Religion

God Is Dead. Except at the Box Office.

While Hollywood is finding God, Americans are losing their religion. But that’s not a bad thing.

These days, God is dead everywhere except at movie theaters. But rest easy, America, that doesn’t mean we’re spiraling into an amoral abyss or a lawless society. Indeed, by most indicators of anti-social behavior, things have never been better.

Even as polls and church-attendance records show the U.S. is becoming a more secular, less pious country, current films such as Heaven is for Real (based on a best-selling account of a four-year-old boy’s supposed trip to the afterlife) and Noah (based on the Old Testament’s account of the Great Flood) have done boffo business.

Noah is closing in on $100 million, the line that separates mere hits from blockbusters, and Heaven is for Real easily bested Johnny Depp’s poorly reviewed meditation on computer-enabled immortality, Transcendence. God’s Not Dead, a drama about a college freshman challenging his professor’s atheism, is also performing strongly, and so is Son of God, the latest cinematic version of the life of Jesus.

Expect to see more Christian and religiously themed movies as a result. “If there’s a sense that there’s a growing market and a growing hunger for more films like this,” a Columbia TriStar Pictures executive tells The Christian Post, “then the desire to continue to provide more films will increase, and decisions will be made to be able to make more films like this.”

Yet there’s no reason to think that such movies will do anything to stanch the broad and ongoing decline in religiosity. And there’s even less reason to worry about the trend toward a less godly country.

Gallup reports that fully 77% of Americans agree that religion “is losing its influence on American life,” and that just 20% think religion is gaining influence. Mainline Protestantism has especially taken it on the chin over the past 50 years. In 1965, over half of Americans were “active members” of Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and similar denominations, according to The Catholic World Report. That number is now below 10%. While independent bible-based churches and the Catholic Church show some growth (largely due to immigrants), Pew Research reports that “the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace.” Indeed, such “nones” now comprise 20% of the population and one-third of adults under the age of 30.

Those numbers will keep growing. With each successive generation – from the “Silents” born between 1928 and 1945 to Gen-Xers born between 1965 and 1980 – Americans have gotten less and less religious. Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1994 and outnumber Baby Boomers, are embracing secularism for a variety of reasons, none of which is likely to disappear.

Millennials are far more likely than previous generations to view organized religion as intolerant, sexist, and homophobic. That attitude isn’t helped by traditional Islamic theology, the Catholic Church’s position on female priests, or political candidates such as Ray Moore, who is running for lieutenant governor of South Carolina and calling for Christian parents to remove their children from public education (“Pharoah’s school system”).

Sociologists agree that religion is generally less important in societies where basic existential needs – food, clothing, shelter, education, work – are covered. Even with the global financial crisis of the past few years, the fact is that Americans and other residents of the developed world are still doing extremely well by any standard. Even the poorest countries are gaining ground, which suggests that they too will become more secular over time.

While it’s understandable that believers would worry about secularism’s effect on non-believers’ souls, the widespread sense that a godless society is a lawless society is clearly wrong. A line routinely (though controversially) attributed to Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky sums up the fear of many religious people: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” Yet the plain fact is that over the same period during which America has gotten less religious, crime of all sorts has declined massively, teens are waiting longer to have sex, abortion rates are down, the divorce rate is at a 30-year low, and philanthropic giving remains strong despite economic lassitude.

Christians and other believers can take pride in the fact that moviegoers are shelling out millions of dollars to watch films dealing with religious themes – and that an entertainment industry long hostile to such topics seems ready and willing to deliver whatever the audience wants. And they can also take solace in the fact that, even as America has become an increasingly godless society, it’s become a nicer, safer place to live.

South Korea

Culture Blaming and Stereotyping in the South Korean Ferry Tragedy

A boy holding a white chrysanthemum pays tribute at a temporary group memorial altar for victims of capsized passenger ship Sewol in Ansan
A boy holding a white chrysanthemum pays tribute at a temporary group memorial altar for victims of capsized passenger ship Sewol in Ansan, April 24, 2014. Kim Hong-Ji—Reuters

A nation grieves, a nation is blamed.

It’s a story that gets more tragic by the hour. The Sewol ferry, carrying 476 passengers, mostly youth from one high school in Ansan, South Korea, capsized last Wednesday while en route to Jeju Island. Shortly after the sinking, 174 passengers were rescued. More than a week later, at the time of this writing, 175 are confirmed dead; 127 are missing.

It’s also a story that’s downright mystifying. A captain that jumped ship. Untouched lifeboats. Orders to stay put as the vessel rolled. As bodies continue to be pulled from the sea, and as families desperately seek answers, the Sewol disaster has created a cultural flashpoint, forcing many to ask, “Who is to blame?”

It’s a question that is haunting a nation, baffling pundits, and challenging a highly militarized government hailed for its organization and efficiency. And while Sewol’s captain remains Public Enemy No. 1, media outlets are factoring in a more amorphous villain: South Korean culture. “Media coverage has portrayed the ferry disaster either as a terrible tragedy that any person can sympathize with,” says Ju Hui Judy Han, a professor of cultural geography of travel at the University of Toronto, “or as a bizarre accident that could have only happened somewhere else.”

According to several English-language media reports, the Asian country’s “culture of obedience” and youth deference to authority is the culprit. The Los Angeles Times reports that the disaster has “cast a harsh light on a Confucian culture in which young people are taught to respect the older generation,” while Reuters cites, “Many of the children did not question their elders, as is customary in hierarchical Korean society. They paid for their obedience with their lives.”

Others echo the sentiment:

If that was a boatload of American students, you know they would have been finding any and every way to get off that ferry. But in Asian cultures…compliance is de rigueur. — Dallas Morning News

While children from any culture might well obey orders in such an unfamiliar and terrifying situation, one expert says Korean teenagers are particularly conditioned to do so: “Korean teenagers are very accustomed to being told what to do and what to think.” — South China Morning Post

“What this culture prizes in its children, in its students, is obedience. And so when they were told to stay put by an adult, of course they would stay put.” — CNN

It’s called “culture blaming,” and the media embraces it – especially the mainstream. “There’s two issues at play,” says Elizabeth Spayd, editor and publisher of Columbia Journalism Review. “First, there are many correspondents who parachute in to write about disasters who aren’t that familiar with the culture they drop into. (And it’s also true, in most American newsrooms, that the staff is not as diversified as the world.) But another reality is that, after a big disaster, when everyone’s looking for answers, people grab for whatever they can find.”

We saw culture blaming, too, when South Korean norms were incriminated for the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco last year, while Korean male anger and aggression served as an “explanation” for Seung-Hui Cho’s shooting spree on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. Call it a journalistic hit: Sewol coverage transforms into a spectacle of groundless theories on how a culture is partially guilty for the wiping out of an entire sophomore class. On the surface, it appears like an innocuous and thoughtful attempt to offer insight, but at the root is the suggestion that these cultures are inferior, broken, or backwards. It paints a portrait of Asian youth without humanity and individual agency.

Should aspects of Korean society be scrutinized? Of course. Poor communication, disorganization, and complacency – compounded with fumbling bureaucracies and the lack of protocol and proper training – resulted in a botched rescue mission that has South Korea reeling. But to theorize that the high death toll is linked to a perceived cultural flaw or deficiency is a lazy journalistic shortcut. It fits a stereotype.

Meanwhile, what’s missed in all this culture blaming is the real cause. “Culture is not to blame for the Sewol disaster,” says Jaehwan Cho, a South Korean reporter covering the story in Seoul and Ansan. “It represents the problem of government structure.” The worst offense: It places blame on the victims and their families as a nation grieves.

If this happened to American teens, would we point to American culture as the source of the accident, or criticize our youth for not knowing what to do? Would we have blamed them for not surviving?

We wouldn’t.

Religion

A Different Kind of Spring Training

This Holy Week, I realized God's hope in a place other than church

Proclaiming that the tomb is empty – that Jesus has risen from the grave – is the most powerful witness any Christian can offer. But if our Easter celebration stops at proclamation then we’ve shortchanged the world of the hope and joy it sorely needs. The resurrection must also be about embodiment. It should change the way we live and move and have our being. Easter should transform and strengthen us to participate in God’s reconciling work in the world.

That’s why I chose to spend this Easter worshipping in a very different way and in a very different place. There was no midnight watch service or large family dinner, but there were countless moments of hope and an abiding trust in the possibility of new life.

For the past two years, John McCarthy, whom everyone affectionately calls Coach Mac, has taken a group of young baseball players from Washington, D.C. to join kids in the Dominican Republic (DR) for a week of playing baseball. Major League Baseball teams recruit heavily from the DR. 20 percent of professional baseball players learned the fundamentals of the game in this small country. Baseball is part of the nation’s cultural rhythms. Coach Mac runs a legendary program in Washington, D.C. called “Homerun Baseball” where the t-shirts read “Talent is what you have, effort is what you give.” He is known for using baseball to teach life lessons. He teaches his players how to succeed on and off the field.

One of the issues that has specifically tugged at John’s heart is literacy. The money he raises through his program helps subsidize reading programs in the nation’s capital, Brooklyn, NY, and the Dominican Republic. I believe in his work and was thrilled that my 11-year old son Jack and I could be a part of the Dominican journey last week.

For many baseball fans in the United States, their romantic image of the game is capture by the movie Field of Dreams. Pitches are thrown and bats are swung amidst the growing corn stalks and simple joys of small town America. But in the Dominican Republic, baseball diamonds are surrounded by sugarcane, whose shoots are used for the dugout walls. The scene is almost magical. Watching our boys sit on the bench chewing on sugarcane sticks was a sight to behold. Coach Mac knows I am a long-time little league coach in DC, so I was invited to join his coaching staff in the DR. We led skill drills and coached daily double headers under the hot sun, working alongside our Dominican counterparts. We shared stories of past exploits – my favorite coach, 27-year-old Luis, told the story of his years playing in the minor leagues. Luis showed his commitment to helping other kids escape the grinding poverty that far too frequently dashes youthful dreams in his country.

In the DR, baseball is played hard and well because many believe that it is their only opportunity to escape from poverty. Our kids were able to recognize their own privilege and it amazed them to see how their Dominican teammates come from so little yet bring so much to the field every day. Kids like Mosquito, whose mother died of HIV/AIDS, who is both deaf and mute, but is such a good pitcher that one of our Homerun coaches, a former MLB pitcher himself for 17 years, thinks this 12-year-old could eventually make the Majors. Or Isaac, a big hitter who kept hitting balls over buildings, always with a big smile on his face. Or little Derrick, who snuck onto the bus because he wanted to join our team– to our great benefit because of his great swing and glove in the field! Or even Kendre, who liked to catch for me while I hit ground balls to the infielders. He kept calling me “Coach Diego,” and caught hard throws with the flimsiest glove until I gave him mine to borrow. Kendre could hardly believe his good fortune when I told him at the end of the second day to keep my glove.

Many of the children attend a school started years earlier by the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. These sisters are also a core partner in the baseball program, recognizing too that the truth of the resurrection must be embodied in tangible ways.

At the end of the week, we stood around a huge baseball cake while both American and Dominican players talked about what they had learned. As they thanked each other and vowed to do it again next year, one 11-year-old Dominican player said, “Keep playing baseball and keep believing in God.” Another wished us safe travel “Vamos con Dios!” or “Go with God.”

In a final late night conversation with Jack and his friend Sam, we discussed what we had learned and how our lives might help change the lives of the young players and families we had met. They came up with the idea of a “foundation” to bring lots of baseball equipment from their teams and friends to the DR. That’s fine I said, but asked if baseball will really help many people in the Dominican escape poverty. No, they thought, that will take education and the boys decided we need to include books with the baseball gear. So look out for the “J and S Glove and Book Foundation” coming soon!

This “holy” week drove home to me how the resurrection calls us to bring hope wherever we go. When we can live in that reality—that death and evil do not finally win—we find the strength to participate in God’s work in the world.

TIME 100

Forget the TIME 100, Meet the Most 100

The BRIT Awards 2014 - Show
Karwai Tang—WireImage

When I set out to create the 100 Most Influential People to the Most Influential Demographic, I contacted many experts on the 18-to-34 year olds that large companies are trying to appeal to. That’s because it’s so hard to get to 100. I mean, 100 doesn’t sound like a lot, but try counting to 100 and see how long it takes you. Probably 100 seconds. Point is: you don’t have to read all of this.

1) Beyonce Knowles
Everyone thinks she’s sexy and classy and smart and feminist, and she doesn’t have to prove any of those things ever.

2) Jay Z
He’s married to Beyoncé.

3) Lena Dunham
She is authentic. You can tell because she doesn’t wear too much makeup.

4) Amy Schumer
Also authentic, despite wearing a lot more makeup.

5) Amy Poehler
In between, makeup wise.

6) Jenji Kohan
She created Orange is the New Black which is the first filmed performance with sexy lesbian stuff that you can watch and feel smart about without subtitles.

Elizabeth and James SEPHORA VIB ROUGE Event - Client Images
The Olsen twins. Kevin Mazur—Getty Images

7) Olsen Twins
Have no idea what they’re up to, but I was told that they’re important. I’m guessing fashion. Or dating celebrities.

8) Leandra Medine
She writes a fashion blog called The Man Repeller, since that’s, after all, what fashion does. She was on Fast Company’s 2013 In 2013, “100 Most Creative People” list, and that’s the kind of 100-people list cred that makes me feel less insecure about picking someone.

9) Tavi Gevinson
“Rookie does less bitching about things than blogs tend to do. It’s the only one that has staying power because it has an aesthetic. It’s not just yelling about something else. Her little stable of writers largely drawn from her peer group is the first platform that is not just a bunch of quasi-youth and paid-for-youth talking to actual youth.” — Thomas “Baby Balls” Morton, Vice editor

10) Kim Kardashian
She has a butt.

11) Other Kardashians
They are related to Kim Kardashian.

12) Stephen Colbert
When #CancelColbert was launched, he turned it into the funniest explanation of the difference between text and subtext that the Earnest Generation has heard. Then he canceled anyway.

13) Jimmy Fallon
King of the Earnest generation.

14) Justin Timberlake
The entertainer in chief.

15) Sophia Amoruso
The founder of CEO of Nasty Gal she makes clothes for gals who, in my opinion, aren’t really that nasty.

16) Cara DeLevigne
When Kara Buettner, a 25-year-old media strategist at OMD Worldwide, told me to put her on the list, I wrote it down as “Tara Day Levine.” I have no idea who she is. To which Kara said, “You don’t know who that is. Oh my gosh? She has like 4 million instagram followers. Google her.” I did. She was named by the Evening Standard as one of “London’s 1,000 Most Influential of 2011″, in the category of “Most Invited” and by The Sunday Times Magazine as one of the “100 Makers of the 21st Century” list of influential British people. Still have no idea who she is.

17) Sean Rad and Justin Mateen
They created Tinder, without which young people would not have sex since it would require going outside and talking to strangers in public, and our race would end.

18) Karlie Kloss
Women like models a lot. This one made a cookie for Momofuku Milk Bar called the Perfect 10 Kookie because it contains dark chocolate and no gluten, which is how women justify eating crap. She is on the Top 50 Models Women list by Models.com and Vogue Paris’ 30 models of the 2000s. Time needs to make a list of models pronto.

19) Kate Upton
I wondered if women liked her when they put her in that new chick flick. They do. Surprising.

20) Miley Cyrus
She does her own thing and is her own person, as long as those things and that person are totally different from who you thought she was five years ago.

21) Ellie Goulding
It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

22) Lorde
The first pop singer to call the culture on its materialism and shallowness in a cool way since Bob Dylan.

23) Michelle Phan
A YouTube celebrity who teaches people how to put on makeup. Why anyone goes to law school when there are this many career options is beyond me.

24) James Franco
If the Renaissance had Renaissance Men, the Millennials have James Franco.

25) Zooey Deschanel
Influencing preciousness across the globe.

Banksy In LA
A new artwork, “Crayon Foreclosure,” attributed to guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic

26) Banksy
How lazy are 18-34 year olds? Too lazy to go to museums or galleries. They want their art on walls they’re walking by.

27) Mindy Kaling
She’s authentic and honest and on TV.

28) Tina Fey
The original Mindy Kaling.

29) Louis CK
He’s the only person who gets to do exactly what he wants on TV except Jimmy Fallon, who happens to want exactly what network executives want.

30) Kanye West
He really doesn’t care.

31) Mark Zuckerberg
If not for him, young people couldn’t brag about quitting Facebook.

32) Kate Middleton
Just a normal civilian who got to be a princess. Even in 2014, that’s all it takes to get on a list of people influential to young women.

33) Michele Obama
All the importance of a politician, without politics.

34) Shonda Rhymes
She made that Scandal show.

35) Malala Yousafzai
By campaigning for education for girls in Pakistan, she was shot. As she recovered, the Taliban vowed to kill her. She is like Tupac, only with a purpose.

36) Jon Stewart
The Walter Cronkite of young people.

37) Nina Dobrev
An actress on The Vampire Diaries, a show on the CW, a network whose senior vice president, Joanna Klein, helped make this list. You do the math.

38) Pope Francis
He’s the pope, but he’s also like one of us. Young people don’t like when even the pope acts like he’s better than them, even though he was chosen by God and they, less so.

39) Arianna Huffington.
The Huffington Post attracts a lot of young readers for a new site. But not for a site that is mostly photos of side boob.

40) Jen Selter
Queen of the butt selfies.

South By Southwest Interactive Festival - Day 4
Edward Snowden Gary Miller—FilmMagic

41) Edward Snowden
He flipped of The Man, told the truth, became an outlaw and had a girlfriend who had some really hot Instagram shots. He should be on this list five times.

42) Taylor Swift
She breaks up with guys and sings about it.

43) Anna Wintour
Still in charge of what women wear or want to wear.

44) Rachel Zoe
Or maybe she’s in charge of what women wear or want to wear. There’s probably a whole lot of people in charge of that, come to think of it.

45) Sheryl Sandberg
Telling young women to lean in was something they could understand without having to read a whole book.

46) Harvey Levin
If not for him, no one would know what inane chatter cameramen try to make with celebrities outside restaurants.

46) Veronica Roth
The 25-year-old author of the Divergent trilogy, a young adult science fiction series, she’s kind of like the Hunger Games woman. I should add the Hunger Games woman.

47) Suzanne Collins
She’s the Hunger Games woman.

48) Jenna Marbles
She’s funny, she’s pretty, she obviously can’t act or she’d be in movies by now. But since her 2011 YouTube video “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” she has amassed 13 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and marketed dog toys called Kermie Worm & Mr. Marbles named after her dogs. That’s kind of like being a movie star nowadays.

49) iJustine
Perhaps the greatest lifecaster on the web, depending on what “lifecaster” means. You may have noticed I’ve included a lot of social media stars. That’s because I’m hoping they share this list and it goes viral and makes Time rich. That’s how the economy works now.

50) Avicii
DJ are the new rock stars and this the only one since Moby who wrote a song I know.

51) Skrillex
This Corey Feldman lookalike is the first person in my entire lifetime to become famous for making a type of music that adults think is awful noise.

52) Armin Van Buuren
It was a tough choice between Danish DJ Tiesto and Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren, but in the end, Van Buuren’s Wikipedia page looked longer when I quickly scrolled down them both.

53) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
Not only did the Pussy Riot member free people everywhere to say the word “pussy” everywhere in a way that even the Sopranos failed to do, she also took a great stand for freedom. “I scoffed at the Pussy Riot thing but going through with the jail terms changed my mind. Did you read that letter from jail? It’s like some Solzhenitsyn shit. It upped her game a little.” –Thomas “Baby Balls” Morton, Vice magazine editor

Verizon &  Live At Roseland Ballroom
Lady Gaga Kevin Mazur—2014 Kevin Mazur

54) Lady Gaga
She has empowered feminists, the LGBT community, fashionistas and monsters. She is also the most famous person in the world who no one knows what she looks like.

55) Nikki Minaj
She’s the Lady Gaga of rap.

56) Evan Spiegel
The inventor and CEO of SnapChat created a way that young people could send photos of their junk to each other without a permanent record. But instead young people sent photos of themselves making silly faces. Stupid young people.

57) Paul Tollett
The Coachella music festival is weirdly important to young people out West, who seem to think its Woodstock. The founder and booker of the festival also books the country equivalent, L.A.’s Stagecoach festival for country music which is attended by people who don’t want it to be Woodstock at all.

58) Ben Silbermann
The CEO of Pinterest must know, by now, way too much about what handbags women want.

59) Chad Dickerson
The Etsy CEO must know way too much about what handbags women would want if they had to make them themselves.

60) Kevin Systrom
The former CEO and co-founder of Instagram before he sold it to Facebook, he was the first frat boy with enough engineering skill to put a filter on everyone so they look better.

61) Seth McFarlane
Now for the ones for dudes. Seth McFaralane is beloved by 18-34 year olds for hosting the Oscars. No. It’s for his album of standards. No. It’s for remaking Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series. No. It’s because he makes cartoons with race jokes.

62) Dana White
Preside of the UFC which is the sport of choice for young men. Not to participate in; just to watch. The sport of choice, participation-wise is videogame playing.

63) Freddie Wong
A professional video game competitor turned YouTube filmmaker, Wong is all up in it and stuff.

64) Shane Smith
The CEO of Vice, which does some of the best reportage from dangerous international locations and the very best reportage of what it’s like to be wasted on various drugs.

65) Mike Farah
The head of Funny or Die knows every celebrity and how to appeal to their vanity to get them to do dumb things – the most valuable skill of the 21st century.

66) Young Chop
This 20-year old rap producer from Chicago, he produced a lot of his high school friend Chief Keef’s hit songs. He’s in charge of a collective called BandKamp that includes Paris Bueller, CTC Reaper, 12 Hunna, C-Sick, Smylez and Poo Mack. Baby Balls Morton says his music, “shares a lot of similarities to the birth of Oi! music or hardcore. It’s full of anger. It’s good listening.” I cannot figure out if I prefer Poo Mack or C-Sick as a name. Depends on my mood, I think. When I’m feeling high-brow, it’s C-Sick; when I’m just chillin, it’s Poo Mack.

67) Kevin Hart
The most popular stand up comic in America shows that success is 99 percent perspiration, and 1 percent shiny clothing.

68) Robert Kirkman
The creator of The Walking Dead comic books, he tapped into the fact that dudes love zombies.

69) Judd Apatow
The launcher of Lena Dunham, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Kristin Wiig the movie star and dick jokes as we know them today, which is with a touch of sadness.

70) Questlove
Making things cools in every medium, especially hair.

71) Daniel Tosh
Making cruelty okay through charm weekly.

72) Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman
The founders of Reddit, the front page of the internet, have allowed us to see what frustrated young men think about when they’re alone at their computer. For some reason famous people decided that would be a good place to let people ask them anything.

73) Nathan Fielder
Replacing Jimmy Kimmel as our prankster-in-chief.

74) Jonah Peretti
The founder of Buzzfeed developed an algorithm that figured out that human beings digest information best in list featuring photos of cats.

75) Perry Chen
Thanks to the CEO and co-founder of Kickstarter, everyone feels way too comfortable asking their friends for money.

76) Kendrick Lamar
No one will destroy this rapper’s climb to the top of the rap world unless some bitch comes and kills his vibe. He’s very, very vulnerable to this. Vibe-killing bitches are like his kryptonite.

77) Adrian Peterson
Dudes like sports. Especially inspirational sports figures. It’s what they cry over. That and bitches killing their vibes.

78) Dan Okrent
Former Time Inc editor who also happened to invent fantasy sports and thereby has taken up 3-4 hours of most men’s day.

79) Roger Goodell
Keeping football footballing.

80) LeBron James
One cannot overestimate how much young men love sports. The only equivalent is how much old men love sports.

81) Johnny Manziel
Johnny Football does not care what you think of him. As long as you think he’s cool. This is the new version of cool.

82) Kevin Durant
The world’s best basketball player, nicest guy in the NBA and actor in the film Thunderstruck. Being boring is totally important in an athlete.

83) Bill Simmons
He’s the modern Howard Cosell. Actually, he’s nothing like Howard Cosell. Man, I’m getting tired of trying to get to 100 people.

84) José Mujica
The world’s poorest President, Mujica drives a Volkswagon Beetle and lives on a small chrysanthemum farm in Uruguay. He’s an atheist vegetarian. You will not be surprised to learn that he legalized pot in Uruguay.

85) Tao Lin
“Tao Lin runs a publishing house. They’re all druggy but also Asperger’s kids. He’s the Jay McInerney of that scene. He’s the crown prince. And he’s not an asshole. He’s very circumspect about his own writing and what his role is. In addition to his little cultivated crowd he’s got tons of shitty imitators too.” — Thomas “Baby Balls” Morton, Vice editor

86) Chris Hardwick
The Nerdist is a really good-looking guy who happens to like comic books and has created a media empire based on that. This is the guy who hosted Singled Out with Jenny McCarthy! He claims he came out as a nerd, but it sure seemed convenient to do that right when nerd culture was exploding.

87) Sam and Dan Houser
The heads of Rock Star Games invented Grand Theft Auto which was considered offensive in quainter times.

88) Robert Kotick
The CEO of Activision is responsible for Call of Duty. Sounds like a dream job until you realize just how freaked out he is about being asked to explain himself every time there’s a school shooting.

An American Apparel Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Not Dov Charney Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

89) Dov Charney
The American Apparel CEO, with one well placed mannequin, brought female pubic hair back. For like a day.

90) Eddie Huang
He makes dumplings in New York, but more importantly he makes little punk short movies about food on YouTube and wrote a book about it. He’s the culinary equivalent of a graffiti artist desperate for a sitcom deal.

91) Harley Morenstein
The host of YouTube’s Epic Meal Time is like an angry frat boy who raped your food and made a cooking show out of it.

92) Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist
The hosts of Epic Rap Battles of History explain great moments in history through rap, although history in this case include Adolph Hitler versus Darth Vader. It is the closest thing young people have to education.

93) Stan Lee
Bros see a lot of super hero movies.

94) Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope
The FBI declared the horror-rap band The Insane Clown Posse as a national gang. In actuality, by keeping the Juggalos busy traveling around the country like Deadheads, they are shielding us from a lot of angry young poor white kids who would otherwise be robbing our liquor stores, gas stations and whatever happens to be next door to the meth lab.

95) Drake
So cool, so collected, so Canadian, so Degrassi, so half-Jewish, and yet tough enough to fight Chris Brown over Rhianna.

96) Mark Gonzales
He’s 45, but the Gonz is still the coolest skateboarder in the world. And because he writes poetry, that also makes him the coolest poet in the world

97) Shaun White
He is the most influential red-headed man since Thomas Jefferson.

98) Dale Earnhardt Jr.
So influential there is a band called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

99) Elon Musk
He cares about the environment, cars and breaking the rules.

100) Dr. Dre
For the headphones.

TIME 100

Meet the Most 100

Getty Images (20)

The only list in journalism that really matters

There are a lot of jour­nalistic reasons to publish lists—they simply haven’t been discovered yet. Businesspeople, however, have found tons of great business reasons for creating lists, one of which is that you can appeal to targeted demographics. So if my editors would cater their choices directly toward the most valuable demographic instead of creating a TIME 100 list that tries to impress all its readers, TIME’s businesspeople would be much happier. And they’re the ones who give me free tickets to baseball games.

To help them, I’ve created my own list, the 100 Most Influential People to the Most Influential Demographic, or the Most 100 for short. To find out exactly who I should cater the list to, I called Kara Buettner, a media strategist at OMD Media Direction who places ads for huge companies. She told me to aim directly at American 18-to-34-year-olds, skewing 60% female since women read more, buy more and share more. Men just watch sports and videos of 18-to-34-year-old women.

Since Buettner is herself a 25-year-old woman, I asked her what her people are influenced by. She told me that I shouldn’t bother with scientists and economists or even world leaders. “When those are on the list I always think they had to put them on there to balance out the superficial stuff,” she said. The sad thing is, I think the TIME editors who make the TIME 100 think the exact opposite.

To get a firmer handle on young women, I called Joanna Klein, a senior vice president at the CW, a network aimed at 18-to-34-year-old women. She agreed that I should stay away from politics. “They can’t relate to a world leader,” she explained of her demo. “That’s why we feel those zombie shows are popular right now. Zombies represent government and an older generation not being able to change their ways.” If Senator Mitch McConnell loses, he can definitely get a role as a zombie on a CW show.

Influencers for young adults, Klein said, fall into four categories: step skippers, who succeeded without working their way up (Kim Kardashian, Mark Zuckerberg); VIPs, who have access to all the increasingly disparate realms of influence (Beyoncé, Jay Z); authentics, who don’t apologize for being unique (Lena Dunham, Edward Snowden); and customizers, who craft information to a select audience (Jon Stewart, ­Tavi Gevinson). I have no idea if this is true, but I do know that I am going to steal this idea to charge huge corporations tons of money for speeches on how to reach millennials.

For the 40% of the list tailored to men, I depended on Thomas “Baby Balls” Morton, a writer, editor and on-air reporter at Vice whose job title is “Figure of Importance.” He agreed that I should avoid world leaders and focus on the entertainment-industrial complex. Baby Balls, however, did strongly suggest José Mujica, the President of Uruguay, who legalized pot. Generally, Baby Balls said, I needed to pick cool guys. “It’s dudes whose lives they want to have. I want to get lightly buzzed and go street-racing a Lamborghini,” he said. “I want to have that option at the very least.” If there is someone named Big Balls at Vice, I deeply fear what his dreams involve.

I produced my list after hours of careful deliberation, followed by a realization of just how many 100 is, at which point I just threw in anyone who flashed into my head. Surprisingly, 9% of the people on my list were also on the TIME 100, including Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, the Pope and the weed-legalizing President of Uruguay. Not surprisingly, the few non-Miley TIME 100 selections that were an attempt to sell out to the kids and be cool were way off: ­Matthew McConaughey, ­Jason Collins, Benedict Cumber­batch, Seth Meyers and Charlie Rose.

My list, meanwhile, will generate far more social-media chatter than the TIME 100, since it includes five YouTube stars, someone called the Man Repeller, the founder of Nasty Gal, every single Kardashian and a woman who is famous for taking butt selfies. It has three models, whereas the TIME 100 has only one; three DJs to their zero; and two more members of the Insane Clown Posse than they have.

By making this list without any committee, system or rereading, I am a step skipper, an authentic, a VIP and a customizer. And while I may not affect economics, diplomacy, technology or academics, I do have nearly a million Twitter followers. And that is what the businesspeople care about.

Technology & Media

HBO Just Made a Brilliant Move to Hook Younger Viewers

HBO and Amazon aren’t only targeting their shared enemy, Netflix, with their major content licensing deal announced Wednesday. They’re going right after me and my friends, millennials aged 18-25, because we’re vaguely aware The Sopranos and The Wire were pretty great shows, but we were way too young to catch ‘em on their first go.

The Sopranos, the most influential show included in a deal that will bring older HBO content to Amazon Prime subscribers even if they don’t separately subscribe to HBO, ran from 1999-2007. That means when Tony Soprano was first beamed into HBO subscribers’ homes, I was eleven years old, more interested in Nickelodeon offerings like Spongebob Squarepants or Rocket Power, both of which premiered in the same year. (HBO is a unit of TimeWarner, which also owns TIME.)

My generation’s tastes changed as we grew older, but it’s tough to fight society’s demands that we spend our time watching whatever’s hot at any given moment, lest we fall out of cultural relevancy. Some college friends watched The Sopranos or The Wire on DVD, but most of us preferred to spend our TV time making sure we were catching the moment’s hot shows, like The Office, The Walking Dead or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—we just didn’t have time for outdated stuff, regardless of how good it was.

Now, though, we want to catch up on what we’ve been told was some pretty great television. While some of us have HBO GO access for Game of Thrones and True Detective (thanks, Mom and Dad!) many of us don’t, because it’s still pretty expensive to add HBO service to most cable packages and we’re kind of broke right now. But we do have Amazon Prime, because we buy lots of stuff online and we want it fast – Prime’s pretty affordable when you consider all the benefits (subscribing to HBO for the video content doesn’t mean I can also get HBO to send me new socks and a box of Cup Noodles in two days’ time).

There’s still some cultural demand to watch today’s best shows, but there’s so much great television that we’ve got to pick and choose anyway: Game of Thrones, True Detective, Orphan Black, New Girl, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Veep, Silicon Valley, the 24 reboot, Orange is the New Black, Justified, Parks and Recreation, Sherlock, The Americans, Scandal and oh, yeah, the Stanley Cup playoffs, among other hits I’m missing here.

That picking-and-choosing that everybody’s doing reduces the cultural pressure to be up-to-date on all the top shows: If we all tried to watch all these shows so we could talk about each and every one of them around the watercooler, we’d all lose our jobs, and with them our access to the watercoolers to begin with. That’s lose-lose.

So, if you’ll need me, I’m taking a break from trying to keep up with today’s TV so I can finally get around to The Sopranos. No spoilers, please.

Religion

The Boy Scouts Banned My Church Because We Support Gays

Geoff McGrath on April 1, 2014, in Bellevue, Wash.
Geoff McGrath on April 1, 2014, in Bellevue, Wash. Elaine Thompson—AP

Earlier this week, the Boy Scouts of America revoked the troop charter of a Seattle-area United Methodist Church because the church would not boot the scoutmaster Geoff McGrath, a married, gay Eagle Scout. Monica Corsaro, the pastor of the church, explains why.

The congregation that I serve, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, is an incredibly diverse place. We have various racial and ethnic groups. Our people come from various economic strata. We have gay and straight people. Beyond just having the diversity, we are a place that values every person that God has placed within our community.

Because our church sits in the heart of our diverse neighborhood and has become somewhat of a community center, we knew that it was the right time to charter a Boy Scout troop in the congregation. In envisioning this troop we wanted it reflect who the congregation is, and to welcome in the community around us with authenticity.

We didn’t choose Geoff McGrath as a political statement. We chose Geoff because he was the perfect person for the job, an Eagle Scout himself, and someone who has a Master’s degree in Social Work. He has mentoring and leadership skills that someone taking on this role needs. A perfect fit. Geoff was quite willing, to serve as scoutmaster but was also nervous that his being gay would pose a problem for me and for the congregation. I assured him that putting him in the leadership of this troop would reflect and live out the values of our congregation, and that we would not have a troop at Rainier Beach UMC unless it was fully inclusive, because that is who we are.

Apparently, who we are is a problem for the Boy Scouts of America. Our congregation’s new troop was welcomed warmly by the Chief Seattle Council with full knowledge of the values of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, as well as who Geoff McGrath is. Our congregation is the religious partner in this chartering relationship, and it troubles me that our belief that God created and loves each and every one of us, just as we are is being ignored and in fact denied by the Boy Scouts of America.

Last year, when the Boy Scouts voted to remove the ban on gay youth from Scouting, much of the speculation was on how churches might react to the change. It seems as though that speculation was only concerned with the churches that actively exclude LGBT people from congregational life and leadership. The actions of the Boy Scouts has communicated to me that there is little reverence for a congregation that welcomes, includes, and values all people. Rainier Beach United Methodist Church believes putting someone in a closet and not letting him be honest about who he is when asked is not “morally straight,“ to use a Boy Scout term.

Our congregation is the chartering organization for the troop, and yet I, as the pastor, had no contact from the BSA when they told Geoff that he was kicked out as a leader. Further, the BSA asked me and the congregation to violate our conscience and our religious beliefs by removing him as a leader of the Boy Scout troop when we know he is the most gifted for the leadership of the troop we chartered. That is not how a partnership works. The Boy Scouts of America need to recognize the growing number of churches whose beliefs include all people. And by all, we mean all.

Our congregation continues to be committed to serving the youth of our community. At the moment, we are exploring what options exist for the future of the troop that we have worked so hard to build. We hope that the Boy Scouts will support our congregation and our values, as it has supported so many other congregations around the country.

Our Boy Scout troop is a part of our congregation’s ministry to its immediate context. Rainier Beach UMC serves the immigrant, the refugee, the middle class person, the mixed-race person, the single parent, the elderly, the young, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person, the lonely, the powerful, the least and the lost. We will keep serving all those people who are a part of our context, because that is what the Gospel calls us to do.

Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro is the pastor of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in Seattle.

Culture

How Sexist Are This Summer’s Blockbusters? An Informal Ranking

Film Summer Preview
Angelina Jolie in Maleficent AP/DIsney

From Maleficent to The Other Woman and X-Men, we looked at trailers for 15 of the season's most anticipated movies to see how women are faring on the big screen

It’s summer movie time again, and with the Cameron Diaz vehicle The Other Woman premiering Friday, it’s time to see what Hollywood’s take on 51 percent of the population will be this season. It’s no secret that women aren’t getting a fair share of worthwhile screen time in Hollywood: only 30 percent of all speaking roles belonged to women in 2013, even with huge hits starring women like Gravity and The Hunger Games. And summer tends to be the worst for women who are often relegated to playing a superhero’s damsel in distress.

But after The Heat’s success last year, it looks like we’re getting more women on screen—though that doesn’t necessarily mean more nuanced women. I’ve gone through the trailers for the big summer films starring the fairer sex. (I skipped movies like 22 Jump Street and Godzilla due to the total lack of women in the trailer.) And, wherewith my “woman rating” for each movie as “good,” “bad” or “ugly” based on the following factors:

  • How prominently the woman is featured in the trailer
  • How likely the movie looks based on the trailer to pass the Bechdel test—a handy metric that asks if two women talk to each other in a film about something other than a man
  • How original the female role looks

I have not seen any of these films, so I cannot judge them based on their quality. I also cannot predict if a movie like Walk of Shame is secretly a feminist manifesto that is being advertised as a movie full of prostitute jokes. I am basing my sexism analysis on the trailers alone. And full disclosure: I will see and likely enjoy many of the movies to which I gave “bad” or “ugly” ratings.

The Other Woman (April 25)

A romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton about three women who find out they are all dating (or married to) the same guy

Ruling: UGLY

It’s like they tried to write a script that violated the Bechdel test by stuffing as many blondes as possible in one movie and having them only talk about one (extremely sexy, plucked right from Game of Thrones) man the whole time. Sure, they’re getting their vengeance, but can’t they all just dump him? Does Cameron Diaz’s high powered lawyer character have time for this?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)

The next installment in Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man series starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone

Ruling: BAD

I watched three different Spider-Man 2 trailers to find one where Emma Stone had more than one line to say. I was unsuccessful. At least in this trailer she and Peter have a “meaningful” interaction where he traps her with his web so she can’t follow him into a dangerous situation and then she accidentally yells out his secret identity. Damsels in distress are so useless. Please, someone give Emma Stone an Easy A-like script again. Free her!

Walk of Shame (May 2)

A comedy about a news anchor doing a—you guessed it—walk of shame starring Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden

Ruling: UGLY

Apparently every woman wearing a bandage dress has sex for money. I count six prostitution jokes in this single trailer. Pair that with the working-woman-learns-to-let-go-with-a-nice-guy cliché plot line, and you have yourself an “ugly” ranking.

Belle (May 2)

A biopic of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who was the mixed-race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay and who helped influence her uncle Lord Mansfield to pave the way for slavery’s abolition in England.

Ruling: GOOD

The movie shines a light on a strong young woman who changed history. Bonus: she has things on her mind other than love (though, this being 18th Century England, that Jane Austen-esque aspect is part of it too).

X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)

The time-bending prequel/sequel to previous X-Men movies starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry and about a million other people.

Ruling: BAD

The X-Men franchise really lucked out signing Jennifer Lawrence on before she got too big. I imagine now she’ll have an enhanced role in the ensemble film (she gets more air time than Halle Berry in the trailer, and Ellen Page is nowhere to be seen). Still, nothing in this trailer indicates that this movie will pass the Bechdel test. Plus, we can’t forget that Lawrence’s superhero “costume” is just a bunch of blue body paint.

Maleficent (May 30)

The untold story of the villain from Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning.

Ruling: GOOD

Yes! More movies about women villains, please—especially if they’re played by Angelina Jolie. Though Jolie action movies have been hit and miss in the past (Tomb Raider, Salt, Wanted), she’s still the go-to woman for such flicks. Let’s hope this movie opens the doors for other female-driven blockbusters (Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy could be a start) and a whole new genre of evil women movies.

Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)

Sort of like Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds: in a battle against aliens, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt discover that they’re caught in a time loop: every time they die in battle, they wake up in the past and must fight again.

Ruling: GOOD

It’s still a Tom Cruise action movie at heart. But Emily Blunt gets to wield a gun and train him in the art of killing off aliens. She’s even the one on that badass poster. She’ll probably end up falling for him, but, hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)

A love story about two teens who meet in a cancer support group, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort

Ruling: GOOD

Pass the tissues, please. Every summer has to have a heart-wrenching, doomed romance, and who better to anchor this summer’s than Hollywood’s newest it-girl Shailene Woodley? Woodley is, by the way, growing into an awesome role model for young women.

Tammy (July 2)

After losing her job and finding out her husband had been cheating on her, Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) hits the road with her profane grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

Ruling: GOOD

This could be the worst movie ever, but the fact that Hollywood decided to trust Melissa McCarthy to carry a movie without a male co-star like Jason Bateman or even a “hot” female co-star like Sandra Bullock is a good sign for things to come. (Not that Susan Sarandon isn’t super sexy.) Of course, let’s hope it’s even funnier than The Heat or Bridesmaids—the funny female flicks that preceded it.

Begin Again (July 4)

A fired music business exec (Mark Ruffalo) “forms a bond” (read: helps professionally then probably falls in love with) a young singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley).

Ruling: BAD

I’m ambivalent about this clichéd romance where a man who is a mess is rehabilitated by caring for a talented woman. But I downgraded this trailer to “bad” because Mark Ruffalo could be Keira Knightly’s dad, reinforcing a greater trend of movies featuring older-guy, younger-girl couples—and never the other way around.

Jupiter Ascending (July 18)

A futuristic sci-fi flick starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum.

Ruling: BAD

I really want to give Jupiter Ascending the benefit of the doubt and assume they’ll eventually cut the Mila Kunis damsel-in-distress bit. This did come, after all, from the makers of the Matrix who gave us the badass Trinity character. Plus, Mila Kunis is literally the Queen of the Universe in the movie. And yet throughout the trailer, she’s being rescued or kidnapped or falling from things. Let’s hope for a twist ending.

Sex Tape (July 25)

A married couple’s sex tape disappears into “the cloud,” and they frantically search for it, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel.

Ruling: GOOD

Say what you want about the premise—this isn’t how “the cloud” works—or whether it was actually a good idea to do a Bad Teacher reunion with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. At least Segel gets as naked as Diaz in the trailer (though Segel hasn’t exactly been nudity shy before). Plus, they’re equally dim-witted throughout the trailer, and that’s all we ask for. So hooray for equality in stupidity!

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)

Marvel’s first tongue-in-cheek superhero blockbuster featuring a talking raccoon and starring Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana.

Ruling: BAD

I’ve decided we’re past the point where we applaud superhero films just for having a woman in uniform instead of one in danger. That era ended with Black Widow in the Avengers films. Now, we have to hold superhero movies to a higher standard, and this trailer does not meet it. You have Zoe Saldana in your movie, and yet she doesn’t get a line in the trailer? You even showed her topless without giving her lines? That’s crazy! She’s arguably the most famous (visible) person in this film. (The actual most famous but non-visible people are Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voicing a raccoon and a tree, respectively.)

Lucy (August 8)

A sci-fi action movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.

Ruling: GOOD

We’ve gotten a lot of fighting teen heroines lately: Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games and Shailene Woodley in Divergent. But we need a grown up version. With Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson proved she can be an action star. Now here’s her shot to carry her own movie. And nobody gives a movie gravitas quite like Morgan Freeman.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)

The sequel to the crime noir action thriller Sin City, starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba and a dozen other celebrities.

Ruling: UGLY

Almost every woman in this trailer is wearing only a bra or bustier or leather outfit—basically all things you can find in a sex shop.

Race

We Can Affirm That Race Matters—But Much Less Than It Used To

Sonia Sotomayor
This Sept. 19, 2013 file photo shows Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaking at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions. In dissent, Sotomayor said the decision tramples on the rights of minorities, even though the amendment was adopted democratically. “But without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups,” said Sotomayor, who read her dissent aloud in the courtroom Tuesday. Patrick Semansky—AP

In 1970, it made sense to treat being black as a disadvantage in itself. But today, the Affirmative Action should be about socioeconomics.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that citizens, as well as judiciaries, have the right to decide against Affirmative Action policies — the import of the decision in favor of Proposition 2 in Michigan — we are hearing the usual cries that benighted people are rolling back good people’s quest to “take race into account.” This time, as usual, it’s Affirmative Action in college admissions that is at stake, and specifically the kind based on race and gender.

But in the grand scheme of things what we are seeing is a preservation of what Affirmative Action was originally supposed to be about — acknowledging disadvantage. In 1970, it made a certain sense to treat being black as a disadvantage in itself. But today, the proper Affirmative Action should be about socioeconomics.

Most Americans would understand this if the way we discuss Affirmative Action weren’t so coded. A leading misimpression is that college admissions policies are always a mere thumb on the scale — that among candidates with equivalent grades and test scores, race is “taken into account” only to ensure diversity. And that kind of Affirmative Action is great. I, for one, would dread teaching a class where everybody was a privileged white kid from the suburbs. Or, where everybody was anything.

But that’s not the kind of Affirmative Action decisions like Tuesday’s by the Supremes addresses. Too often, colleges have had a two-tier admissions system, in which black and brown students are, as a matter of policy, admitted with lower grades and scores than other students’ in a quest to fill a quota. This has been identified over the years at the University of California, Rutgers, the University of Michigan, and countless others.

That kind of taking race into account made perfect sense when most black people were poor and had no access to decent education. But what about now, when it is not rare to be middle class and black? We must avoid pretending that such people are mere hothouse rarities — i.e. last time I checked, it was racist to declare that being black means being poor.

So, do we “take into account” the race of the child of a lawyer and a systems analyst by exempting them from the standards we apply to white kids? Many say that the issue is simply whether race “matters” in life. But is that the smackdown point we are often told? In contesting this decision, Justice Sotomayor has it that “Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed ‘No, where are you really from?’, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country.”

Those things are real — but even black people can question whether they make it morally corrupt to expose middle class black kids to serious scholastic competition. Sure, polls often show that people of all races “approve of” Affirmative Action. But the topic is too complex for that question to have any useful meaning. It’s like asking people whether they approve of feeding children warm muffins, without considering how many, how often, and what’s in the muffins in question.

Too seldom do we hear things such as that in a book that got too little attention because it came out in the wake of 9/11, Paul Sniderman and Thomas Piazza polled 715 black people on whether they approved of policies regularly admitting black students with lower scores than other students and found that 90% disapproved. “Taking race into account”? Sure. But in which ways?

Here’s something. Despite my comfortable middle-class upbringing, race most certainly “mattered” in my life, thank you very much. A kid liked calling me “blackey” in camp. I was once denied a summer job because of my race. A couple of times I caught an expression of alarm on a shopkeeper’s face when I walked in. In schoolyard interactions with white boys, there were occasions when it was clear that I was to “know my place” on a certain unstated level. The dating age as a black kid in mostly white schools in the 70s and 80s was no picnic — most of the women around you could only see you as a brother. Your rating was gratifyingly less abysmal in all black settings, but your day-to-day existence was in a world where you were, in a sense, not considered a whole man.

Yes, race mattered. But my mother would have — well, I can’t even imagine — if I had said that those things qualified me for lower standards of evaluation in college admissions than a white kid. Race “mattered” for me to the same extent as any number of things for other kids, regarding health, family issues, appearance, disabilities, and much else.

It’s socioeconomics that create the kind of obstacles to scholastic success that truly justify altered standards. Your school is lousy. Your school doesn’t offer Advanced Placement courses. You had to help raise your siblings. Few people in your family value higher education. You barely knew anybody who went to college.

A society that insisted that people with burdens of that kind come up with grades and scores equal to those of more privileged people would be backwards and unsophisticated. Therefore, we do need Affirmative Action.

However, what needs to be affirmed in today’s America, as opposed to Lyndon Johnson’s, is disadvantage suffered by all people. This is quite different, in 2014, from the more particular fact that race matters.

Decisions like Tuesday’s are, therefore, progress. We should celebrate it.

psychology

Too Busy? 7 Ways To Increase Leisure Time, According to Science

Feeling overwhelmed? Are you constantly running from thing to thing but never getting it all done?

When researchers survey people, they say they’re too busy — about everything.

Too busy to make friends, date, sleep, have sex, to go on vacation… or to even have lunch.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

In surveys, people say they’re too busy to make friends outside the office, too busy to date, too busy to sleep, and too busy to have sex. Eight in ten Britons report being too busy to eat dessert, even though four in ten say dessert is better than sex. We’re in such a rush that the typical sound bite for a presidential candidate has been compressed from forty seconds in 1968 to 7.3 seconds in 2000. Remember those unused vacation days? People say they’re too busy to take a vacation and too busy for a lunch break.

“The average high school kid today experiences the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the 1950s.”

And being this busy isn’t healthy — in fact, neuroscientists have found it shrinks your brain.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

…the prefrontal cortex. It is the key to human intelligence. In its size and complexity, it is, in short, what distinguishes humans from animals and makes us who we are. And, Ansell says, what she and other neuroscientists are finding is that when a human feels pressed for time, rushed and caught up in the overwhelm, that yellow blob does something alarming: It shrinks.

How did we get here? How did this happen?

I have an answer but it’s going to surprise you and might even make you angry…

It’s all an illusion. You have more free time than you ever did.

Do I sound insane? Keep reading.

You’re Not Busy. You Just Feel Busy.

John Robinson is the leading sociologist who studies time use. His colleagues call him “Father Time.”

Looking at time diary studies he shows that globally we all have more leisure time than ever.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

He insists that although most Americans feel they’re working harder than ever, they aren’t. The time diaries he studies show that average hours on the job, not only in the United States but also around the globe, have actually been holding steady or going down in the last forty years. Everybody, he says, has more time for leisure.

So why do we feel like we’re overwhelmed even though we’re not? Partly, it’s because our time is so fragmented.

Switching between checking email, making dinner, watching TV and finishing that report is more mentally draining than doing one at a time.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

“It’s role overload,” she explains. “It’s the constant switching from one role to the next that creates that feeling of time pressure.” When all you’re expected to do is work all day, you work all day in one long stretch, she says. But the days of the mothers she studied were full of starts and stops, which makes time feel more collapsed.

Multitasking is killing us. And the best part?

Multitasking doesn’t even work. It makes us less efficient even though we feel we’re getting more done.

In fact, it makes you dumber — effectively stupider than being drunk or stoned.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

No two tasks done simultaneously, studies have shown, can be done with 100 percent of one’s ability. Driving while talking on the cell phone slows reaction times and awareness to the same degree that driving over the legal alcohol limit does. And the distractions from too many things going on at once hamper the brain’s “spam filter” and the ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. Or, as one British study found, multitasking makes you stupid— dumber than getting stoned.

Ed Hallowell, former professor at Harvard Medical School and bestselling author of Driven to Distraction, says we have “culturally generated ADD.”

Via CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast- Paced Life:

Having treated ADD since 1981, I began to see an upsurge in the mid-1990s in the number of people who complained of being chronically inattentive, disorganized, and overbooked. Many came to me wondering if they had ADD. While some did, most did not. Instead, they had what I called a severe case of modern life.

Why do we do this to ourselves? In recent years being busy has become a status symbol.

When you ask anyone what they’ve been up to, what’s always the first word? Busy.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

Psychologists write of treating burned-out clients who can’t shake the notion that the busier you are, the more you are thought of as competent, smart, successful, admired, and even envied.

So what can we do about it? Here are seven things experts recommend:

1) Write It All Down

What’s the first step toward killing that overwhelmed feeling?

Do a brain dump and write everything down that’s on your mind. Writing reduces worry and organizes your thoughts.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

“Right now, you need to free up all this energy that’s being consumed by worry.” She told me to take out a piece of paper, set a timer for five minutes, and write furiously about absolutely everything that was bugging me… “If your to-do list lives on paper, your brain doesn’t have to expend energy to keep remembering it,” Monaghan said.

More on the power of a notebook here.

2) Prioritize or Die

Repeat after me: you cannot get it all done. And some things are more important than others.

So you need to prioritize or you will have a clean garage but get fired from your job.

Decide what is important and do that first. Otherwise you may never get to what really matters.

Via CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast- Paced Life:

At the heart of making the most of life today is the ability to treasure and protect your connections to what you care most about: people, places, activities, pets, a spiritual connection, a piece of music, even objects that are dear to you. But you must not have too many connections or none will flourish. Pick the ones that matter most to you and nourish them religiously; make that your top priority in life, and you can’t go wrong.

More on the power of work/life balance here.

3) Make Things Automatic

Things that are habitual don’t tax your willpower. The more activities you make into habits, the less overwhelmed they will make you feel.

Build routines and habits so that you’re not deciding, you’re just doing.

The secret to getting more done is to make things automatic. Decisons exhaust you:

The counterintuitive secret to getting things done is to make them more automatic, so they require less energy.

More on how to build great habits here.

4) Work Like an Athlete

We were not designed to go 24/7. We were designed to sprint, rest, sprint — just like an athlete.

You sleep in cycles and your mind naturally works in cycles. Alternate hard work with breaks to be at your best.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

We ignore the signs of fatigue, boredom, and distraction and just power through. But we’re hardly doing our best work. “We’ve lost touch with the value of rest, renewal, recovery, quiet time, and downtime,” Schwartz told me. It’s hardly a wonder, then, with the pressure of long hours, putting in face time, and the constant interruptions of the modern workplace, less than 10 percent of workers say they do their best thinking at work.

More on working like an athlete here.

5) Switch To Singletasking

Forget multitasking. That’s what causes the feelings of burnout and it’s not effective.

Discover what your peak hours are and protect them.

Focus on the most important thing of the day. No interruptions, email or calls.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

Terry Monaghan sought to train me to work in pulses. The idea was to chunk my time to minimize the constant multitasking, “role switching,” and toggling back and forth between work and home stuff like a brainless flea on a hot stove. The goal was to create periods of uninterrupted time to concentrate on work— the kind of time I usually found in the middle of the night— during the day.

More on how to use your best hours here.

6) Live in OHIO

Not the state. It’s an acronym: Only Handle It Once.

That email you’ve opened sixty times today, unsure of what to do with it? Stop it.

Make a decision. Reply, trash it or set a time to properly deal with it.

Revisiting unimportant things over and over is a huge time and energy thief.

Via CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast- Paced Life:

OHIO: only handle it once. When it comes to a document or journal or any concrete item, try your best to 1) respond to it right away, 2) put it in a labeled file, not a pile, or 3) throw it away. In the majority of instances, choice “3” is the best.

More on how to be efficient with the onslaught of email here.

7) Have Leisure Goals

Ironic, right? Most of us think about “leisure” as doing nothing. But that’s a dangerous way to view it.

Research shows we’re happier when we accomplish things (playing tennis with a friend vs. flipping TV channels.)

And given our habits, we’re prone to start checking email and firing up the usual 17 things we multitask on.

So set a goal for leisure. When you have a fun thing to accomplish, you can singletask on relaxing.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

Roger Mannell, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, has directed perhaps the only lab studies of leisure time. His research has found that when people have a sense of choice and control over what they do with their free time, they are more likely to get into flow, that engrossing and timeless state that some call peak human experience. “Part of the problem with leisure is that people aren’t quite sure what they really want. They don’t know what leisure time is for them,” Mannell said. “And they never slow down long enough to figure it out.”

More on how to make your free time more awesome here.

Sum Up

Just because the other people at the office are overscheduled and the other parents are doing 1000 things doesn’t mean you need to.

We all only have 1440 minutes a day. Accept you can’t do it all, focus on what’s important and do that well.

We’re all jealous of the people who are calm and cool under pressure. Be that person.

Next time someone asks how you’re doing, don’t talk about how busy you are. Don’t get sucked into thinking busy means important.

Busy doesn’t make you important. Doing the important things you need to do makes you important.

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Related posts:

How To Achieve Work-Life Balance In 5 Steps

Time Management Skills Are Stupid. Here’s What Works.

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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