Thursday, April 18, 2019 

Good morning! 

Today is Maundy Thursday, though that designation depends on where you live.  Catholics around the world refer to it as “Holy Thursday” – and to others it’s called Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday and Thursday of Mysteries. 

Here are some of today’s headlines: 

  1. Notre Dame Fire Reminds Us that God Often Uses Suffering to Shape and Mold Us 

Jim Daly reflects: 

Monday’s fire at the famed cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, riveted the world, as television outlets broke into regularly scheduled programing to show the devastation unfold in real time. 

The sight of a sacred cathedral burning is jarring, even upsetting. At the same time, we’re reminded that nothing on this earth is permanent – and that God often uses suffering, setbacks and disappointments to shape and mold us. 

I am regularly reminding myself that adverse circumstances, while inevitable, are not God’s final plan. 

Yet, I believe He allows us to endure them at times to teach us something – whether about Him, ourselves or for some reason beyond our mortal understanding. 

  1. AG Barr Holding Mueller Report Press Conference Thursday Morning 

From The Hill: 

Attorney General William Barr will hold a press conference Thursday morning on the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday. 

Both Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who previously oversaw the Mueller probe, will be at the press conference, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. 

A DOJ spokesperson said earlier this week that Mueller’s redacted report would be released Thursday morning. 

  1. Michele Bachman’s Comments on President Trump Raise Eyebrows on Both Sides of the Aisle 

From Fox News: 

Former House Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., exalted President Trump as being “highly biblical” in a recent interview. 

Bachmann, 63, spoke with “Understanding These Times,” a Christian radio show over the weekend and offered her praise of the commander-in-chief, adding there were so many examples of Trump “standing for righteousness.” 

“One being Barack Obama had demanded and commanded that our military services had to literally go out and recruit people who are transgender to come into the military,” she claimed. “Well, it costs about a quarter of a million dollars to do sex reassignment surgery.” 

Bachmann applauded Trump for standing up “where most Republicans wouldn’t dare to.” 

“Donald Trump has had the courage in the fortitude, and I will say to your listeners in my lifetime I have never seen a more biblical president than I have seen in Donald Trump,” she said. 

  1. Concordia University Disinvites Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield over Scientific Views on Gender 

Reason reports: 

Mansfield is a political conservative, and his views on gender reflect his conservative outlook. No doubt many people would disagree with them—especially those on the hyper-woke left, whose gender-related opinions are not shared by the vast majority of the population. If this means that Mansfield should be denied a platform, then no one who has ever expressed a problematic opinion on any matter would be deemed fit to speak on campus  

  1. Conception Rate Rising for Women Over 40 

The Economist has more

In her 20s, Claire Fenelon was much too busy to have children. After going to university as a mature student, she spent a year in Australia then a few months in France, picking up the language. “I didn’t want to feel I was missing out,” she says. But by the time she was ready to settle down, she struggled to find the right man. At 39, she froze her eggs. Eight years later and still lacking a partner, she decided to “go solo”, giving birth to a son with the help of a sperm donor. “I was desperate to have kids,” she says. “But I didn’t want to have them with the wrong person.” 

Ms Fenelon belongs to a growing cohort of middle-aged women on maternity wards. As in other rich countries, the fertility rate in England and Wales is dwindling. But among women aged 40 and over the conception rate is rising. It jumped by 2.6% in 2017 and has more than doubled since 1990, according to statistics published on April 15th. Meanwhile, at the other end of the age spectrum, an even starker change is afoot. The official figures chart the tenth consecutive annual fall in the rate of teenage pregnancies. Since 2007 the conception rate for 15- to 17-year-old girls has dived by 57%. The conception rates of the youngest and oldest mothers are now close to converging. Middle-aged maternity may soon be more common than teenage pregnancy. 

  1. It’s Time to Take Away the iPads from Kids in Restaurants 

A CNN contributor finds that he “gets judgy” when he sees zoned out kids in restaurants: 

I try to be restrained in my judgments of other parents. We have so many obligations and pressures when it comes to parental duties that it’s probably more detrimental to kids if their parents are further stressed by worrying that they’re doing it all wrong. 

I think of this column as a gut check — encouraging some self-awareness and experimentation to see whether you can find something that improves your relationship with your kids or makes parenting easier or more enjoyable. For the most part, I believe that parents know what’s best for their kids. 

But I find it hard to maintain this objectivity in one specific area: When I see parents in restaurants with their kid(s) zoned out on an iPad or phone, I start to get judgy. 

  1. Teens Who Sext Could Be in Jail for a Long Time 

Reuters reports

Sexting – the texting of sexual images – is increasingly common among teens, but in nearly half the U.S. the practice may hold an unexpected danger: in 23 states, sexting between teens is considered child pornography, which could potentially result in a 20-year prison term and mandatory registration as a sex offender, a new report warns.  

More than a quarter of teens say they have received a sext and nearly 15 percent say they have sent a sext, researchers report in Pediatrics. The prevalence of sexting has been on the rise as more and more teens acquire smart phones, the authors noted.  

  1. Study Reveals Gay Marriage Approval on the Rise 

From the New York Post

Anti-gay bias has declined significantly in many areas of the US, a new study appearing this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds. And it all hinges on legalized nuptials, according to the research conducted by McGill University’s Department of Psychology, where they’re studying America’s changing attitudes towards homosexuality.

Using Harvard-backed website Project Implicit, which tracks volunteer responses to analyze implicit biases and assumptions, Hehman’s team was able to collect opinions from more than 1 million users during a 12-year period, noting changes in trends before and after gay marriage legislation. 

Before the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to allow same-sex marriage across the country, 35 other states plus Washington, DC, had already done so locally, starting with Massachusetts in 2004. Overall, polls suggest that support for same-sex marriage has steadily climbed, researchers say.  

  1. Alabama State Lawmakers Consider Getting Rid of Marriage Licenses 

WBHM Reports:

When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage back in 2015, a number of Alabama probate judges refused to issue marriage licenses – to anyone. Four years later, judges in seven or eight counties haven’t budged. Recently the Alabama Senate approved proposed legislation that would eliminate marriage licenses. The bill could move to the full House of Representatives as early as this week. 

The bill would ostensibly take probate judges out of the marriage equation. “We’re beyond bypassing the state being the gatekeeper and permission-giver of a couple to enter into marriage,” State Sen. Greg Albritton, sponsor of the legislation says. 

Albritton says his bill streamlines the process. A couple fills out forms for a marriage certificate – not a license.  

  1. Big News for People Who Spend Hours Staring at Maps on Planes 

Are you one of them?  According to the Wall Street Journal, get ready to be wowed: 

Maps are the most popular elements of in-flight entertainment systems, capturing passenger attention by posting live updates about a trip, most importantly when you’ll arrive. Airlines offer movies, TV shows, podcasts and games on entertainment systems, but the boring map, which made its debut over 30 years ago, turns out to be the most useful, maybe even anxiety-reducing, focus of bored passengers. 

Now manufacturers are giving maps a makeover. You’ll be able to get encyclopedic details on Mount Fuji as you fly past, track your spouse’s flight from your seat and zoom in for details on points of interest like the top 10 rides at Disneyland compiled from social media. The map will be loaded with data about your flight, down to which languages flight attendants onboard speak, when dinner will be served and how long you’ll be in Brazilian airspace. 

FlightPath3D, which is found on more than 50 airlines, offers interactive map views and destination information on seat-back screens, or through a plane’s Wi-Fi system. If the plane doesn’t have seat-back screens, your tablet or phone can give you the same moving map.

11.  Texting and the Workplace: Awkward Misfires 

The more we text one another, the greater the risk of texting the wrong person – or the wrong thing, so says the Wall Street Journal: 

In workplaces across America, the humble text message is making deep inroads. Once seen as too personal for work, the casual medium is now being embraced by companies for its speed and convenience. 

Cue a delicate social dance—and attendant social hiccups. Complaints range from oversharing colleagues to texts pinging at all hours of the day and night. While email helps silo work communications, the text inbox is a more blended affair, where notes from friends and family jostle with communiqués from bosses and co-workers.

When a colleague of Gurpreet Banwait texted to let her know about the location of some files, Ms. Banwait, 27, reflexively fired back “xox”—representing kisses and hugs—and heart emojis she would usually reserve for friends.

“I thought to myself, ‘Oh, that was too much,’ ” the Toronto-based publishing company employee says.

In Washington, D.C., Kathleen Smith, a chief marketing officer in her late 50s, often texts with her husband and a colleague she calls her “work husband”—and frequently mixes them up.

“I’ll send a message and I’ll get a response that says, ‘I think you meant to send it to your other husband,’ ” she says.

Hope you have a meaningful and blessed Easter!