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Why Robin Williams died and why it matters

Robin Williams holding his daughter Zelda Rae, who just turned 25 on July 31, 2014, when she was a toddler (Credit: Robin Williams via Instagram)The suicide of Robin Williams in August 2014 dominated headlines for days. News reports attributed his death to depression coupled with substance abuse and linked his struggles to other performers with similar issues.

Now we know better. According to his widow, Susan Williams, the comedian had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system when he died and had been sober for eight years. Nor was his death the result of depression. Rather, he was a victim of what Susan calls "the chemical warfare that no one knew about." Specifically, her husband was a victim of Lewy body dementia (LBD), a progressive disease caused when normal proteins in the brain begin to aggregate and interfere with the brain's ability to transmit signals.

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God is still not dead in America

'God's Not Dead' in theater on March, 21 2014 (Credit: www.godsnotdeadmovie.com)Recent years have seen a steady drumbeat of bad news for Christians in America. The number of young adults who profess no faith continues to rise. Church attendance continues to plateau or decline. Christianity is supposed to be waning in our culture.

Not so fast, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Study released this week. It is still true that nearly nine in ten American adults say they believe in God. And those who practice a faith are just as committed as they were in the past—in some cases, even more so. According to one Pew researcher, "We should remember that the United States remains a nation of believers."

No culture is beyond the reach of an omnipotent, omniscient God. Not even ours.

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Justin Bieber completes probation for vandalism

Justin Bieber arrives for the 2015 MTV European Music Awards in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (Credit: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)Yogi Berra noted, "The future ain't what it used to be."

Baseball Prospectus picked the Kansas City Royals to win seventy-two games this year; now they're World Series champions. Amazon made its reputation with online book sales; now they're opening a physical store in a Seattle mall. Justin Bieber's image was once wholesome and clean; now he has completed probation for pelting his neighbor's house with eggs in January 2014.

John Paul II was right: "The future starts today, not tomorrow."

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Why would drivers in China intentionally kill those they hit?

Traffic in Shanghai, China, August 29, 2015 (Credit: AP Images/Jens Kalaene)A friend recently sent me a news story that shocked me. In China, drivers who kill pedestrians are fined between $30,000 and $50,000. But drivers who must provide lifetime care for a disabled survivor can pay millions of dollars. As a result, it is common for Chinese drivers who hit a pedestrian to run over the person repeatedly to make sure he or she is dead.

Here we see the results of a worldview that devalues the sanctity of individual life. Ethicists call this the "instrumental" view of life—a person's worth is not inherent, but measured only as a means to another end.

Did you know that the number of babies aborted in the U.S. since 1973 is one-and-a-half times the total population of Canada? Ninety-three percent of all American abortions are elective, meaning that they have nothing to do with rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

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Where Lady Gaga and Warren Buffett agree

Lady Gaga arrives at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, September 20, 2015 (Credit: AP Images/Danny Moloshok)Stefani Germanotta is known to the world as pop singer Lady Gaga. Given her outlandish stage acts and personal challenges, you might not think of her as a philosopher. But consider a talk she recently gave at Yale University: "I feel sad when I'm overworked and I just become a money-making machine and passion and creativity take a backseat. That makes me unhappy. So what did I do? I started to say no. I'm not doing that. I don't want to do that. . . . And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am."

Now consider this statement by Warren Buffett: "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."

So, how do we know when to say yes?

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