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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 27, 2007 / 12 Menachem-Av, 5767

The Kind Of Village It Takes

By Michael Gerson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Recent books and studies seem to indicate disturbing sexual trends among evangelical Christians. And this time we're not talking about their pastors or political leaders. The new attention is on evangelical teenagers, who reportedly start sex earlier than their mainline Protestant peers.


One gleeful headline on an Internet site recently read: "Evangelical Girls Are Easy." That is not the way I remember it.


Now, in the cruel march of years, I have a child on the verge of joining the tribe of the teenager, and its rituals hold sudden interest. In this circumstance, a parent has a choice between turning to sociology or turning to drink. So I called a bright young sociologist at the University of Virginia named W. Bradford Wilcox in search of consolation.


Wilcox argues, in a paper for the Russell Sage Foundation, that the facts are more complicated and more hopeful than the sniggering media caricature.


When the statistics on teen sexuality are controlled for social and economic factors, conservative Protestant teens first have sex at about the same time as their peers — the average is midway through their 16th year. That is hardly comforting to conservative Protestant parents, who would expect more bang for the bucks they spend funding Sunday schools — well, actually, less bang.


But these numbers shift when controlled for religious intensity. For those who attend church often, sexual activity is delayed until nearly 17, while nominal evangelicals begin at 16.2 years, earlier than the national average.


This trend is more pronounced in other measures of sexual behavior. Only 1 percent of conservative Protestants who attend church weekly cohabit, compared with 10 percent of all adults. (On this statistic, nominal evangelicals almost exactly mirror the nation.) Twelve percent of churchgoing evangelicals have children out of wedlock, compared with 33 percent of all mothers.


These facts, according to Wilcox, support some liberal claims and some conservative ones. Liberals are correct that economic and cultural factors matter greatly, sometimes more than individual belief. Teens with good life prospects and a strong sense of the future — kids with economic and educational ambitions — tend to avoid risky behavior such as drugs and early sex. Without those prospects, the temptation to live for the moment is strong.


The facts also support a basic conservative belief: that it is difficult for teens to be moral alone. Wilcox argues that teen sexual behavior can be influenced — that teenagers can be more than the sum of their hormones. But responsible behavior requires both "norms" and "networks." An intellectual belief in right and wrong is not sufficient. Teens require a community that supports their good choices, especially in times of testing and personal crisis. "Kids who are embedded in a social network with shared norms," he concludes, "are more likely to abide by them."


Sociologist Peter Berger calls these networks "plausibility structures" — sources of authority that do more than lecture or shame; they define the meaning of common sense. When institutions such as religious groups, families, government and the media send a strong and consistent message — smoking is stupid, driving under the influence is criminal, teen pregnancy is self-destructive — we have sometimes seen dramatic changes in behavior. Teen pregnancy and birth rates in the United States, for example, have declined by about one-third since the early 1990s.


These messages of responsibility are often reinforced by tightknit religious communities, but they are not owned by them. Wilcox notes that American liberal elites often "talk left and walk right, living disciplined lives and expecting their children to do the same, even when they hold liberal social views." Divorce rates among college-educated Americans, he points out, have fallen since the 1980s, as it became more evident that casual divorce did not serve the long-term interests of their children.


The decisive role of authoritative communities in determining individual behavior should not surprise conservatives. Conservatism teaches that individuals are not inherently good and so must be carefully civilized. They need social structures and networks that foster duty and discipline and define those commitments as common sense. In "The Quest for Community," Robert Nisbet warned: "Release man from the contexts of community and you get not freedom and rights but intolerable aloneness and subjection to demoniac fears and passions."


It would be nice if teen sexual behavior could be automatically changed by an abstinence lecture or a sermon. Setting those norms and expectations, however, is a small part of a larger cultural task. Moral men and women need moral communities.


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Previously:


07/25/07: The Price Of Peace In Uganda
07/05/07: Our other enemies
07/05/07: Where the Avatars Roam
07/05/07: Living up to our creed
06/29/07: The Gospel of Obama
06/27/07: An exit to disaster
06/22/07: Courage at a Cost: Why McCain Deserves Conservatives' Respect
06/20/07: Unchained by Idealism
06/15/07: Zimbabwe's unending agony
06/13/07: Two parties fleeing the center
06/08/07: A different path in Turkey
06/06/07: An Islamic test for Turkey
06/04/07: Mass circumcise Africans?
05/30/07: A Big Enough Stick for Sudan

© 2007, WPWG

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