Monday, June 28, 2010

My blog turns 1,000 posts old

I just noticed that my blog is now 1,000 posts long (or deep?). I started it on a bit of a lark, and who would have thunk, but it's still going.

It has served me very, very well, ultimately leading to a book contract and lots of useful contacts in academics and the media.

When I started the blog, I was writing more extensive essays, sometimes based on data. Now, however, I spending so much time writing for publications (in part, due to the blog), that the blog is more talking about whatever I've happened to notice.

Still... 1,000 posts, that's a lot more than I thought it would be.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How I'm going to promote my book

This coming Thursday my book will be officially released (though Amazon is already shipping it).  I've been wondering how to help promote it (though my publisher has already lined up a series of interviews), and then my son, Gus, suggested the approach shown in this video.  I think that he's on to something:

Monday, June 21, 2010

How many stops is a book tour?

My book comes out this week,and my publisher has set up various publicity things, like articles and interviews. In two weeks I'm going to Winnipeg, Canada to tape an interview on a television show.

Here's my question. Since I'm going there to talk about my book, does that count as a book tour? You see, I've always thought that it would be cool to go on a book tour, so I'm keen to know exactly what constitutes on. If so, maybe I'll get t-shirts printed up, and on the back they will say "Tour Dates" listing the one stop to Winnipeg.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bad news regarding education

I don't study education, but I have seen these kinds of statistics before, and it always depresses me....

"Research indicates that persons entering the teaching field had lower SAT scores than their non-teaching, college-graduating peer and those leaving the profession had higher scores than those remaining as teachers. In addition, the scores of those majoring in education were lower than those of graduates who majored in another field. Those who came to teaching without prior preparation, such as student teaching, had higher scores."  Source: Social Change in America, The Historical Handbook 2004.  Edited by Patricia Becker.

K-12 teaching is as difficult as it is important, so it's a shame that we can't keep the smartest teachers. I've read before that this is an argument for raising their salaries... to keep the best people (who are presumably also the smartest, though, perhaps not).


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mark Edwards, professor extraordinaire

Here's a nice article about my good friend and fellow sociologist Mark Edwards. He takes both his faith and teaching very seriously...

Friday, June 11, 2010

When I'm writing....

I've started working at home a lot more this last year, and it works out well for a number of reasons, but one problem has been my my distraction and disengagement when I'm working, even when I take a short break from it. I've tried to deal with this by having set hours when I work, so that Cathy and the boys can know what to expect.

I was reading a book by Orson Scott Card, and in his afterward, he thanked his daughter for having to "deal with a father who haunts the house like a distracted, irritable ghost during the writing of this book."

What a great phrase... captures who I am when I'm writing.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Christians and judgmentalism

On a post last week, I got the following anonymous comment:

"I believe that you have unwittingly touched upon one of the most significant evils within the Christian culture today - the idea that we can judge whether a person we have never met will or will not go to heaven.  I wonder how many people gave the proper answer of "I have no idea. That's for God to decide and not me"?"

I've been thinking about this comment, and I absolutely agree that it's a bad idea for Christians to think that they know who is or isn't going to heaven. Some things God is just better at than us, and this is one of them.

While the comment didn't make this comparison, it got me wondering if Christians are more judgmental than others. It seems that we have that reputation, but I'm not sure it's correct. For one, we're warned in scripture not to judge others (e.g., Matthew 7). Also, we spend a lot of time confronting our failures (called sin), so it makes us perhaps more hesitant to think we've got it all together. Finally, non-Christians can show moral judgmentalism as well. For a rather sad example.

What do you think?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Who is the one person most likely to go to heaven?

This one is easy... among all people, who is most likely to get into heaven? (After Mother Theresa, that is)... you.

When asked "How likely...are get into heaven?"
54% of respondents said Very likely
34% Somewhat likely
3% Somewhat unlikely
3% Very unlikely
4% Don't know
3% Refused

88% think they're likely to go to heaven... that's more than actually believe in an afterlife/heaven.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Who is going to heaven among 1990s celebrities?

The poll that I've been posting about this week also asked respondents about the heaven-prospects for famous people (circa 1997). Specifically, it asks "Assuming there is a heaven, please tell me, in your opinion, how likely each of the following individuals is to get into heaven"

Here are the percentage of respondents who answered "very likely" for the following celebs:

OJ Simpson-7%
Howard Stern-10%
Newt Gingrich-11%
Rush Limbaugh-14%
Bill Clinton-18%
Hilary Clinton-19%
Al Gore-21%
Princess Diana-22%
Magic Johnson-24%
Pat Robertson-25%
Colin Powell-32%
Oprah Winfrey-36%
Mother Theresa-74%

I'm not sure what the trends are here, other than most celebs are best known for something other than doing good.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Who is going to heaven among regular people?

The US News and World Report 1996 poll mentioned yesterday also asked questions about other people getting into heaven. Specifically, it asked "Please tell me, in your opinion, about how many of each of the following groups you think will get into heaven"

The answers:
* 31% of respondents said that most or all Americans will get into heaven
* 42% thought that most or all of their neighbors will
* 55% thought that most or all of their close friends will

This illustrates a larger principle that we tend to think more positively about those near us than those far away. Similarly, many surveys have found that people think that their local life circumstances are fine, but those of the world and nation are terrible.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What does it take to get into heaven?

I just came across a really interesting poll collected by The US News and World Report in 1997 about who will get into heaven and why.

One question is: Which do you think will count more toward getting into heaven...good deeds and moral behavior or religious faith and observance?  (U.S. News & World Report Poll, Mar, 1997)

51% Good deeds and moral behavior

28% Religious faith and observance

13% Both or depends (vol.)

6% Neither or other (vol.)

I'm surprised that more people didn't choose both...