Pet Idolatry, Smart Phone Separation Anxiety, John Quincy Adams, and the Passing of Hal Moore

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Pet Idolatry. If you missed Monday’s BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet on “Fur Babies,” I commend it to you. John highlights the growing trend in modern life of anthropomorphizing our pets or, even worse, idolizing them. We now regularly see, hear, and read news reports that include not only deaths and injuries to humans, but to pets as well. A group called In Defense of Animals wants to have the law changed so that humans are no longer pet “owners” but pet “guardians.” And in 2013, a Chinese man sued a Beijing animal hospital over the death of his dog during plastic surgery, according to the Global Times. A Chinese animal welfare association said the surgery was a doggie facelift performed on a Tibetan Mastiff. Mr. Yu (as the media referred to him) owns a Beijing dog farm. Yu demanded 880,000 yuan ($141,240) in compensation for the dog’s death. The Tibetan Mastiff has become a status symbol for China’s growing class of nouveaux riche. One sold for 20 million yuan last year. That’s about $3 million. This while China continues to abort babies at a merciless rate.

Smartphone Separation Anxiety. A team of researchers in Hungary has discovered what the parents of teenagers already know: Young people like having their smart phones around. In fact, the psychologists at the Eutvos Lorand University say that not having a smart phone causes “smartphone separation anxiety.” The researchers asked young adults to do a series of exercises. Half the group had their phones locked in a cabinet, while the other half did not. The results? “The scientists found that those who had their devices taken away had a more inconsistent heart rate during the breaks between activities, were more likely to stand near the place their phone was being kept, and exhibited behaviors that indicate stress, like scratching one’s face and fidgeting.” The researchers speculated that “the mobile phone is special because it’s not only an important object, but also represents our other social connections.” No word from the researchers on whether the anxiety went away if the research subjects replaced interaction with their phones with interactions with . . . well . . . real people.

Remembering John Quincy Adams. Yesterday was the President’s Day holiday. Even though some are saying we should be celebrating Washington alone, and not all the presidents, I beg to differ. I like having a day that allows us to consider the full scope of presidential history, so I propose that this week we remember a president often forgotten in the pantheon of presidential greats: John Quincy Adams. Adams was a president, the son of a president, and the only president who served in the House of Representatives after he left the White House, as a representative from Massachusetts from 1830 until his death in 1848. He was also a passionate opponent of slavery. In fact, he had just given an anti-slavery speech when he collapsed at his desk on the floor of the House on this date, Feb. 21, in 1848. He died two days later without regaining consciousness. Adams would often put his head down on his desk while Congress was in session, and many of his colleagues thought the old man was asleep. After he died, those colleagues discovered a strange architectural quirk of the dome-roofed House chamber allowed Adams to sit at his desk and hear plainly the whispered stratagems of the opposing party, far across the room. Adams was not sleeping. He was listening, and he used this intelligence to great effect until the last days of his life. It was a lengthy life: As a boy in the 18th century, he knew the Founding Fathers; then-freshman Rep. Abraham Lincoln was one of his pallbearers, and many at his funeral lived well into the 20th century. Adams left behind 50 volumes of diaries, which have become a rich original resource for historians. In those diaries he often mentioned his daily Bible readings, as he had a longstanding practice of reading the Bible for an hour each day.

Hal Moore’s Passing. One of the best war movies of the past 20 years is “We Were Soldiers.” Starring Mel Gibson, the movie powerfully tells the story of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, the first major battle of the Vietnam War. Lt. Col. Hal Moore brilliantly and courageously led the American forces in that battle, a battle that cost 71 American lives and more than 1000 North Vietnamese. The strategy, tactics, and battlefield management used by Moore during those three days are still studied by military scholars. Moore died last week at age 94. One of the many things I liked about the movie that told his story was its respectful and convincing portrayal of Moore’s devout Christian faith. I interviewed Randall Wallace, the film’s screenwriter and director, about both this movie and others he has directed. You can listen to that interview here.

Image courtesy of The White House Historical Association via Wikipedia.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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