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Tim Keller on New Church Models

Question: Will Redeemer follow the mega-church model?

Keller:    I was in a little church for 10 years in Virginia, blue collar church, small town, small church, about a hundred of people, maybe grew to 200 people and we did all that too but not through programs.  When somebody lost a job, we try to help them find a job.  If a woman had a child out of wedlock and needed to go to community college to figure out a way, you know, to get marketable skills so she could support herself, somebody in the church would watch the child, somebody in the church would probably come up with the money, you know, the tuition.  All these things, just helping people with everything, people in the church who were smarter about how to do conflict management in their marriage would work with a young couple who is about to blow up their marriage, or people who understood financial counseling were always doing financial counseling other people, but it all happen organically because you had a small number of people.  In a big church, you have to do it through programs, you have to say, here is the financial counseling ministry, here is the marital communication ministry.  So, I’m not sure that mega church necessarily is doing things that much differently than a small organic church, so I’m not sure it’s all that, I don’t think it’s all that revolutionary to do what they’re doing.

Question: How has your religious network changed since you founded Redeemer?

Keller:    When Redeemer was a normal-sized church, yes, I hang out with a lot of other ministers and now there’s not a lot of them in New York City actually.  But as the church has gotten bigger, we now have a network of, you know, I have a hundred staff people, and in order to be available to my own leaders, I now tend to hang out much more with the people inside the church.  I wish that I could do more networking, but the fact is when you hire somebody, they move to the city or they come on your staff from the city, they’re really investing their lives in you and they want the boss this time, otherwise, you’re really not, you know, they put their life on the line to come in.  So I have a responsibility to be doing an awful lot of social networking and developing relationships inside the ministries that we have now and there’s a lot of pastors in there.  So, now, I’m not as available to the rest of the city as I used to be, I wish I was.

Question: Will your numbers grow with the recession?

Keller:    After 9/11, you know, you might remember that the week after 9/11, all churches had this enormous growth and I can tell you exactly what happen to us.  We had 2,900 people a week coming.  The week after 9/11 we have 5,300, 5,400 people show up.  In fact, I had actually, we couldn’t get them all in and I called [inaudible].  At the very beginning of one of the services I said to everybody, “Those of you who can’t get in, come back in two hours and then we’ll do another service.”  I walked over to the organist, I walked to the musicians, I said, “Are you going to stick around to do another service after this?” And they said, “Sure.”  So, I went back up to the microphone, I said, “Come back in two hours, we’ll do another service,” 8 or 900 people came back.  However, even though those numbers went down a bit, Redeemer permanently grew about 6 or 700 people overnight.  So, when the numbers came down, we never went back below say 36, 3,700 people and it was because people were in need and therefore they were looking to the church to help them.  And my guess is something less dramatic in that but similar to that will happen to us now.  Yes, I do think there’ll be numbers, there’ll be a numbers increase but the giving will go down.

Pastor Tim Keller on cosmopolitan religion.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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How often do vaccine trials hit paydirt?

Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.

Pedro Vilela/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.

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