ECONOMICS & Five Charts That Will Change The Way You Think About Racial Inequality

by Mark Travers, Forbes Magazine, 10/10/19.

Perhaps the best way to correct people’s misguided assumptions regarding racial economic inequality in America is to simply present them with the numbers. And, in this case, a picture might be worth more than a thousand words. 

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the average white family in the United States has $100. In those terms, how much money do you think a comparable black family has?

…The answer is less than $10. Most Americans guess upwards of $80. This is the crux of a new article appearing in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Specifically, a team of psychologists led by Michael Kraus of Yale University examined the extent to which people underestimate the degree of racial economic inequality in the United States. Their results are alarming, to say the least. 

Key findings from their research are summarized in the five charts below. 

Race inequality

Figure 1. The chart above illustrates the extent to which Americans underestimate the racial wealth gap in the United States. (Data was collected using a nationally representative sample of 1,008 American adults.) Perceptions of black wealth when white wealth is set to $100 are shown by the diamonds within error bars. The actual ratio of black to white wealth is depicted by the diamonds toward the bottom of the chart. It is easy to see the arrant disconnect between perception and reality. It is also the case that most Americans think the racial wealth gap is decreasing over time when, in reality, it has remained relatively stable, and exceptionally unequal, for decades.

Figure 2. The graph above depicts perception (diamonds with error bars) and reality (diamonds) of the racial wealth divide for people of varying levels of education. In both cases, the wealth gap decreases as education level increases. Still, the degree of overestimation is enormous. For instance, most Americans assume that the wealth gap between white and black families with post-graduate educations is virtually negligible. The truth is that black families with post-graduate degrees are still only worth about 30 cents to every white families’ dollar.

Race and income

Figure 4. The chart above includes perceptions of income inequality for Latinx and Asian racial groups, as well as for blacks. Comparing perceptions (diamonds with error bars) to reality (diamonds), most Americans underestimate wealth inequality for all groups, but the misperception is largest for the black and Latinx groups.

Figure 5. What might cause the gross underestimation of racial economic inequality in the United States? While there are undoubtedly many factors at play, the researchers suggest that personal beliefs regarding the nature of success may contribute to the misperception. The chart above shows that people who believe in a “just world” (i.e., that people generally get what they deserve in life) are more likely overestimate the degree of economic equality between blacks and whites.

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/traversmark/2019/10/01/five-charts-that-will-change-the-way-you-think-about-racial-inequality/#44b0bb645fb2

EVANGELICALISM & where the term came from and why politics is now fracturing it.

by Alan Jacobs PhD, Baylor Univeristy, The Atlantic, 9/22/19.

The Scopes Trial—especially as reported by H. L. Mencken’s outraged mockery of William Jennings Bryan’s insistence that Darwinian theory and Christianity are incompatible—established evangelicals in the American public mind as ignorant yahoos who could safely be ignored. (That Mencken had great respect for more thoughtful evangelicals, including the conservative Presbyterian J. Gresham Machen, went unnoticed. It’s instructive to contrast Mencken’s obituary of Bryan with his obituary of Machen.) This general dismissal by journalists and intellectuals lasted until the rise of self-declared evangelical Jimmy Carter, which led to Time magazine declaring 1976 The Year of the Evangelical.

But this is where the strangest, and perhaps the most consequential, chapter in the history of American evangelicalism began. For in the 1980 election the newly confident evangelical movement, in their self-understanding as the Moral Majority, supported not their coreligionist Jimmy Carter but the divorced former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan. And that inaugurated the affiliation of white American evangelicals with the Republican Party that has lasted to this day. As Kidd explains,

Forming the Moral Majority freed [Falwell] from tax regulations against direct political advocacy by churches. Unlike [Billy] Graham, Falwell did not begin by seeking access to the top levels of power. Instead, he sought to mobilize fundamentalists and evangelicals to change the occupants of political offices. He told Christians that it was sinful not to vote. Asking pastors to hold voter registration drives, Falwell told them that they needed to get people “saved, baptized, and registered” to vote. The agenda of the Republican evangelical insiders was born.

The precise contours of what happened to evangelicals during the Carter administration are still hotly debated by historians. Certainly abortion rights—which Carter supported and Reagan did not—played a major role, even though that was a recent priority for evangelicals. More generally, the social conservatism of many evangelicals, especially in the South, made them feel less and less at home with the comparatively progressive sexual and racial politics of the Democratic Party. And the fact that Reagan could speak openly of God—in the Sixties, well after his divorce and remarriage, he had had some kind of religious awakening, and became a regular attender of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles—sweetened the pill.

But, it seems to me that, of all the traits that attracted evangelicals to Reagan, perhaps the most important was Reagan’s sunny and fervent patriotism. Already white American evangelicals had a tendency to associate Christianity closely with the American experiment, and to think of their country as a “Christian nation,” or at the very least actuated by “Judeo-Christian values.” But as the decades passed and American church leaders in almost all denominations became less interested in traditional Christian doctrines and more interested in what some scholars have come to call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a larger and larger proportion of white evangelicals became what Pew Research calls “God-and-Country Believers.” These folks, almost all of whom are white, may not attend church often or at all, and they may not be interested in, or even aware of, the beliefs that have typically characterized evangelical Christians, but they know this much: they believe in God, and they believe in America, they love Donald Trump because he speaks blunt Truth to culturally elite Power, and when asked by pollsters whether they are evangelicals they say Yes.

… there are many millions of non-white evangelicals in America, and not very many of them voted for Donald Trump. So we now have a peculiar situation in which people who don’t know what the term “evangelical” historically connotes and who massively distrust one another—God-and-Country Moralistic Therapeutic Deists on the one hand, and a press that simply doesn’t get religion on the other—have combined to take the term away from those of us who know and care about its history.

Read more of Evangelical Has Lost Its Meaning at …https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/the-end-of-evangelical/598423/

ENCOURAGEMENT & How Self-talk (e.g. talking things over with God) can help create motivation, steadfastness and self-efficacy.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My undergraduate degree is a Bachelors of Science (BS) in Psychology. I was drawn to this major because I knew I was going into the ministry and my alma mater (Purdue) did not have a ministry major. But it did offer a major in psychology. And, I felt that would help me, help others. It’s also helped me see how God’s Word has great wisdom for our lives. And God’s Word has been mostly written in a conversation between God and humankind. I found that self-talk between God and us (or as Martin Buber would say, “I and Thou”) helps foster a good communication relationship with our Heavenly Father.

For more on the background of self talk and it’s ability to help create self efficacy read this helpful Ted talk.

by Rich Karlgaard, TED Talks, 7/25/19.

To bloom, we must learn not to fear self-doubt but to embrace it as a naturally occurring opportunity for growth and improvement. The key to harnessing self-doubt starts at the very core of our individual beliefs about ourselves, with what psychologists call “self-efficacy.” And understanding self-efficacy begins with Albert Bandura.

High self-efficacy is good because unless we truly believe we can produce the result we want, we have little incentive to try in the first place.

In the field of psychology, Albert Bandura is a giant. In 2002 Bandura was ranked the fourth most important psychologist of the 20th century by the Review of General Psychology. Only B. F. Skinner, Jean Piaget, and Sigmund Freud ranked higher than Bandura, who achieved his exalted status for his theories on self-efficacy.

Bandura was born in 1925, in a small town on the windswept plains of Alberta, Canada. His early education occurred at a school with only two teachers. Because of limited resources, he says, “the students had to take charge of their own education.” Young Bandura realized that while “the content of most textbooks is perishable . . . the tools of self-directedness serve one well over time.” Fending for his own education undoubtedly contributed to his later emphasis on the importance of personal agency.

Bandura attended the University of British Columbia, where he graduated in only three years. After earning a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Iowa, he was offered a position at Stanford University and began working there in 1953 — and he’s still there. His 1977 paper, “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change,” caused a huge shift in psychology. Since then, self-efficacy has become one of the field’s most studied topics.

Bandura has defined self-efficacy as confidence in one’s ability to develop strategies and complete tasks necessary to succeed in various endeavors. High self-efficacy is good because unless we truly believe we can produce the result we want, we have little incentive to try stuff in the first place or persevere in the face of challenges.

While we’ll still feel self-doubt even with high self-efficacy, we’ll find that we’re able to maintain our sense of personal agency.

Over the past few decades, multiple cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have proven that high self-efficacy has a positive influence on salary, job satisfaction, and career success. Why is it so important? All of us can identify goals that we want to accomplish or habits we’d like to change, but most of us realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found self-efficacy plays a major role in how we approach goals and challenges. This is particularly true for late bloomers.

Due to society’s obsession with early achievement, late bloomers are often denied the two primary sources of a strong sense of self-efficacy: mastery experiences and social modeling. Mastery experiences are instances of mastering a task or achieving a goal, such as acing a class or test, dominating a sport, or nailing a job interview. Many late bloomers have fewer of these moments so we don’t experience the socially applauded outcomes that bolster self-efficacy. The other source of self-efficacy, social modeling, is when we see people similar to ourselves succeed, raising our belief that we too possess the capabilities to excel in life. However, late bloomer success stories garner little attention in our world, which focuses excessive attention on the precociously talented and youthfully ambitious.

While we’ll still feel self-doubt even with high self-efficacy, we’ll find that we’re able to maintain our sense of personal agency, the belief that we can take meaningful action. This belief is the very foundation of translating self-doubt into motivation and information.

Self-talk shapes our relationships with ourselves, allowing us to try to see things more objectively.

We can improve self-efficacy through something we already do: Talk. We all talk ourselves through situations, good and bad. It’s our inner cheerleader — or our inner critic. Psychologists and researchers call this voice “self-talk.” Self-talk shapes our relationships with ourselves, allowing us to try to see things more objectively. Objectivity can be enormously beneficial for late bloomers, helping us overcome the negative cultural messages we receive from family, friends and society.

Positive self-talk and its relationship to self-efficacy has been a topic of intense study for sports psychologists. Researcher Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis and his team at the University of Thessaly in Greece studied water polo players and how self-talk affected their ability in throwing a ball for accuracy and distance. The players using motivational self-talk significantly improved at both tasks versus the others, and the study showed that motivational self-talk dramatically increased both self-efficacy and performance. It also confirmed Bandura’s premise that increases in self-efficacy were related to improvements in performance.

The power of self-talk has been conclusively demonstrated in fields beyond sports, including management, counseling, psychology, education and communication. In studies, it has been shown to improve self-efficacy and performance in tasks ranging from throwing darts and softballs to increasing vertical leaps.

By using external pronouns, we view ourselves as a separate person, enabling us to give ourselves more objective advice.

How we refer to ourselves in our self-talk can also make a difference. Ethan Kross, director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan, has found that people who speak to themselves as another person — using their own name or the pronoun “you” — perform better in stressful situations than people who used the first-person “I.”

In a study, Kross triggered stress in participants by telling them that they had just five minutes to prepare to give a speech to a panel of judges. Half the participants were told to try to temper their anxiety using the first-person pronoun: “Why am I so scared?” The other half were told to address themselves using their name or the pronoun “you”: “Why is Kathy so scared?” or “Why are you so scared?” After they each spoke, the participants were asked to estimate how much shame they experienced. People who used their names or “you” not only reported significantly less shame than those who used “I,” their performances were also consistently judged to be more confident and persuasive.

According to Kross, when people think of themselves as another person, “it allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback.” This is because they self-distance — they focus on themselves from the distanced perspective of a third person. “One of the key reasons why we’re able to advise others on a problem is because we’re not sucked into those problems,” explained Kross. “We can think more clearly because we have distance from the experience.” By using external pronouns, we view ourselves as a separate person, enabling us to give ourselves more objective advice.

The next time you’re frazzled and need a motivational pep talk, consider giving it to yourself in the second or third person. This can help you look at the situation from a logical, objective perspective rather than an emotional, biased one.

Read more at … https://ideas.ted.com/self-doubt-can-actually-help-you-bloom-and-it-all-starts-with-how-you-talk-to-yourself/

ENGLAND & My Pre-arrival Hacks for Travelers to London & the United Kingdom

by Bob Whitesel DMin PhD, 7/5/19.

Before you arrive in England (and if you haven’t traveled here before or in a while) here are a few hints.

Contact your mobile phone company and see if it makes financial sense to get an international phone plan. I have one that costs $10 a day but it allows me to use the minutes I typically use in America.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can inexpensively buy a replacement Sim card in England once you arrive. However in that case you will have an English number and it will cost you extra to call any phone registered in the US.

Don’t forget to purchase and print out any hard copies of tickets you need while you’re here.

Be sure to keep your passport safe and out of sight. The same goes for your wallet. London is like any big city, it has its share of pickpockets.

Don’t worry about exchanging US dollars for English £ until you arrive. There are change shops at the airport, but you probably will get a better exchange rate at one of the local Post Office stores.

If you’re planning on taking the subway, known as the “tubes,” then you’ll have to carry your suitcase up and down stairs in most locations. There are some public transportation locations that are handicapped accessible and you can check a map for those if you need that. But traveling light is always better when using public transportation.

The English cabbies are not only colorful, but they also know a great deal about the area. They can give you fantastic insights on where you’re traveling. But, they are not as cheap as using Uber of Lyft. So depending upon whether you want to save some money or learn more about the sites you’ll be passing, will depend upon which you pick.

Download a few helpful applications. I utilize Google maps because they let me create an accurate route based upon public transportation. Also a good exchange application that lets you figure out how much something costs can be helpful. Uber has drivers almost everywhere, so that’s another good application to download.

Finally, I want to strongly urge everyone to be extra, extra cautious while walking in England. Remember the English drive on the left-hand side of the road. This means before you cross any roadway you must “look right then left.” I always tell friends that at every street – look both ways before crossing any curb. Remember always look both ways.

Those are just some initial hints.

From Wesley’s England,

Dr. Bob and Rebecca

BARNABAS FRIEND & Ask yourself today whether your life is marked by bitterness or forgiveness. Let’s choose to live by the words of Romans 12:21.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I increasingly appreciate the encouraging friends in my life, who I call “Barnabas Friends.” In my coaching work I’ve found that church leaders thrive on (and need) regular encouragement. Here is today’s encouraging quote.

Ask yourself today whether your life is marked by bitterness or forgiveness. Let’s choose to live by the words of Romans 12:21 that say, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Facebook Proverbs 31 Ministries, 4/4/19.

ENGLAND & Churches Outnumber Pubs in the UK

This is effectively the principle first enunciated by Donald McGavran, the church growth guru, who said, “People like to stay with their own people,” the so-called homogeneous unit principle.”

by Peter Brierley, Christianity Today, 5/31/19.

Every village in the United Kingdom used to have a pub, a church, and a general store. Today, pubs (short for “public houses”) have become iconic, a popular destination for visitors to try drinks, traditional pub meals, and the cultural ambiance.

But these local landmarks are closing quickly; only 39,000 are left in England, down a quarter from 20 or so years ago. There are now more church buildings than pubs, according to recent figures announced last month by the National Churches Trust.

But the number of churches overall is falling too, just not as fast. The share of Christians in the UK is declining, as in America and other parts of the Western world. Total secularization isn’t inevitably around the corner for at least two reasons. First, surveys show that many who say they have “no religion” still believe in God, pray, say they have a soul, or even read the Bible. Second, there is actually substantial growth among certain types of churches in the UK, all in the context of God’s promise to build his church.

2017 p.1 WHITESEL WESLEY LAND & LEADERSHIP TOUR

The three biggest UK denominations—Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Presbyterians—are all declining quite quickly. Overall, their numbers have gone down 16 percent in just the last five years, Presbyterians the fastest (down 19%). Two other major groups are also declining, Baptists and Methodists, but they are much smaller in size.

The three major denominations form 60 percent of church members, and the smaller two another 16 percent. The remaining members often belong to the types of churches that are seeing the most growth right now—many of which have a Pentecostal bent, ranging from immigrant-founded denominations to Hillsong campuses.

Their increase, although significant, is unfortunately not enough to compensate for the drop among the bigger churches, but has moderated the overall decline. I’ll share below which kinds of churches are growing the fastest amid demographic shifts in the UK.

Immigrant churches, black majority churches, and reverse mission churches

London is the epicenter for growing churches. Between 2005 and 2012, overall church attendance (not membership) in London went from 620,000 people to 720,000, a 16 percent increase. The number of churches increased by two a week, from 4,100 to 4,800. During this time, the city welcomed immigrants both from Europe and the rest of the world, its population growing from 7 million to 8 million in 10 years.

Many of those newcomers were Christians and sought a church that spoke their language. More than 50 different languages are spoken in London’s churches; 14 percent of all the services held in the city are not in English.

The trend has since spread into other major urban areas, where churches draw in fellow believers who share the same language, outlook, culture, and so on. This is effectively the principle first enunciated by Donald McGavran, the church growth guru, who said, “People like to stay with their own people,” the so-called homogeneous unit principle.

Many of these churches conducting worship in other languages are Roman Catholic. Others are “black” churches, also called Black Majority Churches (BMCs). They too are immigrants but have been in the UK for much longer, often now in their third or fourth generation.

They first came as part of the Windrush generation, named for the ship that berthed in 1948 with many from the West Indies (the Caribbean). Rejected initially by the native white churches, they formed their own groups, like the New Testament Church of God, Elim Pentecostal Church, Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God, and others.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/may/churches-outnumber-pubs-in-uk-london-attendance-pentecostal.html

EDUCATION & Least educated are most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated … those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 4/19/19.

…the bar graph below displays the percentage of each educational group that identifies as a religious “none” (atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular).

Educational attainment serves as a very good proxy for economic prosperity and provides a solid test of secularization theory. Note that each of the six waves of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study contain between 30,000 and 65,000 respondents.

The results are unambiguous: those with the least amount of education are consistently the most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated. The far right bar in the graph, indicating those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

If one would like to argue that education is related to secularization, there is no evidence to support that conclusion to be found here.

However, there is a more specific way to approach this problem. The above graph lumps the entire sample into six education categories with little regard for whether they obtained their high school diploma in 1968 to 2008.

If secularization was a constantly accelerating process, we would expect to see younger people with graduate degrees unaffiliate at higher rates than their older counterparts with high levels of education. In order to test this, I broke the CCES 2018 sample into birth cohorts, which are created based on five year intervals.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/april/is-religious-decline-inevitable-in-united-states.html