Look what we got this week!
A new grandson! Number 5 grandchild. Little JD broke the tie we had — 2 girl grandchildren, 2 boy grandchildren, and now boys have taken the lead, 3-2. But, God willing, there’s plenty more to come.
At any rate, we’re rambling up in northern Indiana to see the little bugger this weekend and to give our daughter and son-in-law mad love for this indescribable gift.
Thanks be to God!
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WHEN LIFE GETS YOUR GOAT
Just as our family welcomes a new fellow into the human race, here’s a guy who decided to take a break from — well — from being human.
Lydia Ramsey at Business Insider reports:
When life gets unbearably stressful, most of us opt for a vacation that relieves us of the worries of day-to-day life.
Thomas Thwaites, a UK-based designer, decided to take that a step further and take a break from being a human entirely. He became a goat — or at least he tried to, through some pretty extreme measures.
And now he has an Ig Nobel Award to show for it. The Ig Nobels, not to be confused with the actual Nobel Prizes, are designed to recognize achievements and studies that “first make people laugh then make them think.” Thwaites won the biology award alongside Charles Foster, who also lived as a number of different animals.
With the help of a team of researchers and the financial support of London-based biomedical research group Wellcome Trust, Thwaites built himself a suit to achieve goat status and cross the Alps, all of which he chronicled in his book, “GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being a Human.”
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FROM WHENCE THE FIRST HUMANS?
Meanwhile, CBS News ran a story this week about three studies of modern from around the world, released Wednesday by the journal Nature, which suggests that the ancestry of people living outside Africa can be traced almost completely to a single exodus of humans from that continent long ago
In addition, a tiny legacy from an earlier exit may persist in some native islanders in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
Our species,, arose about 200,000 years ago in Africa. From there, it , and scientists are still trying to understand the timing of that expansion.
The new work takes advantage of the fact that human. That can be used like a clock to estimate how long ago two populations split off from each other. The approach can’t reveal every migration out of Africa, just those that left a genetic legacy that has been handed down to this day.
Scientists have long traced one such exit to a single population that left around 40,000 to 80,000 years ago, probably over time rather than all at once. But some other work has turned up potential signs of a previous migration as early as 120,000 to 130,000 years ago.
…Overall, the evidence shows that the vast majority of modernoutside of Africa comes from a single exit from Africa, said David Reich of Harvard Medical School.
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QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
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THE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS EXODUS
A striking headline tops a story at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) this week: Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back.
The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.
…The growth of the unaffiliated has been fed by an exodus of those who grew up with a religious identity. Only nine percent of Americans report being dd in a non-religious household. And while younger adults are more likely to report growing up without a religious identity than seniors (13% vs. 4%, respectively), the vast majority of unaffiliated Americans formerly identified with a particular religion.
No religious group has benefitted more from religious switching than the unaffiliated. Nearly one in five (19%) Americans switched from their childhood religious identity to become unaffiliated as adults, and relatively few (3%) Americans who were raised unaffiliated are joining a religious tradition. This dynamic has resulted in a dramatic net gain—16 percentage points—for the religiously unaffiliated.
While non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups have remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have all experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups: a 10-percentage point loss overall. Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (21%) Americans identify as Catholic currently. Thirteen percent of Americans report being former Catholics, and roughly 2% of Americans have left their religious tradition to join the Church. White evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants are also witnessing negative growth, but to a much more modest degree (-2 percentage points and -5 percentage points, respectively).
…The reasons Americans leave their childhood religion are varied, but a lack of belief in teaching of religion was the most commonly cited reason for disaffiliation. Among the reasons Americans identified as important motivations in leaving their childhood religion are: they stopped believing in the religion’s teachings (60%), their family was never that religious when they were growing up (32%), and their experience of negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people (29%).
Fascinating. As the headlines about this study highlighted this week: the main reason people are leaving religion is simply this — they don’t believe it any more.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK FROM THE ONION
Reports are circulating — and it remains to be seen how accurate they are — that Chaplain Mike was the actual inspiration for this article…
The twigs and acorns crunching pleasurably beneath his boots, Mr. Autumn Man Dennis Clemons, 32, reportedly strolled down Massachusetts Avenue on Wednesday wearing a gray sweater over a plaid collared shirt as he cradled a cup of pumpkin-spiced coffee and relished the crisp October morning.
“Nothing beats autumn in New England,” said His Excellency, the Duke of Fall, who began the day swaddled in a warm flannel blanket, gazing out the window at the golden-hued landscape, as is his custom this time of year. “Everywhere the leaves are changing and the temperature is starting to drop off. You can smell it in the air.”
“Tonight it may even dip into the 30s,” added the cozy autumnal personage, who at several points wrapped both hands around his warm container of coffee and inhaled deeply. “Perfect weather for building a fire.”
Mr. Fall, who sources speculate loves Thanksgiving, butternut squash soup, homecoming parades, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” apple-picking, and haunted hayrides, emerges reliably every year around this time in his traditional uniform, sometimes alternating his iconic sweater with a fleece vest or pullover.
The Autumnal Ambassador is also believed to be an avid consumer of seasonal produce, his home and hearth redolent of roasting Indian corn, gourds, and other root vegetables.
“I’m thinking about taking a trip to Salem with my girlfriend this weekend,” said Mr. Autumn Man, trying to decide whether to wear beige or brown corduroy pants for the excursion with his leather-gloved counterpart, Ms. Autumn Woman. “The variety of colors is incredible once you get out of the city.”
“Between the trees and the forest floor, it’s like a giant mural,” continued the veritable High Priest of the Harvest Season, adding that he would soon have to rake his driveway, an activity for which he will most certainly don a cashmere scarf.
Sources said that in addition to snuggling up on the couch sipping hot apple cider and watching Meet Me In St. Louis on DVD, Mr. Autumn Man will also spend part of the weekend meeting up with his friends, the Autumn Gang, to watch fall sports and eat fall snacks.
“Getting together with the guys for football and wings is kind of like a tradition,” said the walking, talking essence of the Northern Hemisphere’s annual tilt away from the sun. “From pretty much September onwards, no Sunday afternoon feels complete without it.”
“You’ve got to take it all in and enjoy it while you still can, though, because December will be here in the blink of an eye,” he added.
According to reports, Mr. Fall will then put on a down jacket with a fur-trimmed hood, buy a lift ticket at a local ski slope, and start getting short with people at work because the early sunset “affects his mood,” thus signaling the completion of his metamorphosis into Mr. Wintertime Asshole Man.
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Have a great weekend. I have to go hug a baby.