Is Religion the Antidote for Overstressed, Overachieving Kids?

In her book Never Enough, Jennifer Breheny Wallace examines what she calls the “toxic achievement culture” of upper-middle-class American parents, where children are pushed hard from a tender age not just to get good grades, but to get stellar grades, acquire impressive extracurricular skills, and distinguish themselves in every way in preparation for their college applications. Naomi Schaefer Riley writes in her review:

Twenty pages before the end of Never Enough, Wallace describes a visit to Saint Ignatius, an all-boys Jesuit school in Cleveland. “What these priests undoubtedly knew, and what research shows us,” she writes, “is that living a life according to a value system that balances others’ needs with our own boosts our well-being.” Wallace, who has made no mention of faith or religious communities before this point, says that “part of the reason religion has been found to enhance mental health is because it reduces self-centeredness and creates a sense of belonging to a larger whole.”

In fact, what makes Saint Ignatius and other religious communities different is not merely an emphasis on community service—one that has been replicated by schools across the country—but a fundamental idea about the human person. That is, that human beings have inherent worth, no matter how they perform in school or what college they get into. Wallace writes: “We are in a crisis of the self. The formative years are when a child builds a stable foundation for a secure, sustainable adult identity. What we are doing instead is sending a devastating message: in order to be valued you must audition for it, work for it, and keep earning it. Only then will you matter in this house, at this school, in this world.”

Teaching kids that they matter is hard to do in a vacuum. You can tell them that they are loved, of course. But as children get older, they will inevitably wonder what makes them worthy of love. That they are nice? That they are smart? That they are attractive? Only by offering them an overarching theory about human dignity will they be able to understand their own value. But that is not the subject of this book. And most of the prestigious colleges to which they might be admitted will never tell them.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American Religion, Children, Education


As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas