Signs and Wonders
Salvatore Cordileone at his installation service
Associated Press/Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez
Salvatore Cordileone at his installation service

Signs and Wonders 10.05

Newsworthy

Stay tuned. A strange drama unfolded in San Francisco this week. The Roman Catholic Church installed a new archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, who has been outspoken in his support of traditional marriage. Enter The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California and an outspoken supporter of same-sex “marriage.” When Andrus showed up for the installation, he was denied seating, was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, and detained by an usher until the time the service began. Andrus then left the cathedral. So far, no statements from either side confirm that Andrus was refused admission because of his position on homosexuality, so we’ll have to stay tuned to find out the final act of this drama.

The debate effect. The verdict is almost unanimous that Mitt Romney won Wednesday night’s presidential debate. The question is: Does it matter? The answer: Probably not. Republican strategist Karl Rove said Gov. Romney’s win could give him a 1 to 1.5 percent “bump” in the polls, which could be significant in a tight race, but the “bump” has to last. There are reasons President Obama was ahead and Romney was behind in the polls. Debate performances can either reinforce these reasons or signal that these reasons have changed. Romney’s debate performance seems to indicate what Chris Christie is calling a “re-start” of his political campaign. “The entire narrative of this race will change,” the New Jersey governor said. That could be, though so far the American people haven’t gotten the memo. The latest Gallup Poll (conducted just before the debate) has Obama’s approval rating at 54 percent, the highest level since May of last year. One reason the debates will likely matter little is the fact that there are very few undecideds. According to Rasmussen Reports, in 11 key battleground states, “the president earns 51 percent to Mitt Romney’s 45 percent. Two percent prefer another candidate, and 2 percent are undecided.”

Demography is destiny. U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row in 2011, the government reported this week. The fall has slowed down a bit, though, because “It may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end,” said Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization. Americans typically have more children in robust economic times. Falling births is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Births had been on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007. But fewer than 4 million births were counted last year—the lowest number since 1998. Birth rates for teen moms have been falling since 1991 and are at historic lows. Last year the drop was 8 percent, to about 330,000 teen births. That is the lowest number since 1946.

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The upside of nagging. It’s long been known that married people, on average, do better than unmarried people in just about every important measure of physical, social, and psychological health. Why? You might be able to credit your nagging spouse. “‘Social control’ is the term sociologists use to refer to the activity of one person influencing and directing the behavior of someone else,” said Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family. “All cultures and people need this. In the early years of life, it’s called parenting. But in later years, it is still needed. In terms of everyday adult domestic relationships, the old fashioned term is ‘nagging.’ And it does keep us healthier. Essentially it involves someone who loves us reminding us of things like ‘eat your vegetables,’ ‘get a good night’s sleep,’ ‘don’t drive so fast,’ … and ‘how many donuts have you had today?’” These may not always be welcomed questions in our lives, but they do make us healthier. So why don’t cohabiting unmarried people experience the same health benefits? According to Stanton, “Family members (children, parents and spouse) are … motivated to insert themselves into our business and habits because they love and are tied to us in the deepest ways humans can be linked.”

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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