Weekly Meanderings, 26 June 2021 | Jesus Creed

Good morning, friends! Don’t ask how long we have been doing these Meanderings, but we seem to come up with some links each week.

I have often mentioned here that I don’t find these links by myself and often don’t find any that come to me for Meanderings. They come to me from Kris and family members and friends. So, if you see something you think belongs here, send it to me. I’m glad to give you a HT (hat tip) even if my routine helpers refuse to let me use it for them. But count on it, not one of these links is from me.

Anyway, very pleased to hear of what’s happening at the Lawndale Christian Legal Center.

CHICAGO (WLS) — As Chicago violence continues to soar, a Chicago community organization is guiding young people through the criminal justice system and then hopefully away from it.

“I had a pretty powerful experience happen across a guard shack actually in Springer, New Mexico’s Boys’ Correctional Facility,” said Cliff Nellis, Executive Director of the Lawndale Christian Legal Center.

Fresh from University of Chicago Law School, Cliff Nellis said he felt a calling to help underserved teens get legal help, and then stay out of the criminal justice system. The idea came to him during a cross-country cycling trip.

“I was asking the guy for directions and he told me that the kids in this facility had no hope, they come in at 13, and spend the rest of their life in adult prison, and I just kept saying, God, what can I do,” Nellis told the I-Team.

Nellis helped create the Lawndale Christian Legal Center; a community-based, community-led legal center in North Lawndale. Fifty-one percent of the board is neighborhood residents along with 70 percent of the staff.

“I saw that sense of calling that I had, this sense of ministry to justice involving young people, that I could use my law degree and my law practice as a way to serve them,” said Nellis.

Started in 2010, the center serves ages 24 and younger who live in Lawndale and are accused of a crime that happened in the neighborhood.

“Our model is really addressing the legal and social needs of every young person that comes through our doors,” said Nellis. “We are throwing people in jail at exponentially high rates, in North Lawndale in particular, and most of them are 24 and under, and it’s a serious problem.”

Nellis has lived in North Lawndale for 11 years and is raising his three young kids in the neighborhood.

You like ice cream?

(WTAJ) — New dream job: getting paid to eat ice cream. Can you do that?

According to FinanceBuzz, you can. The company is looking to hire an “Ice Cream Flavor Evaluation Specialist” who will have the responsibility of eating and ranking different flavors of Ben & Jerry’s over the course of a year.

The Ice Cream Flavor Evaluation Specialist will receive $1,000 and a $500 gift card to stock up on inventory.

Ben & Jerry’s churns up over 194 million pints of ice cream in the United States every year. In 2020, their top flavors were Half Baked, Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

“Partisanism”?

Partisanism: I looked. It is actually a word. I see partisanism as a distortion of healthy partisanship. It is where party ideals become ideology and there is a kind of absolutism about it that says we are right and they are wrong. The point is not seeking some form of common good, but simply the good of our party, our group. Wrong people don’t deserve good. Partisanism stirs up a religious fervor befitting the fact that it is an -ism. If partisanism can’t get its way it obstructs and often complains that the other side is unwilling to compromise. What is really the case is that the extreme positions sides are forced to in these situations brook no compromise–only winners and losers. Nothing is left on the table. We only allow either/or. There is no room to consider both/and.

Partisanism at its worst becomes political extremism in which pretenses of principle are jettisoned for the ruthless exercise of power. It might be a form of fascism on the right or a form of statism on the left. In history, this always ends badly in the loss of human rights, and often, a succession of violence.

Sad story of neglect, good story of aid:

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A large potbelly pig found abandoned outside a Las Vegas home will go up for adoption once she loses some weight, officials at the Animal Foundation said on Facebook.

The pig, named Cupcake, was discovered in a large wire dog kennel on June 2. The high temperature that day was 107 degrees.

“Cupcake had been dumped there,” the foundation wrote. “She was alone, uncomfortable and severely overweight.”

Cupcake weighs 175 pounds and is “so obese she can hardly move,” the post said. The pig also had overgrown hooves and dirty ears when found.

With the help of a local veterinarian, the pig is now doing much better, the post said.

“With a nail trim and portioned meals, Cupcake is on the road to recovery,” the post said. “She will need a caring owner who will help her on her weight loss journey and show her the love she deserves.”

The Animal Foundation says it helps an average of 25,000 animals a year.

Speaking of helping some of God’s little critters, here’s a good one about a penguin:

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) — A St. Louis Zoo penguin wearing specially-made shoes is a rare sight — so it’s no surprise that a visitor’s Facebook post about the footwear has sparked more than 9,000 likes.

The St. Louis Zoo told NewsNation affiliate KTVI that the therapeutic support boots are helping.

Enrique, a southern rockhopper penguin native to the southern tips of South America and Africa and some islands around Antarctica, has developed arthritis in his old age, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He has been living at the zoo since 2016 and is estimated to be more than 30 years old. The median life expectancy in the wild is about 10 years, according Dr. Jimmy Johnson, staff veterinarian at the zoo.

“We always say his longevity is a credit to the zoo continuing to provide him with great care and expert husbandry,” Johnson told the Post-Dispatch. “We’re lucky to have had him with us for such a long time.”

Veterinarians noticed Enrique had developed larger, thicker calluses at the bottom of his feet, a symptom of arthritis. He was originally treated with a variety of medicines, topical sprays and creams. Since those treatments needed to be reapplied every time he went for a swim, a more permanent solution was necessary.

“We started thinking outside the box,” Johnson told The Post, “and that’s where the boots come in.”

It sure does help.

The Supreme Court kicked the can down the road today on the case of Students for Fair Admissions’ case against Harvard University, with an invitation to the solicitor general to write a brief expressing the view of the United States. The invitation is a delay, but the case will be considered again. SFFA attempts to argue that the nation’s most famous college discriminates against Asian Americans in the admissions process, and even though it’s lost twice in court, it’s expected that this current court, packed with conservative justices, would rule in favor of the astroturf organization dedicated to killing affirmative action should it decide to hear the case.

SSFA’s leader, Ed Blum, has been trying for decades to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions. After he failed with Abigail Fisher’s suit against the University of Texas (that one argued Fisher had been discriminated against for being white but failed to provide compelling evidence), Blum started courting Asian American students who were rejected by Ivy League institutions. It is unclear how many he found, since not one student testified on SFFA’s behalf during the trial, but the organization’s legal strategy relied on statistical arguments to claim that Harvard’s admissions policies gave advantages to legacies, donors, athletes, and underrepresented minorities, which hurt Asian American applicants. In trying to claim an equivalence between providing unfair advantages to the already advantaged (legacies, donors, athletes) and taking race and racism into account during the admissions process, SFFA has cannily yoked its attack on race-conscious admissions to a critique of actually illegitimate advantages given to the white and wealthy.

But there’s a clear tell in this strategy that reveals SFFA does not really care about unearned advantages: It said nothing about graduating from a private high school.

Graduating from private high school is a far larger advantage at many top ranked colleges than playing sports or being a legacy or even having a connection to a donor are. (Viewed a certain way, a private school is almost a more reliable income source for an elite college than a donor.) While 10 percent of students admitted to Harvard’s Class of 2018 were recruited athletes and 12 percent were legacies, almost 40 percent of the class went to a private school. If we really wanted to get rid of the most glaring case of bias at prestigious private universities, we would target private high school students.

Legacy, donor, and athletic preferences should be stripped out of college admissions too, but when it comes to tipping the scales away from fairness and equity, private schools outweigh everything else. Only 7 percent of high school students attended private high schools in the United States in 2019, according to Census Bureau data, but at many of the most selective colleges in the nation private school grads make up a third to half of freshman classes.

Yes.

In the early days of the pandemic, economist Jeanet Bentzen of the University of Copenhagen examined Google searches for the word “prayer” in 95 countries. She identified that they hit an all-time global high in March 2020, and increases occurred in lockstep with the number of COVID-19 cases identified in each country. Stateside, according to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans prayed to end the spread of the novel coronavirus in March 2020, and nearly one quarter reported that their faith increased the following month, despite limited access to houses of worship.

These are not just interesting sociological trends—they are clinically significant. Spirituality has historically been dismissed by psychiatrists, but results from a pilot program at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts indicate that attention to it is a critical aspect of mental health care.

In 2017 my multidisciplinary team of mental health clinicians, researchers and chaplains created Spiritual Psychotherapy for Inpatient, Residential and Intensive Treatment (SPIRIT), a flexible and spiritually integrated form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. We subsequently trained a cadre of more than 20 clinicians, stationed on 10 different clinical units throughout McLean Hospital, to deliver SPIRIT and evaluated the approach. Since 2017, SPIRIT has been delivered to more than 5,000 people. Our results suggest that spiritual psychotherapy is not only feasible but highly desired by patients.

In the past year, American mental health sank to the lowest point in history: Incidence of mental disorders increased by 50 percent, compared with before the pandemic, alcohol and other substance abuse surged, and young adults were more than twice as likely to seriously consider suicide than they were in 2018. Yet the only group to see improvements in mental health during the past year were those who attended religious services at least weekly (virtually or in-person): 46 percent report “excellent” mental health today versus 42 percent one year ago. As former congressional representative Patrick J. Kennedy and journalist Stephen Fried wrote in their book A Common Struggle, the two most underappreciated treatments for mental disorders are “love and faith.”

It’s no wonder that nearly 60 percent of psychiatric patients want to discuss spirituality in the context of their treatment. Yet we rarely provide such an opportunity. Since Sigmund Freud’s characterization of religion as a “mass-delusion” nearly 100 years ago, mental health professionals and scientists have eschewed the spiritual realm. Current efforts to flatten the COVID-19 mental health curve have been almost entirely secular. The American Psychological Association’s extensive set of consumer resources makes no mention of spirituality. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s only spiritual recommendation is to “connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.” Of more than 90,000 active projects presently funded by all 27 institutes and centers within the National Institutes of Health, fewer than 20 mention spirituality anywhere in the abstract, and only one project contains this term in its title. Needless to say, a lack of funding for research on spirituality hamstrings clinical innovation and dissemination.

Welcome Mia!

(NEXSTAR) – A woman who gave birth at Miami International Airport over the weekend couldn’t have given her newborn a more fitting name.

The baby girl, who was born Sunday, was named Mia — just like airport’s location code (MIA).

“The story was cleared for arrival today for a special delivery,” the airport tweeted on Sunday following the baby’s birth. “Meet Mia who was born at the airport this afternoon with help from our Terminal Team, @MiamiDadFire and @MiamiDadePD.”

Photos shared by the airport show Mia and her mother in one of the terminal’s bathrooms, surrounded by airport personnel as well as members of the Miami-Dade police and fire departments.

A spokesperson for the airport told the Miami Herald that the baby was born inside the restroom at the North Terminal, near Gate D43. The mother had just flown in from Chicago on an American Airlines flight, he said.

“We were honored to help the mom have a safe delivery at MIA and we are proud to hear that the baby has been named Mia because of her successful ‘arrival’ at our airport,” said Greg Chin, the communications director for MIA, in a statement shared with the Herald.