2013 November

Teachers are sacrificed for a few not very funny jokes in ‘Mike & Molly’

A pratfall too far: In the Huffington Post, Mary M. Dalton, professor of communication at Wake Forest, and Laura R. Linder, associate professor of communication at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., write that the sitcom “Mike & Molly,” which started with promise, has become nearly unwatchable.

“There are two significant losses with the new version of ‘Mike & Molly,'” write Dalton and Linder. “The competent everywoman has become the crazy fat woman. We’ve seen too much of the latter and too little of the former in large women on television. And, teachers, unions, and public education have been sacrificed for a few not very funny jokes. Neither is acceptable, but the loss is especially dire for public education. One step to improving public education is to recognize its value and the professionalism of teachers, and portrayals such as this one undercut the possibility.”

Dalton and Linder are co-authors of “Teacher TV: Sixty Years of Teachers on Television.”

Art professor describes poignant details in last photo of JFK and Jackie

The last beautiful picture of JFK and Jackie:

In honor of the 50 year anniversary of JFK’s assassination, Business Insider ran an excerpt from Professor of Art David Lubin’s book, “Shooting Kennedy: JFK And The Culture Of Images.” The piece focuses on Life’s full-page color photo of John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, arriving at Love Field airport in Dallas, Texas. The image was the feature shot for the magazine’s coverage of the assassination.

Lubin writes: It is impossible to look at this image with a historically innocent eye. It comes to us today, as it did to viewers in 1963, replete with the poignancy of the conditional. The principals in the photograph, frozen in history, are forever poised on the precipice, about to suffer—he to die, she to scream—and Lyndon Johnson, that minor bumbling character who can be seen bending over behind Jackie, about to become the most powerful man in the world.

Rekindling a relationship with God through a shared meal

A prayer for North Carolina:

Fred Bahnson, director of the Food, Faith and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest School of Divinity, is featured in this month’s Our State magazine.

“Lord, even here in this place we call North Carolina, we still have yet to embody your Beloved Community, where all can sit as equals at the same table. We live in a time of love and destruction, of agape feasts and exploding monuments, of hunger and plenty.”

Bahnson is the author of “Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith.” His writings about the intersection of food, spirituality, and agriculture have appeared in a number of magazines and literary anthologies.

Severe weather can be traced to human activity

Humans are disrupting the climate

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Lucas Johnston, an assistant professor of religion and environmental studies at Wake Forest and the author of “Religion and Sustainability: Social Movements and the Politics of the Environment,” writes that “most ‘natural’ disasters can be traced to human activity and should not be written off as unforeseeable, unstoppable ‘acts of God.’

“Severe weather is becoming increasingly frequent and intense, and that’s happening for a reason. So it matters whether we think of God or humans as being responsible. We cannot conclusively link individual weather events to human disruption of the climate, but we do believe that human activity is the main force behind climate change and that climate change will lead to more ‘super storms’ like Haiyan and Sandy.”…

“We could do a better job of predicting climate change and subsequent conflicts, and in mitigating humanitarian disasters, perhaps making some headway toward the new U.N. mandate on the human right to a healthy environment,” he writes. “The first steps would be to stop blaming human-caused disasters on God, and to start taking responsibility for making the world a better place.”


In five years, Thanksgiving Day shopping may be a new tradition

All day shopping frenzy on Thanksgiving

In an interview with national retail writer Anne D’Innocenzio on Black Friday creep, professor of marketing Roger Beahm says he expects that it’s just a matter of time, perhaps five years or so, before most chains are open all day on Thanksgiving. “The floodgates have opened,” Beahm says. “People will turn Thanksgiving Day shopping into a tradition as they historically have on the day after Thanksgiving … And stores don’t want to be left behind.”



Beat the odds: Don’t focus on your major, focus on skills

Gambling on the ‘Right’ College Major

A recent ‘Career Transitions’ post by Katharine Brooks, Wake Forest’s executive director of personal and career development, was named an essential read by Psychology Today. The article explains why there is no one major that leads to guaranteed post-graduation career success.

“The major isn’t the only deciding factor in a successful job search,” writes Brooks. “There are way too many other variables, such as interviewing skills, motivation, grades, experience, emotional intelligence, social skills, etc. Bottom line: employers hire a package of skills, not a specific major. So let’s get away from this concept of the ‘major’ and its so-called centrality in the job search. Let’s focus on the connections between the major and other courses the students take.…Because, in the job world, there are no guarantees. It’s complex, and outside factors (like a poor economy) can intervene. But by focusing on all of these issues rather than just the major, a student has a much better chance of succeeding in the job market. I would take those odds.”


Chilean election: Shakespeare could not have set a better scene

Bachelet to be elected president of Chile, but then what?

In a piece for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, political scientist Peter Siavelis co-authors a pre-election report with University of Chile economist Kirsten Sehnbruch. The scholars compare the tension between the two presidential candidates, Evelyn Matthei and Michelle Bachelet, with the ancient family grudge between Shakespeare’s Montagues and Capulets.

“While few will be surprised with the ultimate outcome of the election, what is certain is that the results will hold profound meaning for Chile’s future political constellation and whether the country’s politicians can respond to widespread and popular demands for deep reforms. What is also certain is that Chile’s reputation as the most politically boring country in Latin America has been transformed, as the next four years will undoubtedly hold more political drama of the Shakespearean variety.”

Divinity professor says America’s pastor generally stayed ‘on task’

Ideologues fight to own Billy Graham’s legacy

In an email interview with writer Becky Garrison for Salon, Bill Leonard, Dunn professor of Baptist studies and church history at Wake Forest University, wrote about Graham’s legacy. “I think Billy is the last and the most successful of the Protestant ‘chaplains’ in America. There may be multiple chaplains in contemporary culture, but not with the consensus that Graham developed. He is also perhaps the last of the national revivalists in the U.S. who pioneered evangelical use of media including radio, TV, films and direct mailings.  He generally stayed ‘on task’ with a primarily conversionist/evangelist calling to move persons toward ‘personal faith in Jesus’ but was occasionally distracted by his infatuation with American presidents, most evident in his association with Richard M. Nixon.

Dinner-table conversation may be a lost art form

A serving of holiday manners

Have we forgotten how to have a conversation over a shared meal? “It’s not that we’ve forgotten as much as we’ve ignored it,” says counseling professor Samuel Gladding. “The mode of communication — or the most popular these days — is indirect communication through Twitter or text on through, well, you name it. Communication is an art form, but it seems to be a lost art at times when people gather together. They look down instead of at one another. If we don’t read facial expression or hear voice tone, we don’t know if the person is really inquiring or being sarcastic or being empathic. We can’t hear it, and we can’t see the expression on the other individual’s face.”


The media needs to be more aware of how the news is framed

Ratiu Democracy Award winner fights ‘anti-gypsy’ prejudice

Roma activist and Fulbright fellow Angela Kocze was interviewed about Roma stereotypes after a high-profile story hit the news about the removal of blonde-haired, fair-skinned children from their darker-complected Roma parents in Greece and Ireland. “If it’s not careful, the media can sustain centuries-old stereotypes about Roma,” Kocze told Lynn Joyce Hunter, who wrote the piece for “She The People”: Changing the conversation. “We need to change the discourse,” Kocze said.  “People in marginalized communities are affected by the majority’s perception of the minority—this has an effect on the minority as well…. For this reason, the media has to be more aware and critically reflect on how they frame the news.”