Faith and Survival. A story of faith, hope, and survival comes this week from the south Pacific. Aldi Novel Adilang, a 19-year-old from Indonesia, survived 49 days adrift at sea in a floating hut called a rompong, that was swept off its moorings by heavy waves. The boy survived by eating fish he caught, and by drinking sea water he filtered through his clothing to minimize salt intake. When interviewed by a local news outlet, he said he thought he “was going to die.” In fact, he considered suicide by jumping into the ocean to end his misery. He said he found comfort, however, in a Bible he had on-board and in his parents’ advice to pray in times of trouble. You can find the entire remarkable story here.
Religion Is Good For Us. A new study by Harvard researchers says, “Compared with no attendance, at least weekly attendance of religious services was associated with greater life satisfaction and positive affect, a number of character strengths, lower probabilities of marijuana use and early sexual initiation, and fewer lifetime sexual partners.” There’s more: “Compared with never praying or meditating, at least daily practice was associated with greater positive affect, emotional processing, and emotional expression; greater volunteering, greater sense of mission, and more forgiveness; lower likelihoods of drug use, early sexual initiation, STIs, and abnormal Pap test results; and fewer lifetime sexual partners.”
American Divorce Rate Dropping. Demographers have known for a while that the American divorce rate is dropping. But they thought it was because Americans are getting older and that the huge number of Baby Boomers who married young and divorced often were mellowing out. However, new data suggest that the biggest reason for the drop in divorce rates is a much lower divorce rate among millennials. According to Bloomberg, “Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016.” By the way, boomers – who gave us the so-called “sexual revolution” — are still divorcing at historically unprecedented rates, all the way into their 60s and 70s. Bloomberg goes on to report: From 1990 to 2015, according to Bowling Green’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, the divorce rate doubled for people aged 55 to 64, and even tripled for Americans 65 and older. Cohen’s results suggest this trend, called “grey divorce,” may have leveled out in the past decade, but boomers are still divorcing at much higher rates than previous generations did at similar ages.
Bert and Ernie Not Gay. The producers of Sesame Street said that its characters Bert and Ernie are best friends, but they are not gay. The statement became necessary when Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman, who is gay, suggested on the website Queerty that they were. The show’s producers posted a tweet that read, “As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics … they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.” WORLD Magazine said, “The weaponization of cultural artifacts—whether it’s a brand logo or beloved children’s characters—is stifling to imagination and creativity, and Sesame Street creators are right to resist it.”
Milestones. The great Christian poet, dramatist, and cultural critic T.S. Eliot was born this week (Sept. 26) in 1888, 130 years ago.