A young rabbi was stunned by a heated debate that erupted at his new synagogue on his first Shabbat about whether one should stand or sit during the reading of the Ten Commandments. The rabbi went to visit the oldest member of the synagogue—who was in a nursing home—to find out what the synagogue's custom had been. After hearing about the contentious debate, the old man replied, "That is our custom" (Beliefnet.com, January 6).
Theology as worship
Jan 24, 2011
Theologians may not necessarily be known as persons of prayer, but Ian Curran argues that theology is a spiritual discipline. Theology in the academy too often focuses on the conceptual articulation of faith, but theology modeled after the monastic tradition is "food for our spiritual nourishment." It is "the reality of God, and not simply the idea of God, that is the source of this nourishment," says Curran. "Theological discourse is less speech about God than it is speech directed to God" (Liturgy, 26/1).
At the YMCA
Jan 21, 2011
Jared Loughner and three of the people he shot were all involved in some fashion with Northwest YMCA in suburban Tucson. U.S. District Judge John M. Roll went there early in the morning to swim laps in the pool. Christina Green, an energetic, affectionate nine-year-old, impressed her Y dance instructors as a delightful combination of tomboy and girly girl. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was a strong backer of the Y, served on its executive board and worked to get state funding for child care that kept Y membership affordable. Loughner had enrolled in a class at the Y through Pima Community College and was known for his strange outbursts in the cardio room (Washington Post, January 11).
Jan 20, 2011
After 9/11 Danielle Gram, now 21 and a senior at Harvard, couldn't understand why people from different cultures would want to kill each other. At 16 she cofounded Kids for Peace (kidsforpeaceglobal.org), which tries to inspire kids to work for a more peaceful world. It has 75 chapters in several countries. Members pledge to speak in a kind way, help others, care for the earth, respect people and work together. Gram was not deterred when her only brother was killed last year on a vacation—an apparent murder. "Every single one of my immediate family members has a deeper conviction that nonviolence is the way to respond," she says (Christian Science Monitor, December 27).
Jan 18, 2011
Dissidents and authoritarian regimes both believe in the power of social media. Authoritarian governments like China's are becoming more effective in blocking access to sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Clay Shirky argues that American efforts to promote global access to Internet information focus too much on public media and not enough on the tools that permit private conversations. "Access to information is far less important, politically, than access to conversation," he says. Cell phones have proved very effective in mobilizing popular protest movements in the Philippines, Iran and China. Equipped with cameras, they are a deterrent to governments tempted to crack down violently on public actions by dissidents (Foreign Affairs, January/February).