The success of the chess team at Brooklyn’s Intermediate School 318 demolishes the notion that chess is a game of the privileged. Last year the middle school’s team won the national high school championship, beating players who were as much as four years older. More than half the students at IS-318 come from families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Carlos Tapia is a typical player on the team. His Mexican-American parents don’t know how to play chess. Despite the team’s accomplishments, funding for extracurricular activities at the school is drying up (Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, January 30).
Feb 14, 2013
The Amish, like many Protestants, have blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus. As pacifists, they haven’t been supportive of Israel, regarding Israel as an aggressive and militant state. A group of 31 Amish from the United States and Canada recently visited Israel to express their regrets for these positions. In a statement the delegation said: “We, the Amish and Anabaptist people, turned away from the Jewish nation while they were in their darkest hour of need. We hardened our hearts against them, we left them—never lifting our voices in protest against the atrocities that were committed against them. We want to publicly repent of this and acknowledge our support of Israel.” The group attracted attention by singing hymns at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (Jerusalem Post, February 11).
Food for thought
Feb 14, 2013
When Pastor Alois Bell’s group was hit with a mandatory 18 percent service charge in an Applebee’s restaurant in St. Louis, she wrote a biting note on the receipt: “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?” When the waitress posted the receipt online, it went viral. Bell later said that writing the note showed a lapse in judgment, but she complained to the restaurant about the unwanted publicity given to her and her church. Applebee’s fired the waitress. Shocked by her dismissal, the waitress said: “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds” (Christian Science Monitor, February 1).
Jan 31, 2013
The 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI has put church leaders on notice that they can’t avoid social media like Facebook and Twitter. The pope tweets in nine languages, with 2.5 million followers, including 11,000 who follow his tweets in Latin. The pope understands that social media are a daily part of many people’s lives and have reshaped the dynamics of communications and relationships. A study commissioned by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 2012 indicated that 53 percent of Americans weren’t aware that the Catholic Church has an online presence (AP).
What a waste
Jan 31, 2013
About half the food produced in the world is wasted, according to a study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, based in the United Kingdom. This waste is the consequence of unnecessarily strict expiration dates, Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, poor agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities. Up to half the food purchased in Europe and the U.S. is thrown away. Wasted food also wastes resources used to produce it, including water (Guardian, January 10).