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Monday, July 6, 2009

Field Notes

Faith Leaders Consider Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites
Religious groups from Episcopalians to Orthodox Jews have signed up for Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks with the same gusto that celebrities and politicians have, and for some of the same reasons—to gain a global platform and to appeal to young people. Still, many clerics admit to an uneasiness about the merger of worship and electronic chatter. (Paul Vitello, The New York Times)

Are Ethical Decisions Intuitive?
Although it's widely believed that ethics engage reason, free from passion, a forthcoming study in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly finds gut instincts are more principled than logical thinking. Whether weighing a charitable gift or selling a car, it seems people who trust their feelings are prone to donate more and cheat others less. (Misty Harris, Canwest News Service)

People With Low Self-Esteem Feel Worse After Repeating Positive Affirmations
So-called self-help books may only help the people who need them least, such as those with high self-esteem, and can be destructive for those who really need help, according to a new study by Canadian experts published in Psychological Science. (Tiffany Crawford, Canwest News Service)

Dispatch From the First World Congress on Positive Psychology
We offer a few snapshots from talks presented at the congress, featuring positive psychologists quantifying some of the most personal aspects of the human experience—things such as passion, love, and our perception of time. (Karen Knee, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Remembering John Calvin
After 500 years, John Calvin is still not an easy man to understand. Calvin is often imagined, if he is imagined at all, as the implacable snoop who enforced a prudish morality on the citizens of Geneva, a steely spinner of harsh theological doctrines about a depraved humanity and a fierce God predestining people to heaven or hell. (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

The Case for God

Simon Blackburn: Karen Armstrong takes the reader through a history of religious practice in many different cultures, arguing that in the good old days and purest forms they all come to much the same thing. They use devices of ritual, mystery, drama, dance, and meditation in order to enable us better to cope with the vale of tears in which we find ourselves. Religion is therefore properly a matter of a practice, and may be compared with art or music. (The Guardian)