Archive for March 2013

Sheryl Sandberg and Gender Differences

Mar 30th, 2013 | By

Almost exactly fifty years ago, Betty Friedan published her bombshell, The Feminine Mystique, which argued, among other things, that traditional gender roles had compartmentalized women as homemakers—both their and culture’s detriment. Arguably, Friedan’s book was the manifesto of the feminist revolution. Laws and cultural norms changed as equal treatment of and more professional opportunities for women increased. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has just published Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. . . Permit me a few thoughts on this important book, for it says much about where our culture is and how our culture continues to process basic gender differences.



Pope Francis and the Challenges Facing the Roman Catholic Church

Mar 23rd, 2013 | By

The conclave to choose the new Bishop of Rome, also known as the pope, is complete. The 115 cardinals in the conclave chose Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 266th pontiff of the Church and the first non-European pope in 1,200 years. He chose the name Francis, after Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order—the first pope known as Francis. Pope Francis is also the first pope chosen from Latin America and he is also the first Jesuit ever chosen as pope. Who is Pope Francis and what are the challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church?



The American Demographic Cliff

Mar 16th, 2013 | By

Over the last few years, we have been bombarded with apocalyptic phrases such as “fiscal cliff,” “sequestration,” “entitlement cliff,” and the persistent debt ceiling crisis. All of these are real issues and reflect the unwillingness of our governmental leaders to address the serious financial condition of America. But a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Jonathan V. Last summarizes an even deeper crisis, one that captures one of the real causes of our nation’s financial crisis: A serious demographic cliff—the declining fertility rate in the United States. [The fertility rate is the number of children an average woman bears over the course of her life.] The fertility replacement rate is 2.1. Therefore, if the average woman has more children than that, the population grows; fewer children and it contracts.



Is America Going the Way of Europe?

Mar 9th, 2013 | By

There is a resistance in some parts of our culture to the idea of American exceptionalism: The conviction that America has developed differently than say Western Europe. Our political and our economic system is different than Europe—and intentionally so. Because America rejected the idea of a state church, the prolific religious pluralism of America has also influenced how it has developed as a civilization. America is different from Western Europe and much of this difference results from choices we have made as a civilization.



The Language of the Unthinkable

Mar 2nd, 2013 | By

As I have mentioned several times on Issues in Perspective, words are important. Hence, the actual words one uses in framing a particular ethical issue are quite crucial. But, without any agreed upon set of ethical absolutes, a clever, even devious person (or organization) can use words to completely reshape an ethical issue so that people willingly embrace something they once held to be abhorrent. In other words, what was once unthinkable becomes debatable and gradually becomes acceptable . . . This clever, deceptive process is very much at work in American civilization today. And, as I stated, if there is no agreed upon set of ethical absolutes, there is nothing to stop this process of reshaping and reframing ethical issues. Permit me to present two examples.