Another wonderful week of Dennis Prager has come and gone. Here are my thoughts on this weeks show...
This week’s Ultimate Issues Hour had a guest, Mary Eberstadt, who has written a new book, How the West Really Lost God. In it, she looks into the reasons that faith and religion are dying in our culture. She has concluded that the decline is due to the decline in families and the decline in families is directly correlated with the loss of religion. She points out that the first major decline was seen during the Industrial Revolution when men left rural life and their families to find work in the cities alone. She says that urbanization leads to falling birthrates. This makes sense because people tend to move into more rural areas when they settle down. Many people think cities are not places to raise a family. She points out that Scandinavia, for example, has the lowest rate of religious people in the Western world and more than half of all Scandinavians live alone. Throughout the hour, the sexual revolution, the welfare state, and college were also pointed to as contributing factors for the fall of religion. The secular tend to say that religion is failing because religion is a form of superstition and as a culture becomes more educated they realize that and move beyond religion. She debunks that in her research which found that the top one third of the socioeconomic class in the US are much more likely to go to church than the bottom one third who are also less educated. On top of that, the family formation has fallen apart for the bottom one third. She has found that families tend to go to church because once people have kids they tend to want to raise their child in a moral community and for many people having children is quasi religious experience in itself. As a parent, I can relate to that. When you have a small child in your arms it’s almost impossible to grasp that you and your spouse made this living breathing creature without feeling like there was a higher power at work. Since having Landon, I've struggled in finding a community church where we can raise him, because that sense of religious community is very important to me. I was raised in a split home with a Catholic father and a mother who, at times, attended a Methodist church. I attended Catholic church every other weekend when I was with my dad and attended various churches irregularly with my mom. When I turned 18 I was no longer “forced” to go to church with my father and so I never went to church. I never stopped believing in God, but I was a young adult with better things to do. Growing up I hadn't felt a real calling to church and never fully identified with a religion so I didn't make it a priority. When I was 23 and started to think about getting married I knew I wanted to get married in a church and a Catholic Church at that. While I may have not felt a calling, it was where I felt most comfortable and felt the most presence of God. I've always felt that getting married is a religious event and should be celebrated within the confines of a church. As I started to explore my own faith and the church deeper I really found myself for the first time. I felt grateful for everything that I had and everything that my future held, especially the family that I wanted to create. As my future husband and I continued to explore the Catholic faith deeper we both felt a deep connection to it and each other. To say that it brought us closer and made our relationship better doesn't even begin to explain it. There is no doubt in mind that religion makes the family stronger and is an invaluable asset for family life. As Dennis Prager puts it at the end of the hour, two of the healthiest things a human can have are family and religion and unfortunately, both are in decline.
This week’s topic on the male/female hour was What Do Couples Argue About Most. Dennis points out that the less you argue the better and I think most everyone would agree with that. He ponders if an argument free home is possible and if it should be a goal. He thinks people that are calm, in sync and especially rational should be able to have a largely argument free home. The callers said their main source of arguments were in-laws, money, and raising kids.
I remember when I was in the hospital and so thankful to Adam for everything he was doing for me that I thought when we got home we would never argue again. I thought all my appreciation and everything we had been through would negate all future arguments. I was wrong. I would say we have a largely argument free home. When we do argue it’s always over a simple miscommunication that tends to hurt the other persons feelings in some way. Even though we do still argue, everything we went through together did change our arguments in many ways. For example, we tend to make up very quickly. I can’t think of an argument or disagreement that we have where we haven’t made up from within an hour. We get mad, one person will walk away and the other feels so badly that we quickly sit down, talk about it, resolve it and move past it. We've learned that in the grand scheme of things, we are on each other’s side. We want to work together, understand each other, and make each other happy. Most importantly, we've learned that it is important to always put the marriage first and not yourself, your own feelings, or interpretations of things. In doing this, it’s made us look at things differently and handle arguments much better. From the very beginning of our relationship I've always made it a point to try and never say something nasty, mean or hurtful things out of anger. When I feel that I am starting to get upset and/or mad the best thing I can do is to walk away and take some time to process my thoughts. The saying that you can’t take back your words is true and seems to apply the most in arguments. Couples would fare much better if they didn't try to hurt one another during an argument. One word that couples use to hurt each other is divorce. Yes, there are some rare instances that I would consider divorcing Adam. Obviously, there a few things I just couldn't stand for, but I never use the word as a threat when arguing with him. Divorce just isn't on the table and bringing it up would only create a wall within our marriage. We truly believe that two people cannot be completely comfortable and secure in their marriage if divorce is part of the equation. Divorce is just one example of a word that can be used to hurt the other person, but there are so many more. Using words to hurt someone will only hurt the marriage long term.
In closing Prager mentions that a lot of times the argument that a couple has usually isn't about the issue they are arguing about, but about something deeper. Sometimes people don’t even realize it and it takes introspection to figure out the real cause. I think that arguments like this would be very hard to resolve and move past. How can you resolve a problem if you don't even know what the real problem is? Marriage is important for your family, health and happiness. If couples would work together, let go of their own pride, and put the marriage first then having a largely argument free home can be very possible for any couple.
On the happiness hour Dr. Stephen Marmer a psychiatrist and faculty member at UCLA Medical School came on to talk about how you know if your therapy is working and how to choose a good therapist. I had to admit this topic for the happiness hour doesn’t really excite me. I know a lot of people are in and need of therapy and I completely understand. I hope the hour was able to help a lot of people and I'm sure many people got a lot from it. One thing, however, that Dr. Marmer said that really stood out to me was about how after six months the therapist should give you a heightened understanding about your role in your own misery. He says that one of the most common mistakes that prevent therapy from being successful is that the therapist takes the patients side to the exclusion of having the patient understand their role in their own misery. That people need to see that in some way they are the architect of their own misery. I think this was the most important thing that Dr. Marmer said in the entire hour. Even Prager noted the significance of this statement. Many people tend to want to blame someone else for their unhappiness when in truth people can contribute to happiness or unhappiness in your life, but only you are ultimately responsible for your happiness or unhappiness. If you cannot see this and/or be open to the thought of this then you are destined to be unhappy forever. I think this is the most powerful message a therapist can send to a person and as they stated in the hour, if a therapist cannot be honest then they are no good to that person. I hope that anyone seeking therapy can find someone willing to be honest with them in this way.
Aside from the designated hours, Dennis Prager had an interesting interview with Elizabeth Becker who has a new book out called Overbooked: The exploding business of travel and tourism. She wrote this book by approaching it from the viewpoint of an International Economics correspondent which takes a completely different approach to looking at the industry. Instead of focusing on travel itself she focuses on the economic impact of travel both positive and negative. In her research, Becker found that tourism produces 6.5 trillion dollars of the world’s economy and is becoming the world’s largest business, but it isn't treated like other economic powerhouses. 1 out of every 12 people in the world are employed in some way by the tourism industry. For the US, the biggest tourist destinations fluctuate between New York and Las Vegas, which surprised both Prager and myself. She points out that there are different types of travelers- cultural, consumer and nature. One thing she mentioned that I really found interesting was that during the recession travel and tourism was the first thing to rebound and while people may not have had as big vacations it is one of the last things people cut out their budget. I can relate! Loving travel and wanting to be a part of the industry, I was immediately interested in reading this book. I checked the library and they had just gotten it in so as soon as I got off work I went and picked it up. I’m finding it fascinating looking at travel as an industry and not as a hobby like I usually do. There are some very interesting statistics and information and I will share my thoughts and findings in a post when I am done with the book which may be within the week if I can't put it down.