Friday, July 20, 2012


Aging Well: Practical, theological reasons to value older people
July 17, 2012 Posted by Missy Buchanan, UMR Columnist
Sometimes you read something that sends chills down your spine. It happened recently when I read the words of Stephen Sapp, chair of religious studies at the University of Miami in Coral Cables, Fla., and former chair of the governing council for the Forum on Religion, Spirituality and Aging:
“People in the United States don’t like old people, and church folks are not particularly different. Despite decades of awareness of ageism and strong emphasis on battling all other ‘isms,’ old people (with the exception of lawyers and politicians) remain the only identifiable group that is perfectly acceptable to disparage, ridicule and demean in ‘polite company.’”
Dr. Sapp boldly makes the case that if jokes were made about race or gender the way they are about older adults, the church would be up in arms. He suggests that one reason our youth-obsessed culture has a distaste for old people is that old people on some level confront us with what awaits most of us as we age.
Americans do not want to get old and we certainly don’t want to acknowledge that we will die. Even images of “healthy” or “successful” aging promote the idea that one must hang onto youth for as long as possible, an inherent devaluation of old age.
Dr. Sapp insists that clergy are among the worst in terms of acknowledging their own mortality. “I have encountered more resistance from clergy to facing aging than anybody else, and my colleagues who also work in the field of religion and aging all report the same experience,” he says.
Too much gerontology literature, including Christian, sugarcoats the losses inherent in aging, he says. From a theological perspective, Christians ought to be wonderfully equipped to provide real help in the area of aging, but unfortunately we have bought into the dominant American values and have trouble addressing issues about aging in a religious way.
Dr. Sapp believes we do older people a disservice when we paint too golden a picture of aging, one that few people will be able to achieve. We begin to believe what culture tells us, that being a worthy human means we have complete rationality, are economically productive and are absolutely independent—things that aging undermines if we live long enough.
When it comes to church growth, Dr. Sapp rejects the idea that attracting young families is the only answer. He expresses disappointment about the church’s slow response to the obvious demographic shift to an aging population. He points to statistics that indicate if churches did nothing but attract people 65 and older, there are enough in the pipeline from that age group to double church membership every five years for the next 40 years or so.
By the year 2040, he says, there will be more 85-year-olds than five-year-olds. He wonders how the church will attract people 65 and older when it offers so little for elders and generally doesn’t want them.
Dr. Sapp says the typical American attitude about aging frames the conversation as a competition between young and old, and he dismisses the idea that if the church is to maintain its appeal to younger people it must neglect old people. Instead he emphasizes that what’s needed is the recognition that we are all aging together. It is one thing every human being shares.
As the body of Christ, we should remember that we are all in this together, he adds. The church ought to be the one institution in our society that lets no one forget that.
Ms. Buchanan, a member of FUMC Rockwall, Texas, is the author of several books, including Aging Faithfully: 28 Days of Prayer (Upper Room Books). Reach her at:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Debate about Homosexuality

Bishop Tom Wright wants the Church to have a reasonable debate on the topic of homosexuality in place of the current "shouting match." While acknowledging the complexity of the issue, he identifies the central question to be addressed, "What things about a person's humanity need to be celebrated and what need to be repented of--and how do you tell the difference?" A thoughtful discussion on this question must then be framed by an understanding of God's created order as revealed in Genesis 1 and 2, along with the historical knowledge that the Apostle Paul and his contemporaries in the ancient world would have been as aware of the reality of homosexuality as we are today.
Part of an interview by Dr. Tod Bolsinger, Senior Pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church, at the Pastors Retreat of the Los Ranchos Presbytery held at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, CA. Bishop N.T. Wright is the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England.


Boomers face mental health, substance abuse issues

Associated Press
Updated 11:19 p.m., Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Washington --
Aging doesn't just mean a risk of physical ailments like heart disease and bum knees: A new report finds as many as 1 in 5 seniors has a mental health or substance abuse problem.
As the population rapidly ages over the next two decades, millions of Baby Boomers may have a hard time finding care and services for mental health problems such as depression because the nation lacks the doctors, nurses and other health workers trained for their needs, the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, said Tuesday.
Instead, the nation is focused mostly on preparing for the physical health needs of what's been called the silver tsunami.
Already, at least 5.6 million to 8 million Americans age 65 and older have a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder, the report found. Depressive disorders and psychiatric symptoms related to dementia are the most common.
While the panel couldn't make precise projections, those numbers are sure to grow as the number of seniors nearly doubles by 2030, said report co-author Dr. Peter Rabins, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University.
Merely getting older doesn't make mental health problems more likely to occur, Rabins said, noting that middle age is the most common time for the onset of depression.
But when they do occur in older adults, the report found that they're too often overlooked and tend to be more complex.

Monday, July 9, 2012


4 July 2012
Your pretty face wasn't always so pretty: the first animation of a face forming in the womb reveals how different features morph during development.
The time-lapse, produced for the BBC series Inside the Human Body, is based on human embryo scans captured between 1 and 3 months after conception, the period during which a face develops. Virtual sculptures were created at different stages, then combined by mapping hundreds of points to corresponding dots on the other models. "It was a nightmare for structures like the nose and palate, which didn't exist for most of the animation," says David Barker, the graphics researcher on the production. "Their formation is a complicated ballet of growth and fusion of moving plates of tissue."
A close look at the animation reveals that a face forms from three main features that rotate into place, meeting at the philtrum, the groove above the top lip. The transformation occurs with very precise timing and delays can result in a cleft lip or palate.
For more intriguing views of the body, watch Inside the Human Body, which will be airing in the UK and Ireland on 16 July at 9 pm as part of a month of science programmes on Eden TV.
If you enjoyed this video, you might like to see the first MRI movie of a baby's birth or watch an incubator spy on a developing embryo.