Worth Reading - 6/15

1. An Interview with the Gaffigans. Jim Gaffigan and his wife, Jeannie, are both talented comedians. Jim's new show is entertaining and clean, which reflects the general tenor of his commedy:

As the conference call with Jim, Jeannie, and other religious news outlets went on, what came through very strongly was the everyday importance of the Gaffigans’ faith. As an example, after working with some major networks, they grew tired of dealing with the suffocating bureaucracy. The networks asked whether they could make the priest a non-denominational minister who could date, or whether they could reduce the number of Gaffigan kids from five to two. So the Gaffigans took their show to TV Land, on cable, where they can maintain creative control and keep their experience of Catholicism in the show.

The strong portrayal of the Gaffigans’ Catholicism extends to the priesthood. Jim and Jeannie talked about the fact that growing up there was no stigma attached to the priesthood. But after the public nature of the sex abuse scandal, Jim said, “There’s no other occupation other than maybe a McDonald’s employee where if you walk around in your uniform people know exactly what you do. Now the priesthood has become such a lightning rod. But the priests we know are eccentric, intelligent, generous people.” Jeannie added, “The priests that have been influential in our lives and have become our friends are brilliant and generous people, and that’s our experience of priests. We don’t have any other experience of priests. . . . We are tired of the priest jokes.” Jim added that they didn’t want the priest to be “comedy fodder” but a priest who could be “a teacher to Jim . . . .and the opposite of American consumerism and superficiality.”

2. An essay on manhood, written from a non-Christian perspective, but with some very illuminating take-aways:

Tallulah, in the Mississippi Delta, is picturesque but not prosperous. Many of the jobs it used to have are gone. Two prisons and a county jail provide work for a few guards but the men behind bars, obviously, do not have jobs. Nor do many of the young men who hang around on street corners, shooting dice and shooting the breeze. In Madison Parish, the local county, only 47% of men of prime working age (25-54) are working.

The men in Tallulah are typically not well educated: the local high school’s results are poor even by Louisiana’s standards. That would have mattered less, in the old days. A man without much book-learning could find steady work at the mill or in the fields. But the lumber mill has closed, and on nearby farms “jobs that used to take 100 men now take ten,” observes Jason McGuffie, a pastor. A strong pair of hands is no longer enough.
There are nearly 73 STEM workers for every public school in America. Imagine the impact if every student could say they personally knew at least one scientist by the time he or she graduates from high school. If you are one of these professionals—whether you’re a computer scientist, a mechanical engineer, or a conservation biologist—seize the opportunity to help students in your community dream bigger. They need specific examples of real people working at real jobs, solving real problems, and having fun.

One high school student told us recently that her internship with us was the first time she had met an adult who loved their work. That’s a transformative realization—the idea that a job, a science one at that, could be a vocation. Smithsonian researchers are not alone. A 2014 survey conducted by the journal Nature found that 65 percent of American researchers were “very satisfied” with their jobs. It’s one thing to tell kids they should pursue science, it’s another to show them that it’s rewarding.
Limitless finances and force can build an impressive kingdom, but they cannot make the people happy, not for long. The highest praise for a king is the happiness of his subjects.

We know it’s true from everyday life. The happiness of a wife is the glory of her husband. The flourishing of a child is an honor to his parents. The collective joy of a local church is a tribute to her elders (Hebrews 13:17).

The height of a leader’s glory is the happiness of those in his care.