• Childhood •
August 20, 2005
The Chicago Tribune today features a massive article devoted to the great question: Are Oreos addictive? Here’s how the article begins: “Churned out in ovens the size of football fields, the Oreo reigns as the best-selling cookie in the world and a signature snack of Kraft Foods Inc. In recent years, though, the treat has become a symbol of another sort. To some it is a nutritional time bomb, emblematic of the junk food fueling America’s obesity crisis, particularly among children. It is the kind of sugary snack that research suggests can trigger the same brain impulses as addictive narcotics.” The same brain impulses as triggered by addictive narcotics?
Here’s my open admission: I’ve dropped a few Oreos in my time. Ok, maybe more than a few. My Oreo habit, kept from public view until now, is supplemented by a milk habit that’s even harder to break. Oh yes, I’ve become highly adept at hiding my Oreo habit, though some may argue that the effects are more difficult to hide. My local Oreo pusher, a.k.a. “Sugar Dude,” hangs out at the local grocery store, lurking right by the cookie aisle. His nefarious accomplice, “The Milk Man,” pushes his white poison in the dairy department. I work hard at hiding my habit. Oreo addicts must be especially careful about those pesky dark crumbs and the real give-away, the milk moustache. Many’s the time I’ve had to duck in for a quick appointment with the tooth brush, hoping against hope that no one would see the dark stains on the brush. My secret is out.
Well, maybe the Oreo isn’t the most important culinary invention of modern times, but it must rank right up near the top. We all know that Americans eat too much “junk food” and the nation may well face an obesity “crisis.” But is addiction the right explanation for this phenomenon? Is it not tiresome to see every social ill described as the latest addiction? Americans are said to be addicted to violence, video games, television, work, leisure, sugar, and now Oreos. There are persons seriously struggling with all kinds of habits and unhealthy patterns of life — not to mention those physically addicted to dangerous substances. In the end, however, we may all be addicted to addictions, especially if the concept of addiction takes the responsibility off of us.
Gotta go. Sugar Dude and the Milk Man are looking for me.
August 19, 2005
August 12, 2005
In today’s commentary, “Video Games — The New Playgrounds of the Self,” I take a look at Christine Rosen’s important article, “Playgrounds of the Self,” published in the current edition of The New Atlantis. That’s also the topic of today’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program.
Here are other articles we’ll be considering on today’s program:
“Chasing the Dream,” The Economist, August 4, 2005, [subscription required]. A selection:
Gaming has gone from a minority activity a few years ago to mass entertainment. Video games increasingly resemble films, with photorealistic images, complex plotlines and even famous actors. The next generation of games consoles–which will be launched over the next few months by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo–will intensify the debate over gaming and its impact on society, as the industry tries to reach out to new customers and its opponents become ever more vocal. Games consoles are the most powerful mass-produced computers in the world and the new machines will offer unprecedented levels of performance. This will, for example, make possible characters with convincing facial expressions, opening the way to games with the emotional charge of films, which could have broader appeal and convince sceptics that gaming has finally come of age as a mainstream form of entertainment. But it will also make depictions of violence even more lifelike, to the dismay of critics.
Thomas Griffin, IV, “Video Gamers Anomymous: Unplugged From the Matrix,” Boundless, 2005. A selection:
But finding identity in video games carries a cost I didn’t understand until just a few months ago. First it detracts from the identity I am commanded to have in Christ. We are to look to Him – the author and finisher of our faith – for our sense of self-worth and purpose. Supplementing with something else is a mistake, especially because extra sources of identity demand time and resources. Apart from Christ, identity is not a gift – it is a return on investment. Put another way, our identity in Christ is derived from what He did on the cross, what He does in our lives and the future He has promised us. My identity in the Legend of Zelda was derived from the staggering amount of hours I spent figuring out how to get to and defeat dungeon monsters. [Thanks to Justin and Alex at Between Two Worlds for this link]
August 12, 2005
Just a couple of years ago, I was talking to a group of college students–mostly young men–about pressures, temptations, and challenges that come with living in our postmodern world. Predictably, many of these students mentioned challenges related to technology, such as the availability of internet pornography. What took me by surprise was their near-unanimous judgment that video games represent a persistent pattern of temptation they often find very hard to resist.
August 9, 2005
August 4, 2005
August 4, 2005
“What does it mean to be 13, back stage adults, watching on tiptoe, waiting to go onstage?” That question sent TIME Magazine and a team of its reporters into an extended investigation of the lives of America’s youngest teenagers–contemporary 13-year-olds. The magazine’s report will at times shock, inform, and interest America’s parents and all others concerned with the nation’s young.
August 2, 2005
On Sunday, President George W. Bush addressed several thousand boys at the 2005 National Boy Scout Jamboree. The President spoke after the Jamboree had been marked by tragedy and great dificulty. Just days before, four adult scout leaders had been electrocuted and record-high temperatures sent 300 scouts to the sick bay. The boys were glad to hear the President, and his message was important. Consider these words:
At times, you may come across people who say that moral truth is relative, or call a religious faith a comforting allusion. They may question the values you learn in scouting. But remember, lives of purpose are constructed on the conviction there is right and there is wrong, and we can know the difference.
In the years ahead you will find that indifferent or cynical people accomplish little that makes them proud. You’ll find that confronting injustice and evil requires a vision of goodness and truth. You’ll find that many in your community, especially those younger than you, look to you as an example of conduct and leadership. For your sake, and for the sake of our country, I hope you’ll always strive to be men of conviction and character.
Those words sound much like what President Theodore Roosevelt would have said a century ago, but President Bush’s message would surely be dismissed by some as anachronistic, simplistic, and moralistic. The cultural elites see the Boy Scouts as fossils from a distant age where archaic virtues once ruled. I am thankful that President Bush didn’t surrender to the cynics. As for myself, here’s one former Boy Scout who hopes that those boys at the Jamboree were listening.
The full text of the President’s address is available through the White House Web page.
July 18, 2005