Palestinian textbooks have long been criticized for demonizing Israelis and even calling Jews pigs. A recent study of textbooks for Palestinians, Israelis and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel concluded that though textbooks of both sides are one-sided, demonization of others is rare in any of them. The most extreme examples of a negative bias were found in the ultra-Orthodox textbooks. Both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks avoid acknowledging the existence of the other’s territory. Only 4 percent of Palestinian textbooks show the green line, which separates their territory in the West Bank from Israel. On the other side, 76 percent of Israeli textbooks fail to label the Palestinian territories and show no boundaries between Israel and Palestine. Bruce Wexler of Yale, who led the study, said: “The idea of maps is to represent reality; here it represents fantasy.” The study was sponsored by the U.S. State Department (Guardian, February 3).
Feb 14, 2013
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).
Not just for clergy
Jan 31, 2013
The Academy of Parish Clergy 2013 Book of the Year Award goes to Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World, by Brian D. McLaren (Jericho). The Reference Book of the Year Award goes to The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction, by Donald A. Hagner (Baker Academic). The Top Ten Books for Parish Ministry published in 2012 are: Sara Gaston Barton, A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle (Leafwood Publishers); Diana Butler Bass, Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne); John Swinton, Dementia: Living in the Memories of God (Eerdmans); Gregory L. Hunt, Leading Congregations through Crisis (Chalice); Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith and Joy V. Goldsmith, Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church’s Voice in the Face of Death (Brazos); Lauren F. Winner, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis (HarperOne); John Dominic Crossan, The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus (HarperOne); Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (University of North Carolina Press); Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans); Justin Lee, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate (Jericho).
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).