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I write the biweekly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and also report for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere. I have four daughters and two dogs.

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Why Children Choose Vegetarianism

Raising vegetarian children is a topic I have written about before, somewhat sheepishly, as a vegetarian who lapses once a month or so. Now comes this much better piece, in that it is more sophisticated, from a publication of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (which they charmingly refer to as "HUGSE," pronounced hugsey). A bit of it here:

And, of course, the bigger, lagging question, he said, is why do independent vegetarians make the decision not to eat meat in the first place? He initially thought these children might have a special affection toward animals. But with pet ownership so widespread, even among meat eaters, that explanation is unlikely. Other possibilities, proposed by Harris and audience members, were that independent vegetarians have a greater understanding of suffering or are born as vegetarians. Harris also offered one more suggestion.

"Most of us receive an enormous number of messages that eating meat is a good thing, one associated with celebrations," he said. "Most of us who eat meat and look at our plates don't think about the slaughterhouse. My sense is that these children have a more complicated relationship to that plate."


Facebook could have lost

I don’t usually care to read about Facebook, although I like to use it, but this article about the Columbia University system that almost won out over the Harvard/Zuckerberg juggernaut is quite fun, in its geeky way.


“Bishop” Eddie Long’s accuser ambushed by TV station

Check out this NPR story about how an Atlanta TV station tracked down one of Long’s accusers in the church sex scandal; raises some interesting questions about whether this sort of ambush journalism is exploiting the  man (allegedly) all over again. Or just go right to the video:


UFOs, the guvment, and the troof

Sent to me by Jeff Kripal, a great scholar of the paranormal (and other stuff). Some UFOlogy that intrigues me.



“Bishop” Eddie Long: “come out!” says John McWhorter

While I am uncomfortable with how readily this piece assumes certain facts that are, to say the least, still contested, I think this is an important statement from a major intellectual about the good that could come from this brewing gay-sex scandal in Atlanta. Dig:

At this point, whatever “fight” Long comes up with—the best possible outcome imaginable is that he tries to get by with some kind of “I’m not really gay” explanation based on, shall we say, “Tis better to give than to receive”—these revelations will stick to him forever. They will be his legacy, in the same way that Larry Craig will always be known for the bathroom episode despite his clunky denials (not just the wide stance thing, but “I don’t do things like that,” betraying a certain preset consciousness of the “things” in question).

Eddie Long would do himself and his own race a massive favor if he, shall we say, had a conversion here. “Got the call,” to put it in language familiar in his realm. He should openly admit what he did, disavow his antigay positions, and serve as a beacon to a black community that needs to get beyond an unthinking prejudice especially unseemly in a group positioning itself as a standard-bearer of America’s moral advancement.

He should get with the times—as the NAACP has, with Benjamin Jealous announcing an upcoming “One Nation Working Together” march with gay and transgender groups. America becomes ever more open to gay marriages. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is doing a slow fade. Ever more celebrities are coming out with no detriment to their careers. Call it a new kind of New Birth.

Long likely fears how many parishioners would desert him. Plenty would. However, let’s face it – these people would be the equivalents to the hold-outs against Civil Rights, the people on the sidelines in the photos of Little Rock, the people on Mad Men making casually dismissive comments about the Freedom struggle. Perhaps Long could think about what he would leave behind—or about his afterlife. People change. Leaders help them do it.

Eddie Long could, right now, become a great man. It would be a small thing indeed for him to cave in and “fight” rather than seek the higher wisdom of acceptance—of himself and so very many other souls.

And, as a lagniappe, here is some McWhorter for you: