Sunday, May 30, 2021

Millennials, God and the Church


WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

Millennials are leaving the church and there is an enormous amount of research trying to figure out why.

Take a look at this article From FiveThirtyEight By Daniel Cox and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux: Millennials Are Leaving Religion And Not Coming Back

Below, is a research study from the Pew Research Center: Religious Landscape Study. Click on this link and you can do a deep dive into the data they have collected on millennials and their faith.

Younger Millennials who say they believe in God (absolutely certain)

Among Evangelical Protestants 


Baptist Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Methodist Family (Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Nondenominational Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Lutheran Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Presbyterian Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Pentecostal Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Episcopalian/Anglican Family (Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Restorationist Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Congregationalist Family (Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Holiness Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Reformed Family (Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Adventist Family (Evangelical Trad.)


Anabaptist Family (Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Pietist Family (Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Other evangelical/fundamentalist family
(Evangelical Trad.)

< 1%

Nonspecific Protestant Family (Evangelical Trad.)


            Source: Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study

The traditional circle of life in the Christian Church has been for years: people marry; they have children; they bring their children to church, as the children move into their mid and early teens, there is a stage of rebelliousness, they go on to college; they marry, and start a family and then there begins somewhere in the latter stages of that process a slow drift back to the church.

It's not working that way anymore.

The Table above, deals with younger millennials and their belief in God, and I think it's representative. However, the leading edge of the millennials has not followed the traditional circle of Christian life. As they began their families, they have not necessarily returned to their religious roots.

Universally, church attendance has been on a steady decline for the last decade. In the last few years on an annualized basis, more churches close than open.

The millennials, who are in many ways an offshoot of the me-too generation, seem to have great difficulty reconciling themselves to the concept of an ultimate creator and a savior in the form of Jesus Christ.

So, what happened?

I don't think anyone has figured that out yet, but as Protestant denominations continue to shrink, and faith as a guiding principle in our society becomes less important, the impact of the move away from religious thought is becoming more and more apparent.

A lot of these millennials were pulled out of the traditional public school system, isolated from society, educated in private schools, often church based, and in many cases were exposed to the Bible and Christian faith throughout their formative educational years.

These millennials were also the first group of children to be raised with the concept of everybody gets an equal chance, everybody gets a trophy, there sincerely are no consequences for your actions and striving for perfection or success is not all that important.

The results of the millennial educational process first appeared when many high school graduating millennials decided that Career Education was not really the important thing, but self-enrichment education would serve their needs.

In the ultimate end, their parents did not encourage them otherwise and these millennials are the ones who ended up living in the basement until they are in their late 20s or early 30s writing poetry, music and running from one “social cause” to another while disdaining becoming a productive member of society.

It is not just the Church. Recruiters in all types of business, education, and government deal with the issue of the millennials every day.

Religious faith was one of the main principles our country was founded upon and has been the bedrock of everything from our Constitution to the precepts that govern our actions in society.

The question becomes as faith and religious thought and practice grow dimmer in our society what will our country look like?

It's not just about the church it's about all that we are.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Tampa Bay Rays – The New Game in Town

WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

What started out as a spat between managing partners of the Tampa Bay Rays, Stu Sternberg, and several of his minority business partners appears to be slowly headed toward open warfare.

For some background information, check out these articles from the Tampa Bay Times.

Tampa Bay Times: By Josh Solomon and Emily L. Mahoney: Tampa Bay Rays minority owners sue Sternberg, say he secretly negotiated Montreal deal.

Tampa Bay Times By Josh Solomon: Kriseman says he ‘can’t negotiate’ with Sternberg on Rays deal.

Tampa Bay Times By John Romano: If Rays are forced to open their books, lawsuit could be a good thing.

Quoting from the Tampa Bay Times articles,” It (the lawsuit) was filed by Robert Kleinert, Gary Markel, Stephen M. Waters and a trust bearing his name, and the MacDougald Family Limited Partnership, LLLP. Collectively, they own just under 9.6 percent of the team, according to the lawsuit.”

Unless Sternberg can put enough money on the table quickly to make this problem go away, things could get very interesting.

Checking out the basic information that the Times has uncovered so far, a number of questions are starting to arise regarding not only about Sternberg and his business practices with the Rays ball club, but also the possibility of a violation of the Use Agreement with the City of St. Petersburg regarding Tropicana Field.

As most situations like this, the devil is more than likely in the details. The question is how long the Rays can afford to let this lawsuit go before it starts digging into things that they probably do not want to be exposed.

All of this comes at an interesting time. First, the team is looking more and more like they may be a World Series contender again. All this hassle about the business operation really doesn't help the morale or the momentum of the team itself.

Secondly, as mayor Rick Kriseman struggles frantically to get some sort of a redevelopment deal at least started if not well underway for the Tropicana Field site before his impending departure as mayor of Saint Pete, those efforts have been completely derailed by the accusations against Sternberg and his dealing with the minority partners and transfer of team ownership.

All of this is especially troubling for Mayor Rick Kriseman, as he term limits out, and has expressed some ongoing political interests. Potentially he is considering a run for the congressional seat of gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

This is probably not the time Kriseman wants to get himself embroiled in what could be a nasty and ugly squabble between Sternberg his management team and this group of minority investors.

Now there will be more people than ever pawing around in the records and the details and probably doing some public records requests to see what if anything anybody at the City might have known about some of the activities and looking for more information about these minority partners and what they do.

So, in less the Rays managed to lose a playoff, it looks like there're going to be two games on the field from now through the end of the baseball season, and one will probably last much longer than that.

There is the hunt for that elusive World Series championship, and what appears to be an ongoing legal battle for the future of the team as a business.

For now, it appears his minority ownership group has pitched him a high an inside fastball. Sternberg will more than likely not take a swing at it since it will be called a ball, and he will still have three strikes left.

This whole mess has all the characteristics of an absolutely fantastic social media blitz for everyone involved. That would include the Rays baseball team, Stu Sternberg, some of his inside the circle advisors, the managing partners, along with the city and the mayor himself.

Hang on, this is just the top of the first.

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Sunday, May 23, 2021

Have You Gone Back to Church Yet?

68% said they will attend church at the same levels they did before the outbreak occurred..

WEST COAST        
Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

If you have been vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus, and you stopped going to your local church during the pandemic, have you returned to your local church?

Here is a Facebook quote from a Murry, Ky Church of Christ: “However, if the reason for your absence is because you’ve become accustomed to staying away, please pray and reconsider rejoining us if you feel safe to do so,” the note said. “God loves you, and we do too, and we sure do miss all of our family and wouldn’t want it to be because someone is struggling spiritually.”

From Baptist News Global: When asked about their worship plans once the pandemic no longer threatens public or personal health, 68% said they will attend church at the same levels they did before the outbreak occurred in early 2020. Another 23% said they plan to attend more often than they did before COVID, while 6% plan to attend less often. Only 2% said they would rarely attend, and 1% said they will not return.

My wife and I stopped attending our local Baptist Church shortly after the pandemic began. That was well over a year ago. We did attend services online but chose not to go to the onsite services.

Following our vaccinations and about a three-week wait. We returned to the early service at our local church.

The first Sunday we attended, just seemed kind of surreal. The congregation was medium in size, socially distant, and for the most part, wearing masks.

The service was basically the same as it had always been. The format of music, worship, information, and the pastor’s sermon exactly in the same order it was before  the pandemic.

However, there was just a different feel in the sanctuary. It's always quiet in the church service but in this case, it seemed extra quiet. Prior to service beginning there was little to no conversation among the parishioners.

At the end of the service, people pretty much got up walked out and said little to their fellow church members and attendees.

I believe, that like everything else church services and the practice of expressing your faith will improve as time goes on, and we readjust for life like it was pre pandemic. In today's world, church fellowship provides an opportunity for a respite from the pressures and concerns that we all face in our everyday lives.

Church attendance brings many benefits to adults, children, and entire families.

Faith is often the experience that unlocks the doors to the solutions of our problems with work, home, life, spouse, children, parents, our families, and our world experience.

The best place, to learn about and practice your faith is your local church.

The question here is will YOU go back or start attending church now that the pandemic is easing?

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Friday, May 21, 2021

Unemployment Subsidies Maybe Not Such A Bad Idea After All

WEST COAST        

Opinion by:
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

As the percentage of vaccinations increases and the country begins to open, it would appear that things are slowly returning to normal.

One of the most interesting side effects of the pandemic has been the effect on employment in the hospitality industry.

News media reports are full of almost teary-eyed restaurateurs and small shop owners who constantly lament that they cannot hire the employees they need to serve their returning customer base.

Almost all, blame the unemployment subsidies from the federal government as, “Paying people for sitting at home doing nothing.”

On the other hand, there are also growing reports that many of those formerly in the hospitality industry have been recruited by retail an industrial organizations offering higher wages, benefits and more job stability.

It seems to me, that the Democrats and the Biden administration may have finally hit on the solution to the redistribution of wealth.

Rather than a bunch of new taxes, let's just keep paying these employment benefits until the hospitality industry recognizes the fact that they are going to have to change their business model, pay a living wage and provide their employees with a significant benefit structure if they're going to compete with the rest of the economy in the employment market.

Here's a suggestion for the owners of bars, restaurants, craft breweries, small and medium-size shops. It may be time to think about redoing your business model.

In the restaurant business, if you own a restaurant employed 40 or 50 people, many of them servers, that you probably pay somewhere between $2 and $3 an hour, and they make the rest of their money on tips while you take a substantial wage out of your business it may be time to consider sharing the wealth.

Maybe it is time to trade that Lexus or Land Rover sitting out back for something a little more cost-effective and consider paying your servers at least minimum wage along with a benefit package.

I can hear the wails and cry even as I speak. I would have to raise my prices.

Yes, you would.

How do I know my customers would continue to patronize my establishment?

Actually, you don't.

But here's a thought. Restructure your business, hire some quality people, raise your prices put a note on your menu and a sign in your establishment that tipping is not expected but appreciated and see what happens.

You might just be surprised.

If you're a server or someone who works on tips in the hospitality or food service industry, I've changed my view of all this, and I think you should just sit there and wait until the unemployment subsidy runs out at the very least and help motivate those who make substantial incomes by owning these businesses to share the wealth.

It seems all of this may just be an unintended consequence of our attempts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but in the long run this unintended consequence may just turn out to be a good thing.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Biden and Gaza


Sunday, May 16, 2021

You Are Going to Need A New Excuse


Since COVID was defined as a pandemic, it has been used as the excuse for everything.

WEST COAST        
Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

Well, here we are. The vaccinations for COVID-19 are going well. A growing and significant number of people in the United States have been inoculated, in many area's hospitalizations and deaths are way down.

All of this presents a real problem for those who are consistent excuse makers.

Since COVID was defined as a pandemic, it has been used as the excuse for everything.

COVID is the excuse for: long lines, for poor or no customer service, the reason your car doesn't get repaired on time, and just about everything else that's gone wrong with business and commerce for the last year.

Even my bank got into the act. They reduced hours, reduced the number of people in the lobby, and it didn't matter what it was when I called the bank to ask what had happened in one of my accounts, the excuse was always the same, “Well you know the COVID thing...”

First it was comical, then it got annoying. Appointments were canceled; appointment times were moved without notifications; packages were delayed; products were not available on the shelf, and even as things begin to open up, every time, there's a problem the excuse is “oh it's the COVID-19 virus.”

There is some truth to the argument, that the COVID-19 virus had a profound effect on all of us and pretty much all that we do.

However, it also became the easiest excuse to use for not providing service, not going places, not holding up your end of responsibilities, at church, school, the social club or even at work.

However, all that is about to end as we get the COVID-19 virus more or less under control.

So, it's time to start looking for some new excuses about why as a society we don't perform.

So, here are some suggestions:

I don't have enough time
The Internet is down
I'm afraid of failure
We can't hire anybody
I'm not inspired
I need to find balance in my work and home life
It's not my fault; it's their fault
I can't overcome the inertia,
Not my job man
It's not original enough
I'm afraid of the competition
I got my expectations too high just thinking about it.

You can probably add a few of your own to the list. All you must do is just think for a few moments about your experiences over the past year or so.

We are all guilty, me included, for coming up with a convenient excuse about why we didn't do something.

We are just going to have to work a little harder at it in the next weeks and months because the easy out of not performing, not providing good service, not meeting deadlines, and generally not doing the job you are supposed to be doing is going away one vaccination at a time.

If you are really hard pressed, you can always fall back on some version of the old classic, “The dog ate my homework.”

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