Monday, March 29, 2010

Almost Back

Turned in my thesis today. So I'm ready to get back to everything else I've been ignoring for the past month, like doing my taxes. Will write more very soon....

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Are They Thinking?

Still frantically working on my thesis (will begin actual writing today), but here is my pastoral letter for this week:

It seems that I’ve been writing a lot about technology lately. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it’s bad. In the past I have refrained from using the phrase “it’s a brave new world,” but I think for this particular letter it may be appropriate. More than a year ago I heard about a disturbing trend amongst tweens and teens called “sexting.” I have had it on my list of issues to write about for the Chronicle, but something else has always come up. Until now.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “sexting” is when someone uses their phone or other portable device to send out provocative or nude photos of themselves. For those who have not yet heard, this activity has recently been discovered happening amongst some students at Curtis Middle School here in Sudbury. The Sudbury Police Department is still investigating the case. This follows quickly on the heals of a case in Belmont in which an eight-grade girl sent nude photos of herself to her boyfriend, who then sold them for $5 a piece to his friends.

Now we may want to discard these as being isolated incidents which have been hyped by the media. After all, it has several things the media likes to talk about: teens, technology and sex. But, these activities are more prevalent than we might like to believe. According to a study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 21% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys report having sent or posted nude pictures of themselves. While this number is still low, the numbers who report having seen these photos is much higher. We have a highly sexualized culture, and this push of sexualization continues to get younger and younger. I am sometimes shocked at the clothes they are selling for four-year-old girls to wear, and I’m not easily shocked. And my concerns about this are not about prudishness. Instead, there are serious consequences as a result of this behavior.

Charges have been filed against teens as a result of “sexting” in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. Last year in Ohio and Pennsylvania, teenage girls (ages 14 and 15) were charged with creating and disseminating child pornography, and their boyfriends were charged with possession. In Wisconsin, a 17-year-old teen was charged with possession and distribution after he posted pictures of his ex-girlfriend online. Most of those charged have pled guilty to lesser crimes, but if convicted on child pornography charges, they would be required under “Megan’s Law” to be register as a sex offender for a minimum of ten years. This is not something that would simply disappear when they turned eighteen.

I know that we all think our children would never do such a thing, but let’s not forget the things we did as teenagers that would have shocked our parents if they had ever found out. Even if done innocently, once these pictures leave their hands, they no longer have any control over them and they can be passed around and posted on the internet with ease. I strongly encourage you to talk with your children, your grandchildren, all the children in your life about the dangers of this activity and the fact that it can change their life forever. For more information on these issues and how to talk with your children please visit the Middlesex District Attorney’s office website.

Friday, March 5, 2010


My thesis, which is due March 29, is eating up most of my time, including blogging time, and I don't want to put more fluff up like I did last week so I haven't been putting anything up. But, I do want to make mention of this. The unions for 40,000 Stop and Shop workers are set to go on strike.

The Social Principles states the following on collective bargaining:
"We support the right of all public and private employees and to organize for collective bargaining into unions and other groups of their own choosing. Further, we support the right of both parties to protection in so doing and their responsibility to bargain in good faith within the framework of the common interest.... We reject the use of violence by either party during collective bargaining or any labor/management disagreement. We likewise reject the permanent replacement of a worker who engages in a lawful strike." (¶163.B)

If the unions cannot reach an agreement and go out on strike, I strongly encourage you not to cross their picket line. This does affect some members of our congregation who work there, so please be in solidarity with them.