A New High Score
Video Games as educational materials are nothing new (anyone remember Oregon Trail?), but most of us still think of gaming as a shoot-em-up time waster. That's changing though, as developers with purpose are crafting programs with rich educational and emotional content.
One team of Brazilian students is well into development for Thralled, an iPad game that follows Isaura, a fictional African slave in 18th century Brazil. She's fleeing into the woods, pursued by a shadowy monster that looks a lot like herself. While most actions in the game are simple—requiring basic puzzle solving—Isaura's escape is complicated by the young child she's carrying. To do most tasks she has to set the baby down, with only brief moments before it's snatched by the monster. The game's lead says that people testing it have had "strong emotional reactions," to the fleeing slave's constant dilemmas, and "a sense of empathy that can only be achieved with direct involvement … we want to try to encourage empathy for victimized people and thus heighten sensibility for others' suffering ... interactive media has the potential to change people, and yet this potential is mostly left unexplored." —From The Verge
Why Are Clergy More Depressed Than Laypeople?
Research from the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School indicates that clergy members are (by rather conservative figures) over 1.5 times more likely to experience depression than members of the general population.
Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, the study's lead researcher, opines:
"It's concerning that such a high percentage of clergy may be depressed while they are trying to inspire congregations, lead communities and social change ventures, even just trying to do counseling of their own parishioners. These are responsibilities that you would really want a mentally healthy person be engaged in, and yet it may be the challenges of those responsibilities that might be driving these high rates of depression."
Reporter Katherine Hindley adds the observation that "Other occupations that involve a strong focus on providing care for others, such as those in nursing and social work fields, have also been tied to above-average rates of depression."
So the nature of spiritual work is depressive? The study doesn't go that far, but the long hours and the emotional rollercoaster of ministry work does leave many leaders feeling insignificant, unappreciated, and down. Sometimes persistently depressed.
Hindley also quotes Steven Scoggin, president of CareNet, a North Carolina network of pastoral counseling centers:
"There is a sense that they should be able to handle more because they're a person of faith," said Scoggin. "It's not really embraced well by congregations for clergy to be transparent and vulnerable with their struggles … We could do more for them early in ...