Can Jesus Be on the Courthouse Lawn?

November 8, 2012 in slideshow

As always, thanks to all those who contributed to October’s etcetera: Charlene Lutz for helping to facilitate the discussion (and Jon Zachman for valuable behind-the-scenes input); the Good Work Collective for the building; Aroma’s for the coffee, and everyone for attending!  

November’s  etcetera topic is “Outlawing Christmas: Do National Religious Holidays Have a  Place in the Public Square?”   How do we handle the public expression of religious belief in a nation of both diversity and freedom?  Perhaps more importantly, what role should the state play in allowing (or disallowing) religious expression on government property?  Our speaker will be Steven M. Jentzen, an attorney who has participated in landmark cases in family law, land development, free speech and religious liberty.

Public organizations approach the private celebration of religious belief in different ways.  Though the constitution allows for the expression of faith in schools during the celebration of religious holidays,  it’s not always easy to know when governmental institutions cross the line from accommodation to promotion.The State of New Jersey has quite a list of religious holidays that students are allowed to miss, though the humungous list at the University of Washington puts theirs to shame.  On the other hand, Harvard has been far less inclined to jump on the holiday bandwagon when it comes to any type of public accommodation for private beliefs.  And courthouse lawns? Yeah, they’re divisive. 

This aspect of the church/state controversy will be the topic of this month’s etcetera  (November 29, 7:00, at the Good Work Collective)In preparation for this meeting, here are some links with a variety of perspecites on the issue. Read the rest of this entry →

Media’s Messages and Messengers

August 9, 2012 in slideshow

On August 30, etcetera will be focusing on the subject of media and entertainment.  We are delighted to have award-winning filmmaker Rich Brauer, pop culture critic Joe Coffman, director and producer Peter Trucco, and sociology professor Sonja Olshove  for a discussion on the ways media, art and pop culture influence us – and how we influence those mediums in return.

In preparation for this event, here are a few links to get you thinking!

Mass Media and Society:

“A number of long‐term studies were conducted to determine what, if any results, all that media violence was having on us. Four major results came from these studies. A fifth one has evolved over time.”  This article explains Catharsis Theory, Aggressive Cues Theory, Observational Learning Theory, Reinforcement Theory, and Cultivation Theory.

The Impact of Media Violence on Children and Adolescents: Opportunities for Clinical Interventions:

“While the causes of youth violence are multifactorial and include such variables as poverty, family psychopathology, child abuse, exposure to domestic and community violence, substance abuse and other psychiatric disorders, the research literature is quite compelling that children’s exposure to media violence plays an important role in the etiology of violent behavior. While it is difficult to determine which children who have experienced televised violence are at greatest risk, there appears to be a strong correlation between media violence and aggressive behavior within vulnerable “at risk” segments of youth.”

The Effects of Media on American Society:

“The media will always be an influence, but it can’t control us unless we hand it over control. In essence, there’s a vast difference between influence and control. The media can be a good thing – it’s your choice in how you use it.”

Studies Examine Impact of Media Use Among Youth, Recommend Preventative Measures:

“Two new studies led by Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH and Dr. Michelle M. Garrison, PhD of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, focus on different uses of media and assess how media usage can lead to depression in college students and disrupt sleep patterns in preschool aged children.”

Owning Information

February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


 One of the deeper questions underlying the SOPA and PIPA debate has to do with the ownership of information and freedom of expression. Here is a good scholarly articles on the subject:

“Two bills now pending in Congress – the “Protect IP Act” (“Protect IP”) in the Senate, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (“SOPA”) in the House – represent the latest legislative attempts to address online copyright and trademark infringement. Although the bills differ in certain respects, they share an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression.”