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Jediism: Why Religion Hasn’t Jumped the Shark PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 22 October 2012 14:34
Pop Culture’s Cross-Pollination with Traditional Faith Make Both Stronger

For centuries, religion has influenced culture – the visual arts, music, theater and architecture. Where would society be without the Gutenberg printing press, created to make the Bible available to everyone? The press led to exponential growth in European literacy, kick-starting future intellectual discovery and accelerating the progress of civilization.

Gutenberg’s press also lit the kindling for the Protestant Reformation. This combination of technology and culture led to a drastic new understanding of Christianity, fragmenting the continental reach of the Vatican, an institution that has mastered the use of branding via artistic expression. As most religious scholars would admit, culture and religion have always had a symbiotic relationship, promoting both purposes in a unified form.

The cultural-religious connection newest evolution is Jediism, a religious movement made official in 2000 and based on the ideas of characters in the “Star Wars” film series. Just as Protestantism did not destroy Christianity, neither will The Force – a religious tenet in Jediism – steal traditional religions’ thunder. However, it may make religion again relevant to more than just a handful of geeks.

Data from the Gallup Organization and the Pew Research Center show organized religion trending downward:

• Since the 1970s, Americans’ confidence in organized religion has steadily decreased.

• This year, the downward trend has hit its lowest point; only 44 percent of Americans have “a great deal” of confidence in organized religion.

• Pew polls indicate that while many young people identify less with the denominations they are born into, most teens and 20-somethings consider themselves “spiritual.”

To put it in economic terms, there’s a growing market of young and spiritual people who are hungry for direction. Is Jediism the answer?

Jediism incorporates ideas from Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism and Shintoism. Although the new religion is mostly based on George Lucas’ vision, there is no founder or central structure. A common belief in Jediism is the Jedi Code, which reads:

• There is no emotion; there is peace.
• There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
• There is no passion; there is serenity.
• There is no chaos; there is harmony.
• There is no death; there is The Force.

It is not just that more people are self identifying as nondenominational – the Pew Center also found that nearly one in five Americans, 19 percent, check the “nothing in particular” box, or atheist or agnostic, for religious belief. That’s the highest percentage of nonreligious people ever surveyed in the country.

Just as culture and artistic expression have always informed religion, it is time for more religious people to embrace how science informs human understanding of the universe. Unlike the great American astronomer Carl Sagan, who said religious and scientific disagreements can be solved by understanding each as “non-overlapping magisterial” – many believe religion, culture and science are three peas in the same pod. They are three essential, distinctive yet related fields to the same end, which is the struggle to grasp truth.

Why not? Authorities on both sides are dipping their toes in the water with oddball, stranger-than-fiction scientific posits such as String Theory, which attempts to reconcile two seemingly incompatible theories: quantum mechanics and general relativity. The theory, studied by today’s leading physicists, says that there are more dimensions to reality than we can perceive, and that there may be activity from another universe occurring right in front of us, but we simply are not “tuned in” for those dimensions.

We may have a doppelganger living right next to us, in a parallel universe. In a side-by-side comparison with Jediism, which is the stranger belief? I am reminded of a J.B.S. Haldane quote:

“Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose … I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy.”

About Eli Just

Eli Just (www.elijust.net) is the author of several books including the popular “Manny Jones” series of Supernatural thrillers and “The Eddy.” He has a master’s in history from Southeastern Louisiana University and is a self-taught student of physics, which he taught at the high school level. As a Christian, Just enjoys exploring themes involving physics and its relationship to religion. He lives in northern Georgia.

 
2013 New Year's Resolutions Survey Hints At Consumer Optimism PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kelly Mooney   
Monday, 22 October 2012 14:21

SALT LAKE CITY (October 22, 2012)FC Organizational Products LLC, the official consumer products licensee of the FranklinCovey Co. brand, today released the results of its annual New Year’s Resolutions Survey, which polled more than 1,000 adult consumers throughout the United States during October 2012.

The 2013 New Year’s Resolutions Survey found that respondents’ top four New Year’s resolutions remain the same as prior year: (1) become more physically fit; (2), improve one’s financial condition; (3) improve health; and (4) lose weight. However, two new resolutions broke into the top 10 list – becoming more educated and improve work habits/career situation.  The education goal moved from 12th position in 2012 to 2013, and the work habit/career goal moved from 11th position in 2012 to 6th position.  The renewed focus on education and career both signal that consumers may be feeling the economy is reviving sufficiently to invest in an education and venture out into the job market.   One resolution fell off the Top 10 list – improve other relationships.

TOP 10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2012

TOP 10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2013

1. Become more physically fit

1. Become more physically fit

2. Improve financial condition

2. Improve financial condition

3. Improve health

3. Improve health

4. Lose weight

4. Lose weight

5. Read more

5. Read more
Become more educated – NEW

6. Change overall attitude:  be more positive

6.  Improve work habits/career situation -- NEW

7. Improve family relationships

7.  Travel more

8. Travel more

8.  Improve family relationships

9. Do more volunteer work

9.  Do more volunteer work

10. Improve other relationships (friends,
co-workers, neighbors)

10. Change overall attitude:  be more positive

 

For the first time, the survey asked consumers to share the resolution abandoned first and pursued the longest. Interestingly, fitness and weight loss appeared on both lists:

  • Resolutions abandoned first
    • Lose weight – 31% of those who made the resolution
    • Travel -- 26% of those who made the resolution
    • Improve physical fitness – 20% of those who made the resolution

  • Resolutions pursued the longest
    • Lose weight – 41% of those who made the resolution
    • Improve physical fitness -- 29% of those who made the resolution
    • Improve financial condition -- 16% of those who made the resolution

 

When asked to share methods most helpful to pursuing goals, the most frequently mentioned methods were:

  • Sharing goals with friends and asking for their support – 41%
  • Tracking goals in a planner – 25%
  • Keeping a journal – 18%

 

As in the 2012 survey, respondents were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with life. Interestingly, that number increased modestly from 2012, up to 7.3 versus 7.0 in 2012 on a 10 point scale of 1 = Not At All Satisfied and 10 = Extremely Satisfied.

Full survey results are available on www.franklinplanner.com.

Additional details are available on FC Organizational Products' SlideShare Channel and in infographic format.

Survey Methodology

FC Organizational Products surveyed a nationally distributed sample of 1,000 male and female consumers, 18 to 60 years of age across the United States through a third-party organization in October 2012. The survey’s resulting sampling error rate is at the 95 percent confidence level.

ABOUT FC ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTS LLC
FC Organizational Products LLC is a global retailer and the exclusive worldwide consumer products licensee of the FranklinCovey™ brand owned by FranklinCovey Co. FC Org. Products helps individuals and organizations achieve greater organization, productivity, and success. The Company’s products are sold throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East and in more 15,000 retail outlets across North America, including FranklinCovey stores. Some of the Company’s best-known consumer products include ever popular FranklinCovey planners, PlanPlus™ Online, as well as a line of laptop bags and totes.  In recent years, the company has added thousands of organizational tools and accessories to its product offering which are distributed through its consumer sites including Franklin Planner, Geekorize, Tidy Nirvana and The Organized Parent . For more information about the 2012 Resolution Survey, please visit www.franklinplanner.com.

 
Rozga family receives national advocacy role PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 22 October 2012 13:43
Friday, October 19, 2012

The White House has named the Rozga family of Indianola an Office of National Drug Control Policy Advocate for Action for 2013 for their work to prevent and educate the public about synthetic drugs.  Sen. Chuck Grassley worked closely with the Rozga family after their son and brother, David, died after ingesting a synthetic drug, K2, bought from the local mall.  Congress later banned the chemicals used to make several synthetic drugs.  Grassley made the following comment on the White House’s position for Jan, Mike, and Daniel Rozga.

“It might be human nature to turn inward after a tragedy but the Rozga family did the opposite.  They channeled their grief into educating the public about a drug no one knew much about at the time.  The Rozgas played a large role in persuading Congress to enact a synthetic drugs ban.  They’ll make the most of their advocacy role from the White House.”

More information on the White House position is available here and here.

More information on the Rozga family and synthetic drug ban is available here.

 
6 Ways Live-in Childcare Improves Work Life Balance PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Susan Robinson   
Monday, 22 October 2012 13:24

Survey results for October 2012 National Work and Family Month

 

CAMBRIDGE, MA, October 19, 2012 -- As working families across the country are struggling with the dual demands of work and family, many seek ways of finding work life balance. National Work and Family Month was designated in 2003 by the U.S. Senate to highlight and communicate work-life initiatives that create healthier and more flexible work environments. A recent study has found that parents’ choice of child care can have an effect on the work life balance equation.

In a closer look at how child care can impact work life balance, Cultural Care Au Pair conducted a study of 2500 working parents who had used more than one form of child care. The survey asked parents about their previous form of child care and how their current child care choice of a live-in au pair or nanny had affected their work life balance.

1. More quality time

Most working parents agree that work life balance has a lot to do with time. More than two thirds of the au pair host families surveyed found that having live-in child care allowed for more quality time with their children and more time with their spouse. Sixty two percent also found they had more time for themselves to do things like exercise and volunteer.

2. Greater flexibility

Flexibility is very important to working families and live-in child care provides parents with more options for scheduling and last-minute coverage. In the Cultural Care survey, 84 percent of respondents reported having more flexibility in their schedule in general. Seventy-eight percent of parents who had previously had their children in daycare centers stated that the more flexible schedule that the au pair program provides allows them to be more flexible with their work hours.

3. Higher productivity

That increased flexibility can translate into productivity. More than two thirds of parents indicated that their child care choice allowed them to be more focused and productive at work and 77 percent said they were less stressed about work as a result of switching to live-in child care.

4. A stress-free morning routine

Do smoother departures affect the feeling of work life balance? Absolutely. Ninety percent of parents with au pairs who had previously had their children in daycare centers reported that the morning routine was easier. Families with live-in child care find that children can take the morning at their own pace rather than be rushed out the door to meet a parent’s work schedule, providing everyone in the family with a more relaxed start to their day.

5. Easier after-school and evening transitions

Working parents report that transportation to after-school activities, homework help and meal preparation were all part of their au pair’s responsibilities and made for more balanced evenings. 74% of parents surveyed agreed that the coming home/dinner time routine is easier with the help of an au pair.

6. Less time off for sick days

What about when the unexpected happens and a child gets sick? According to a Georgetown University study, Meeting the Needs of Today’s Families, the illness of a child causes a parent to miss between six and 29 days of work annually. But not for parents with live-in child care. 75 percent of all respondents, and 81 percent of those who had previously had their children at daycare centers, said that they had taken less time off for children’s sick days since switching to au pair child care.

The Alliance for Work Life Progress suggests that companies can recognize National Work and Family Month by conducting a work-life needs assessment. Parents can do the same by taking a look at how various aspects of work and home life affect their stress levels, work performance and general happiness. Overall, 90% of the respondents to the Cultural Care Au Pair survey felt that they have better work life balance because they have an au pair, indicating that child care choice, and choosing a flexible, live-in option, may be a factor predictive of work life balance.

# # #

About Cultural Care Au Pair

Cultural Care Au Pair is the leading provider of intercultural, live-in childcare in the United States. Since 1989, Cultural Care Au Pair has placed more than 85,000 au pairs in welcoming American homes. A U.S. Department of State regulated program, Cultural Care Au Pair is headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with their own extensive network of recruitment, screening and orientation offices worldwide and more than 600 local coordinators across the U.S. For more information about hosting an au pair, visit www.culturalcare.com or call 800-333-6056.

 
What Your Kids Are Really Doing Online PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 22 October 2012 13:07

The Internet affords children endless opportunities to get into serious trouble, downloading what they shouldn’t download, looking at what they shouldn’t be looking at, and getting ideas about what they shouldn’t be getting ideas about.

But the good news is that if your kids are like mine, they may be doing some or all of those things…but there’s another ise for the Internet that’s attracting their time and attention.

It’s called teaching.

That’s right—your kids are most likely teaching other kids how to do things that interest them.  The online world, especially YouTube, has turned into an academy without walls, entrance fees, or final exams.  The instructors, just like the students, are barely into double digits.

Take my ten year olds (please!).  My twin sons, Isaac and Walter, are variously interested in unicycling, origami, juggling, magic, Minecraft, jailbreaking their iPods, and similar subjects.  Much of what they’ve learned about these topics has come from YouTube videos.  Much of those videos are written and produced by other kids.  Which inspired my sons to put up their own instructional videos.

Now my sons are in a race with their friends for viewers and followers on their three YouTube channels, MyWalter101, BillyBobRandom12345, and OrigamiAndMagicBrothers.   As a proud parent, naturally I want you to visit their channels and see what they’re doing.  But more than that, this is a unique phenomenon.

You couldn’t get the average kid to stand up in front of an audience and talk about his or her favorite topic.  Or demonstrate a magic trick, or a guitar chord, or a hack on an iPod.   Never gonna happen.  But allow that same kid the privacy of his or her living room, the use of a camera built into a smartphone, and the opportunity to upload a two- or three-minute instructional video on any given topic, and you’ve got solid gold.

As a result, there exists today an underground, invisible network of children taking turns as teachers and students, sharing with each other the skills, ideas, secrets, and technological breakthroughs they cherish.  This university without walls or national boundaries is, without exaggeration, unparalleled in human history.  Children have always been at the mercy of parents, teachers, and school administrators when it comes to the question of how, what, and when they learn.  Now the game has changed and the power has shifted to kids.

Obviously parental supervision is required; you don’t need me to tell you just how dangerous and inappropriate the online world can be.  What’s most exciting about this phenomenon, however, is the fact that children are taking initiative to become teachers and sharers.  They are not looking to make money doing this—although few would deny the desire to have 5 million followers and the fame (and perhaps fortune) that would accompany such success.  They’re doing it for the love of the video game, hobby, hack, or technique they’re demonstrating to the world.

It’s fascinating to imagine the new world that will arise when these online teachers reach adulthood.  Their ethos is cooperation instead of compensation; amateurism instead of professionalism.  How will they make a living?  How will they translate the teaching skills they are acquiring into a livelihood?  I don’t know, but chances are, some of them will figure it out.  And then they’ll post their learning on YouTube, or whatever sharing technology exists at that time, and give the world the benefit of their knowledge and experience.  Why not?  They’ll have been doing it for their whole lives.

About Michael Levin

Michael Levin, founder and CEO of BusinessGhost, Inc. (www.BusinessGhost.com), has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others; and one that became “Model Behavior,” an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week. He is the father of Walter Levin (MyWalter101) and Isaac Levin (BillyBobRandom12345). The boys’ joint YouTube channel is OrigamiAndMagicBrothers.

 
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