Do parents make children religious? Heaven wonders

FINALLY, some good news for Catholic spin doctors: hopeful children with warm but firm parents are more likely to develop religious values, according to a study by Wollongong University psychologists.The study examines the nexus between parenting styles, child development and religiosity and shows that the better the parenting, the more positive religious values the child holds.Researchers questioned 784 year 7 students in Catholic schools about their perceptions of parents’ behaviour, then divided the ”parenting styles” into three groups – authoritarian, authoritative and permissive.Three years later, they revisited the teenagers in year 10 and gave them questionnaires assessing their religious beliefs. The teens were asked to rate the extent to which they adhered to the guiding principles: ”Being saved from your sins and at peace with God”; ”Being at one with God or the universe”; and ”Following your religious faith conscientiously”.Teenagers whose parents fell into the ”authoritative” category – where parents set firm boundaries but enforce them lovingly – were most likely to adhere strongly to the religious values.Psychologists have long quibbled over the effect religion has on child development. Freud saw God as the ultimate father-figure and believed religious people were immature because they had failed to emotionally detach from Him. Religion was a fantasy to be destroyed before a person could mature psychologically.Jung thought religious experience was an offshoot of the collective unconscious (a concept about as mystical as religion itself). Turn-of-the-century Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler believed our ideas about God spoke volumes about how we saw the world. According to his theories, God helped us compensate for our own imperfections and insecurities.Professor Patrick Heaven, co-author of the The Wollongong Youth Study with Joseph Ciarrochi and Dr Peter Leeson, does not go so far as to say that God is good for children.But the research also showed a correlation between a characteristic psychologists call ”trait hope” – which combines hopefulness and optimism with resilience following setbacks – and religiosity.”These three things appear to be related – authoritative parents, hope in children and their adherence to religious values,” Professor Heaven says.Sociologist of religion Alec Pemberton says that ”in a way authoritative parenting is modelling what we like to think of as God”.Churches may be quick to exploit the research but it is unclear whether religion makes a harder-working, better-adjusted child, or whether such children are attracted to religion.”It doesn’t get to the nub of causality,” Professor Heaven says. ”We’re now looking at what comes first.”
Nanjing Night Net

Driver reaches out to victims’ family

IT WAS the sunset over the mountains from Kabul that Ronald Frederick Jaray remembered when he sat down to write a letter to the relatives of five members of an Afghan family killed in the car crash he caused.Mr Jaray’s handwritten letter, seen by the Herald, was delivered by police to the Reza-e family on Thursday, the day before the 68-year-old faced Picton Local Court to ask for mercy.The retired school teacher, who has pleaded guilty to one count of negligent driving causing death, apologised but did not ask for forgiveness.”Please understand I am an ordinary, honest, caring person who is and always will be deeply distressed by what has happened,” he wrote.”I cannot undo what has been done. Rarely do small errors have such huge consequences and why this happened to you, who have had more than your share of suffering, is beyond comprehension.”The Picton resident sat quietly in court yesterday morning while his barrister, Shane McAnulty, argued it was his client’s ”momentary inattention” that caused a ”slight touching” of the Reza-e’s Toyota Camry as he attempted to change lanes early on December 6 on Picton Road near Wilton.”The complicating factor was that at the speed of 100km/h everything is magnified tenfold,” Mr McAnulty told the court.He said his client should be placed under a good behaviour bond, rather than be sent to jail.The Reza-e’s car fishtailed and spun onto the other side of the road, where it was struck by a water tanker.Abdul Wali Mohamad Qasim, 41, his wife Sharifa Reza-e, 24, their 14-week-old son Erfan and two female cousins, Kobra Reza-e, 50, and Habibah Reza-e, 40, were killed instantly.”I have no way of feeling or understanding the grief you must feel,” Mr Jaray wrote to their relatives. ”I wake each morning feeling confused, sad and concerned, which is not even a fraction of your feelings.”He said he had visited their homeland of Afghanistan – which the Reza-e family fled after losing relatives in the conflict there – in the early 1970s when it was ”unusually peaceful and beautiful”.”Watching the sunset over the mountains from Kabul, while listening to the call to prayer, is a very fond memory,” Mr Jaray wrote.Fawzia Reza-e, whose three cousins were killed in the crash in December, said she cried when she received the letter this week.”It made me more sad,” she said.The brother of the female victims, Najib Reza-e, was granted a temporary visa after he came to Australia for their funeral. But his wife and five children were still in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur waiting to join him, Fawzia Reza-e said.”I want the immigration (department) to help Najib, do something about him and his family,” she said.Mr Jaray is expected to be sentenced by magistrate Robert Walker at Picton Court on May 24.
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‘Disgusted’ accomplice describes kidnap, mutilation

IF HE did not go along with a plan to kidnap and lock a man in a toolbox before cutting his body into pieces, Sean Laurence Waygood feared he would be killed. However, seven years later he felt no danger in inviting the alleged architect of the plan to his wedding, a court has heard.Waygood has pleaded guilty to offences including the kidnapping of Terry Falconer and being an accessory after the fact to his murder. He also pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder Felix Lyle, an alleged member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang and the subsequent shooting of another man, in what he describes as a case of mistaken identity.Waygood told a District Court sentencing hearing yesterday that in each offence he had acted on the instructions of a man he knew as ”Steve”, who was involved in criminal activity and had lent him and a friend $100,000.Steve’s real name cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.Falconer’s family wept as Waygood detailed how for $15,000, he posed as a police officer and helped to kidnap Falconer when he was on work release from Silverwater jail in November 2001.Falconer had been ”in a pretty bad way” after being rendered unconscious and then locked in the toolbox during the drive between Ingleburn and Turramurra, Waygood said. ”He was sweating profusely, he was red … I said, ‘Don’t you think we should let him out?”’ Waygood said.He told the court Steve became agitated by this. ”He put his hand on his piece and said, Are you f—in’ with us or what? He screamed it out with rage and put his hand on his gun as though he was about to draw it.”Asked by prosecutor Roger Kimball why he did not use skills he learnt as a green beret in the army to overpower Steve, he replied: ”Say if I did get away, how long was it going to be before my girlfriend was … murdered or worse, abducted or tortured?”Falconer was dead by the time they arrived at a property in Girvan on the mid-north coast. Steve removed Falconer’s teeth and smashed them on the floor with a hammer. Waygood, Steve and another man then dismembered the body, the court heard.Waygood conceded Steve was not the only ”criminal” at his wedding in 2008. Having testified against Steve and others arrested by Strike Force Tuno, he will have his sentence reduced.He apologised to his victims and their families, telling them he was ”disgusted” with himself but ”can’t take back what I have done”.
Nanjing Night Net

More means misery – abundant choices give abundant chances to brood

REMEMBER the bad old days when children went to the local school, Telstra provided your telephone, and the state provided the electricity?Now that we are bombarded with choice in every area of our lives, are we any happier?Visiting professor of psychology, Barry Schwartz, believes too much choice makes for misery. And the most miserable are the most diligent shoppers, those determined to get the very best deal.”The more comparison shopping you do, the more carefully you evaluate the options, the more likely it is that whatever you choose will leave you feeling dissatisfied,” said Professor Schwartz, of Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania.Professor Schwartz will be in Sydney for the two-day Happiness and Its Causes conference, beginning Wednesday, that brings together international speakers including Edward de Bono, Naomi Wolf and Robert Thurman.His now-famous study involving thousands of people shines a light on why abundant choice has produced no gains in well-being in affluent societies. It suggests the more options people have, the more likely some will experience disappointment with their choice, and this response extends beyond frocks and fridges to choice of job or life partner.”You have a wonderful partner but you think ‘is this the best person on earth for me?’ You keep looking over your shoulder. This is not a recipe for a satisfied life,” he said.Professor Schwartz and colleagues composed a set of statements to identify people he calls ”maximisers”, those who always aim to make the best possible choice, and those he calls ”satisficers”, who aim for ”good enough.”People fell along a continuum but the study found the greatest maximisers were the least happy with the fruits of their search.Despite exerting enormous time and effort reading labels and checking consumer magazines, the maximisers got less satisfaction from their purchases than people who considered fewer options and were content with ”good enough”.The maximisers were more prone to experiencing regret after a purchase.Professor Schwartz said maximisers felt sorrow about the opportunities they had forgone, and quickly got used to their purchases, so that the experience of having made a superior choice soon began to feel flat.Maximisers turned out to be less happy with life in general, less optimistic and more depressed compared to people who subscribed to the ”good enough” philosophy.Professor Schwartz said a further study of university graduates showed maximisers secured better jobs and higher pay than the ”good enough” brigade but on every measure felt worse about the job search and the job, and their life in general. ”It’s the price people pay when they are out to get the best,” he said.Having witnessed the angst his daughter endured in selecting a school for her child, Professor Schwartz considers the new emphasis on school choice a ”disaster”.”She tortured herself; whichever school she chose she had to give up something attractive in another,” he said. ”And after the decision, she continued hand-wringing.”He said some choice was essential because people needed to feel in control of their lives but the mistake had been to assume ”the more the better”.As a way out of the paradox of choice, Professor Schwartz recommends people outsource to their friends. ”I have a vision of a community of friends where someone is the expert on consumer electronics, another is the expert on restaurants, another on computers,” he said.ROAD TO RECOVERY Visit no more than two stores when clothes shoppingLearn to accept ”good enough”Don’t worry about what you’re missingDon’t expect too much
Nanjing Night Net

It’s shaping up to be a great year for Grange

DRINKERS of fine wine will be spared the pain inflicted on cigarette smokers in tomorrow’s Henry review. In fact they’re likely to find Australia’s most expensive drop more than $100 a bottle cheaper. But drinkers of cask wine are in for a shock.A move towards a single flat volumetric tax on alcohol is set to cut the price of a $620 bottle of Grange by $133 while adding $20 to the price of a four-litre cask.The dramatic change is one of many driven by the Henry review’s pursuit of simplicity and fairness at the cost of shaking things up. Its recommendations would also increase the salary bills of charities who would no longer be able to offer their employees untaxed fringe benefits, subject many more businesses to payroll tax, cut tax on savings accounts, boost superannuation tax for high-income earners and cut family payments for older children in order to boost them for preschoolers.The review finds that while beer is sensibly taxed per unit of alcohol, wine is taxed by price with rebates for small producers. This means expensive bottles are very heavily taxed, some bottles attract no alcohol tax and cask wine is taxed at just 5 cents per standard drink.The proposed flat tax set at the packaged full-strength beer rate of 39 cents per standard drink would push up the price of a four-litre cask from $15 to $35, according to calculations by the Australian Hotels Association, while taking $6 off the price of a $54 cabernet sauvignon.A middy of draft beer would climb 28 cents while $9 would be sliced off the price of a $43 bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label whisky. Alcopops, recently subject to a tax increase, would come down in price.In recognition of the disruption the change would cause, it is likely to be phased in over a number of years.Bank accounts will benefit more quickly from another attempt at simplicity. The review has found that the real effective tax rate on interest earned in bank accounts approaches 50 per cent for a middle earner on the 31.5 per cent rate. By contrast the real effective tax on earnings from shares is around 10 per cent, and minus 30 per cent if they are bought with borrowed money. The effective real tax rate on superannuation approaches minus 40 per cent.In order to even things up and also encourage saving, the review will cut the rate of tax on bank interest while sharply increasing tax on superannuation for high income earners. At present one third of super tax concessions go to Australians earning more than $180,000. Australians earning less than $35,000 get next to nothing.The review flatly rejects pleas from the superannuation industry to lift compulsory contributions but endorses a separate small compulsory levy to fund a national disability insurance scheme. It recommends measures to encourage so-called ”longevity insurance” under which super payouts are turned into guaranteed lifetime fortnightly payments.Insurance itself should become free of all taxes other than the GST the review proposes. It believes high stamp duties discourage the poorest people most in need of insurance from using it.Stamp duty will remain on real estate transactions. In return the family home will remain exempt from capital gains tax. But capital gains arrangements for rental properties face a shake up.The showcase for the simplicity the review has in mind will be the one-click or optional tax return. People will no longer need to complete paperwork or provide the Tax Office with information. The number of different welfare benefits would shrink and family benefits would be reconfigured to pay the most in the preschool years when high childcare costs mean expenses are their highest. The new arrangements would be directed to getting people off disability benefits and in to work.Businesses will face an extension of payroll tax rather than its abolition as many had hoped. The review finds the tax is a good one and that most of its problems come from exemptions and different rates in different states.
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