Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Evangelism, 3rd Sun After Pentecost
Volume 7 No. 422 June 23, 2017

V. General Weekly Features

Family Special: Believe the Best (Of Your Spouse)

by Dr. James Dobson

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up." Ecclesiastes 4:10

The floor at Art and Naomi Hunt's house was scattered with wrenches, screwdrivers, and a host of oddly shaped pieces of wood and metal. The task at hand? To construct a new gas barbecue. Art knew that Naomi was the more mechanically gifted partner in their marriage, but he was determined to put together this latest addition to their arsenal of modern cooking appliances. As Art struggled, his wife watched. Finally, progress stopped altogether, and Art reluctantly asked for Naomi's advice. But instead of just giving her opinion, Naomi took the wrench from Art's hand and began finishing the job herself.

Not surprisingly, Art felt rather emasculated, incompetent, and foolish. Now he faced a choice. He could believe either the best or the worst about Naomi's actions. If he believed the worst, he would think, Man, she's taking control. She doesn't have any confidence in my abilities. Or, believing the best, he could tell himself, She's going further than I asked her to, but she's just trying to help me. That's okay. Art chose the latter.

In a lifelong relationship, we regularly arrive at these emotional crossroads. We could go either way: give our partner the benefit of the doubt, or give ourselves the right to take offense. When we choose to see our spouse's good intentions and base our reactions on them, we're taking the road toward intimacy and away from unnecessary conflict. As Art Hunt understood, the real task at hand was building his relationship with Naomi, not putting together a new gadget.

Just between us…

How do we usually react when one of us steps in to help the other?
Do we see the best in each other's motives? If not, why?
Do either of us give the other reason to question our motives?

Dear God, my spouse is Your gift to me, and I'm grateful. Help me to always believe, see, and act on the best. Grant me grace to mature in this area. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Family Special: Four Types Of Families In Our Culture

by Dr. James Emery White

In one of the more intriguing sociological studies of late, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia has determined after a three-year study that families fall into four distinct groups.

According to Carl Desportes bowman, Director of Survey Research for the Institute, these family types "speak different languages, they have different sets of beliefs and suspicions."

This explains why there are so many different parenting styles. Simply put, "we are all looking out through different windows, and therefore looking onto entirely different worlds."

So what are these family types?

1. The Faithful (20%)

The "Faithful" are parents who put religion at the center of their world. The most important value they hold is morality, helping their children differentiate between right and wrong – a differentiation is based on God or scripture. They believe the rest of the world doesn't have a moral compass, and they want to make sure their children do. The Faithful perceive a "strong decline since their own childhoods" in "American moral and ethical standards," the "quality of TV, movies, and entertainment," and "the dating and sexual practices of teenagers." They pray as a family, believe in spanking and regular chores, turn to pastors and church for parental guidance, and feel secure in their control over their children. Eighty-eight percent are married, 74 percent in their first marriage.

2. The Engaged Progressives (21%)

The "Engaged Progressives" see "tolerance" as the key to their moral code. The most important value they hold is personal freedom – theirs and everyone else's. They believe their role as parents is to "prepare children to be responsible choosers, weighing alternatives, thinking carefully through courses of action in advance." When faced with moral ambiguity, they look less to God or scripture and more to "What would be best for everyone involved." These families have more exposure to pop culture and technology. Advice is gained less from pastors or church, and more from therapists or psychologists. They are hesitant to use discipline of any kind (not even grounding).

3. The Detached (19%)

The "Detached" feel marginalized and unsure of themselves and their place in society; they are "a group adrift." When asked what they want for their children, only one-third consider honesty to be essential. They value "practical skills over book learning." They are the least likely to believe they have the power to control their children's technology or the right to know their children's friends. "Their parenting strategy is to let kids be kids and let the cards fall where they may."

4. American Dreamers (27%)

The "American Dreamers" share the low economic and educational levels of "The Detached," but have higher aspirations for their children. "They hope for much and invest even more," the report says, "pouring themselves fully into their families' futures." Fewer than two-thirds of the parents are currently married, many have never married, and they are more likely than any other group to be women. They are optimistic that their children will be better off than they were, and will do anything to make that happen. They "are as quick to spank or scold as they are to praise or reward good behavior."

The report's authors offer two rather blunt assessments from their report:

First, these four types of family cultures are molding the next generation of Americans. We can talk about schools and governments, pop culture and technology, but nothing is as formative as the family and its culture.

Second, that although "the media, the activists, and the politicians have focused their attention on the culture being fought between the Faithful and the Engaged Progressives, the deteriorating economic, civic, and familial fortunes of the Detached and the Dreamer families should be garnering even more of our country's attention."

If culture is defined as the world in which we live, and the world which lives in us, this study is a good reminder that the heart of that world is, indeed, the family.


"The Culture of American Families", Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, read online.

Culture of American Families Project, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, read online.

Culture of American Families Executive Report, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, read online.

"U-Va. sociology professor: Parenting in red, blue and purple America," Washington Post, November 19, 2012, read online.

"Parenting Styles Defined In New Report On 'Family Culture'," The Huffington Post, read online.

Editor's Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is 'The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity '(Baker Press).

Source: Church & Culture Blog

Habits are the Stairway to a Richer Life

by Napoleon Hill

You can see that an oak tree grows from an acorn, always, and a pine tree grows from the seed of its ancestor. And you know that Nature never makes a mistake and grows a pine tree from an acorn, nor an oak tree from the seed of a pine.

There are facts you can see. But do you recognize that they do not "just happen" by chance - something has to make them happen! That something is the power which fixes habits and makes them permanent. Man is the only creature which the Creator permits the privilege of fixing his own habits to suit his own desires.

We are ruled by habits, all of us! Our habits are fastened upon us by repetition of our thoughts and acts. Therefore we can control our earthly destinies and our way of living only to the extent that we control our thoughts. We must direct them to form the sort of habits we need to serve as our road map to guide our lives. Good habits which lead to success can be ordered and used by any individual. Bad habits can be broken and replaced by good ones at will by anyone.

Man Has Control

The habits of every living creature except man are fixed by what we call "instinct." This places them under limitations from which they cannot escape.

The Creator not only gave men complete, unchallengeable control over the power of thought, but with this gift came the means of possessing thought power and directing it to any desired end.

The Creator has also given man another privilege whereby thoughts are made to clothe themselves in their physical likeness and equivalent.

Here, then, is a profound truth. With it you may open doors to wisdom and live an ordered life, you will be able to control those factors necessary to your success.

The rewards available to the person who takes possession of his own mind power and directs it to definite ends of his own choice are great in number. But penalties for not doing so are equally great in number.

Source: Napoleon Hill. Science of Success Series. Miami Herald. June 1, 1956

Lessons From a Carrot, Egg, and a Coffee Bean

by Michael Josephson,

Let's face it. Painful personal trauma and tragedy – like illness or injury, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or an unexpected breakup of a relationship – are unavoidable. The question is: Will these private calamities erode our capacity to be happy or cause us to become stronger and better able to live a meaningful and fulfilling life?

Consider how differently carrots, eggs, and ground coffee beans are affected by the extreme adversity of being boiled. Like a carrot, adversity can soften us. We can emerge more flexible, understanding, compassionate, and grateful, or we can let our life spirit turn into a soft mush.

Like an egg, boiling water can make us harder, stronger, tougher, and wiser, or we can become more cynical, pessimistic, callous, and inaccessible.

And like a coffee bean, we can willingly transform our lives into something better or lose ourselves completely.

We can't control what happens to us, but we have a lot to say about how we react and, therefore, what happens in us. The first step to turning adversity into advantage is to get out of the hot water as quickly as possible. Don't dwell on catastrophe. Grieve, but move on. Don't define your life by misfortune.

Second, force yourself to move forward. Draw on your inner strengths, the people who love you, and your faith to transform your life into something better. Formulate a vision of a more purposeful life filled with people and experiences that will help you become more fulfilled.


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.