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Why Rewards Backfire with Children: Advice for Teachers and Parents

What impact does grading or rewarding our children for their school work have on their motivation to learn? There’s a wide range of thought on whether or not external rewards motivate kids to do well. But I am a Montessori pre-school directress, and so I am firmly in the camp of those against using external rewards. Here are my reasons. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, children are born with an intrinsic ...

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The Oxymoron of Peace

“At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant.” Maybe this piercing observation by Roberto Savio, founder of the news agency Inter Press Service, is the cruelest cut of all. Geopolitically speaking, hope — the official kind, represented, say, by the United N ...

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Battling to the End in Israel/ Palestine

Sometimes a blog just writes itself. I’m preparing to attend the annual academic conference on mimetic theory being held near Munich, Germany July 21-24, 2014. We will be focusing on René Girard’s book on war called Battling to the End in the context of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Girard’s analysis of war centers on his reading of another famous treatise written in the aftermath o ...

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Why I Hope Ann Coulter is Right: Soccer and the Moral Decay of the United States

In the midst the World Cup, conservative columnist Ann Coulter wrote a scathing article about soccer. She denounced the sport for infecting the United States with moral deterioration. She wrote, “Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay.” Coulter is a shock journalist who specializes in scandal. She garners attention by shaming and demonizing liberals, in this case for o ...

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Fr. Richard Schenk on Mimetic Theory, World War 1, and “Battling to the End”

The annual conference of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion begins next week! This conference will be especially interesting as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War 1 and relates that war to mimetic theory. The conference is titled, "Battling to the End 1914-2014: The Escalation of Violence and Victimization: Rene Girard and Jean-Luc Marion." Suzanne and I had the opportunity to interview ...

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Democracy: No Longer For Sale?

Ah, 1961. The year -- certain aspects of it, anyway -- are almost impossible to remember. "Whites only" bathrooms, for instance. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, legendary civil rights leader and crosser of lines, recently tweeted an ancient mugshot memorializing his arrest that year for using a "whites only" bathroom in Mississippi and, in the process, amping up outrage against Jim Crow segregation in the South and i ...

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Jesus is at the Border: Immigration, Barriers, and God’s Economy

I am not a politician, so I’m not an expert on immigration policies. I am not an economist, so I’m not an expert on the economic benefits or burdens of immigration. But I am a public theologian. I try to understand how we can participate with God in setting things right, healing the world, and reconciling human beings with one another, with the world, and with God. How is God setting things right? Jesus, in ...

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The Hidden Cost of Pride

Why are you working so hard to disprove God? From I Origins movie Trailer A reader named Heidi recently asked that we talk about “the issue of pride” as it relates to “our desires for non-physical things”. It was a great suggestion because pride is a sinful pattern of desire for non-physical things, a pattern we believe that Jesus’ atonement is undoing. The understanding of atonement as undergoing a change ...

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Investing In Peace: Israel, Palestine and the Presbyterian Church.

A couple weeks ago, I decided I would write in support of the Presbyterian Church USA’s decision, by a narrow vote of the 221st General Assembly, to divest from three particular businesses that facilitate the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel: Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. While I feel anxiety speaking up on such a controversial topic, I am proud of my childho ...

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Live Chat with Brian McLaren

We invite you to join our upcoming live chat with Brian McLaren at 3:00 EDT on July 31st! Brian is a highly influential activist and author of many books, including his latest, We Make the Road by Walking: A Year Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation. This is a unique opportunity to engage with Brian – he has been an inspiration to many of us seeking to reimagine Christianity for ...

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