App Attack!

by Sasha Spichke, PAW Writer

Do you have an addiction problem? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to Forbes magazine, more than half of all adult Americans have a Smartphone, lending to the evident rise of app addictions. Has “Just 5 more minutes!” turned into “Oh snap! It’s been 5 hours!” more than once for you? Have you said, “Well, I’ll try this game just one more time,” about 100 times? So have many others. Let’s listen to some of our fellow app-lovers after a few basic facts are laid down.

Mashable, a popular news source, cited an analytical firm called Flurry that found 176 million people are addicted to their mobile devices, an increase of 123%  over last year. According to the study, this means that 176 million users launch their apps more than 60 times a day! Some games such as Angry Birds, Temple Run, Flappy Bird, Candy Crush, Quiz Up, Trivia Crack, Piano Tiles, and Risk, not to mention Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube, have probably gained a few hours from you each day.

How do you know when you are addicted to apps? Well, you probably play the games whenever and wherever possible. Need to buy a life? No problem! You will easily  spend the money in order to increase your score!

Why are some apps so addictive? Blogger Marbelized, in an online article titled “Why are Apps So Addictive”  says, “ A common thing with all of these apps are that they are simple to play. Anyone can play them because… it’s not rocket science.” It goes on to say, “Another thing these apps have in common is that there is a fine line between winning and losing. You could be one pig off in Angry Birds but you still lost so you have to try again. Or one or two moves off winning a level in Candy Crush but you ran out of moves or time. Another reason they are addictive is that you get obvious progress. Like levels in Angry Birds, Plants versus Zombies and Candy Crush and the same progress in Temple Run as achievements like running for 10,000 meters.”

It may come as a surprise that there are no games in the top 25 most popular apps. An article titled, “These are the 25 Most Popular Mobile Apps in America,” by Quartz tech writer Dan Frommer says, “There are no games in the top 25. This is not a mistake: comScore rep Andrew Lipsman says many games have large audiences, but they’re closer to 10 million unique visitors—probably because games tend to spike in popularity and then decline. Facebook and Google, meanwhile, seem here to stay.” It is clear that most app games have a very short life span. They are fun for a couple of weeks, and then, well, they aren’t.

But, in the beginning, some apps are just too addictive! Here are what some app-lovers have to say:

  •  Kailey McIntyre ’15 said, “I get addicted to the competitive games. Trivia Crack, quiz up, and words with friends have each become an obsession of mine and I spend hours trying to get to the next level, or beat my friends.”
  •  Pooja Dhar ’17 said, “The only app I’ve ever been obsessed with is text messaging.”
  •  Gianna Bruno ’19 said, “I am obsessed with Instagram and Pintrest! I have been obsessed for about a year or so. First, what’s so appealing aboutInstagram, I love it because it connects me with friends who are both here and back in Connecticut, where I used to live. I also love it because you can find accounts that only post about a certain thing, like bands, fashion, nail art, and so many more. I can spend hours looking through all types of different accounts. Another thing I like about Instagram is the hashtags, I like them because you could search something on the hashtag as simple as “puppies” and thousands upon thousands of pictures pop up of puppies! Anybody could spend hours looking trough different hashtags. For Pinterest, I think it is appealing because you can really connect with your friends through the app. With my friends and I we can search for different pins and we send them to each other and we connect over them. Another reason is that, like Instagram, there are tons of pages that you can find your favorite thing, like fashion, hairstyles, and tons of DIYS. I also really like pointers because a lot of big stores are on Pinterest, so I can find clothes on Pinterest, tap the image and it will take me to the website which I personally like!”
  •  Kelley Rajkowski ’20 said, “There are a LOT of apps I, along with my friends are addicted to. They are Instagram, Snapchat,, Crossy Road,  Mine Craft, watch Disney channel app, Temple Run, Flow, Kik, Stick Hero, and many more.”
  •  Dr. Jeff Biebighauser said, “I’ve been playing candy crush for probably a year now. I know this is definitely stupid, but I feel a sense of accomplishment when I pass a level. What I’m addicted to, when I’m addicted to Candy Crush, is self-mockery, or the sense of perspective on my life that stupid and meaningless victories provides.” Just to note, he has successfully reached level 699!Dr. Biebighauser says he is aware that, with the publication of this article, “the last bits of his dignity or professional credibility will disintegrate like so many shards of red jelly beans.”
  •  Kevin Greeder ’15 has some wise advice. “A good rule to live by is to take everything in moderation and to value temperance.”

How can fix your addiction? Ironically, one solution is by using an app called “BreakFree” designed for the Android model, and hopefully, soon for the iPhone. Mashable says, “BreakFree keeps tabs on how long you spend using apps, how often you unlock your phone and how much time you spend making phone calls. It calculates an “addiction score” based on these metrics, and will send reminders suggesting you slow down when your use is on the rise. BreakFree is free to download, but users will have to upgrade to the $1.99 premium version to get the most detailed stats, including breakdowns of how much time they spend on phone calls and in individual apps.”

If your obsession is out of control, a simple solution is to put down your device. Hide it. Have your parents lock it up. Or delete it. Everything is good in moderation.



Was Jesus Born in the Winter?

by Sasha Spichke, PAW Writer

Was Jesus born in December? Many speculate otherwise, but still uphold the tradition of Christmas in December.


Jon Sorenson, writing for “Catholic Answers,” a blog that defends and explains the faith, responds to the frequently suggested idea that Christmas was celebrated in December to combat all the pagan celebrations, like Saturnalia, Sol Invictus and Mithras, that happened at the same time. Sorenson says, “Saturnalia was the feast dedicated to the Roman god Saturn. Established around 220 B.C., this feast was originally celebrated on December 17.”

With regards to Sol Invictus he says, “The feast of Sol Invictus was the attempt by the Roman emperor Aurelian to reform the cult of Sol, the Roman sun god, and reintroduce it to his people, inaugurating Sol’s temple and holding games for the first time in A.D. 27. A manuscript known as the Chronography of 354 shows the birth of Sol Invictus being celebrated on December 25. Given the fact that the Mithraists equated their god with Sol in one way or another, it is understandable that they may have appropriated the date as their own. The problem for the skeptic is that no evidence exists to suggest that Aurelian was a Mithraist, or that he even had Mithraism in mind when he instituted the feast of Sol Invictus. The connection of Mithra to December 25 is only coincidental.”

He closes by saying, “Whatever month the early Christians might have otherwise chosen, would still place Christmas near some pagan celebration, and oppositional theorists would still be making the same claims.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help; upon their data contradictory arguments are based. The census would have been impossible in winter: a whole population could not then be put in motion. Again, in winter it must have been; then only field labor was suspended. But Rome was not this considerate. Authorities moreover differ as to whether shepherds could or would keep flocks exposed during the nights of the rainy season.”

The Good News Magazine, in a story titled “Biblical Evidence Shows Jesus Christ Wasn’t Born on Dec. 25” says, “Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke:1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke:1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year (The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).

It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke:1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke:1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.”

Fr. Francis Hoffman, known to many as “Father Rocky” and the Executive Director of Relevant Radio, weighed in on this after I contacted him via email. He said, “We celebrate Christmas on December 25th because that day is 9 months after March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation/Incarnation of the Lord. We celebrate the Incarnation of the Lord on March 25 because the early Christians in Jerusalem believed Jesus died on March 25, and since he was divine and perfect, he had to die on the day he was conceived, having lived exactly 33 years from conception to death.  33 is a perfect number.  So knowing the date of his death, we know the date of his conception, and know the date of his birth.”

Hoffman added, “It is very likely that Jesus died on March 25 as that date can occur after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, all of which is tied to the Passover Event in Exodus and the Paschal lamb. There is documented evidence that early Christians commemorated the Crucifixion of Jesus on March 25.  The earliest calendar that has Christmas on December 25 is from the 4th century; in fact, there is not a lot of documentary evidence before the Edict of Milan in 314 AD, because until that time Christianity was not legal. For those who say that Christmas on 12/25 is simply a Christian appropriation of the pagan Roman festival ‘Sol Invictus’ I don’t buy it for the following reason: Sol Invictus is celebrated on December 20, which is the winter solstice.  December 25 is five days later.  The Julian calendar in force back then was accurate to within 11 minutes per year.  The Christians would not have been four days off on their calculations. There are early Christian Calendars celebrating Christmas on January 6, which is the Feast of the Epiphany.”

He concluded by saying, “But for me, I am convinced that there was a good reason for Christmas on December 25, and it was not the result of guess work.”

Dr. Arthur Hippler, a religion teacher at Providence Academy, says Christmas is not one of the earliest feasts we have, and Christmas, for us, has an importance that it did not have earlier on. He adds that there were no observances of Christ’s birth until about three or four centuries after the fact. “A lot of times we commemorate something in the church perhaps apart from where it is that they actually historically happened, “ Hippler said. He added, “I don’t know that we know that he was born at some other time in the year. There is reason to think that he was born around Christmastime in December, there are arguments for the spring, there are arguments for summer, but none of those arguments are conclusive. And certainly what we don’t want to do is start moving around feast days based on speculative guesswork about when we think Jesus was born.” He concluded by saying, “There is no dogmatic definition of when Christ was born, there is no issue of faith that hangs on this, but there is nothing out there at this point that decisively shows that somehow Jesus was not born in December, but born at some other time, and therefore, in light of that, I think the church wisely keeps the date as it is, and it might even that day as it was even if we did find the evidence.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his “Summa Theologica,” states, “Moreover, at that time, when the whole world lived under one ruler, peace abounded on the earth. Therefore it was a fitting time for the birth of Christ, for ‘He is our peace, who hath made both one,’ as it is written (Ephesians 2:14). Wherefore Jerome says on Isaiah 2:4: ‘If we search the page of ancient history, we shall find that throughout the whole world there was discord until the twenty-eighth year of Augustus Caesar: but when our Lord was born, all war ceased’; according to Isaiah 2:4: ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation.”

Again, it was fitting that Christ should be born while the world was governed by one ruler, because “He came to gather His own [Vulgate: ‘the children of God‘] together in one” (John 11:52), that there might be “one fold and one shepherd” (John 10:16).”

Christina Stankey ’15 says, “Even though we are unsure Jesus was actually born in December, I fully accept the Church’s tradition of celebrating His birth in December. The most satisfying reason for this that I have heard comes from the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. As John preaches to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah, he tells them, “He must increase, while I must decrease” (John 3:30). We see this relationship between them in when the Church celebrates their feast days. John’s feast happens at the summer solstice in June; therefore, the amount of light we get each day decreases after this day. We celebrate Jesus’ coming in December, so the amount of light we get each day increases after his birth.”

We may never know when, exactly, Christ was born, but we do not need to be certain in order to celebrate his birth. Instead, we can focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and spread the good news of his birth.