Five for Friday: VR Morality, Monster Discovery, Kidney Transplants

the-oculus-rift-virtual-reality-headset-will-blow-your-mindCHICAGO, IL (March 18, 2016) — Many Covenanters routinely share links to social media articles and videos with one another that Covenant News Service believes may be of interest to others. Each Friday we post five of them. Following is a sample of those submissions—their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Covenant of any views expressed

Virtual Reality: Moral Imperative or Opiate of the Masses

With virtual reality (VR) systems going mainstream, a variety of ethical questions are being raised. Will VR become a substitute for real life for many people? Will people become more willing to let social ills continue because users can simply escape reality?

From the article: “ ‘Everyone wants to have a happy life,’ as (Palmer) Luckey, founder of Oculus Rift, likes to say, ‘but it’s going to be impossible to give everyone everything they want.’ But VR can provide billions of people with virtual versions of everything the wealthy take for granted: touring the Louvre, sailing the sun-dappled coast of California, or simply sitting in a meadow beneath a clear blue sky free of smog and pollution. ‘Virtual reality can make it so anyone, anywhere can have these experiences,’ Luckey says.”

jennifer garner
Why Religious Movies are Attracting Mainstream Stars

Starring in faith-based films once was seen as evidence that an actor’s career had pretty much crashed and they had joined the C-list of celebrities—sort of like those who appear on Dancing with the Stars. Or the films were simply evangelistic projects by Christians such as Kirk Cameron. No longer.

This week, for example, Miracles from Heaven opens, starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah. One agent gives a simple answer as to why stars of such caliber are signing up—the money is good. But the movie better be doctrinally in sync with its intended audience or risk backlash.

From the article: “David Oyelowo and Kate Mara teamed in 2015’s Captive, a thriller in which they discover redemption. Ewan McGregor lent his name to the upcoming Last Days in the Desert, in which he plays Jesus. Also on the horizon, Renee Zellweger headlines Paramount’s Same Kind of Different as Me, in which she plays a dying woman whose husband makes a spiritual connection. Such films hope to build on their appeal to Christian audiences—with marketing that courts influential pastors and church groups—by adding more familiar stars.”

tully monster

 Scientists Finally Know What Kind of Monster a Tully Monster Was

Most Illinois residents probably had no idea that it had a state fossil—as do many states. But until recently even scientists didn’t know what the Tully monster was. Now they say it’s an ancestor. A very ugly ancestor.

From the article: “The announcement comes as a shock to paleontologists, who for decades puzzled over the Tully monster’s place on the tree of life, but mostly thought of it as a spineless invertebrate, maybe some ancient version of worm, arthropod, or mollusk.


How Religious is Your State

The Pew Research Center survey is based on four criteria: worship attendance, prayer frequency, belief in God, and the self-assessment of the importance of religion in one’s life. Not really any shocking findings—the southern states had the highest percentage while the five with the lowest percentage are in the northeast. Still, there are some interesting numbers.

From the article: “What does it mean to be ‘highly religious’? In our analysis, this includes any adult who reports at least two of four highly observant behaviors—attending religious services at least weekly, praying at least daily.”

kidney transplant

Kidney Transplant Procedure Makes All Donors Compatible

The body’s rejection of the new organ has been the biggest obstacle to successful life-saving kidney transplants. A new study shows that 76 percent of 1,000 patients who underwent a procedure called desensitization were still alive after eight years—far higher than traditional rates.

From the article: “The process has been in experimental use for 15 years, but this is the first nationwide study to assess the benefit to patients. The idea is to push the process into regular use. One barrier to this might be cost. Desensitization, as an ongoing process, is expensive. But not, crucially, as expensive as dialysis.” The new procedure is about one-tenth the cost of dialysis.

Five for Friday


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