Five for Friday: Facebook Political Posts, Grace in Grief, Physics Nightmare

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CHICAGO, IL (August 19, 2016) — Covenanters routinely share links to social media articles and videos that Covenant News Service believes may be of interest to others. Each Friday we post five of them. Following is a sample of those submissions—their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Covenant of any views expressed.

Your Political Facebook Posts Aren’t Changing How Your Friends Think

If you ever thought your posts or your responses would change minds, then that has been terribly naïve, and constant political posts can be annoying, especially when someone is always pointing out how stupid “the other side” is. But people post thoughts and links for reasons beyond changing minds. Sometimes they have been used to rally support or draw attention to particular issues.

From the article: “The only thing those opinionated election posts are doing is damaging your friendships. Nearly one-third of Facebook users surveyed said social media is not an appropriate forum for political discussions. And respondents from each political affiliation admitted they’ve un-friended people on Facebook because of their political posts.”

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The Grace in Grief

People who don’t attend church often tell the pastors who conduct the funerals of a family member that they will return for a regular service. They almost never do, but that’s OK.

From the article: “The greatest gift I am able to give to grieving families is to show them that there is nothing they have to do to deserve my presence at a deathbed or a funeral. It may not add to the numbers in the pews, but I hope the work of grace is deeper than that.”

The Brain That Couldn’t Remember

When a man who couldn’t remember anything due to a botched operation died years later, a behind-the-scenes fight erupted among scientists over who would get his brain for important research. It is a long story complete with several unexpected twists.

From the article: “A great deal of what we know about how our brains work has come about through intensively scrutinizing individuals whose brains don’t work. An accident jettisons an iron rod through the left frontal lobe of a mild-­mannered railroad foreman named Phineas Gage, transforming him into a full-bore hellion, thus allowing researchers to begin deducing the functions of those oversized saddlebags behind our forehead and eyes. A man with a lesion to the left superior temporal gyrus is unable to understand what’s said to him, spurring the neurologist Carl Wernicke to conclude that this area must be essential to language comprehension. Another man, with a lesion to the left inferior frontal gyrus, is able to understand speech but can’t articulate any words himself, other than a single syllable — tan, tan — providing a French surgeon named Paul Broca a glimpse of the cerebral root of language production.”

“Nightmare Scenario” for Physicists Is Nothing Really

This story about a completely different field of science raises the question of what do you do when nothing happens and your are forced to address the possibility that everything you thought you knew has been wrong. It’s also a story as to why scientific thought should always be considered as—dare I say—evolving. The scientific method involves developing hypothesis, proving or disproving, and then making another hypothesis. It’s just that some endeavors are bigger—and a whole lot more expensive—than others. Even if you don’t understand all of the technical jargon, the rest is an easy and worthwhile read.

From the article: “Some theorists argue that the time has already come for the whole field to start reckoning with the message of the null results. The absence of new particles almost certainly means that the laws of physics are not natural in the way physicists long assumed they are. ‘Naturalness is so well-motivated,’ says theoretical physicist Raman Sundrum, ‘that its actual absence is a major discovery.’ ”

reading magazine

Slightly More Than 100 Exceptional Works of Journalism

Instead of binge watching this weekend, take some time to do some binge reading of wonderful pieces of writing and reporting from magazines you know and many you have never heard of such as The Atavist, which ran a story about the only surgeon for thousands of square miles in southern Sudan, and Aeon, which published a story on English, one of the oddest languages in the world.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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