Words can never hurt me

How to build a thick skin around verbal abuse

Imagine someone walks up to you in the street and begins shouting in a language you don’t understand. The person clearly intends to tear you down, but you cannot guess what he’s saying. Would you feel offended in such a situation? Do his words harm you? Research shows that areas of the brain that experience […]

How the cherished aspects of culture endure

Imagine what your world would be like as an educated person from the Kingdom of Judah after Jerusalem fell in 597 BC. The holy city – your people’s refuge – has been sacked. The Chaldeans have destroyed your temple, killed your loved ones, and carried you and your temple’s sacred treasures to the great city […]

An attack on individualism

I was standing at the train station on a cold morning near my home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The train to the city was running a few minutes late and I was nervous about the final exam waiting for me in the city at 11 am. The question then came to me, “Are you […]

In defense of true tolerance

During the Battle of Fredericksburg, the union soldiers launched a failed assault against a low ridge known as Marye’s Heights. By the end of the attack, 1,000 troops lay dead below the ridge. When the sun rose the next morning, thousands of injured Yankee troops lay stranded in the muddy field between enemy lines. Any […]

The emptiness of screen time

It draws me in, filling my eyes and ears with distracting beauty. It envelops my senses and makes me forget painful truths for a time. It promises hidden wisdom and connections with like-minded individuals but instead isolates me and offers me up as prey to willing buyers. Television, computer screens, and other personal devices provide […]

Why relationships cannot thrive without boundaries

My wife once asked me to help her put some shelves together. It was a Monday night though, and I play volleyball with my friends on Mondays. I heard somewhere that healthy relationships need boundaries and that we need them to keep our sanity. A strong boundary protecting volleyball night seemed like a good idea […]

Unity under siege

In 1916, Ernest Shackleton and his men accomplished a seemingly impossible feat requiring complete unity. Their once proud ship had been smashed by the ice flows around Antarctica, and the tight-knit crew was stranded for months on the ice and later on Elephant Island with little hope of rescue. Shackleton resolved to take five men from his […]

Supergiants and the purpose of life

In terms of volume, red supergiants are the largest stars in the universe and hard to find. Astronomers have identified just 80 of them. Supergiants make our sun look like a speck of dust passing a weather balloon. They are aging stars that used to be like our sun and are basically blowing themselves apart […]

The fragmentation of everything

About 335 million years ago, all the major land masses on earth were combined into a single supercontinent we call Pangaea.1 Then 200 million years ago, they began to break up and drift apart. When humans arrived, they further subdivided the continents into kingdoms, principalities, and tribes. The modern age is one of great ideological […]

Hugs and human rights violations

In René Spitz’s infamous study on orphaned infants in the 1940s, extreme measures were taken to avoid the spread of germs. Sheets separated the cribs, employees wore masks and gloves, and caregivers rarely held the infants.1 Despite having adequate food and medical care, the infants did not develop properly and were likely to fall prey […]