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Your attitude is contagious--is it worth catching?

First 15: Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Credit: Denison Forum)You can catch the flu, but you are better for missing it. You can catch a salmon at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, but I have a fishy feeling your travelling companions would prefer you not.  As the Dallas Cowboys remind fans every week, you can't catch everything.

However, there are some things you can catch. Not only can you catch them, but they are worth catching. In a recent New York Times article, Arthur Brooks writes on the phenomenon known as "moral elevation." Psychologists define this as "an emotional state that leads individuals to act virtuously when exposed to the virtue of others." Citing one study published in 2010, Brooks writes how psychologists divided a group into three sections. One section watched an episode of a comedy program, another a nature documentary, and the final group watched an episode of Oprah. The episode of Oprah consisted of guests expressing gratitude to their mentors. Those who watched Oprah reported "feeling more uplifted, optimistic about humanity, and warm in the chest. "  This internal warmness resulted in a desire to externally extend warm acts of charity to others.

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WWII vet arrested for feeding homeless

Homeless advocate Arnold Abbott, 90, of the nonprofit group Love Thy Neighbor Inc is fingerprinted by a Fort Lauderdale police officer, Wednesday, November 5, 2014, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky)Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident Arnold Abbott has been feeding homeless people on the beach for 23 years.  The World War II veteran's ministry is appropriately titled Love Thy Neighbor.  When city commissioners recently approved tough new restrictions on outdoor feeding programs, they put his ministry in legal jeopardy.  When he continued his beach-side ministry, he was cited for violating the ordinance.

Local businesses claim that the program is bad for business and tourism.  Courts have twice upheld Abbott's right to continue his ministry.  City officials want to move such homeless programs into houses of worship or private property.  But Love Thy Neighbor wants to continue feeding the homeless near the beach.

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Where is Brittany Maynard today?

Brittany Maynard, during an interview for Compassion Choices, describes how she learned that she had terminal brain cancer and her decision to move to Oregon so that she could take advantage of the its 'Death with Dignity' law to end her life (Credit:  CompassionChoices via YouTube) Brittany Maynard ended her own life last Saturday at her home in Portland, Oregon.  She was 29 years old.  She left this message on Facebook:

"Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love.  Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me . . . but would have taken so much more.  The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers.  I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. . . . Goodbye world.  Spread good energy.  Pay it forward!"

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Tim Cook: Is being gay a gift of God?

Apple CEO Tim Cook poses for a photo with Apple employee, Justyna Horwat, at pre-parade festivities before the 2014 San Francisco gay pride parade, June 29 ,2014 (Credit: Justyna Horwat via Twitter) Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced, "I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."

Why would he consider homosexuality a gift from God?  I can find nothing about his religious beliefs online, so I don't know if he's making the theological argument that God makes some people LGBT and endorses such sexual identity.  From what he wrote in making his announcement, it seems that his reasoning is more practical than theological:

"Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day.  It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life.  It's been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry.  It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple."

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The Jaylen Fryberg tragedy: reaching teens for Jesus

Students and family members reunite at Shoultes Gospel Hall after a student opened fire at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, in Marysville, Washington October 24, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Jason Redmond)Jaylen Fryberg was a football player with 2,000 Facebook friends.  He was recently named homecoming prince at his high school.  Then he texted five friends to join him for lunch, pulled out a gun, and shot them.  Two have died, the others were wounded, and he killed himself as well.  "It's weird to think about, because you see him and he is such a happy person," a student says.  No one understands why he would do this.

Bulletproof whiteboards are now being marketed to our schools.  Some public schools are teaching gun safety to first graders.  Some want teachers to bring guns to class.  Thirty percent of teenagers are involved in bullying.  Seventeen percent of high school students say they have carried a weapon.  Teenage violence costs us more than $158 billion a year.

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