Unplanned Success. The pro-life movie Unplanned opened on about 1,000 theatres last weekend. That sounds like a lot of screens, but so-called “wide release” movies typically open on 2,000 or more screens. Unplanned also faced other hurdles. Its R-rating meant that families, teens, and many adults who do not like to attend R-rated movies were excluded from the audience. At least one Christian radio network, K-Love, chose not to promote the movie. According to BoxOfficeMojo, networks including Lifetime, HGTV, and Hallmark also refused ads for the movie. That’s why the movie’s $6-million opening is particularly noteworthy. On the strength of the strong opening, the movie’s producers hope to expand the number of theatres for week two.
Teen Depression. A new study has produced new data to support what many of us have long suspected: technology is contributing to anxiety and depression among teens and young adults. The study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, is one of the largest ever. It analyzed ten years of data from the National Survey on Drugs and Health, a government database containing survey results from 600,000 adults and adolescents. According to WORLD, “The researchers found rates of depression and serious psychological distress as well as suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts, and deaths by suicides have all increased since the mid-2000s. They also found the increases were primarily driven by adolescents and young adults ages 25 and younger, with a more pronounced increase among girls.” Among the more troubling findings: Major depression among 20- to 21-year-olds more than doubled, from 7 percent to 15 percent, from 2009 to 2015. Depression among 16- to 17-year-olds increased by 69 percent, and serious psychological distress among 18- to 25-year-olds jumped by 71 percent. While many factors are likely to blame, San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge, who led the study, noted that it is likely more than a coincidence that smart phones became popular in 2007 and 2008, about the same time as the initial year of this study.
Intergenerational Care. For many working parents, child care is a problem that never fully gets solved. Many adult children face similar concerns when caring for aging parents. A growing number of institutions are solving this problem by putting nursing homes and child care facilities under one roof. The older people help care for the children, and the children give the older people purpose and community. According to an organization called Generations United, about 100 such facilities now exist in the United States, but in England this movement toward intergenerational care is farther along. Groups involved in the movement there pledge to have 500 “shared facilities” by 2020. Ashley McGuire, writing for the conservative group Institute for Family Studies, said, “We can’t undo our modern reality of young people being forced to leave home far behind in search of better opportunities and families being generationally splintered across the country. But we can, as a society, support and encourage the movement to reintegrate the generations in safe and loving care facilities. Babies and the elderly in day care together may sound far-fetched, but it’s one of the most promising ways to help alleviate elderly alienation and expose children to a generation they might otherwise never know.”
Friends of Religious Liberty. In the first two years of the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice has supported more religious liberty cases than during the first two years of either the Obama or Bush administrations. According to an analysis by NBC News and Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Justice Department has filed 12 amicus briefs. Under George W. Bush, the Justice Department filed only two amicus briefs in religious liberty cases during his first two years. Under Obama, the Justice Department filed eight briefs. However, one reason for the increase might be an increase in the number of religious liberty cases. The NBC/Columbia study did not examine that possibility. Still, it is undeniable that President Trump has made religious liberty a priority. Soon after taking office, in early 2017, he signed an executive order that said his administration would “vigorously enforce robust protections for religious freedom.”
Milestones. Samuel Morse, the inventor of the single wire telegraph and the Morse Code, died on this date in 1872. Many historians say the telegraph and the system of dots and dashes he devised to communicate is the true beginning of the digital age.
Warren Cole Smith is the Vice-President of Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.