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News That Illustrates: October 24, 2011

Last Meals for Death Row Inmates
For years the state of Texas had a tradition of allowing Death Row inmates to choose their last meal. But after one inmate ordered a huge meal and then refused to eat it, Texas officials just reversed that policy. But Brian Price, a Christian who has cooked over 200 meals for death row inmates, offered to keep providing meals out of his own pocket. Texas officials denied his request. No matter what you think about the death penalty, you'll be moved by Price's motivation for cooking those last meals. He tells a story about one inmate who wanted butter beans for his last meal. In an NPR interview he said, "Maybe when he would see and taste those butter beans, and smell that smell, it would take him back to that time when he was sitting around that dinner table with his siblings, and his mom bringing them to him." And just maybe, Price said, maybe those good memories will help him know that he's "fixing to meet his maker within the next hour …." One can only hope, but it's sure a beautiful example of one Christian's compassionate witness.

The Chilean Miners—One Year Later
Here's another sad story about the continuing trauma of the Chilean miners. Many of the 33 miners who survived 69 days underground are jobless and depressed. "We just can't shake those memories," one of the miners said. The story reported that "one year after their globally televised rescue, after the worldwide spotlight faded and the trips and offers dwindled, the miners say that most of them are unemployed and that many are poorer than before." One of the miners (who is now in a psychiatric clinic) said, "They made us feel like heroes. In the end, we are selling peanuts. It's ironic, isn't it?"

David Brooks on "Occupy Wall Street"
David Brooks, the brilliant, provocative New York Times editorialist has taken aim again—this time at the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement. (You can also access the article here.) He notes that the protestors do have a theme: "The virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent." But Brooks argues, "This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All of their problems are caused by the nefarious elite." This kind of self-righteousness won't solve anything. For instance, the allegedly "pure 99 percent" will never see the ways they have "overconsumed and overborrowed." Brooks concludes: "It's not about declaring war on some nefarious elite. It's about changing behavior from top to bottom. Let's occupy ourselves." (For an opposing viewpoint to Brooks, read this article written by one of the protestors.)

Swear Words on TV and Aggressive Kids
If your child isn't aggressive enough already, let him watch some good old-fashioned swearing on TV. That will get him really riled up and ready for a fight. That's the conclusion of a new study based on 223 middle-school students. It's another study that refutes the argument that what kids watch on TV doesn't affect their behavior. Here's the summary of the study: "Exposure to profanity had about the same relationship to aggressive behavior as exposure to violence on TV or in video games. In addition, they found that the more children were exposed to profanity, the more likely they were to use swear words themselves, and those who used profanity were more likely to become aggressive to others."

The Tears of Sudan
Here's a powerful collection of photographs by an artist named Ryan Spencer Reed entitled "Sudan: The Cost of Silence." After nearly three decades of civil war in Sudan (and in the new nation of Southern Sudan), two and half million people have been killed and another five million have been displaced. Reed quotes the 18th century political leader Edmund Burke who allegedly said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." But if you really want your people to grasp the horrors of injustice, oppression, and human cruelty, view the pictures—and pray for the people of Sudan. Better yet, maybe reach out to some Sudanese refugees.

Young Christians Aren't Waiting Anymore
A recent article by CNN reported on new research that shows young evangelicals are having premarital sex almost as often as their non-Christian peers. The original article from Relevant, was titled, "(Almost) Everyone's Doing It." According to CNN, here's the brunt of the research: "80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18-29) said they have had sex." That's just slightly less than the rate of all unmarried young adults who said they have had sex—88 percent. So if you're preaching on sexuality and you have young adults around, you might want to think about how to say something besides just "Don't do it."

Family Gets Lost in a Corn Maze
Here's an interesting (and either funny or scary depending on who hears it) way to illustrate how easy it is to get lost—from God or from others. A dad and mom and their two kids headed out for a fun afternoon in a seven-acre corn maze near Salem, Massachusetts. But the afternoon fun turned into alarm when the family got lost in the maze. As darkness descended, the panic-stricken mother called 911 and the police came and rescued the distressed family. The mom said, "We thought this would be fun. Instead it's a nightmare. I don't know what made us do this." The farm owner, Bob Connors, shrugged it off. "Usually we see smiles coming out of the maze. [But] I'm sure they won't be the last family that gets lost in there."

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