Econ Major Takes First Place in Wheatley Essay Contest, on the Religious Roots of Rights

“Religious freedom is the first freedom, not merely in order of mention in the Bill of Rights, but as the source of human rights and their best line of defense,” argued Jacob Fisher in an essay that won first-place winner in the Wheatley Institution‘s 10-Year Anniversary Essay Contest. “If we believe that our beloved democracy will simply persist without commitment to religious liberty, we are admiring the flower while killing the root.”

He continues:

Some voices question the validity of promoting religious liberty in modern America. Though it is prominently mentioned in the Bill of Rights, there are those who insist that religious freedom is a “redundant right” because its content, like religious speech and religious assembly, is already included in other enumerated rights. Far from being redundant, religious freedom is the root of all freedoms, because rights are a spiritual concept. Where does society obtain its knowledge of human rights? Do we find inalienable rights under the frontal lobe? Are they secreted by the liver? No. Rights are not a physical attribute of our bodies; any sense in which we believe human rights to be real must be a reflection of our spiritual understanding of human nature.

For limited government to work, personal behavior must be primarily governed by internal directives, rather than fear of legal enforcement. Religious institutions promote this voluntary right living. Those who support the project of limited government should be alarmed at America’s declining religiosity, because as religion recedes from public space, it leaves a gap that expansive State power is all too ready to fill.

Fisher, an undergraduate in the Department of Economics, wrote his essay, entitled “The Roots of Rights” in response to one of 10 prompts provided by the Wheatley Institution. His focus on rights forms part of a larger conversation within the college on a variety of rights, including civil, and the responsibilities and benefits that come with them.

The Wheatley Institution works to “enhance the academic climate and scholarly reputation of BYU, and to enrich faculty and student experiences, by contributing recognized scholarship that lifts society by preserving and strengthening its core institutions.”

William K. Wyckoff to Give 2017 Chauncy Harris Lecture

William K. Wyckoff,  a geographer from Montana State University, will give this year’s Chauncy Harris Lecture. The lecture will take place on Thursday, November 16, at 11 a.m. in 250 SWKT. He will speak on “Producing Public Geographics: Creating a Field Guide to the American West.”

william wyckoffDr. Wyckoff studies the cultural and historical geography of the American West. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and its Department of Geography hold this lecture annually, named after Chauncy Harris. Harris graduated from BYU in 1933 with degrees in geography and geology; he was 19 years old at the time. He went on to earn his postgraduate degrees from Oxford and the University of Chicago, later becoming a professor who specialized in urban geography and Soviet geography.

Harris also developed the multiple nuclei model, which theorizes that a central business district is a city’s first core, but that new nuclei develop as various activities spread throughout the urban area over time.

We’ll see you at the lecture!

Breaking the Silence: Better Parent/Child Conversations About Sex and Sexuality

For most of us, parent-child conversations about sexuality are pretty uncomfortable, whether you’re the parent or the child. But School of Family Life professor Laura Padilla-Walker says there are ways families can avoid that tension. In this year’s recent Cutler Lecture, hosted annually by our college, Dr. Padilla-Walker discussed her research on the ways parents teach teens about sexuality, and what it revealed about more effective ways of having those conversations.

How Not to Have Those Conversations

Outside research suggests that highly religious parents often wait the longest and feel the least comfortable when they speak with their children about sexuality (which is especially true for Catholic, Jewish, and LDS families). In Dr. Padilla-Walker’s research, her students, who were predominantly LDS, reported that their parents didn’t discuss sex often and didn’t always handle the conversation well. LDS parents tended to focus on abstinence and the sacredness of sex, but 46% of her survey participants reported that their parents seemed embarrassed during conversations about sexuality. Roughly 24% mentioned that their parents used fear tactics as part of those discussions.

LDS sexuality conversations
These percentages come from a survey distributed by Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker, a professor in BYU’s School of Family Life.

What’s more, many people in Dr. Padilla-Walker’s sample (48% of female respondents, 33% of male respondents) reported that they had experienced anxiety concerning their sexuality. That anxiety wasn’t correlated with what their parents said but with how they led conversations about sex. When parents seemed embarrassed or when kids had to initiate conversations about sex, those children had less healthy views of sexuality. When parents said sex was good or normal (without employing any fear tactics), their kids had healthier views of sexuality.

But where exactly should parents begin?

How to Have Those Conversations

Improve the Parent-Child Relationship

Dr. Padilla-Walker said that it’s important to establish a “culture of openness” and that improving the parent-child relationship is the first step. As parents grow closer to their children by praising them, spending time with them, and keeping an open dialogue, conversations about sex will become more comfortable and natural.

Improve the Frequency and Timing of Conversations About Sexuality

She also suggested ways that parents can improve the frequency and timing of conversations about sexuality. It’s not enough for parents to initiate one big sex talk with their children, Dr. Padilla-Walker said, and parents shouldn’t postpone those conversations until their children are sexually active or curious. Rather, parents and children should discuss sexuality often and early, while parents “pre-arm” their kids.

Focus on the Positives

Finally, Dr. Padilla-Walker recommended that parents focus on the positives of waiting to become sexually active, as well as the positive aspects of sexuality in marriage.

Our friends at the Comprehensive Clinic provide these additional instructions, in a separate blog post:

  • avoid using slang, euphemisms, or metaphors when talking about sex
  • Give your children age-appropriate sexual education
  • avoid “reactive sex ed”

“Parents are the scaffolding that will help their children learn about healthy sexuality,” Dr. Padilla-Walker concluded. Adolescents will be better off when their parents help them build a healthy framework.

Dr. Padilla-Walker’s full lecture is available here.

 

Our Negative View of Aging

Many of us fear the inevitable process of aging. We overlook the positive aspects of growing older, focusing on the negatives we observe as our parents and grandparents become less mobile and more gray-haired. Keynote speaker Dr. Marc Agronin mentioned those negative perceptions at FHSS‘s 2017 Gerontology Conference. He reminded us that most people avoid making jokes about race, religion, and gender, but old age is usually free game.

In this three-minute highlight video, he argues, though, that decreased independence does not devalue age, and there is a lot to be said for continuing to shape a positive life in old age.

Dr. Agronin’s full lecture is available here.

This post is thirty-third in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Gerotranscendence: Becoming Older and More Spiritual Too

Gerotranscendence is a big word that simply refers to the way people’s perspectives shift as they age. Many individuals become more spiritual, and they often care more deeply about religion and life’s big questions. Dr. Marc E. Agronin, the keynote speaker at BYU’s 2017 Gerontology Conference, said older individuals who pray, attend church, and engage in religious activities tend to live longer. They are less likely to experience depression, and they often enjoy many other health benefits.

You can watch some of the highlights of Dr. Agronin’s keynote address in the video below. And of course, keep following our blog to learn more about gerontology — its ups, its downs, and everything in between.

Dr. Agronin’s full lecture is available here.

This post is thirty-second in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

 

New Faculty Spotlight: Natalie Hancock

New FHSS professor Natalie Hancock had an “aha” moment on the first day of her undergraduate interior design class at BYU. Her professor was listing a few majors that might interest students who liked the class. “When she said Family and Consumer Sciences Education, I knew that was the major for me,” Professor Hancock said.

Then-student Hancock had always loved sewing and cooking, and she’d taken a few FACS classes during junior high, but it took the interior design professor’s comment to make Professor Hancock realize what she wanted to do with her life.

“I love Family and Consumer Sciences Education”

Natalie HancockSince taking that undergraduate course, Professor Hancock has given her all to helping family and consumer science students. She worked as a middle school and high school teacher for several years, where she integrated technology, math, science, and even social media into her classroom.

“Once I entered the teaching profession I loved learning how to become a better teacher. I wanted to share that passion with others,” Professor Hancock said. “I love Family and Consumer Sciences Education and believe everyone should major in this program.”

Professor Hancock said she has a clear goal in returning to BYU as a professor: to help students all over campus know about the FACS Education major. “The skills that are taught to secondary students by our FACS Education majors are vitally important,” Professor Hancock said. “FACS graduates can have a tremendous influence after they graduate and enter the secondary education classroom.”

Pursue What Inspires You

Professor Hancock said students should pursue what inspires them. They should also get to know their professors, she said, who “are wonderful people who want you to succeed.”

Looking back on her own undergraduate and graduate studies, Professor Hancock said the most valuable lesson she learned was to always do her best work. That way, she knew she was being true to her potential, and she could happily accept any grade she received.

Her parting word of advice? “One thing I absolutely loved about being a student at BYU was being able to attend devotionals and forums. Make sure you are attending.”

Welcome back to BYU, Professor Hancock!

95 Things You Didn’t Know about Martin Luther, From A World Ablaze

Five hundred years ago, almost to the day, Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses. Even though five centuries divide us from the famous Reformer, historians, religious scholars, and even laypeople still talk about the impact his ideas had on Christian Europe. Unfortunately, few people know the whole story. In a new book, A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation, BYU history professor Craig Harline tells the story of the man who shook Christianity to its core. Harline’s book, published just recently, is refreshingly readable; he dives into the story and makes it interesting to non-historians. A must for anyone who likes a good storyline, the book’s pacing and suspense make it read like fiction.

FHSS commemorates the anniversary of the day Luther sent out his theses—October 31st—by sharing 95 interesting facts about his life and personality.

Luther’s Theses

  1. Nailing or gluing theses to church doors was a common practice in the early 1500s, but there’s no historical record indicating whether Luther actually posted his own 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
  2. We do know that Luther sent his theses (written in Latin) to two local bishops and an archbishop. A few days later, he began sending copies to his friends, asking for their opinions.
  3. Luther’s theses spread as clergymen forwarded copies to each other. There were no laws against reprinting another person’s work, so someone eventually arranged to print more copies, and those made their way around the Holy Roman Empire.
  4. Printers began publishing German translations of Luther’s theses in early 1518. That allowed laypeople, not just scholars, to access his ideas.
  5. What exactly is a thesis? It’s a claim supporting a larger idea, often defended or attacked in a debate-like setting known as a disputation.
  6. Luther’s bishop discouraged him from holding a disputation, so Luther didn’t have the chance to defend his theses in the usual forum in 1517 or 1518.
  7. The topic of Luther’s theses? The practice of the Catholic church offering “indulgences,” or forgiveness of sins a person had committed in exchange for certain actions, such as a specified prayer, the visiting of a particular place, the performance of specific good works, or the giving of alms.
  8. In  particular, he opposed the funding of the construction of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and the paying-off of the debts of the Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz by alms gathered from indulgences.
  9. Luther wrote his 95 theses carefully, but many people interpreted them as attacks on the pope himself.
  10. Pope Leo X read Luther’s theses in early 1518. He sent word that Luther should keep silent on the subject of indulgences, but he didn’t do anything else… at first.
  11. Luther published an eight-page pamphlet, A Sermon on Indulgences and Grace, in March 1518 to clarify and expound on his ideas about indulgences.
  12. Luther’s Sermon, written in German, was even more popular than his theses. The pamphlet went through 14 printings in 1518.
  13. Luther spent much of 1518 writing papers to defend his theses, to refute his critics’ arguments, and to preach on other subjects. He was on his way to becoming one of the most prolific writers of his century.
  14. Luther also wrote a 170-page document called Explanations, which he sent to the pope to elaborate on his 95 theses.
  15. Luther rewrote some of his theses in Explanations, using stronger language against indulgences and saying that “the pope [was] only human and [could] err in matters of faith and morals.”
Ninety-five_Theses_(Basel)
Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, as printed in a pamphlet in Basel.

Luther’s Trial

  1.  After reading Explanations, the pope ordered Luther to come to Rome for a trial. Luther feared that a Roman trial would condemn him and keep him from ever returning to Germany.
  2. Prince Frederick, who ruled most of Saxony (including Wittenberg) and carried lots of political clout, intervened and changed the trial’s location from Rome to Augsburg, Germany.
  3. On the first day of the trial, Luther got into a yelling match with Cardinal Tomasso Cajetan, who led the trial.
  4. Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s superior in the Augustinian order of monks where he served, rushed to Augsburg after hearing about the disastrous first day. He convinced Luther to prepare a statement for the following days in court.
  5. In Luther’s written statement, he explained his position and included many scriptures, but Cajetan dismissed everything as “mere words.”
  6. The trial ended with Cajetan threatening Luther with excommunication and telling him not to return unless he was ready to recant.
  7. Rumors spread around Augsburg that Cajetan was going to order Luther’s arrest.
  8. As the highest-ranking Augustinian in Augsburg, Staupitz knew that he could be ordered to arrest Luther, so Staupitz absolved Luther of his vow of obedience. This effectively divorced Luther from the Augustinian order.
  9. Staupitz then fled Augsburg before Cajetan could take further action.
  10. Luther remained in the city until October 20. He posted an appeal to the pope on the church door, then rode out of Augsburg on an unsaddled horse.
  11. Luther rode back into Wittenberg on October 31, 1518. It was the first anniversary of the fateful day he sent out his theses.
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Wittenberg, 1536 (during Luther’s lifetime). Public domain.

Luther’s Tenuous Status in Saxony

  1. Even though Luther was no longer an Augustinian friar, he was still a preacher and a professor at Prince Frederick’s university in Wittenberg. He spent most of the fall of 1518 worrying that he would have to suddenly flee the city to avoid arrest.
  2. Knowing that Luther relied on Prince Frederick’s protection, Cajetan wrote to the prince to say that Luther should be arrested, or at least thrown out of Saxony.
  3. Two months after receiving Cajetan’s letter, Prince Frederick wrote back to say that Luther wasn’t a heretic because he still hadn’t had a real trial and no one had actually forced him to recant.
  4. Enrollment at Prince Frederick’s university increased sharply (from about 400 to 552) in 1518, mainly because students wanted to be taught by the famous Luther. The spike in enrollment is one reason behind the prince’s protection.
  5. The prince might have privately agreed with Luther’s concerns. He was intelligent, and he usually believed expert opinions when he heard them.
  6. But for political reasons, Prince Frederick couldn’t show obvious support of Luther. Frederick feared attack from other German princes (who could use Luther’s “heresy” as a pretext to attack Frederick), the taking of his lands by his own family members, excommunication, and subsequent loss of political power.
  7. Luther’s next big publication hit the press in December 1518: Acta Augustana, his account of the Augsburg trial and his assertion that Cajetan had labelled him as a heretic before the trial even began.
  8.  Pope Leo sent Karel von Miltitz, a Saxon nobleman who ran in the papal circles, to bargain with Prince Frederick over Luther’s fate. Miltitz, an inexperienced delegate, couldn’t convince the prince to arrest Luther, but he did secure a meeting with Luther himself.
  9. Miltitz and Luther met and reached a compromise, but Emperor Maximilian, of the Holy Roman Empire, died just days later. The pope wanted a particular person installed as the next emperor, and Prince Frederick was an elector who got to help choose the emperor, so the two parties shelved their discussion on Luther’s fate until the new emperor had been elected.
  10. Even with the conversation paused, the pope wrote to Luther and said that Miltitz had told him that Luther was willing to recant. Luther replied that Miltitz was mistaken and that he’d only recant if someone could prove he was wrong.
  11. In the meantime, Luther was appointed dean of Prince Frederick’s university.
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Luther’s rose, which he personally designed as a letter seal. It symbolizes his ideology and religious beliefs.

Luther’s Long-Awaited Disputation

  1. In early 1519, a scholar named Johann Eck began preparing for a disputation that seemed to target Luther’s ideas, even though Eck only invited Luther’s friend and ally Karlstadt to participate. Luther wasn’t sure if he’d be invited to debate Eck or not, but he prepared just in case.
  2. The disputation was important to all of Christian Europe, and Luther knew how influential its outcome would be. That’s why he put so much effort into preparing, without even knowing if he could participate.
  3. While Luther was preparing for the disputation, his ideas became even more radical. He studied the topic of the pope’s authority and said he wasn’t sure “whether the pope is the Antichrist himself or whether he is his apostle.”
  4. In May 1519, Luther published a thesis hinting that the pope’s authority wasn’t supreme. Luther wrote that scriptures and church history and the church’s fathers all proved that the pope didn’t actually have as much authority as he claimed.
  5. Luther’s friends asked him to drop the subject of the pope’s authority, but Luther said he knew Christ was with him, or else he already would have been burned at the stake.
  6. With less than a week to go before the disputation, Eck still hadn’t invited Luther to participate, but Luther made the 50-mile trip to Leipzig (the disputation’s setting) anyway. About 200 Wittenberg students followed his wagon.
  7. Just three days before the disputation, a fight broke out between the students who supported Luther and the students who supported Eck. Luther’s side took the heat for the encounter, so Leipzig officials stationed 34 guards near the Wittenberg group’s lodgings.
  8. On June 27, the first day of the disputation, Eck finally asked Luther to debate him after he’d finished his disputation with Karlstadt. Luther agreed.
  9. The first round of the disputation (between Eck and Karlstadt) lasted days, but Luther called it “wretched.” The two men only debated free will, not indulgences, papal authority, or any of Luther’s other favorite subjects.
  10. Luther kept a couple of good-luck charms nearby during his own portion of the disputation: roses and a silver ring that probably contained an amulet in a capsule.
  11. During the disputation, Luther argued that scriptures—not church fathers—were the most authoritative source of doctrine. He also explained that scriptures like Matthew 16 (“you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”) had always been misinterpreted.
  12. Eck discredited Luther by comparing him to notorious and widely-feared heretic Jan Hus. Luther fell into the trap and responded that some of Hus’s teachings weren’t so bad, so Eck immediately attacked him for that. From then on, Luther’s critics often compared him to Hus.
  13. Luther left Leipzig as soon as the disputation was over, leaving before he could even find out who would judge the winner, let alone who would be declared winner of the disputation.
  14. It took months to declare the winner; the university scholars appointed to judge the disputation didn’t want to touch such a controversial topic. Eventually, other scholars from the Universities of Cologne and Leuven condemned Luther’s writing.
Statue of Martin Luther outside the Frauenkirche, Dresden, Germany.

Luther’s Excommunication

    1. The pope finally put a commission together to draft a bull, or decree, threatening Luther with excommunication. Shortly afterward, the pope invited Luther’s rival, Eck, to join the commission.
    2. The bull named forty-one of Luther’s teachings as evidence against him. It said he had sixty days, from the time the bull was posted in Wittenberg, to recant, or else he’d be officially labelled as a notorious heretic.
    3. Two men, Eck and a church official named Aleandro took the bull into German lands. Aleandro met the brand-new emperor in the Netherlands and convinced him to proclaim the bull, as well as order burnings of Luther’s books.
    4. Eck had a much harder time convincing Germans to post the bull in their cities, and he feared for his safety as he did so. In the end, he paid militiamen from Leipzig to take the bull into several Saxon cities, including Wittenberg.
    5. The university rector in Wittenberg refused to post the bull, but he showed it to Luther right away, marking the beginning of the 60-day grace period.
    6. Wittenberg University’s enrollment immediately dropped. A quarter of the students left, fearing that they would be condemned alongside Luther if they didn’t get out right away.
    7. Even after reading the bull, Luther remained firm. He wrote to a friend that he would never be reconciled to Rome and that he’d burn their books if they were burning his.
    8. Throughout 1520, Luther called for drastic reform within the church, even before he read the bull against him. He published a book calling on German nobles to lead the church, which many Germans viewed as a call for greater independence from Rome.
    9. In early October, Luther published a book that criticized the church’s sacraments and openly called the pope the Antichrist.
    10. On the day that Luther’s 60-day grace period expired, he organized a book burning, in which he personally threw the pope’s bull into the fire.
    11. Luther was excommunicated in another bull dated January 3, 1521. But Aleandro feared certain political consequences and didn’t publish it until October, so no one knew about it until then.
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The papal bull that excommunicated Luther on January 3, 1521. Public domain.

Luther’s Writings

  1. Luther was a prolific writer whose books and pamphlets brought good business to printers. Publishing exploded in German lands during the 1520s, in large part thanks to Luther.
  2. Between 1520 and 1526, Luther’s writings accounted for 20 percent of the pamphlets published in German lands.
  3. Most scholars refused to write at a level that laypeople could understand, but Luther didn’t mind doing so. He had always preached simply, and he adopted the same style in his writing.
  4. Luther didn’t just publish works that attacked the pope or church practices. He also wrote pastoral works for laypeople on topics like prayer, good works, and the Ten Commandments.
  5. Luther’s writings were popular because he seemed to give answers to real-world problems, including political, social and economic issues.
  6. Luther was meticulous about the way his books and pamphlets looked: he insisted that his printers use good fonts, and he preferred interesting cover designs.
  7. With an overall literacy rate of 5 percent in German lands (30 percent in towns), most people didn’t learn about Luther’s ideas by reading them. Instead, preachers read Luther’s books aloud, or people heard Luther’s ideas through word of mouth.
  8. Luther’s writings made good money for printers, but the author himself never took a cent of the money.
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Luther’s translation of the Bible, published in 1534.

The End of Luther’s Story

    1. In spring 1521, Luther finally had a hearing in front of the emperor. He apologized for the tone of some of his writings, but he refused to recant.
    2. On May 5, 1521, Luther was on his way back to Wittenberg when two horsemen kidnapped him and took him to Wartburg.
    3. The catch? Prince Frederick owned a remote, little-used castle in Wartburg. Knowing he needed to protect his citizen from harm, Frederick cooked up the plan and let Luther in on the secret before he set out for Wittenberg.
    4. Luther remained in hiding at Wartburg Castle for months. He went by “Knight George” during his sojourn there, and barely anyone was even aware that someone was staying there. Only five men knew his true identity.
    5. Luther continued to write during his time at Wartburg. He sent his manuscripts to print through the men who knew his real identity.
    6. During that time, Luther wrote out against monastic vows, and the response was immediate: many monks and friars quit their offices for good.
    7. While hiding at Wartburg Castle, Luther translated the New Testament into German. It wasn’t the first German translation to hit the press, but Luther translated it into everyday, idiomatic German.
    8. Quiet Wittenberg became a hotspot of religious reform during Luther’s absence. Preachers made major changes to the Mass, even though Prince Frederick asked them to keep their reforms in check.
    9. Prince Frederick wanted Luther to remain in hiding, but Luther returned to Wittenberg on his own, determined to be the shepherd the city needed.
    10. Although Luther advocated for reform, he wanted change to take place slowly and peacefully. He wanted to make sure that his followers’ hearts changed before their religious practices did.
    11. Luther quickly restored order to Wittenberg, then gradually reformed Mass and other religious practices.
    12. Throughout Luther’s career as a preacher, he gave 4,000 sermons (more than 100 per year). Today, we have records of about 2,300 of them.
    13. Luther wrote and published an average of 1,800 pages per year.
    14. Luther also translated the Old Testament into understandable German, and his translation was eventually published in the same volume as his earlier translation of the New Testament.
    15. He married a former nun in 1525 and had six children with her (four of whom survived to adulthood).
    16. He died in 1546 after years of suffering from bad health.
1529MartinLuther
Martin Luther; 1529 painting from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder.

 Luther’s Character and Personality

    1. Luther originally planned to study law, but he dropped out to become a friar because, as he told everyone, “God gave him no choice.”
    2. He was highly critical of himself, especially in his early years as a friar. He often punished himself for sinning.
    3. Luther was fairly timid and humble when he first sent out his famous 95 theses, telling Archbishop Albrecht that he knew he was just a “speck of dust.”
    4. Luther became bolder as he wrote and spoke against church practices. He wrote what he thought and didn’t care about the consequences, believing that he was doing God’s will and that nothing else mattered.
    5. He was stubborn and often ignored Prince Frederick’s advice, even knowing that he needed Frederick’s protection.
    6. Luther was a highly-skilled preacher and writer, always teaching people on a level they could understand.
    7. Luther said he married his wife for three reasons: to please his father, to spite the pope, and to practice what he preached about marriage. It was not a romantic union.
    8. Luther’s temper had never been good, but it worsened toward the end of his life. He wrote out caustically against Catholics and Jews; even if he didn’t believe in killing Jews, like many of his contemporaries did, he thought they should be deported and their synagogues burned.
    9. The last words Luther ever wrote were, “We are beggars. That is true.” Those simple phrases characterized his religious beliefs and attitudes well.

We’ve done our best to share Luther’s story concisely, but the truth is that it’s almost impossible to do it justice in 95 bullet points. (And given his love for writing and commitment to churning out dozens of publications a year, Luther himself would probably agree.)

We highly recommend A World Ablaze; in fact, we guarantee that it’ll be the best nonfiction you read this year.

The book is available from Oxford University Press, on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Christianbook.com, and eBay.

 

Why BYU Students Should Read Fiction and Nonfiction… For Fun

“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” Stephen King said. But the problem is that most people don’t read for fun, and that means that they’re missing out on literary magic. A recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts suggested that only 43 percent of adults read a work of literature in 2015. The survey excluded assigned reading to focus on people who read for fun, and the results revealed the lowest percentage of adult readers since the NEA began tracking reader data in 1982.

BYU students are no exception. Between their classes, homework, part-time jobs, and social lives, few students pick up books to read for pleasure. One article published by The Daily Universe suggested that students prefer reading during the summer, when they have much lighter loads. But what are the benefits of reading fiction, and why should you do it as often as possible? New psychological research suggests that readers are more empathetic than other people are, probably because reading trains the mind to put itself in other people’s shoes. Those findings have been replicated by many studies in the past few years.

FHSS has a reading list on its website, and we’re going to suggest two of our recent favorites to our readers. These are works of non-fiction written by our own professors, but they provide food for thought and fun.

  • A World Ablaze, by history professor Craig Harline. This book tells Martin Luther’s story, but it’s no history textbook. A World Ablaze reads like a work of fiction, and Harline’s storytelling will keep you flipping pages all the way to the end. Keep checking our blog for more information; we’ll publish a detailed post about the book next week.
  • Friends are fun, and psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad wrote a chapter in a recent book about the psychology of friendship, about what it means to be a friend and how we can befriend those across the race, ethnicity, gender, and orientation spectrums. This chapter also addresses what happens when a friendship turns sour, the effect of friendship on our mental health.

One of the most valuable things college students can learn is how to find books that interest them. Luckily, the Harold B. Lee Library ranks among the best college libraries in the nation, so you can find thousands of titles right on campus. You could also check out Pioneer Book on Center Street or purchase books through Amazon. If you don’t know what kind of books you yourself might be interested in, you might want to ask your roommates or favorite professors what they’re currently reading. For book recommendations, search #bookreviews, #amreading, #booknerd, or #bookstagram on Instagram.

What’s your favorite recent read?

Let us know in the comments section!

Cutler Lecture: Breaking the Silence: Proactive Parent-Child Communication about Healthy Sexuality

It’s almost time for the 2017 Virginia F. Cutler Lecture, one of the college‘s most prestigious annual lectures. This year’s speaker is Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker, a School of Family Life professor who studies parenting and media influences during adolescence and emerging adulthood.

Dr. Padilla-Walker’s lecture is titled “Breaking the Silence: Proactive Parent-Child Communication about Healthy Sexuality.” She will present current research findings on parent-child communication about sexuality and will focus on primary stumbling blocks to quality communication. The lecture will also compare LDS and non-LDS families on communication about sexuality using both quantitative and qualitative data. Suggestions for how to improve communication and promote healthy sexuality will be highlighted. Light refreshments will follow the lecture.

The lecture series is named after Virginia F. Cutler, former dean of the College of Family Living (now the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences). Dr. Cutler cared deeply about women and people in other nations, and her career took her across the globe as she served people in Thailand, Indonesia and Ghana.

 

 

 

Student News: The BYU Farmers’ Market and How it Creates Community

Autumn is well under way, but there are still a few weeks left in BYU’s own farmers’ market. While students might not necessarily think of that market as important to their experience here, it can in fact provide them with multiple benefits, not the least of which is a greater sense of community. Research is beginning to show that that sense has started to erode with the explosion in popularity of online shopping, and is something that many scholars, including Professor Michael R. Cope, in our department of sociology, have studied. In that sense, farmers’ markets in general could be seen not only as a boon to students, but also a solution to societal problems.

Benefits to Students of Farmers’ Markets

  • connecting with your local community: You see other students on campus every single day, but you might not often get the chance to interact with local families and businesses. This is one way to immerse yourself in the experience of college life, a period most often experienced only once in a lifetime.
  • getting access to fresh produce: Now that you’ve been back at BYU for a month, you’re probably ready to eat something besides ramen or spaghetti. Give your physical health a boost by adding fresh produce to your diet.
  • experiencing local culture: In addition to offering produce, the farmers’ market includes booths for baked goods and arts and crafts. There are often live music performers present, so you can also become more familiar with the local music scene. It’s a way to “live in the experience,” as Michael Featherstone, an alum of our Economics department, said in their most recent magazine.
  • making grocery shopping fun
  • making a difference in the community

BYU’s Farmers Market takes place every Thursday afternoon through October 26 in the south parking lot of the LaVell Edwards stadium.

What other value do farmers’ markets provide?

The Sociology Behind Farmers’ Markets

“As our local communities increasingly shed their traditional production and consumption functions,” said Professor Cope in a 2016 study, “they may also increasingly fail to imbue their residents with identity and connections to larger social realities.” In other words, the less goods a community produces and the fewer goods bought within that community, the higher the likelihood that its residents will feel “hyper-individualized.” The good news is that research strongly suggests that farmers’ markets tie communities together as civic-minded people converge. The Local Food Movement (LFM) is a project that champions that cause and backs many of the 8,000 farmers’ markets around the country. It aims to help communities develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks, improve local economies; and have an impact on the health, environment, community, or society of a particular place.

From a sociological standpoint, their objectives are admirable, possibly even necessary. The bad news: despite that, farmers’ markets aren’t always inclusive. The number of female shoppers is significantly higher than the number of male shoppers, and shoppers are disproportionately white and highly educated. But it’s important not to view the LFM as an egalitarian movement taking on the Goliath of agribusiness. Instead, Wheaton College sociologist Justin L. Schupp suggests that “the more interesting prospective framing of the LFM could have the movement admitting its potential for intra-group stratification while working further toward its stated goals of the democratization of food access.”

Vendors and shoppers at farmers’ markets have the right idea, but they would increase their community impact if they operated in more low-income neighborhoods and attracted a wider variety of people.

The Geography Behind Farmers’ Markets

Common sense tells us that farmers’ markets bring communities together, but it doesn’t fully explain how or why that happens. Interacting with other people fosters a sense of community, but can geography teach us something about farmers’ markets as well, their benefits to students, and their role in creating more unified communities? While shoppers can find farmers’ markets all across the United States, there is geographic disparity in their distribution. There are higher percentages of farmers’ markets in communities in California, New York, and Midwestern states than in southern states; farmers’ markets are also more common in urban areas than in rural areas. Are those communities more tight-knit or egalitarian? Do many students shop at farmers’ markets?

While research doesn’t yet point to direct answers to those questions, it does show that those who do shop at those markets tend to not visit the markets nearest to their own homes, and that the LFM has a ways to go in terms of helping to establish farmers’ markets in more low-income and ethnically-diverse neighborhoods (Schupp, 2016).

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The Status Quo of Farmers’ Markets

Be that as it may, farmers’ markets continue to grow not only in number but in symbolic value. From 1984 to 2001, farmers sold goods in a large market at the base of the World Trade Center, but the morning of 9/11 was the market’s last day of operation — until June 20, 2017. The newly reopened market is located next to the Oculus. Security is tighter than you’d find at another farmers’ market, but vendors are fairly optimistic about its future.

In fact, the entire future of American farmers’ markets is bright. The number of markets has boomed since the 1970s, and it doesn’t look like they’re going out of style anytime soon.

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