Five for Friday: ‘Dolly Parton’s America,’ Change Sermon-Centric Sundays, Stop Kids’ Homework

Photo: WNYC Studios

CHICAGO, IL (October 25, 2019) – 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.

Dolly Parton’s America

This new nine-part podcast, Dolly Parton’s America from Radiolab, takes the singer-songwriter and her work seriously. Radiolab creator and host Jad Abumrad spent two years following Parton around, interviewing her and numerous contemporaries from Ralph Emery to Jane Fonda. The first episode is remarkable. Parton’s music and the way America responds to her offer a window into a divided country and suggests how we might be brought together.

From the show’s official synopsis: “Along the way, the series moves far beyond Dolly’s biography to dig deep into personal, political, and philosophical questions about feminism, faith, migration, immigration, workers’ rights, the South, the American Dream, and the universal longing for home.”

Having a Favorite Child Is Natural. Here’s How to Handle It

From pop culture to academic research, favoritism in families is a topic du jour. Reporter Brittany Wong offers suggestions to help parents address their preferences in ways that are helpful.

From the article: “Having a favorite doesn’t mean that you love them any more or less than your other children. It just means that they are behaving or embodying something that you favor…. In truth, all of my children are my favorite at some point, [and] they all also get on my nerves at some point.”

What I Learned About Writing from Reading Greta Thunberg’s Speech to the UN

One of the great journalist writing today says the young activist has a lot to teach us about more than the perils of climate change. He also notes how we can help encourage critical thinking.

From the article: “I have chosen three teen writers who were 16 years old, the same age as Greta Thunberg. I don’t know their backstory, but my guess is that they have had adults in their lives who encouraged them, from an early age, to perform the three main behaviors that mark a literate person: to read critically, write purposefully, and speak about how meaning is created through reading and writing.”

The Research Is Clear: Homework Is Wrecking Our Kids

Despite the heavy emphasis on homework – not to mention the weighty backpacks filled with books – all that time at home studying is having deleterious impacts. It is something any child who has claimed the dog ate their homework can attest to.

From the article: “Then there’s the damage to personal relationships. In thousands of homes across the country, families battle over homework nightly. Parents nag and cajole. Overtired children protest and cry. Instead of connecting and supporting each other at the end of the day, too many families find themselves locked in the ‘did you do your homework?’ cycle.”

The Case against Sermon-centric Sundays

Cultural and communication revelations have impacted the church throughout its history. Now the church is being slow to adapt, and it’s evident by the empty pews. Skye Jethani offers some ideas for possible change – and they won’t be easy.

From the article: “With the advent of digital technology and smartphones, we are witnessing the most significant shift in communication since the printing press – just ask anyone in the music, publishing, or journalism industries. The full implications are still uncertain, but if the pattern of history continues, a dramatic restructuring of the Church’s worship is likely to be on the horizon. In fact, we are already seeing the shift, as the supply/demand equation for Bible teaching has reversed.”

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About the Author

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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