More American cities are blocking individuals and ministries from feeding homeless people in parks and public squares

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The following article is reflective of society’s growing attitude that the homeless should not be seen, and not fed. This is also reflective of communities that do not have a feeding program in place and do not care to begin one. In doing so, they think the problem of homelessness will go away.

“It’s really a conundrum because we have to look out for everyone, not just one segment of population.”

 By Bill Briggs
First published May 23 2014, 11:25 AM

More American cities are blocking individuals and ministries from feeding homeless people in parks and public squares, and several Americans have been ticketed for offering such charity, according to a forthcoming report by the National Coalition for the Homeless.

To date, 33 cities have adopted or are considering such food–sharing restrictions, according to the coalition, which shared with NBC News a draft of its soon-to-be published study.

Police in at least four municipalities – Raleigh, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Daytona Beach, Fla. – have recently fined, removed or threatened to jail private groups that offered meals to the homeless instead of letting government-run service agencies care for those in need, the advocacy group reports.

“Homeless people are visible in downtown America. And cities think by cutting off the food source it will make the homeless go away. It doesn’t, of course,” said Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless, based in Washington, D.C.

“We want to get cities to quit doing this,” Stoops said. “We support the right of all people to share food.”

NBC News has chronicled the legal battle waged by a Florida couple, Debbie and Chico Jimenez, who had cooked and served hot meals to homeless people each Wednesday for the past year at a Daytona Beach park. The couple and four friends were cited by police and collectively fined by more than $2,000 for violating a local ordinance that prohibits such public feedings. The ticketed six refused to pay. On Wednesday, Daytona Beach police opted to dismiss the fines.

“The reason these laws are growing across the country is that not enough people are standing up for their God-given rights,” Chico Jimenez said. “And we have a right. We can feed anybody without the law stepping in.”

Daytona Beach offers a clear view of this muddy issue – two sides, two distinct arguments. Jimenez asserts citizens have the authority, if not an obligation, to provide an occasional, nutritious meal to folks in need, and that everyone should share the parks. Daytona Beach leaders argue that the couple’s work worsens homelessness by coaxing impoverished people away from centralized, city-run programs, and they complain that during the couple’s feedings some homeless people mistreated the park and frightened other patrons.

In January, Volusia County (home of Daytona Beach) contracted with Robert Marbut, a national homeless consultant, to assess that city’s problems and suggest solutions – as he’s done in some 60 other towns, according to his website, including St. Petersburg, Fla., Fresno, Calif., and Fort Smith, Ark. He bills each community about $5,900 for his analysis and ideas, he said.

“You’re never going to get anywhere arresting priests, pastors and imams in the street.”

Marbut advised the Volusia County Council that centralized, 24/7 programs that treat the three root causes of homelessness – a lack of jobs, mental illnesses and chronic substance abuse – have been shown to reduce local homeless populations by 80 percent.

But Marbut does not favor any ordinances that criminalize helping the homelesses, he said. (Daytona Beach passed its anti-feeding law before the Jimenezes were fined).

“I prefer changing a community’s culture through a dialogue,” said Marbut, who is based in San Antonio, Texas. “You’re never going to get anywhere arresting priests, pastors and imams in the street.”

But he also cringes at the notion of lone ministries independently launching food-sharing programs without coordinating with other churches or with local charity agencies, he said.

“Give me a name of one person who got a job because they were fed. Feeding alone, or giving out clothing or camping equipment, does not address the core issues of being homeless,” Marbut said. “You don’t graduate from the street because you ate a Big Mac tonight.”

In the Bay Area city of Hayward, Calif., officials enacted a homeless-feeding ordinance in February that carries some of those gentle nuances – a nod that this is hardly a black-and-white problem.

People or groups seeking to feed the homeless in Hayward first must obtain a health department permit to show their fare is safely prepared and served. After that, they can apply for a food-sharing permit. But those individuals still are restricted as to the number of times in a week or a month that they can provide free food at the same location on a public property.

“We found the food sharing itself was not necessarily the issue but there was a host of ancillary behaviors when people gathered after the food sharing,” said Kelly McAdoo, assistant city manager in Hayward. “They would drink heavily, use the public park as a restroom facility, and people would get in fights. Other people would feel intimidated, wouldn’t fee comfortable coming to these parks.”

The idea isn’t to ban outdoor feeding, she said, but to regulate it so that there are clear boundaries on bad acts.

“It’s really a conundrum because we have to look out for everyone, not just one segment of population. Most of us got into local government to help people. We are compassionate,” McAdoo said.

“But it’s a touchy subject. The United States is a very wealthy country and to not provide for those who are less fortunate is something about which a lot of people feel very passionate.”

First published May 23 2014, 11:25 AM

Source URL: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/food-feud-more-cities-block-meal-sharing-homeless-n113271

 

Stories and the Origin of the First Easter Egg

The First Easter Egg
Before the egg became closely entwined with the Christian Easter, it was honored during many rite-of-Spring festivals. The Romans, Gauls, Chinese, Egyptians and Persians all cherished the egg as a symbol of the universe, of the earth’s rebirth at springtime. With the advent of Chrisianity the symbolism of the egg changed to represent, not nature’s rebirth, but the rebirth of man.Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose. Saint Augustine first described Christ’s Resurrection from the dead as a chick bursting from an egg. This symbolism was enhanced in the Christian East’s celebration of Easter. At the end of the Paschal Liturgy, the faithful exchange paschal greetings and the priest and the faithful present each other with red eggs. Wooden eggs are sometimes suspended from hanging lamps and chandeliers, and often the faithful decorate wooden eggs with icons and hang them from the vigil lights in their homes.
THE FIRST EASTER EGG
Saint Mary MagdaleneAccording to tradition, Saint Mary Magdalene, who had patrician rank, gained an audience in Rome with the emperor after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. She denounced Pilate for his handling of Jesus’ trial and then began to talk with Caesar about Jesus’ resurrection. She picked up a hen’s egg from the dinner table to illustrate her point about resurrection. Caesar was unmoved and replied that there was as much chance of a human being returning to life as there was for the egg to turn red. Immediately, the egg miraculously turned red in her hand! It is because of this tradition that Orthodox Christians exchange red eggs at Easter.
OTHER CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS
Eastern Christian legends blended folklore and Christian beliefs and firmly attached the egg to the Easter celebration. A Polish legend tells of when Mary Magdalen went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. She had with her a basket of eggs to serve as a repast. When she arrived at the sepulchre and uncovered the eggs, lo, the pure white shells had miraculously taken on a rainbow of colors.Our Lady of CzestochowaOne legend concerns the Virgin Mary. It tells of the time the Blessed Virgin gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross. She entreated them to be less cruel and she wept. Her tears fell upon the eggs, spotting them with dots of brilliant color.Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the custom in England during the Middle Ages. The household accounts of Edward I, for the year 1290, recorded an expenditure of eighteen pence for four hundred and fifty eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts.
PYSANKY – THE UKRAINIAN EASTER EGG
The sets of colorful wooden eggs offered by Monastery Icons were handpainted and engraved in the Ukraine and feature traditional folk and religious symbols and designs.FABERGE EGGS
Faberge Easter EggThe most famous decorated Easter eggs were those made by the well-known goldsmith, Peter Carl Faberge. In 1883 the Russian Czar, Alexander, commissioned Faberge to make a special Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Marie.
This special Faberge egg so delighted the Czarina that the Czar promptly ordered the Faberge firm to design further eggs to be delivered every Easter. In later years Nicholas II, Alexander’s son, continued the custom. Fifty-seven eggs were made in all.
To see the colorful wooden eggs offered by Monastery Icons, click here.

http://www.monasteryicons.com/info/easter_egg.hzml

Why Do We Have a Bible? – Biblical Archaeology Society

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By Jacob L. Wright

A new phenomenon is changing the face of education, making first-rate courses from the world’s best universities available to all, wherever they live. The phenomenon is often subsumed under the umbrella term “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC). Emory University professor Jacob L. Wright will be teaching the free seven-week Coursera course “The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future” beginning May 26.

Question: Discovered in the caves above Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls have provided scholars with important information about the Bible in the first century. How was the Bible formed, and why did a text from a defeated people blossom into the Bible?

Last fall I was selected to teach one of Coursera’s first course offerings on religion—and its very first on the Hebrew Bible as a whole. Entitled “The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future,” the course will expose students, whether they’re beginners or experts, to an abundance of new research on the history of Israel and on the formation of the Bible. But this is no typical introductory course. My objective is not simply to present various theories for the origins of Israel and the Bible, beginning with Genesis and continuing through various parts of the canon. Instead, my lectures focus on the most basic—and I think most important—question that students often ask, yet instructors rarely address: Why? Why do we have a Bible from ancient Israel and Judah? Could something like it have existed among the Philistines, the Moabites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians or the Persians? If so, why haven’t they been transmitted throughout the ages and been translated into thousands of languages, as the Hebrew Scriptures have been? And why would such a sophisticated corpus of literature as the Bible have its origins in a remote region of the world (the southern Levantine hill country), rather than at the centers of ancient civilization (Mesopotamia and Egypt)? After all, these civilization centers boasted technological supremacy and military superiority. They were the ones who invented writing and easily conquered the population that produced the Bible. Finally, why has the Bible had such a huge impact on world history, shaping the identities of a very wide array of societies across the globe?

The course takes on this paramount question of the Bible’s raison d’être: its why and wherefore. The first two weeks of the class treat the history and archaeology of ancient Israel, and the subsequent weeks examine how the Biblical authors tell their history and interpret their past.  In the free eBook Exploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s latest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldeans, the birthplace of Abraham.  I’m not going to reveal the way I answer the why-question. In order to find out how I think about it, you’ll have to enroll in the course. But I will give you a clue as to where I’m headed. (And two follow-up pieces exclusively on Bible History Daily will offer you a glimpse of some of the course’s content.)The Bible emerged in response to disaster and devastation. If it were not for cataclysmic loss—if the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had continued to flourish—there would be no Bible. I’m not claiming that many of the Bible’s sources did not already exist long before the Babylonians razed Jerusalem to the ground. But there is a significant gap between the original contours of these sources and the shape they are given by the Biblical authors.

According to the Book of Daniel, Babylonian king Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver vessels from the Temple to be brought to his famous feast, where Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall. The authors of the Hebrew Bible fashioned an elaborate and enduring monument to this conquest.

With its walls razed to the ground by Babylon’s armies, Jerusalem joined a long line of ancient vanquished cities—from Ur and Nineveh and Persepolis to Babylon itself. While some recovered from the destruction, others did not. But none responded to political catastrophe by fashioning the kind of elaborate and enduring monument to their own downfall that we find in the Bible. Most conquered populations viewed their subjugation as a source of shame. They consigned it to oblivion, opting instead to extol the golden ages of the past. The Biblical authors in contrast reacted to loss by composing extensive writings that acknowledge collective failure, reflect deeply upon its causes and discover thereby a ground for collective hope.For subjugated populations, the destructive force of armies posed the most fundamental question: Who are we? In response to this question, the Biblical architects of Israel’s national identity did not look to their kings to define their destiny. Instead, they gathered the fragments of their diverse pasts and wove from them a single narrative that told the story of one nation. The resulting tapestry we know as the Hebrew Bible.

The DVD Bible Stories: How Narratives Work and What They Reveal is a fascinating look at some of the most famous stories of the Hebrew Bible. Professor Ziony Zevit’s engaging lectures examine the art of storytelling and will have you reading the Exodus, the Ten Commandments, the Book of Ruth and so much more in a whole new way. Defeat may have destroyed a state, but thanks to the vision of the Biblical authors, it recreated a people. The Biblical project is truly remarkable. Nowhere else in the ancient world do we witness such an elaborate effort first to portray the history of one’s own defeat and then to use this history as a means of envisioning a new political order. This course takes students through the bold moves, as well as the intricate steps, with which the Bible achieves its goals.The efforts of the Biblical authors were not in vain. The “people of the book” they conceived has endured for more than two-and-a-half tumultuous millennia. But the impact of these creative labors extends far beyond the community for whom it was written. Either directly or indirectly, the Bible informs the way many populations of the world today imagine themselves as peoples. Thus we as Americans, despite significant social and ethnic diversity, have long claimed to be one united nation, and our self-understanding borrows explicitly from the legacy that the Biblical authors inherited from ancient Israel.

The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

A new phenomenon is changing the public face of university education, making first-rate courses from the world’s best universities available to all, wherever they live. The phenomenon is often subsumed under the umbrella term “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC). One of the leaders in the new realm of MOOC courses is Coursera, which reaches millions of students of all ages across the globe. Last fall Dr. Jacob Wright was selected to teach for Coursera one of its first courses on religion—and its very first on the Hebrew Bible as a whole. Titled “The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future,” the course is offered through the prestigious Emory University, which is world-renowned for its graduate programs in Biblical Studies (the largest in the USA). In keeping with its hope-filled perspective, the Bible lays out a road map to a brighter future in which corporate concerns and the common good determine daily practices and public policies: transparency and open access to information; division of powers; written law codes; environmental sustainability; universal education; justice for the orphan, widow and alien; protection of the one from the many; long life rather than heroic martyrdom; and many other enduring “covenantal” values that grow out of a sense of fraternity and a consciousness of being one people. Many of these moral principles have been deeply absorbed into our identities. In my course I reveal how they were decisively shaped by societal collapse. If I am right, they demand our renewed attention in this time of global instability and great uncertainty about our future.This new course on the Bible is free, and enrollment is open to everyone.

Beginning May 26, it runs for seven weeks—a fitting duration for a course on the Bible. You can take it for credit and a diploma, or you can just watch the lectures at leisure and take the quizzes for fun, without anyone knowing how well you did—or didn’t do.

Jacob L. Wright is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University. He is author of Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah Memoir and Its Earliest Readers (De Gruyter) and two related works on the Bible’s most celebrated ruler:King David’s Reign Revisited (Aldina/Apple iBooks) and David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory (Cambridge University Press). He is currently at work on an exciting new book on the Bible to be published by Simon & Schuster—Atria.

Source URL: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/hebrew-bible/why-do-we-have-a-bible/?mqsc=E3770672&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=BHD+Daily%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=E4B403

Kissing the Face of God

Kissing the Face of God
by Morgan Weistling

“I heard the phrase ‘kissing the face of God’ in a song and immediately thought of how Mary had the privilege to hold God, in the flesh, in her arms. I thought of this composition, of how she cuddled and kissed him as all mothers do with their babies. It is amazing that God chose to send his Son into the world this way – in pure humility.”

Artist Simon Beck Creates Intricate Snow Art by Walking for Miles

It Looks Like A Crazy Guy Just Walking Around In The Snow. Then You Zoom Out And.. Whoa.

December 23, 2013Stories

It’s possible you’ve never heard of Simon Beck, but after today, you won’t be able to forget him or his wintry works of art. Simon is an artistand is most well-known for making incredibly delicate and detailed art in the snow, just by walking over a fresh snowfall. He literallywalks miles in the snow to create these pieces. And the part that blows our minds? He could spend hours upon hours creating one design, just to have it be covered by snowfall or blown away by the next day. But he still makes them.

Simon walks over layers of fresh snow in special shoes to create his mind-boggling art.
Simon walks over layers of fresh snow in special shoes to create his mind-boggling art.
Simon Beck

He can easily walk for miles just to create one design.
He can easily walk for miles just to create one design.
Simon Beck

CAREFULLY walking.
CAREFULLY walking.
Simon Beck

But the results are worth all of the effort. In fact, they are mesmerizing.
But the results are worth all of the effort. In fact, they are mesmerizing.
Simon Beck

The most interesting thing about this art, though, is Simon creates it knowing it could be gone the very next day.
The most interesting thing about this art, though, is Simon creates it knowing it could be gone the very next day.
Simon Beck

These delicate patterns were created in the beautiful Savoie Valley in France, overlooking Mont Blanc.

…for the rest of the story … http://www.viralnova.com/simon-beck-snow-art/

24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship to Europeans and American Indians – NYTimes.com

genome-articleLarge.jpg
Scientists studied the genome of a boy buried near Lake Baikal in Siberia and were amazed to find partly European ancestry.
NIOBE THOMPSON

By NICHOLAS WADE
November 20, 2013

The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists.

The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last Ice Age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed. Though none of the Mal’ta boy’s skin or hair survives, his genes suggest he would have had brown hair, brown eyes and freckled skin.

The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion — about 25 percent — of the DNA of living Native Americans. The first people to arrive in the Americas have long been assumed to have descended from Siberian populations related to East Asians. It now seems that they may be a mixture between the Western Europeans who had reached Siberia and an East Asian population.

The Mal’ta boy was 3 to 4 years old and was buried under a stone slab wearing an ivory diadem, a bead necklace and a bird-shaped pendant. Elsewhere at the same site about 30 Venus figurines were found of the kind produced by the Upper Paleolithic cultures of Europe. The remains were excavated by Russian archaeologists over a 20-year period ending in 1958 and stored in museums in St. Petersburg.

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A cross-section of the Mal’ta boy’s upper arm bone.

THOMAS W STAFFORD, JR


There they lay for some 50 years until they were examined by a team led byEske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen. Dr. Willerslev, an expert in analyzing ancient DNA, was seeking to understand the peopling of the Americas by searching for possible source populations in Siberia. He extracted DNA from bone taken from the child’s upper arm, hoping to find ancestry in the East Asian peoples from whom Native Americans are known to be descended.

But the first results were disappointing. The boy’s mitochondrial DNA belonged to the lineage known as U, which is commonly found among the modern humans who first entered Europe about 44,000 years ago. The lineages found among Native Americans are those designated A, B, C, D and X, so the U lineage pointed to contamination of the bone by the archaeologists or museum curators who had handled it, a common problem with ancient DNA projects. “The study was put on low speed for about a year because I thought it was all contamination,” Dr. Willerslev said.

His team proceeded anyway to analyze the nuclear genome, which contains the major part of human inheritance. They were amazed when the nuclear genome also turned out to have partly European ancestry. Examining the genome from a second Siberian grave site, that of an adult who died 17,000 years ago, they found the same markers of European origin. Together, the two genomes indicate that descendants of the modern humans who entered Europe had spread much farther east across Eurasia than had previously been assumed and occupied Siberia during an extremely cold period starting 20,000 years ago that is known as the Last Glacial Maximum.

The other surprise from the Mal’ta boy’s genome was that it matched to both Europeans and Native Americans but not to East Asians. Dr. Willerslev’s interpretation was that the ancestors of Native Americans had already separated from the East Asian population when they interbred with the people of the Mal’ta culture, and that this admixed population then crossed over the Beringian land bridge that then lay between Siberia and Alaska to become a founding population of Native Americans.

“We estimate that 14 to 38 percent of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population,” he and colleagues wrote in an article published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

A European contribution to Native American ancestry could explain two longstanding puzzles about the people’s origins. One is that many ancient Native American skulls, including that of the well-known Kennewick man, look very different from those of the present day population. Another is that one of the five mitochondrial DNA lineages found in Native Americans, the lineage known as X, also occurs in Europeans. One explanation is that Europeans managed to cross the Atlantic in small boats some 20,000 years ago and joined the Native Americans from Siberia.

Dr. Willerslev thinks it more likely that European bearers of the X lineage had migrated across Siberia with the ancestors of the Mal’ta culture and joined them in their trek across the Beringian land bridge.

He said his finding does not solve the much-disputed question of when the Americas were first settled. Archaeologists long believed the people of the Clovis culture, dated from 13,000 years ago, were the first Americans, but several recent finds point to an earlier date. “We need the sequencing of more ancient genomes to address this question,” Dr. Willerslev said.

The Mal’ta people built houses that were partly underground, with bone walls and roofs made of reindeer antlers. Their culture is distinguished by its many art objects and its survival in an unforgiving climate.

Dr. Willerslev presented his team’s findings last month at a conference in Santa Fe on Native American origins. “There was a lot of surprise and some skepticism, as is often the case in science toward new findings,” said Dennis H. O’Rourke, an anthropologist at the University of Utah who works on ancient DNA and the North American Arctic.

Dr. O’Rourke said the result would prompt a search for more ancient DNA from Siberia in order to provide a better context for Dr. Willerslev’s reconstruction of early American origins. “I think it’s a very important and really interesting result, but it is from a single individual,” he said.

Theodore G. Schurr, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said Dr. Willerslev had provided an interesting new perspective on Native American origins that helped explain the presence of the mitochondrial X lineage in North America and enlarged the understanding of population history in Siberia. But the time and place of the East-West population mixing adduced by Dr. Willerslev is not yet clear, he said.

An unexplained feature of the mixing is that the Mal’ta people did not pass on their mitochondrial DNA since the U lineage is unknown among Native Americans. Since mitochondrial DNA is passed down only through the female line, the population ancestral to Native Americans could have been formed by men of the Mal’ta culture who acquired East Asian wives.

Dr. Willerslev sees this as one possibility, another being that mitochondrial DNA lineages are easily lost through genetic drift, the random change in DNA patterns through the generations. “One has to be careful setting up detailed geographical scenarios at this stage,” Dr. Willerslev said.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/science/two-surprises-in-dna-of-boy-found-buried-in-siberia.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Ireland Mourns Keeper of Languages: Poet Seamus Heaney

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Ireland Mourns Keeper of Languages: Poet Seamus Heaney
Friday, Aug 30, 2013 07:22 AM PDT
By Sam Cage DUBLIN (Reuters) – Seamus Heaney, one of the world’s best-known poets and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature, died on Friday after a short illness at the age of 74, his family said. The Northern Ireland-born

Heaney’s poems evoke an Irish country childhood, with images of potato diggers and peat bog cutters, and echo the deep political splits that have divided the island. His works include the 1966 debut "Death of a Naturalist", "The Spirit Level", "District and Circle" and an acclaimed translation of the old English epic poem "Beowulf". …

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Phrase: It takes a village to raise a child

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it takes a village to raise a child

This phrase comes from an ancient African proverb that says it takes a whole village to raise a child. This is taken to mean that the responsibility of raising a child does not lie with parents alone, but with the extended family, and sometimes it takes the whole community.

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