Review the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition Online
With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition commemorates the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the nation’s revered sixteenth president. More than a chronological account of the life of Abraham Lincoln, the exhibition reveals Lincoln the man, whose thoughts, words, and actions were deeply affected by personal experiences and pivotal historic events.
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Preview a sampling of the objects that are available in the on-site exhibition at the Library of Congress through May 9, 2009. Through documents and books, broadsides and newspapers, prints and photographs, artifacts and maps, this exhibition charts Lincoln’s growth from prairie politician to preeminent statesman. The full exhibition will be on-line in March!
Continue your exploration of the world’s largest collection of knowledge, culture and creativity through myLOC.gov, the personalized Web site of the Library of Congress.
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Associated Press – 2/15/2009 4:00:00 AM
The new president of HCJB Global says the Christian radio ministry now has an estimated seven million mostly-Muslim listeners in North Africa and the Middle East.
Wayne Pederson says the Arab world is full of "lost people who need Jesus, and they’re getting tired of a message of hate and are looking for a message of love." He says that through HCJB radio broadcasts, the gospel is penetrating Muslim societies — so much so that entire households, and in some cases entire villages, are converting to Christianity.
"When Jesus came, He didn’t just preach. He healed. And so we want to do both — preach on the radio and heal through our healthcare. People in that part of the world are coming to Christ as households, as communities. Entire villages are coming to Christ together," he notes.
"Each household has seven to eight people in a household. So we’re saying conservatively, we’ve got seven million listeners. In a huge Muslim section of the world, you’ve probably heard stories of how the gospel is penetrating that society. An independent survey has found that we have a million households a week listening to our broadcast in North Africa and Middle East."
From Staff Reports
KALKASKA — The Rev. James R. Barrand likes the pageantry, the formality, the enrichment and the oldness of the Byzantine liturgy. He enjoys the hour and a half it takes to celebrate it. He likes the bowing, the kissing, the praying, the incense and the chants. And he knows many Catholics do, too.
So Barrand, a "biritual" priest, celebrates the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Kalkaska’s St. Mary of the Woods every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. He hopes the tradition takes off during Lent and on Easter. The liturgy opens to the public March 1.
Barrand took time to explain the liturgy.
Who are the Byzantine Catholics?
The Catholic church is a unity of some 22 different churches, rich in their own historic traditions and spirituality. The largest, though not the only church of the Western Catholic tradition, is the Roman Catholic church with its tradition of elegant simplicity in divine worship. The Eastern Catholic churches (about 20) trace their roots from one of three patriarchal centers — Alexandria (Egypt), Antioch or Constantinople (Turkey). The Byzantines originated in Constantinople and spread the faith throughout Greece and the Baltic and Slavic lands.
The Roman Catholic Church and some of the Eastern churches divided because of theological and political disagreement in approximately the 11th century (the Great Schism). Others had separated from the West because of historic and cultural factors. Over the course of the next several hundred years there were many attempts at reunions — some successful and others not. The portions of the Eastern Christian churches that reestablished union with Rome became known as Eastern Catholic or Eastern Rite churches.
Each of these churches retained their own traditions, spirituality, bishops and jurisdictions and unique ways of offering the Divine Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. The Byzantine Ruthenian church returned to full unity with the church of Rome in 1646 at a synod in Uzhorod, Ukraine.
The beliefs and doctrines are basically the same. The calendar is now the same. The Byzantines view the seven sacraments more like seven mysteries.
Are Byzantine Catholics really Catholic?
Emphatically, yes. The Byzantine Church is in complete communion and allegiance with the pope in Rome and has all of the same valid sacraments as the Roman Catholic Church.
Roman Catholics may be overcome by the beauty of the Byzantine church, which is more elaborate, like the churches in Europe. Once the liturgy starts, they may feel a little out of place. The liturgy is more Eastern, more Slavic. The prayers can go on and on and on for a page or two. We think, if you’re going to pray something once, you might as well say it three times for the Trinity. We use colorful adjectives for God and derogatory adjectives for us. There’s lots of incense and icons. The music isn’t really catchy; it’s more like chants.
But there are many familiar aspects as well.
Does the Byzantine Divine Liturgy fulfill the Sunday obligation?
Yes. The Byzantine Divine Liturgy is the same re-presentation of the Last Supper and Calvary as the Roman Rite Mass. The Divine Liturgy is offered by a validly ordained priest recognized by and in union with Rome.
Does the Byzantine Liturgy use musical instruments?
No, Byzantine liturgical tradition emphasizes that we offer ourselves to God as we are. We bring only ourselves and stand before the creator and we worship with our God-given voices without any manmade instruments. All liturgical prayer, therefore, is sung a cappella (without accompaniment).
Other than English, what language is used in the liturgy?
St. John Chrysostom originally wrote the Divine Liturgy in Greek. Later, as Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius brought Christianity to the Slavs, they translated the services into Slavonic. In the Byzantine Catholic Church in America, the Divine Liturgy was translated into English in the 1950s, but many churches continue to include some traditional Slavonic in worship, especially the second verse of the hymns and seasonal greetings.
Why does the priest have his back to the congregation?
Actually, he is facing to pray in the same direction as the worshipping faithful. The priest leads the people on their pilgrimage to salvation. The priest is both the representative of the congregation and of the Almighty. Hence, since the sanctuary, altar and tabernacle are the heavenly throne of God, the priest faces God, the object of our prayers, and he speaks to God on our behalf. And, at other times, he will leave the Holy of Holies to impact Divine Blessings and instructions.
Why start celebrating the Divine Liturgy now in northern Michigan?
It is a response to the requests of a few Byzantine families who have moved to northern Michigan and did not have access to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. We are hoping to find other Byzantines living in the area who might like to reconnect with their spiritual heritage and to share this rich Christian heritage with others, who might not have a church home.
Couldn’t an Eastern Catholic fulfill his/her obligation at a Roman Catholic parish?
Yes, of course. However, if a person were to attend a celebration of the Divine Liturgy, even in the smallest church, he or she would find the answer. The Byzantine Liturgy, having grown from the imperial court of ancient Rome, emphasizes the majesty and glory of our Lord and his benevolent mother with the divine through contemplation of the sacred icons and chanting the prayers of our ancestors (some 1,500-1,700 years old).
St. Mary of the Woods, 438 County Road 612, a third of a mile east of U.S. 131 in Kalkaska, will celebrate a public Byzantine liturgy the first Sunday of Lent, March 1, at 4:30 p.m. Barrand encourages people to show up at 4:15 for a "a little instruction to explain the flow of the Liturgy." For more information, call 258-5021.
A family service?
The Rev. James Barrand says kids are surprisingly intrigued by the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, which takes about 1 1/2 hours to celebrate.
"There’s a short procession, then a long procession and, of course, the censer," he said. The priest fills the censer with incense, then walks around the sanctuary at different points during the service.
"The place is rather smoky by the time we’re done," Barrand says.
The censer has bells on it, which add to the fascination, he said.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2009) — In nature, the threat level is always at least orange: Predators and plagues are an unrelenting menace to the well-being (and successful reproduction) of every living thing.
So does your body make every gulp of air take off its shoes before entering your lungs to ensure that it’s not smuggling pathogens?
Of course not, says Rafe Sagarin, an assistant research professor of marine science and conservation in Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and it would be ridiculous to try. If you didn’t suffocate first, the microbes would simply find another way to get in. That’s what natural threats do.
Sagarin, an ecologist who’s normally more concerned with the urchins and starfish in tide pools, got to thinking about these things as a Congressional science fellow less than a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He saw Washington building an expensive new shell, erecting large barriers around buildings and posting guards and cameras in every doorway.
"Everything was about more guards, more guns, and more gates," he said. "I was thinking, ‘If I’m an adaptive organism, how would I cope with this?’ "
Pretty simply, as it turns out. "If they’re checking every trunk, I’ll put the bomb in the back seat."
Sagarin thinks this way because he’s a biologist, not a cop. And, he says, it’s a mode of thinking—informed by Charles Darwin’s insights into life’s struggle for survival and fecundity—that more security analysts would be wise to adopt.
At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, Sagarin has organized a 90-minute symposium on the subject, to be held Friday morning, Feb. 13.
Sagarin is also the editor of "Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World" (University of California Press, 2008), which convened a national committee of experts from related fields like biology, anthropology, and virology, as well as security, psychology, and math to think about ways that Homeland Security could act more like an immune system and less like a tough-talking Texas sheriff.
In nature, a threat is dealt with in several ways. There’s collectivism, where one meerkat sounds the alarm about an approaching hawk, or camouflage, where the ptarmigan hides in plain sight. There’s redundancy, like our wisdom teeth, or unpredictable behavior, like the puffer fish’s sudden, spiky pop.
Under the unyielding pressure of 3.5 billion years of evolution, the variety of defenses is beyond counting. But they all have a few features in common. A top-down, build-a-wall, broadcast-your-status approach "is exactly the opposite of what organisms do," Sagarin says.
An immune system, for example, is not run by a central authority. It relies on a distributed network of autonomous agents that sense trouble on the local level and respond, adapting to the threat and signaling for backup without awaiting orders from HQ.
Sagarin’s brand of "natural security" may take some getting used to. "Organisms do not try to get rid of risk in their environment," he says. "They learn to live with it."
The total elimination of risk is far more costly than the organism could bear, and probably futile, since the threats adapt. But by being responsive and adaptable and not putting every last bit of its budget into defense, an organism stands a far better chance of being able to handle an unforeseen risk in an escalating arms race, he says.
"Almost everything organisms do is, in some way, about security."
There are about ten thousand billion billion habitable planets in the observable universe, and some of these Earth-like worlds could be found by a mission set to launch early next month, a leading planet-formation theorist now speculates.
Alan Boss, astrophysicist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., and author of "The Crowded Universe" (Basic Books), published this month, came up with that rough number by estimating there is about one habitable planet around every sun-like star in the galaxy, of which there are about 10 billion, and multiplying that by the number of galaxies in the universe (about 100 billion).
This result is inexact of course, so give or take a power of ten or so, Boss said, which is standard for these types of estimates in astronomy.
"Based on what we already know, the universe is going to turn out to be chock full of habitable planets (i.e. Earth-like worlds), and therefore life is likely to be widespread," said Boss, who discussed these estimates with a group of reporters last weekend in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The promise of ‘super-Earths’
To date, precisely zero of these other Earths have been found. Technology simply has not allowed their discovery, presuming they exist. But astronomers are closing in. In the past nearly 15 years, more than 300 planets have been found around stars beyond the sun.
Three classes of planets have been found, for the most part — Jupiter-like gas giants, Neptune-like icy planets and hot "super-Earths." Such super-Earths, such as one reported by the Carnegie Institution’s Paul Butler in 2004 around Gliese 436 and another reported the same year by Barbara McArthur of the University around 55 Cancri, have masses of about five to 10 times that of Earth and exist around one-third of all nearby stars like our sun, Boss figures. This estimate is based on the results of ongoing planet-search efforts using the gravitational tug of planets on stars to detect worlds, called the Doppler approach, he said.
Most of these super-Earths are too hot to support life, but Boss thinks there are warm super-Earths, with longer period orbits and more suitable for life. Examples are two warm or cool super-Earths reported in 2007 by Stephane Udry and his colleagues on the Geneva Observatory to be orbiting Gliese 581.
And, some of the icy planets might turn out to be rocky planets similar in composition to Earth, only more massive, Boss said.
"We already know from folks who have been finding planets around other stars that most stars have planets," he said, adding that "simply from a theoretical ground of understanding how stars form, it’s almost inevitable that they should end up having disks around them which should end up forming planets. So we expect them to be there from the point of view of theory as well."
Kepler will test it
Boss’s claims will be tested by NASA’s Kepler mission, a 1-meter-diameter space telescope set to launch March 5 from Cape Canaveral aboard a Delta 2 rocket. Among other tasks, Kepler is designed to count the number of Earth-sized and larger planets in the habitable zone around stars like the sun. Results should come in the next three or four years.
Kepler will detect planets using the "transit technique," which involves inferring the presence of a planet by detecting the dimming of star light caused by the passage of the orbiting planet in front of the star.
In the search for Earth-like planets, Kepler will be racing against the French-led CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Planetary Transits) mission, a 27-centimeter-diameter space telescope launched in 2006. CoRoT already has found the smallest planet (COROT-Exo-7b) ever detected orbiting a sun-like star. Twice the size of Earth, the exoplanet’s temperature is so high that it could be covered with lava or water vapor, CoRoT scientists said.
"We’d be astonished if Kepler and CoRoT did not find planets, because they are already finding them," Boss said. Kepler might find more planets than CoRoT because its telescope has a larger diameter (therefore it is more sensitive) and it will survey a larger patch of sky, he said.
"The fact that we can find [roughly Earth-sized planets] already implies that we are just seeing just the tip of the iceberg. There might be many more Earths out there waiting for us to find," Boss said.
And some of these could be found relatively close to Earth, he said.
"There are something like a few dozen solar-type stars within 30 light years of the sun," Boss said. "I would think a good number of those, perhaps half of them, will have Earth-like planets. So I think there are very good chances that we’ll find some Earth-like planets within 10, 20, 30 light years of the sun."
Once the frequency of habitable-Earth-like planets in our neighborhood of the galaxy is known, scientists will be better able to design space telescopes capable of imaging those worlds and detecting evidence of the molecules necessary for life, such as water and oxygen, and possibly even those created by life, such as methane, Boss said.
What took you so long?
Physicist Enrico Fermi, who lived in the first half of the 20th century and is known for developing the first nuclear reactor, thought there was intelligent life beyond Earth, but famously wondered why we haven’t heard from it yet (this question is called Fermi’s Paradox), Boss writes in his book.
"The answer to that question ranges from practical to suicidal," Boss told reporters Saturday.
The suicidal version: "Maybe it means civilizations which are capable of sending us radio signals just don’t last that long. … Do we really think our civilization is going to last 1 billion years?"
The practical version: "There is a low probability of success [as with the SETI effort], but if you find something you have an immensely important finding."
Traveling to even the closest star orbited by a planet with habitable life could take us hundreds of thousands of years, he said.
Meanwhile, the impact of CoRoT and Kepler finding Earth-like planets around sun-like stars will be huge, Boss said.
"Once we find the first one we’ll have made the point that they really are there," Boss said. "Just by finding the first one we’ll able to immediately say, ‘Well if we found one around a nearby star, just by multiplying the volume of the stars searched versus the ones that have not been searched, we can infer there must be billions and billions more of them just within our own galaxy.’ So finding the first one will have enormous implications for how many there are in the entire galaxy as well as in the entire universe."