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Why the Jolie–Pitt divorce? 3 surprising factors

An earthquake hit Los Angeles yesterday. It came just minutes after news broke that Angelina Jolie was filing for divorce from Brad Pitt. CNN made this tongue-in-cheek announcement: "The two incidents are unrelated." But not for the couple and their children—they will never be the same.

Why is the couple divorcing? Consider three surprising factors.

One: They are famous. Research shows that celebrity marriages are twice as likely to break up as others. The Marriage Foundation studied couples who married between 2000 and 2010 and were divorced by 2014. The results: 50 percent of star couples were divorced, compared to 26 percent of "normal" marriages.

Two: They are wealthy and attractive. According to The Atlantic, men are 50 percent more likely to divorce if their partner's looks are important in their decision to get married. Women are 60 percent more likely to divorce if they care about their partner's wealth. Of course, I don't know if these factors applied specifically to Jolie and Pitt, but it's a safe guess that they were not irrelevant to their relationship.

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Terrorist is 'a guy you would never expect'

Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki via APAhmad Khan Rahami was arrested yesterday. Wanted in connection with bombings in New York and New Jersey, he has been charged with five counts of attempted murder after a shootout with police.

His family operates First American Fried Chicken in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of the restaurant's patrons said of Ahmad, "He's a very friendly guy, he gave me free chicken. He was always the most friendly man you ever met." The patron was deeply rattled by news that Rahami has been connected to the bombings. "He's a guy you would never expect," he said. "This is sad, terrifying, scary."

When terrorists strike anywhere, people become alarmed everywhere. For instance, West Point was locked down yesterday after a "concerned citizen" reported seeing a man "who fit the description" of Rahami, according to a spokesman. The man was eventually identified as a West Point resident and the lockdown was lifted.

We can expect more of this. FBI Director James Comey has warned that hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the US as attacks escalate against the Islamic State's so-called caliphate in Syria. "At some point there's going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we've never seen before," he warned. Referring to recent attacks in Brussels and Paris, Comey said that future attacks will be "an order of magnitude greater."

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NY bombing: Up to 5 now in custody

Credit: Mel Evans via APABC News is reporting that as many as five people were taken into FBI custody last night in connection with Saturday's bombing in Manhattan. In addition, multiple bombs were discovered overnight at a New Jersey train station. A pipe bomb exploded along a racecourse in New Jersey, though no one was injured. And ISIS has claimed responsibility for a stabbing at a Minnesota mall that injured eight.

Life in the age of terrorism seems more fragile than ever.

Our fears are not necessarily based on facts. According to security experts, ninety-four Americans have been killed by jihadists since 9/11, more than half of them in the Orlando nightclub shooting. An additional forty-eight have been killed by other extremists such as the Charleston church shooter. As tragic as these deaths are, more Americans die in car accidents every two days.

However, the fear of terrorism can be debilitating. Experts say that living with such fear can trigger obsessive thinking and alter our mood, temperament, motivation, and personality.

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US religion worth $1.2 trillion

via goodfreephotosIt's not often that an academic report changes the conversation about religion in America, but one just did. Georgetown University professors Brian Grim and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute have unveiled their groundbreaking study: "The Socio-economic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis." Here's the summary:

•    Religion in the US contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.
•    Despite declining religious affiliation in the American population, religious organizations have tripled the amount of money spent on social programs in the last fifteen years—to $9 billion.
•    Religion's $1.2 trillion impact is more than the annual revenues of Apple, Amazon, and Google combined.

The study notes that congregations and religiously affiliated charity groups are responsible for:

•    130,000 alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs.
•    94,000 programs to support veterans and their families.
•    26,000 programs to prevent HIV/AIDS and to support those living with the disease.
•    121,000 programs to provide support or skills training for unemployed adults.

While religion contributes $1.2 trillion each year, religious tax-exemptions cost the US $71 billion. In other words, religion contributes seventeen times more to America than it costs.

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Pope rebukes pastors who 'become princes'

Credit: Scavuzzo/AGF/REX/Shutterstock via AP"Jesus was not a prince," Pope Francis stated yesterday during his General Audience. "It is awful for the church when pastors become princes, far from the people, far from the poorest people. That is not the spirit of Jesus."

According to the pope, true followers of Jesus take up his yoke to receive and welcome the revelation of God's mercy, bringing salvation to the poor and the oppressed. He called us to learn from Jesus "what it means to live in mercy in order to be instruments of mercy."

The fact that the pope's call for servant leaders is resounding in today's news says as much about the culture as it does about the church. Clearly, Christian leaders need to be reminded regularly that we serve Jesus when we serve those in need (Matthew 25:40). Our Lord came "not to be served but to serve" (Matthew 20:28) and called us to imitate his sacrifice in loving and serving others (John 13:15).

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