Centre For Drug Addiction Treatment

cfdatExcessive drinking is extremely risky for the health of individuals. For the comfort and restoration of those obsessed individuals, the drug rehab centers are playing amazing role. The addicted patient needs several educative as well as collective learning to deal with their anxiety and stress that is the result of serious habit. For this intention, drug restoration applications also designed several lifestyle expertise training programs to create effective interaction as well as socializing among sufferers. These helpful activities increase up the spirits of addicts as well as they can get over their worries, stresses and shame emotions.

The major disadvantage of alcohol habit is it entirely affects the person psychologically and actually & the mainly harmful and risky effect is resting on the spirituality. The enthusiast completely drops its inner serenity and family life battle a lot. Selecting the correct drug rehab centers may be difficult as well as complicated but it is important as well as may be an explanation into whether a rehabilitation program is succeeding or not. You can narrow the search for the purpose of getting the accurate details about the restoration facilities in your country.  Even in this case, you require consulting for further details about the restoration applications and the charge of restoration at those facilities.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Person Who Should Visit A Drug Rehab

It is very important for you as an individual to be careful on your friends and family behaviors. If you are a parent, it is important for you to keep a close eye especially on your teenage girls and boys. According to statistics, many people are lured into drug addiction during their teenage years. This is an age whereby people tend to try to discover them. It is a very critical age in the life of a person. When a person becomes a drug or substance addict, there are several signs and symptoms they exhibit.

For instance, a person who suddenly starts isolating him or herself could be a drug addict. In most cases, drug addicts lose a connection between themselves and their family and friends. They do not accept the fact that they are addicts and tend to hide from the public. Another obvious sign is a financial drain. A person who cannot account for their expenses clearly or tends to hide some information on where they spend their money could as well be spending it on drugs. Finally, drug addicts suffer from family breakups, and emotional instability. They can no longer hold relationships dear to their lives for this is substituted with the drugs and alcohol. Such people must be given an admission to the drug rehab centers.

Investing In Your Blog Writing Business

iybmbBlog writing can be a form of freelance job since you can really earn from it. There are various ways how you can earn by blogging but let us discuss how you can invest in earning from a self-hosted blog site. Setting up a blog and choosing the start can be tricky. There are both free and paid domains that require HTML codes to run and some have templates of layouts where you can pick and mix your own design to make yours look original. Investing on a blog site is never expensive even in the beginning since once you have an informative blog site and you earn spectators, then you can expect a sure profit.

There are many ways how you can earn money by blogging. A tip to earn from blogging is make sure your site follows the current trend and all types of audience and spectators will love what you are writing. Before setting up a blog, you need to decide first what field you will be writing about. Your target audiences are those who are frequently using the internet and who love to read blogs instead of turning the television on to watch the current news. There are many ways to earn, as well.

Here Is The Basic Buttons You Will Need When Starting A Blog!

Aside from putting “About Us” in your bottom page, you also need to put more buttons for different categories depending on what your blog site is all about. It could maybe be about technology. If you are blogging about technology, the latest news about newly developed items that use technology beyond its limitations would be nice. That could be one of your tabs or maybe add more tabs about innovations in process, things you would want to buy etc. Before starting a blog, you need to list down already the things you want to be included in your blog site.

There are also things you need to include when planning what your blog should look like. It is really important to have your final layout before starting a blog and going to the live system on the internet. Also, when you ask for the viewers to input their email addresses for subscribing to your letter mail, then you have to put a link that discusses their privacy terms. The privacy terms should have something like promising them that their email addresses will only be asked so you can send email to them and will not be given to other websites; especially marketers.

When You Create A Blog, Here Are The Things You Need To Beware Of

Do not be too eager to post your article as blog. After you create a blog, here are some of the things you need to be aware of so you will know how to face the consequences just in case you encounter any of these. Before we move forward, these are about your articles that might be stolen or you can be accused of stealing.

First, the most common thing people who create a blog face are having their articles stolen and most of the time rephrased so the wordings will be different but the concept is the same. People who are too lazy to create a blog often do this and this is actually a form of stealing.

The next one is copying or mimicking an article you have seen in the internet and you copied it but because you want to make it look original, you rephrased it and changed some words. Quite a tactic but if there are more words that are the same with the source article, then it will most likely be obvious. There is actually a tool that prevents these kinds of plagiarism. There is a tool called Copyscape and it searches the whole inventory of articles in the internet to look for the source article where your article has been copied to.

Wrinkle Creams Recommended by Dermatologists

My sister wants to know which is the best wrinkle cream she should try. She knows that I once had wrinkles and I managed to get rid of it by applying wrinkle cream on my face. Of course I want her to do away with the fine lines on her face but I worry that the product I used will not work for her. We have different skin types even if we are siblings.

wrinkles-helpI remember when I recommended the same product to a good friend of mine. I was thinking that suggesting a product to her could help her. But it did not turn out well. She experienced negative side effects from using the product like itching and redness. She ended up having blemishes and her wrinkles remained. With this in mind, I’d like to remind my sister that she should do thorough research regarding the product before she starts using it. One of the better informational sites for these creams is here. She must consult with her dermatologist, as well, to know about her skin type and which ingredients she must look for. I will remind her that she should not get easily convinced to just try on products that her friends suggested her. I know the risks and I do not wish any of it to happen to my sister.

Anti Wrinkle Creams That Can Deliver On Their Claims

Seriously, I feel that my wife needs to find a solid wrinkle cream. The fine lines on her face are becoming obvious. In fact, when one of my colleagues saw us together, she thought of her as my older sister. I did not mention it to my wife but I am very sure that when she learned about it, she’ll definitely get mad. She used to be an attractive woman. In fact, many guys were courting her when I met her. Probably because of too much stress, wrinkles have developed on her face. Even the skin on her neck is starting to sag. I really think that she can get rid of this unsightly sign of aging with an effective anti wrinkle cream. I am willing to help her out in finding which brand truly deserves her attempt.

I know that the market has a lot to offer for wrinkle sufferers but I do not want my wife to settle on a product that is not safe for consumption and one that will only give her false hope. I just love her so much and I want her to always feel good about herself. I am certain that in way, she is having a hard time coping up with these undesirable changes on her complexion.

Talking Tubbies

For those of you who haven’t seen the Teletubbies show yet, it basically consists of a 30-minute frolic by four fuzzy, toddler-shaped creatures named Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa, and Po. They cavort through a fairy-tale landscape called Teletubbyland, discovering things like butterflies and puddles and, occasionally, eating a baby-food-like substance known as Tubby Custard (which is, not coincidentally, the new name for mashed potatoes at our house).

ttHowever, Tinky Winky sometimes runs around carrying a plastic purse. He is also purple, and the “antenna” on his head (don’t ask me to explain) is shaped like a triangle. Putting these facts together–purple is the gay pride color, the triangle is a gay pride symbol, and the purse is, well, a purse– Falwell’s National Liberty Journal has issued a “parents alert” warning all decent people that “these subtle depictions are no doubt intentional.” Beware the promotion of homosexuality–and on taxpayer-supported public television to boot. (Kellogg’s Rice Krispies is the show’s leading commercial underwriter.) As even some conservatives have rushed to point out, Falwell’s protest is idiotic. But it’s worth explaining exactly why it’s so silly. You see, I actually would have a problem if Tinky Winky or any of the other Teletubbies were discernibly gay. This isn’t because I am intolerant of homosexuality. It is because I think any depiction of sexual behavior, gay or straight, is way over the heads of, and therefore totally inappropriate for, an audience of people under 24 months old. If Po, who is female, suddenly started kissing and groping the male Dipsy the way Monica tears into Chandler on “Friends,” I’d switch off my set in a heartbeat and go stand on the picket line with Falwell, no matter how much my kid howled.

But obviously the show’s producers are telling the truth when they say they never intended to sexualize Tinky Winky or any of the other Teletubbies. There are two reasons why I believe them. First, given their reliance on government and corporate funding, it would have been suicidal to try to bring a pro-gay message, or any other controversial sexual or political content, into the show. (I can just see the pitch meeting at Kellogg’s: “Here’s the concept: the red one is a girl, but the purple one is a homosexual– it’s `Veronica’s Closet’ meets `Sesame Street’!”) And, second, it would be ridiculous. The Teletubbies are supposed to be toddlers. Toddlers are physically, mentally, and in every other way lacking in sexuality–gay, straight, or otherwise. Sometimes a purse is just a purse.

So, as a parent interested in the perpetuation of a useful show that not only provides a way to keep our kid temporarily quiet but also has imparted lots of worthwhile information to him about words and numbers and colors, I am also reserving an itsy-bitsy measure of blame for those members of the gay commu-nity in Britain (where “Teletubbies” originally appeared on the BBC) who turned Tinky Winky into a camp icon in the first place. They were just having fun, I know. But was it really necessary to sexualize this little corner of the culture, too? Shouldn’t the fight for tolerance be staged on some more plausible battleground?

A little-noted irony of this story is the fact that “Teletubbies” has been the subject of political attacks before–from the left. Even before the first episodes aired on PBS last April, some anticapitalist types were condemning it as an exploitative scheme to market spin-off merchandise to ever-younger consumers. “`Teletubbies,’” wrote Joyce Millman in Salon, “is indoctrination, it is mind-control; it is a transparent attempt to institute brand-recognition and consumer craving in the youngest, most innocent viewers.” (So how come the Laa Laa doll Grandma bought for my boy at Toys ‘R Us is languishing, barely touched, at the bottom of his toy box?)

Others found the show educationally vapid. Or, some said, it was fascistic: the latter charge appears to be based on the show’s oddly high-tech ambiance, featuring large metal loudspeakers that occasionally rise up from the green grass and commandingly tell the Tubbies things like, “Time for Tubby bye-bye!”

The lesson of “Teletubbies” for adults, then, is clear: Let’s all quit trying to dress up our own political squabbles as ostensible battles to save the brains and souls of our children. Those brains and souls are a good deal more resilient than parents generally realize–and a good deal more porous, too. Does anyone seriously believe that, even if a two-year-old were to get fed a dose of someone’s ideology by “Teletubbies” or any other show, the lesson would still be in his consciousness by the time he turned three?

Meanwhile, my son and I are going to sit back and enjoy the show. We especially like the weird part when the Teletubbies’ bellies magically transform into movie screens, whereupon a live-action film about real kids materializes and fills the whole TV screen we are watching. Just before that happens, all four Tubbies form a circle and briefly, gently, platonically embrace–at which point my kid invariably points at them and exclaims: “They love!” If this be brainwashing, then let us make the most of it.

The Sharp Power Of Sharpton

In 1994, Al Sharpton drew 26 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In the 1997 mayoral primaries, he pulled 32 percent of the vote, nearly forcing a runoff with the heavily favored Ruth Messinger. Although he lacks the support to actually win office, the reverend’s surprising strength at the polls has won him the respect–or at least the attention–of state Democrats. “He is the single most powerful Democrat in terms of being a kingmaker,” asserts Fred Siegel, a political scientist at Manhattan’s Cooper Union.

tsposWhile that may overstate Sharpton’s influence a tad, New York Democrats say candidates ignore him at their peril. “He’s certainly a force to be reckoned with because of his loyal activists and voters,” says one party operative. As a result, come campaign season, look for Hillary Clinton and her entourage to make at least one pilgrimage uptown to Sharpton’s 125th Street headquarters.

One flight up from the Flavored With One Love Caribbean restaurant, the NAN offices are decidedly more down-with-the-people than the first lady’s usual Manhattan haunts. Inside the main auditorium, white metal ceiling fans wobble overhead, a modest pulpit stands at the front of the room, and neat rows of metal chairs dominate the space. Odds and ends are piled along the perimeter: folding tables, coat hangers, a pail of hot-pink artificial flowers, and a glass display case offering mechanical pencils (two for $1), earrings, gaily patterned hats, greeting cards, and campaign buttons declaring: “Latinos para Sharpton ’97.” The walls are covered with images of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., and, of course, Al Sharpton.

The office atmosphere is that of barely controlled chaos. During my hour-long wait to see the reverend, the phones jangle incessantly. Conversations range from the colorful to the bizarre, with much talk of gunshots, hate crimes, and New York cops. One NAN member spends 30 minutes counseling a caller on how to get a dead relative autopsied, offering such practical tips as: “First, you have to clean the body. Then it is your property.” When I am at last granted an audience with Sharpton, our time together is interrupted by phone calls, people drifting through the room, and staffers yelling questions from the outer office.

Kicked back behind his desk, his gold cuff links glowing against white, embroidered cuffs, his ample form spilling out of his chair, the reverend clearly relishes his image as New York’s Democratic don. Already, he is taking an interest in Clinton’s Senate aspirations. “I’ve had several conversations with various elected officials and people in the civil rights community,” he says. “Everyone feels that she would be a formidable candidate. The question is whether she would aggressively support an agenda that really highlights our concerns.”

Her husband’s support within the black community notwithstanding, the first lady will have to prove herself to Sharpton. “Hillary’s running does not necessarily mean that those of us who consider ourselves progressive think we have a standard bearer,” he says. “Many of us have problems with Mr. Clinton’s policies in terms of the crime bill and his relative silence on police brutality until late. And many people question the welfare reform bill.” Unless Hillary Clinton reaches out to the city’s people of color, he cautions, she could find herself in trouble come Election Day. “There is no question that the majority of people in the African American and Latino community, many of whom support me, would support a Hillary Clinton. The question is: Can she turn them out?” And this, explains Sharpton in his booming baritone, “is the reason Hillary Clinton at some point is gonna have to deal with people like me. If she only goes with the traditional club and union kind of campaign–that’s what we had in ’93 when Dave Dinkins lost.”

Sharpton’s political juice has drawn a number of top New York Democrats to his doorstep in recent years, including state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Senator Chuck Schumer. “Schumer came here twice and sought our support,” notes Sharpton with pride. “In fact, this was the first place in the black community he came when he was elected. He came the Saturday after the elections to thank us.”

Sharpton makes it clear that he expects a similar show of respect should Clinton decide to run. “Though I clearly would never support Rudy Giuliani,” he warns, “how enthusiastic[ally] I would support her would be based on how she respects and regards the new dynamics of New York politics. She cannot assume that those of us that now have come into our own will allow others to deliver us. She’s gonna have to deal with the new breed herself.”

First lady or not, Hillary Clinton will be expected to kiss the ring.

Of course, whatever the political advantages Sharpton has to offer, there are also the risks. To many, he remains a hate-mongering demagogue. Yes, the recent shooting death of African immigrant Amadou Diallo at the hands of police has given Sharpton a compelling cause. (It was an incredible break, says Frank Mercado-Valdes, Sharpton’s unofficial political adviser and one of his top funders. After the ’97 elections, the reverend’s supporters were furiously searching for a way to raise his credibility among whites and middle-class blacks, explains Mercado-Valdes without a trace of irony. The Diallo tragedy, it seems, was just the ticket.) But Sharpton clings to his polarizing style. He still won’t apologize for the Brawley fiasco, insisting that whites are simply trying to make an example of him. “It’s all about submission,” he told The Village Voice last July. “They are asking me to grovel…. They want black children to say they forced a black man coming out of the hard-core ghetto to his knees.”

In April, when the Reverend Calvin Butts publicly embraced Mayor Giuliani and apologized for having called him racist, Sharpton lashed out at the rival black leader. “Everybody that wants to come to town and take a shot at me takes a shot at me,” he said at a Brooklyn rally that afternoon. “But you got these Uncle Remuses running around, selling out the movement, and nobody will say nothing.” Sharpton denounced Butts for apologizing to a man whose workfare program is “the closest thing to slavery in modern times.” In June, in the wake of a New Jersey police shooting that killed a black motorist–who had reportedly led officers on a high-speed chase that ended when the driver rammed his car into police vehicles–Sharpton told supporters at a rally in Harlem that this shows “they can shoot down you and me.”

The reverend’s past flirtations with the Nation of Islam could make a SharptonClinton alliance a particularly bitter pill for New York’s politically powerful Jewish community (bad news for a candidate still trying to live down her call for a Palestinian state). The grumbling has already begun. When William Rapfogel, head of New York’s Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty, learned that Sharpton had been invited to a White House ceremony honoring the New York Yankees, he promptly canceled his own plans to attend. “I just couldn’t bring myself to go,” he says. In the June 18 edition of New York’s Jewish weekly the Forward, Rabbi Jacob Goldstein suggested Sharpton’s presence at the event would hurt Clinton down the campaign trail. “She’s very happy to be associated with those type[s] of people,” he said. “The voters of New York will decide if that’s the kind of person they want to represent them.” One Jewish activist says he would consider it a slap in the face if Clinton courted Sharpton’s support. “There are people–myself among them–who will make sure it comes back to haunt her if she does that.”

Sharpton dismisses talk of a voter backlash, insisting that that specter was dispelled during recent elections: “How come it didn’t happen to Schumer? How come it didn’t happen to Spitzer?” Besides, he says matter-of-factly, “controversial or not, I’m considered to be a top black-vote-getter.”

It’s likely this perception that has prompted New York’s Democratic establishment to play along in refurbishing the reverend’s image. “The Reverend Sharpton is part of our political landscape,” says Victor Kovner, state chairman of the ’96 Clinton-Gore campaign. “He has matured. He has a history of some truly irresponsible actions, but he has grown dramatically. It would be hard to say he’s not a positive force now.” Former New York City Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins also marvel at the reverend’s newfound maturity. “Sharpton’s a more responsible guy than he was years ago when I arrested him,” Koch told The Weekly Standard in March.

Rehabilitated or not, Sharpton still requires delicate handling, some Democrats admit (though not on the record). “You do not want him calling a press conference and saying, `So-and-so is ignoring the African American community,’” says one party operative. “The trick is to deal with him enough that he doesn’t cause trouble but not so much that you alienate moderate swing voters.”

Other Dems say Clinton should take the risk and ignore the reverend. “She has and her husband has a record on issues of concern to African Americans,” says one party veteran. “She doesn’t necessarily need his blessing to prove herself in those communities.”

But early signs are that the First Couple has every intention of currying Sharpton’s favor. In addition to his Yankees invite, the reverend was asked to share the stage with President Clinton at the Justice Department’s June conference on racial profiling. Sharpton sees his inclusion in such events as evidence that the Clintons are “positioning themselves” for Hillary’s Senate run: “Even I found it hard to say why they’d invite me to the Yankees event–other than maybe they’re moving to New York.”

Reviewing Augustine

Wills, like Brown, is deeply impressed with Augustine’s need for human association, for “the bond of company (socialis necessitudo) [that] can lift one up to heaven.” The man who said in his Soliloquies (a term that he invented), “God and the soul, that is what I desire to know, nothing more,” nevertheless desired to know a great deal more, not least about other people, whose conversation and friendship he craved. Some of them must stand out in any account of his life, above all his mother Monica, who dominates Book Nine of the Confessiones as well as most secondary sources about Augustine’s early biography.

agShe was a Christian, her husband a pagan; but by that special combination of prayers and pressures that has marked so many pious mothers and grandmothers in both the Christian and the Jewish traditions, she persisted in willing her son into the faith, until she was told by a bishop whom she had been nagging about the case: “Go away from me; as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.” For this reason, Monica has also been especially important for those purporting to explain Augustine’s psychology. Perhaps in reaction against the excesses to which this psychobabble has been carried– consider, for example, Rebecca West’s notorious remark about Monica that “in her religion she had a perfect and, indeed, noble instrument for obtaining her desire that her son should not become a man”–Wills somewhat plays down her early importance, and concentrates instead on her later significance in Augustine’s estimation, finding “pathos in the fact that this belated recognition was followed so soon by her death.”

Considerably more amusing is Wills’s description of “a correspondence … that became a comedy of errors” between Augustine and the irascible Jerome, the most renowned scholar of the Latin Church and translator of the Bible into Latin from Hebrew and Greek, about whom Wills observes that “it was as rare for him to keep a friend as for Augustine to lose one.” Their correspondence dealt not only with the minutiae of biblical philology, of which Jerome was the acknowledged master, but also with the morality of lying, of which he was an unacknowledged master. Jerome was older and more erudite than Augustine, a “three-language man [vir trilinguis]” as Augustine called him, but he was only a presbyter while Augustine was a bishop. Responding to Augustine’s repeated explanations about a letter that had gone astray, he finally wrote: “I admit I was wary of answering Your Eminence since I was not sure your letter was authentic…. Also, I did not want to be dismissive of a bishop of our faith and to answer a correcting letter with correction–all the more because I discerned heretical things in it.” Such letters back and forth showed, in Brown’s delightful phrase, “two highly civilized men conducting, with studied courtesy, a singularly rancorous correspondence.”

Augustine’s sexuality is even more dominant than his mother in the secondary sources about his early life–though, to be sure, the two topics are often combined, especially by party-line Freudians. As Wills comments, a “superficial but very common view of Augustine turns the great seeker into nothing but the great sinner, an ex-debauchee obsessed with sex.” This view has been made singularly attractive particularly by his doctrine of original sin as a fatal flaw that is transmitted from one generation to the next through sexual conception, which he sometimes describes as though it were some kind of venereal disease. (The birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary was therefore the great exception.) Correcting such an interpretation of the Augustinian definition of original sin, Wills takes care to make the necessary distinctions: “The debate was not over sex in itself, but over Augustine’s claim that the sexual impulse’s randomness is derived from Adam’s fall.”

The randomness of desire was the problem, not desire itself, which is divinely created and intrinsically good: Wills’s discrimination is a welcome corrective after so much tiresome discussion of the subject. Still, I do regret that the prominence of sex in the popular mind–and in the scholarly mind–seems to have required Wills to expend more words and pages on Augustine’s relation to his sexuality, as in the section subtitled “Sin, Sex, and Death,” than on his relation to the Incarnation and the person of Jesus Christ. But all this does not mean that Wills is averse to psychological insights, and some of them are very astute, as when, in explaining the notorious incident of Augustine’s joining with a gang of other youths to steal some pears, he makes this striking observation: “A brilliant prodigy favored by the town patron by day, he aspired to be a street tough by night.”

Alexander Souter, Regius Professor of Humanity in the University of Aberdeen and editor of the Glossary of Later Latin published by Oxford University Press in 1949, once pronounced the judgment that “it seems indisputable that, whether Augustine be the greatest Latin writer or not, he is the greatest man who ever wrote Latin.” It is not surprising that a book by a writer as fine as Garry Wills about a master of Latin prose is itself “obsessed” with language. As Wills observes, in a sentence that would have been worthy of his subject (or of his subject’s literary mentor, Cicero):

He had, all his life, been building a palace of words in which he lived, this antirhetorical rhetorician who yet saw the divine Word reflected in every word men speak or write (or even mentally formulate), a man who loved words too well, perhaps, indulging them as they frisked from him in catchy ways, curling back around and through each other, carrying heavy loads of meaning at times, or else just bubbling up in self-indulgent echoes or assonance, yet reaching us–all those words, profound or playful–with an extraordinary immediacy, even today.

One of the most charming features of this book is its translations, all of which appear to be by Wills, who learned his theological Latin well in his early days. He even turns his hand to rendering Augustine’s Latin “slangy verse” into equally “slangy” English:

See church as net, and world as sea–

Saints, sinners in net mingled be.

We sail on to the end of time,

Then doom is fixed, what’s yours,

what’s mine.

This was Augustine’s interpretation of the parable of the net catching both kosher and forbidden seafood in Matthew 13 to defend the practice of not immediately expelling sinners from the church.

Sometimes wills (like Augustine) is, in his phrase, “a man who loves words too well, perhaps.” This prompts him to come up not only with such translations of Augustine’s sentences as those that I have just quoted, but also with some quite idiosyncratic renderings of proper names, including the names of several of Augustine’s writings. Thus I have been citing the Confessiones with that title not to show off the Latin, but because, in a linguistic justification that consumes almost four of his pages–thus two percent of the whole book–Wills argues that the English title of Augustine’s most famous work should be The Testimony, not Confessions, on the grounds that, by contrast with its usage in Augustine and other Latin church fathers, “little if any of this rich theological resonance carries over to the word `confessions’ in English.” Yet The Westminster Confession of Faith of English Presbyterianism and The Augsburg Confession of Lutheranism are still among the most common instances of the word “confession” even in present-day ecclesiastical English, also in the United States.

I do welcome Wills’s rendering of Augustine’s title De doctrina christiana as Instruction instead of the usual On Christian Doctrine, because in that same present-day ecclesiastical English “doctrine” consistently refers to the content of Christian teaching rather than, as Augustine’s Latin word doctrina (from Cicero’s usage) does, to the process of Christian teaching. I would also hold still for translating the title of Retractationes in English as Reconsiderations and not as Retractions, because Augustine did less “retracting” than he did “reconsidering” in that remarkable auto-biobibliography written three or four years before the end of his life; and the customary translation of De Genesi ad Litteram as “literal interpretation” (Wills calls it First Meanings in Genesis) is downright ludicrous in the light of Augustine’s penchant for “spiritual” and allegorical exegesis. But Wills is somewhat pedantic to insist on a double “n” in the name of Augustine’s mother Monnica–and too cute by half to give Augustine’s anonymous beloved the name “Una” just because Augustine says of her in the Confessiones that “I lived with only one woman [unam habebam] and kept faith with her bed.”

A graver question of language concerns Augustine and the knowledge of Greek. “Augustine’s failure to learn Greek,” Peter Brown has remarked, “was a momentous casualty of the Late Roman educational system: he will become the only Latin philosopher in antiquity to be virtually ignorant of Greek.” As a schoolboy forced to parse Greek sentences, Augustine’s “`unfettered inquisitiveness’ was checked by `intimidating assignments,’” so that, though he cried over the death of Dido in Book Four of Virgil’s Aeneid, he was not capable of similar reactions to Euripides or Sophocles or Homer. (I have sometimes wondered what it must have been like to try to teach Greek grammar to Augustine the schoolboy!)

Wills finds it in his heart to see this ignorance of Greek as a “partial advantage,” because Augustine’s “deep originality comes in part from his lack of dependence on other traditions.” But this does not suffice. Even beyond Plato and Aristotle or the Greek poets, the most momentous of these “other traditions” was certainly the theological development of the Greek Christian East during the second, third, and fourth centuries, with figures such as Clement and Origen, Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa. Augustine’s “deep originality” as a result of his separation from that tradition, except for what happened to have been translated into Latin–this in someone who could say of the Nicene Creed, “This is my faith because this is the Catholic faith”–proved to be not only brilliant in its pyrotechnic speculations but also tragic in its consequences. Augustine’s doctrine of original sin and, even more portentously, his virtuosic doctrine of the Trinity helped to prepare the way for the eventual schism between the Eastern Church and the Western Church, a schism whose echoes can still be heard today in the carnage in the Balkans.

We Hardly Knew Ya, President Al

In the heat of the presidential campaign, this year’s conference garnered very little attention from the media, which is a shame, given that it focused on a particularly important topic: what families need from their communities. Al Gore set the tone by describing the complexities and fragilities of family relationships and the need to support strong ties within the family. He placed this in the context of community and how communities must respond to the family to ensure its health and survival. He engaged panelists on topics ranging from active citizenship to faith-based programs, youth and safety, the arts, and university-based interdisciplinary community-building curricula– weaving these themes together throughout the two days.

pdAt the conference, we heard many impressive stories: joint efforts by clergy groups and police in Boston that led to two years without a youth murder; Alianza Dominicana’s “La Plaza,” an effort to create in American ethnic neighborhoods the kind of central open spaces familiar to Hispanic immigrants; “Security Dads,” in which fathers patrol the hallways of an Indianapolis school; “Community Cousins,” an innovative experiment that matches families of different races to combat racism where it is felt–on an individual level; “Boundless Playgrounds,” in which Matthew, age ten and in a wheelchair, has participated in inventing playgrounds where he can have fun (including such features as a wheelchair-accessible swing in the shape of a boat); and many more.

All of these programs are remarkable for the way they involve families at an intergenerational level. Many, for example, engage children as a way to involve the rest of the family. And this, already, is extraordinary in comparison to most community-based human-service efforts. Still, something was missing from the conversation. Most programs support families by supporting their members, often their youngest, one by one–not by supporting the relationships between members that give families their cohesiveness. This raises a thorny public conversation and an even thornier public policy issue. Some families (indeed, to a certain degree, all of them) cannot always help themselves inside their own walls, no matter what kind of programmatic supports the government or the private sector provides to individual members. When family members cannot communicate with one another–or, worse, they harm one another emotionally or physically–children are not nurtured and parents are not happy. In such cases, it is not enough merely to help the individual who has the drug problem or the kid who can’t find a safe playground. The family itself, as a unit, needs attention, too. Its members–often all of its members–need help acting like a family again.

And here is where our current system for assisting the family falls short. Professionals are trained to focus on individuals and their problems or lack of resources; nobody equips them with a wider lens that considers relationships with other family members. The money from government and foundations focuses strictly on particular pathologies or categorical needs such as youth programs. And so the human-service providers follow the prescribed categories, playing to their narrow areas of expertise. Each one is a substance abuse specialist or a trauma specialist or a learning disabilities specialist or a youth mentor–but that’s it.

To be sure, these very talented and well-intentioned workers engage children and adults in all sorts of imaginative and successful programs. And they frequently make a difference. But they also can produce unintended side effects. Family members attach to the counselors, organizers, mentors, and foster parents. Meanwhile, little by little, already tenuous bonds inside the family become more strained; control and communication among family members, especially between parents and children, become weakened and even snap. The mentor, for example, finds that, as he helps a young boy, the boy’s parents become jealous–yet nobody has alerted him to such problems, let alone trained him to deal with them.

We need to face up to this, think in broader terms of relationship systems within families–not just the problems of individuals–and train people to coach and encourage family members to change patterns that pull them down. It’s a commonsense approach that will take significant retraining and a new look at current funding patterns. That is, if we really care about families as much as we all say, our services must reflect it. This was the important, if necessarily complicated, message at least a few thoughtful participants in the reunion tried to send, including the hosts. It would have made for a few more good newspaper articles, too–if only some thoughtful members of the media had bothered to pay attention.

Remember When We Were Flush?

Flush with all of the extra funds, the president and Congress are talking to each other again. Clinton has unveiled revised Social Security and Medicare plans while signaling to the Republicans his willingness to make a deal on tax cuts. And some Republicans seem receptive–content, perhaps, with a modest tax break instead of the broader reduction they originally had in mind.

rwwwfThere are, of course, many good reasons to be skeptical about the numbers. For one thing, these projections assume robust economic growth for the next 15 years. Yet the same factors that have made the economy strong–such as technological innovations that have increased productivity–have also made it more volatile. Strong growth in the near future is likely but hardly a sure thing. Furthermore, the surplus figures are a bit misleading. They include liabilities–that is, IOUs– in the Social Security trust fund and assume a willingness in Congress to abide by spending restraints enacted by the 1997 budget agreement. Factor in the liabilities and allow for Congress to break the rules, and the surplus starts to diminish.

But it doesn’t diminish entirely. Indeed, while it would be foolish to take these projections as a sure thing, it would be equally foolish not to seize the opportunity they present. For at least the next year, and quite likely many years after that, the government will have more money at its disposal than it had in the last two decades. The defining question of this legislative session and the elections that follow will be: How should it be allocated? The watchwords should be efficiency and equity.

Efficiency: As the past few years have demonstrated, there’s no instrument of social mobility more powerful than a strong economy. But the Federal Reserve, in effect, polices prosperity, constraining the government’s ability to manipulate growth through taxes and spending. Whenever excessive growth threatens to increase inflation, the Fed raises interest rates–as it did this week–to keep things manageable; when recession threatens, as it did during the Asian crisis, the Fed cuts rates to jump-start the economy.

To be sure, by “saving” the surplus and paying down the national debt, the government can help stave off future trouble, making it easier to borrow money later if necessary. But using the surplus to stimulate growth through cuts in the income and capital gains taxes makes little sense. Given the Fed’s apparent determination to put a speed limit on the economy, tax cuts could only stimulate so much growth. At worst, they could trigger too severe a counterreaction by the Fed, which might throw the economy into recession.

Equity: But the surplus creates opportunities for the government to distribute society’s resources more equitably–and meet long-standing needs that were put on hold in the age of skyrocketing deficits. The reason we have a surplus is that the government is collecting more in taxes; the government is collecting more in taxes because the very wealthy, who fall into the highest tax brackets, are doing very well.

This is yet another reason to look askance at a general cut in the income tax. But a tax break that targeted the most needy–such as an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit–would make sense on distributional grounds. The same goes for certain spending programs that benefit the less well-off, such as housing vouchers, Head Start, and subsidies for children’s health insurance. Some of the best uses of the surplus would combine both equity and efficiency–like Clinton’s plan for Social Security, which, in theory, would simultaneously pay down the national debt and shore up a progressive entitlement program.

There are, of course, political realities to confront. The Republicans may insist on a mildly regressive tax cut as the price for increasing spending on neglected but important social programs. Still, this could be a reasonable trade-off. After all, if it’s wasteful to fritter away money when the government is running a deficit, it’s no less wasteful to fritter away opportunities for sensible activist government now that the age of surplus is seemingly upon us.

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