Friday, October 16, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XX Post Pentecosten

Social Deviancy: A Medieval Approach
by Guy Geltner ( «Between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, European cities witnessed a growth of what are sometimes called marginalizing institutions and spaces – hospitals, brothels, leper-houses, prisons, and Jewish quarters. Historians have often cited this development in order to illustrate the persecuting mentality that allegedly characterized a Europe coming into its own: an increasingly introspective society seeking self-definition and, so the arguments runs, closing its ranks to religious outsiders, such as Jews and heretics, as well as to internal Others, from homosexuals and lepers, to prostitutes, to the physically and mentally ill. Seen in this light, medieval society appears to have failed yet another moral test set to it by its modern heirs. The available evidence supports a different reading, however, one that stresses the semi-inclusiveness of institutions benefiting those at the dawn, twilight, and shadow of life. From this revised perspective, the choice to create facilities such as brothels and prisons within cities and to govern them responsibly constitutes a high – rather than low – benchmark of medieval adaptation to social and religious heterogeneity and the growing presence of at-risk populations. In the parlance of modern public health, medieval city councils adopted a strategy of harm reduction.»

Power in the Church? Women Have Always Had It
by Elizabeth Scalia (Aletia). «The fact is, for all of the talk about how oppressive the church has been for women, there has been no other institution in history which has given women such free reign to create, explore, discover, serve, manage, build, expand, usually with very little help from the coffers of the diocese in which they worked, and largely without intrusion on the part of the male hierarchy...Almost from its inception, the church has been a force and fomenter of feminine self-actualization. One is hard-pressed to name a single institution on the planet, other than the Catholic Church, which would have allowed women to simply run with their heads, be who they were born to be, and accomplish great things.»

Science is Often Flawed. It's Time We Embraced That.
by Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman (Vox). «‹We need to change what the starting assumption ought to be. If it's provisionality rather than truth, we need to build in the checks and balances around that.› As such efforts — like the reproducibility projects, or post-publication peer review — gain traction, the scientific community is waking up to that fact. Now the rest of us need to.»

The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods
by Paul Kiel and Annie Waldman, ProPublica (Truthout). «[W]hen ProPublica attempted to measure, for the first time, the prevalence of judgments stemming from these suits, a clear pattern emerged: they were massed in black neighborhoods. The disparity was not merely because black families earn less than white families. Our analysis of five years of court judgments from three metropolitan areas - St. Louis, Chicago and Newark - showed that even accounting for income, the rate of judgments was twice as high in mostly black neighborhoods as it was in mostly white ones. These findings could suggest racial bias by lenders or collectors. But we found that there is another explanation: That generations of discrimination have left black families with grossly fewer resources to draw on when they come under financial pressure.»

«Spiritual Friendship» and Ministering to the Same-Sex Attracted
by Rachel Lu (Catholic World Report). «The ‹Spiritual Friendship› bloggers are the most visible spokesmen for what it means to be orthodox Christians and gay, but elements of their approach are inconsistent, and can hamper those genuinely anxious to help.»

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