Getting Married Young -- The Atlantic
H/t to Katherine Willis Pershey for this article. I agree that it shouldn't be proscriptive, but is a good counterpoint to a lot of current conventional wisdom about waiting to marry until you're "established":
Interestingly, in a 2009 report, sociologist Mark Regnerus found that much of the pressure to delay marriage comes from parents who encourage their children to finish their education before marrying. One student told him that her parents "want my full attention on grades and school." But such advice reflects an outdated reality, one in which a college degree was almost a guarantee of a good job that would be held for a lifetime. This is no longer the case. Furthermore, with so many students graduating from college with knee-buckling debt, they have worse than nothing to bring into a marriage. Indeed, prolonged singledom has become a rolling stone, gathering up debt and offspring that, we can be imagine, will manifest themselves in years to come in more broken, or never-realized, marriages.
Looking back over a marriage of nearly three decades, I am thankful that I married before going down that road. Now as a college-educated, doctorate-holding woman, I can attest that marrying young (at age 19) was most beneficial: to me, to my husband, and to the longevity of our marriage. Our achievements have come, I am convinced, not despite our young marriage, but because of it.
Our marriage was, to use Knot Yet's terminology, a "cornerstone" not a "capstone." ...
It was not the days of ease that made our marriage stronger and happier: it was working through the difficult parts. We learned to luxuriate in the quotidian, to take wonder in the mundane, skills that have become even more valuable in our prosperous years. We invested the vigor of our youth not in things to bring into the marriage, but in each other and our marriage.
As one sociologist put it:
Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you're fully formed. We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life.
Robert and I married young (22), and next year will be our 20th anniversary. Blessed be.
and more from The Atlantic:
I agree with my friend Jay: "attitydinkontinens" needs to take hold, now.
From Puppy with Love -- The Bygone Bureau
How daily photos of a couple's dog helped them get through a long-distance relationship. I'm starting work on a second book, thinking about technology and digital culture from a spiritual perspective, so this is of interest:
Did the pictures somehow substitute for or distract from our relationship? And the answer is yes. And I think that’s why we’re still together when so many people think long-distance relationships are impossible. Instead of focusing on us – which in the context of distance so often means strain, effort, and unhappiness – we dote on our dog and his boundless photogenicity.
I’m not suggesting that pictures can make a relationship work. And I’m not exactly sure why dog pictures are more effective for me than Skype or the telephone or texts.
...At the same time, though, this dog — something very much a product of our ability to raise it but at the same time independent, separate, us mediated into dog-life — has made a huge difference.
Loving the contrast between labyrinth and cone of shame here:
The It-Doesn't-Matter Suit, by Sylvia Plath -- Brain Pickings
Did you know Sylvia Plath wrote a children's book and it's charming and poignant?
When people are about to enter a negotiation, they see it as either a threat or a challenge. Studies show that people who see negotiation as a threat experience greater stress and make less advantageous deals. They behave more passively, and are less likely to use tough tactics aimed at gaining leverage, compared to the hard-ballers who feel negotiation to be more of a challenge than a threat.
This makes so much sense to me. My husband absolutely sees negotiating as a challenge. He looks forward to a good haggle. I do not. Reading about these studies, I realized that I have always seen negotiations as threatening, and just wanted them over with as quickly as possible, no matter what it cost me. Why prolong a stressful, threatening situation when you can throw in the towel and move on?
But why do I see negotiations as threats, and not challenges? To answer that, I needed…
Epiphany #2: There is more than one way to look at any goal.
God is With Me -- Practicing Families
This is a wonderful site, full of good practical ideas for incorporating faith and Christian practice into everyday life as a family.
When my kids were small, aged 6 and 3, getting out of the house in the morning was the worst part of the day....
I decided to write a litany for our mornings, and say it with them every school day morning for the year. These were the words that I hoped would help them in the most difficult parts of their day.
Parent: When I’m scared, Kids: God is with me. Parent: When I’m happy, Kids: God is with me. Parent: When I’m having a hard day, Kids: God is with me. Parent: When I’m having a super day, Kids: God is with me. Parent: All day long, every day, Kids: God is with me. All: Thank you God for being with me.
You could get playful with this: When my mommy forgets to pack a dessert in my lunch... When I forget to ask 'mother may I' at recess...
On the darkest day of the Christian year... God is with me. And you.