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When Is a War Over?

When Is a War Over? | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
What an Army major and Alexander the Great tell us about America’s 13 years in Afghanistan.
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Should We Worry That so Many of the Doctors Fighting Ebola Are Missionaries?

Should We Worry That so Many of the Doctors Fighting Ebola Are Missionaries? | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
I recently sat in on a course for infectious disease specialists in Austria. Around 40 young doctors and academics were discussing infection control in hospitals and communities in the developing world, and the talk inevitably turned to Ebola. Controlling the spread of the disease continues to challenge the medical world,...
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Part 1/2. h/t Emily

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If Atheism Is True, Does Life Still Have Meaning?

If Atheism Is True, Does Life Still Have Meaning? | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
Andrew Sullivan linked to my conversion story recently, and there’s been some interesting discussion in response. It was this particular part of my essay that generated the most controversy, and I can’t say I’m surprised:"If everything that we call heroism ...
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Medical marijuana business summit held in Altamonte Springs

Medical marijuana business summit held in Altamonte Springs | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it

Dozens of business owners attended a medical marijuana business summit Sunday in Seminole Co. to discuss the growth medical marijuana could bring.

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h/t Riley. Article informational rather than persuasive, but you could use it to find op-ed pieces on a current topic: one that some of you will be voting on today.

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Dear College Board, A Change Needs To Be Made

Dear College Board, A Change Needs To Be Made | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
This is a letter demanding a change to the environment and culture surrounding your test. Standardized testing has shifted from a mere requirement to a game. Whoever finds the best tutor or class wins the game. These students attend the college of th...
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How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri

How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
How one 13-year-old boy with autism became BFF’s with Apple’s Siri
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In Defense of Marine Mammal Trainers

In Defense of Marine Mammal Trainers | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
Marine Mammal Trainers, Zoo Keepers and handlers are trained experts in animal care and behavior. Learn why we should respect these professionals.
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h/t Anna & Hannah

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Generation i

Generation i | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
“DON’T talk to the press. Have a good attitude. Always say yes. You are not here to change the world.” And ladies, please, “Do not put us in a position to...
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h/t Austin Eubanks

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Facebook Causes Depression New Study Says

Facebook Causes Depression New Study Says | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
Today, yet another study emerged that proves Facebook causes depression, and the more someone uses it, the more depressed he or she becomes. This new study comes from the University of Michigan, where researchers observed 82 Facebook users during a two week period. They found that the more time a person spends on Facebook, the […]
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Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.
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Don’t Dismiss the Humanities

Don’t Dismiss the Humanities | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
The humanities aren’t obscure, arcane or irrelevant. They awaken our souls, influence how we think about inequality, and help us adapt to a changing world.
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David French - Wait, There's a Problem with Christian Medical Missionaries?

David French - Wait, There's a Problem with Christian Medical Missionaries? | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
Let me begin by confessing my biases right away. Kent Brantly — the American missionary who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia — isn’t just one of my heroes, he’s also (distantly) family. He’s my uncle’s nephew. I’m not sure if that makes us some form of cousin, but it feels family-ish.

And let me confess more bias. That same uncle served for years as a medical missionary in Nigeria and Tanzania, and my brother-in-law (also a doctor) has taken multiple medical mission trips. Heck, as a lawyer I feel near-useless (completely useless?) by comparison. 

So, given this background, I reacted with perhaps special revulsion upon reading this piece from Slate’s Brian Palmer, where an atheist asks, “Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?”

Now, why would someone possibly be concerned that a number of fellow citizens have decided to leave the prosperity of American medicine (for all its problems, it’s still pretty darn lucrative), travel to the developing world, and sometimes risk life and limb to provide medical care to the poorest of the poor?

Here’s why:


And yet, for secular Americans—or religious Americans who prefer their medicine to be focused more on science than faith—it may be difficult to shake a bit of discomfort with the situation. Our historic ambivalence toward missionary medicine has crystallized into suspicion over the past several decades. It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?


Let’s translate. Dear missionaries who are sacrificing so much because of your love for Jesus, shut up about Jesus. Squelch the beliefs that guide your life, that give you meaning and purpose, so that other people — thousands of miles away — don’t have to think of you sharing the Gospel. 

(And never mind the utterly insulting insinuation that faithful Christian doctors aren’t as focused on science.)

As the writer notes, this is an old critique — one that treats the Christian message as a kind of cultural cancer, something to be contained and ultimately excised (so long as it doesn’t kill the good deeds). One hears this critique in the states all the time, especially on campus, where the only “good” Christians are the ones who shut up and serve. Get thee to a soup kitchen! And don’t let me hear a word!

This message ignores the reality that a missionary is a human being, a whole person, not an antibiotic-dispensing robot. And as a whole person — made fully alive by their faith — they recognize that physical aid (as important as that is) is only part of the story. They understand that the most significant message of Christ isn’t “Get up and walk,” it’s instead, “Your sins are forgiven.” Why should a missionary ignore the most important message to deliver the lesser service?

Not content with the classical critique, Palmer continues:


There are serious questions about the quality of care provided by religious organizations in Africa. A 2008 report by the African Religious Heath Assets Programme concluded that faith-based facilities were “often severely understaffed and many health workers were under-qualified.” Drug shortages and the inability to transport patients who needed more intensive care also hampered the system.

There is also a troubling lack of oversight. Large religious health care facilities tend to be consistent in their care, but the hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller clinics in Africa are a mystery. We don’t know whether missionary doctors are following international standards of care. (I’ve heard murmurs among career international health specialists that missionaries may be less likely to wear appropriate protective equipment, which is especially troubling in the context of the Ebola outbreak.) We don’t know what happens to the patients who rely on missionary doctors if and when the caregivers return to their home countries. There are extremely weak medical malpractice laws (and even weaker court systems to enforce them) in much of sub-Saharan Africa, so we have no sense whatsoever of how many mistakes missionary doctors are making.


In other words, he has a problem with medical missionaries because they’re not operating in first-world hospitals with first-world reporting systems and first-world systems of legal accountability? If there weren’t staffing shortages, drug shortages, a lack of large health-care facilities, and all the other issues that dominate developing-world medicine, we wouldn’t need medical missionaries.

But in the end, Palmer — despite his biases — swallows his objections because, well, there’s just no choice. Let the filthy Christians serve:


We have a choice: Swallow our objections and support these facilities, spend vast sums of money to build up Africa’s secular health care capacity immediately, or watch the continent drown in Ebola, HIV, and countless other disease outbreaks.

As an atheist, I try to make choices based on evidence and reason. So until we’re finally ready to invest heavily in secular medicine for Africa, I suggest we stand aside and let God do His work.


The column is not redeemed by a closing non-aggression pledge. 

I hope and pray that if presented evidence that people from another faith (or no faith at all) were doing good works at a rate that put my own church to shame, I’d have the integrity to unreservedly applaud them for their virtue and exhort my church to do better. 

While Mr. Palmer is no Ann Coulter (who wrote the worst column ever penned about Christian service overseas), his post was sad evidence that, at least in some quarters of the atheist community, it is virtually impossible for “evidence and reason” to overcome their own bigotry.
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Part 2/2, h/t Emily

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Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
The cost of electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted, making it cheaper than coal or natural gas in some places.
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h/t Andrew

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Death penalty is dead wrong: It's time to outlaw capital punishment in America - completely

Death penalty is dead wrong: It's time to outlaw capital punishment in America - completely | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
I have studied the death penalty for more than half my lifetime. I have debated it hundreds of times. I have heard all the arguments, analyzed all the evidence I could find, measured public opinion when it was opposed to the practice, when it was indifferent, and when it was passionately in favor.
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Is Music the Key to Success?

Is Music the Key to Success? | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
What is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in many diverse fields?
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Theology for an Age of Terror

Theology for an Age of Terror | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
Augustine's words after the 'barbarian' destruction of Rome have a remarkably contemporary ring.
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h/t Luke

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Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?

Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist? | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., have America talking about race. The conversation should include our unconscious attitudes that result in discriminatory policies and behavior.
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Why Don’t We Have an Ebola Vaccine? Democrats and Republicans Fight Over Who’s to Blame.

Why Don’t We Have an Ebola Vaccine? Democrats and Republicans Fight Over Who’s to Blame. | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
On Friday, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told the Huffington Post that we should have been better prepared to handle Ebola. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone...
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NFL has good guys if you look

NFL has good guys if you look | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
The NFL has more than 1,600 players. And if we looked at everything objectively, we'd find that Ray Rice , Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson are seriously outnumbered by a lot of good people in the sport.
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h/t Troy Jackson

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Useless Creatures

Useless Creatures | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
We act as though animals matter only when they benefit humans.
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h/t Emily Gunter

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We Are All Quants Now

We Are All Quants Now | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
In The Wall Street Journal, Paula Marantz asks: What's 'like' got to do with it?
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The Wrong Kind of Christian

The Wrong Kind of Christian | AP Lang Articles | Scoop.it
I thought a winsome faith would win Christians a place at Vanderbilt’s table. I was wrong.
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h/t Mr. Pederson

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