28 September 2011

26 September 2011

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Official Site

The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple timehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, offer critical insight into Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.


19 September 2011

It’s not ‘class warfare,’ it’s Christianity

It’s not ‘class warfare,’ it’s Christianity, by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (Washington Post On Faith, 19 September 2011)

This is what the Bible actually says about the economic practices of Jesus’ followers: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common... There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need.” Acts 4:32-35.


Capitalism isn’t “God’s Plan,” it’s an economic system that runs on the human desire for more, our own self-interest. This is not necessarily evil. It can actually be a very productive system, but it is not beneficent. In order for there to be good values in our economic life, capitalism needs to be regulated so it does not wreck the whole ship with unfettered greed (as happened in the banking industry starting in 2008), and it needs to be supplemented with social safety nets and tax policy to achieve an approximate (not absolute) “freedom from want” as in Franklin Roosevelt’s wonderful phrase. It was Roosevelt who translated “freedom from want” into a series of government programs to make it a reality such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, aid to dependent children, the minimum wage, housing, stock market regulation, and federal deposit insurance for banks.
Link: It’s not ‘class warfare,’ it’s Christianity

15 September 2011

The Future of Neurotheology

The Future of Neurotheology, by Andrew Newberg (Science+Religion Today, 24 December 2010)

Neurotheology is still very early in its development. Truly combining neuroscience with religious and spiritual phenomena was only possible with the advent of modern brain imaging techniques. Before the development of these techniques, the rudiments of neurotheology were developed based primarily on animal models and speculation. Today, we have begun to uncover substantial information regarding the relationship between the human brain and religious and spiritual practices and experiences

In the next five years, neurotheology will likely continue to advance our understanding of how the brain is associated with religious and spiritual phenomena. Most likely, the brain imaging studies that have become an important aspect of neurotheology will continue to expand. There are many types of practices and experiences that remain to be evaluated using brain imaging techniques. Traditions might be compared, as well as the wide variety of practices within each tradition. Imaging studies, along with other clinical studies, will help us better understand not only what happens in the brain at the time of a particular practice, such as meditation or prayer, but also how such practices affect us over time. Already, we understand that practices like meditation and prayer can lower anxiety and depression, and even help the brain remember better. Such improvements are associated with long-term changes in the brain’s function. Thus, religion, spirituality, and God all can change your brain.
Link: The Future of Neurotheology

14 September 2011

A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian Woman Dialogue

A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian Woman Dialogue, by Renee Ghert-Zand (Foward, The Sisterhood Blog, 13 September 2011)

Just before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I noticed that a new blog called “SheAnswersAbraham” went live on the Web. The timing was not coincidental, as it is a deliberate effort by a group of three women – a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim – to put an interfaith conversation about sacred texts out into the world with positive energy.

Each Friday, a different sacred text will be the subject of commentary and personal reflection from each of the three faith perspectives. The sources of the texts will follow a rotation through the different traditions. The first text discussed was “And God said, ‘Let us make a human in our image, according to our likeness….’”from Genesis 1:26.

The authors of the blog want to be known only by the pseudonyms “Tziporah,” “Grace,” and “Yasmina.” Readers can glean some basic information about their backgrounds from the short bios posted on the blog.
Link: A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian Woman Dialogue

China's influence in Africa includes church construction

China's influence in Africa includes church construction, by Fredrick Nzwili (Episcopal News Service, 14 September 14 2011)

At All Saints Roman Catholic Basilica in Nairobi, African workers were recently singing lively Christian worship songs as they broke ground for the construction of a new office block for the Nairobi archdiocese.

However, they were not working for an African or British construction company. China Zhongxing Construction is building Maurice Cardinal Otunga Plaza, one of many church contracts Chinese construction companies have won in recent years as China has expanded its influence in Africa. Now, Chinese firms build many bridges, roads and stadiums across the continent.
Link: China's influence in Africa includes church construction

Pastrami Egg Rolls and the Jewish Love of Chinese Food

Pastrami Egg Rolls and the Jewish Love of Chinese Food, by By Josh Ozersky (Time, 14 September 2011)

The scene was a freakish one at RedFarm the other night. The tiny modern Chinese restaurant, which opened a few weeks ago in Manhattan, was a veritable who's who of the food media. Rachael Ray was at a table next to mine; Top Chef's Gail Simmons was sitting next to me with RestaurantGirl.com's Danyelle Freeman; Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman was a couple of tables away. And circulating freely about the room, making small talk and working the crowd, was neither the chef, the brilliant Joe Ng, nor the owner, Jeffrey Chodorow, but instead a portly, bespectacled Chinese-food nerd named Ed "Eddie Glasses" Schoenfeld, who had put the restaurant concept together. Ng, who lets his cooking do the talking, is essentially a silent partner.

Now, if you're wondering how a Jewish guy from Brooklyn has come to be the public face of a Chinese restaurant, then you probably aren't Jewish. The connection between Jews and Chinese food is so well established that it's been commented on in academic papers and mused about by Chinese and Jewish thinkers alike. There was even a Gilmore Girls episode about it, and what more proof can you need than that? Eddie Glasses is merely the most extreme expression of the trend, a Jewish guy who made himself, by sheer geekery, a Chinese-food guru.
Link: Pastrami Egg Rolls and the Jewish Love of Chinese Food

12 September 2011

For Muslim family, faith complicates grief for loved one lost on 9/11

For Muslim family, faith complicates grief for loved one lost on 9/11, by Jessica Ravitz (CNN, 29 August 2011)

His smiling image has been cut out of a snapshot and carefully added to a photo of his father, so it looks as if the boy is standing beside the man. It smacks of a bad Photoshop job, but it gives the two a shared moment, even though they never met. The boy's sister, Fahina, created the montage. She is 15 and clings to scant memories and aging photographs. But Farqad, almost 10, has nothing.


Farqad was born two days later, after terrorists hijacked planes and killed nearly 3,000 -- including 38-year-old Mohammad Salahuddin Chowdhury, who worked atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center.


"I can't imagine not having any memories," said his firstborn, Fahina, unable to hold back her sobs. "Someday, Farqad's going to search online and see everything. I have to help him understand."


"For a Muslim person to go through this, it's something no one can understand," she said, the tears still falling. "Extremists used the religion as an excuse to do terrible things. It's so much easier to be mad at people than to get to know them."
Link: For Muslim family, faith complicates grief for loved one lost on 9/11

05 September 2011

Jewish bikers meld leather, chrome ... and faith

Jewish bikers meld leather, chrome ... and faith, by Jennifer Miller (Washington Post, 30 July 2011)

On a Friday morning in May, Betsy Ahrens, 64, rode through the streets of Virginia Beach on a friend’s bright red Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. Ahrens was just one of 250 bikers to travel through the city by police escort that day, and pedestrians gawked, slack-jawed, at the processional. Drivers halted at intersections, aiming their cellphone cameras. A few people waved at Betsy, but tentatively, as though to greet a biker — however friendly she seemed — would be to welcome in potential chaos, the volatility associated with leather and chrome.

As the snake of bikes wound past strip malls and quaint neighborhoods, Ahrens wondered what the onlookers were thinking. She hoped they could make out the Judaism-themed patches fixed to the riders’ leather jackets: the blazing insignias of the Lost Tribe, the Jewish motorcycle club of Richmond and the Tidewater region of Virginia; the Chai Riders of New York City and its environs; the Hillel’s Angels of New Jersey; and Shalom n’ Chrome of Charleston, S.C. Ahrens decided that next year, her cohorts needed to fly more Israeli flags from their bikes.
Link: Jewish bikers meld leather, chrome ... and faith