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Jeffrey Long Posts

The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

From 1995 to 1997, the CDC conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study investigating the connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being.

Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors.

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study.

Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.

Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.

Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

Adverse Childhood Experiences have been linked to
• risky health behaviors,
• chronic health conditions,
• low life potential, and
• early death.

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.

With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; attempted suicide, 1,220 percent.

ACEs are common…nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at least one. And the majority of respondents who reported at least one ACE reported more than one.

For the small minority (12%) of people with a score of 4+ the consequences are dire and get worse as that number increases.

What can we do?

For more information:

The complete infographic can be found here at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Adverse Childhood Experiences collection.

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Hope – The Church in 10,000 years

clockIn the Winter 2000 issue of the Whole Earth Magazine I came across an article about Long Now Foundation’s work to create a 10,000 year clock.

The following comment in the article caught my eye. “Danny Hillis’s idea was that by slowing down the usual speedy movements of a clock, he hoped to slow us down and have us think about the long term. The purpose of a clock that runs for 10,000 years is to encourage us to create things that require 10,000 years to measure. A great civilization for instance.”
This intrigued me because it stands in stark contrast to the pessimism for the future of civilization found in the pop-culture church today. Apocalypticism has been a popular theme throughout history, as showcased through Christian History Magazine’s excellent issue on the topic. Thus the appeal of such books as “Left Behind” should be no surprise.

But it is my contention that such hopelessness about the future is not only unbiblical, but does great harm to the ministry of the church. Yes, Jesus will return, as is told in the scripture. And yes, he judges and will judge individuals and governments for their complicity in sin. But you cannot find one text in the Bible that will say He is coming today, or tomorrow, or in a decade, or a century or a millenia. Only that He will return soon, for which we have no calendar to measure. So, our calling is readiness, rather then speculation.

The unfortunate by-product of apocalyptic thinking is a lack of hope for what the Holy Spirit will do through the Church today. In his book “Learned Optimism,” Martin Seligman documented his research that both animals and humans responded in the same manner to helpless situations. They gave up trying to change their environment. I believe that the same happens to congregations when they believe that they are helpless to change the world around them.

By contrast, I believe that we are called to live hopeful of the work that the Holy Spirit wants to do through us as believers and through our congregations.

Also, the following two short and excellent articles, Cultural Pessimism and Cultural Optimism are excellent reading to further grasp both what destruction is done through this hopeless thinking, and a further understanding of what the Holy Spirit can do through the Church.

And so, rather then limiting ourselves to the end-times apocalypticism prevelent today, I call upon the Church to wonder at what a culture could come if we were to live expecting His soon return, while simultaneously wondering at what the Holy Spirit could do through us through 10,000 years.

Originally published in 2009