Tuesday, September 28, 2010
“Dances For A Variable Population makes concert dances with diverse communities and professional dancers ranging from children who think dance is only on MTV, to persons with disabilities who think dance is denied them, to seniors who think dance is beyond them.” -Naomi Goldberg HaasRead more on examiner.com
Americans' Religious Knowledge Has Major Gaps, Survey Finds | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS
By: Lea Winerman
Despite their religious faith, many Americans are ignorant of key facts about their own and other world religions, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
In a survey of 32 religious knowledge questions, Americans on average answered 16 correctly, the surveyors found. Fewer than half of respondents, for example, could identify the four gospels as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Only 47 percent knew that the Dalai Lama was Buddhist, and 55 percent knew that the "golden rule" was not one of the Ten Commandments.
You can read the full report (PDF)] and test your own knowledge in a quiz on the Pew Forum's website.
In a perhaps counterintuitive finding, the researchers discovered that atheists and agnostics generally know more about religion than people who profess a belief. Atheists and agnostics, on average, answered 20.9 questions correctly. Dave Silverman, president of the advocacy group American Atheists, told The New York Times that he was not surprised by that.
"I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people," he said. "Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists."
Atheists and agnostics were closely followed in religious knowledge by Jews, who answered 20.5 questions correctly on average, and Mormons, who averaged 20.3. Protestants averaged 16 correct answers; Catholics averaged 14.7.
Education level explained some of the difference between the groups -- people with more education got more questions correct -- but the differences persisted even after the researchers controlled for education level.
Respondents were generally more knowledgeable about their own religion than about other religions, but still had significant gaps even there. More than half of Protestants (53 percent) could not identify Martin Luther as the man whose teachings inspired the Protestant reformation. And 45 percent of Catholics did not know that that the Catholic Church teaches that the communion bread and wine actually become -- not just symbolize -- the body and blood of Christ.
Americans were also confused about the intersection between religion and public life in the U.S., and where lines are drawn in the separation of church and state. Most people (89 percent) knew that public school teachers could not lead a classroom prayer. But only 23 percent realized that a public school teachers are allowed to teach the Bible as literature in the classroom.
"This study gives convincing proof that Americans may be deeply committed to faith, but that commitment comes most from the heart, not the head," Michael Lindsay, a religion sociologist at Rice University, told the Dallas Morning News.
But not every analyst is convinced that the results are so significant. Politics Daily correspondent Jeffrey Weiss, a longtime religion reporter, writes that too many of the question seem to come from something like "a religion version of Trivial Pursuit. Too many check the recognition of names or facts without offering much obvious insight into how people understand their faith or the faith of others."
He also allows, though, that "one can make the case that someone who doesn't know some of the basic names and facts about a faith probably doesn't understand the essentials of that belief.
Monday, September 27, 2010
A majority of Israelis regard non-Orthodox converts to Judaism to be part of the Jewish people, according to a survey published Monday, putting the general public at odds with religious authorities.
MK David Rotem speaking at the committee meeting on the conversion bill, July 12, 2010.
Photo by: Tomer Appelbaum
The survey, conducted for Israel's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, found that 63 percent of respondents believed those converted by non-Orthodox rabbis should be regarded as Jews. Some 30 percent believed they should not.
Under the current practice, Israel only partially recognizes conversions performed by non-Orthodox rabbis inside Israel, while those converted by non-Orthodox rabbis outside the country are automatically eligible for Israeli citizenship like other Jews.
The poll also found that 68 percent of Israelis said Diaspora Jews who intermarried should be regarded as Jewish, while 21 percent said they should not.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said he hoped the findings of the survey would bring the two communities closer together.
"Maybe following this in the political system, we can convince more people that whoever chose to go through a conversion in their community overseas in a Reform or Conservative manner and chose to join us here, we should choose to bring them closer and not push them away," he told Israel Radio. "If we want to bring about unity ... we should not boycott or strong-arm anyone."
The issue came to the fore in July with attempts in Israel's parliament to pass a law that would have tightened the Orthodox-run rabbinate's control over conversions. The restrictions have angered the Reform and Conservative movements, which have large followings overseas but are relatively small in Israel.
The bill touched on a deepening rift between the world's two biggest Jewish communities, as American Jews are increasingly influenced by intermarriage and loosening ties to tradition, while religious life in Israel has become dominated by the strict Orthodox establishment.
According to the Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law, only a person born of a Jewish mother or converted according to Orthodox procedure can be considered Jewish.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Imams brief congressman on trip to concentration camps to battle anti-Semitism CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs
An American imam took an eye-opening tour last month of the Dachau and Auschwitz death camps and said that what he saw was unfathomable - and undeniable.
"You see the ashes of people. You see the pictures. You walk the trail; you see the gas chambers," said Imam Muhamad Maged of the All-Dulles-Area Muslim Society in Virginia, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America.
"It is beyond imagination that somebody would do something like that."
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Fat is fun! At least, that’s the word from Turkey this week. Researchers at Erciyes University in Kayseri have just completed a year-long study correlating body mass index (BMI) and male sexual performance. Their findings: men with excess body fat last longer in bed. In fact, heavier men were able to make love for an average of 7.3 minutes, while slender men could count themselves lucky if they held on for a mere 108 seconds.
The reason? Female hormones. Men with excess fat showed higher levels of the female estradiol sex hormone. This substance apparently disrupted their bodies’ natural “male” neurotransmitter chemicals and slowed their progression towards orgasm. Ironically, the less masculine their bodies appeared, the better lovers they proved to be.
The scientists compared the BMI and sexual performance of over 100 men who were being treated for sexual dysfunction with 100 other males who lasted longer during sex. They found that men suffering from premature ejaculation were on the whole thinner and fitter than their “better endowed” brethren.
Using the researchers’ logic, you might think that American men, living in what the World Health Organization has identified as the world’s third fattest country with an estimated 66.7 percent of the population living well over the line, would be the world’s most exquisite lovers. Unfortunately, the study does not take a stand on this issue. Nor is there any scientific or anecdotal evidence to suggest that it is true. In fact, last year the global research website Onepoll.com conducted a survey of 15,000 women from twenty countries on the subject, and Americans showed up fifth from the bottom for being “too rough.” (Spaniards, Brazilians, and Italians took top honors.) But as Benjamin Disraeli supposedly said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
This is not to deny that, when it comes to overweight lovers, there may also be an issue of “quality vs. quantity” involved, not to mention esthetic and cardiological issues etc., but why spoil a good story? For now, make sure your next love banquet includes plenty of chips and beer, bratwursts and pecan pies. Nowadays, when it comes to sex, fat is the new thin.
Friday, September 17, 2010
In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 12, 2010
In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain
Mark Holm for The Chronicle
Lisa D. Chávez, an associate professor who moonlighted as a phone-sex worker, was not found to have violated any university policies. She remains at the center of a controversy over faculty governance and professors' obligations to protect students.Enlarge Image
Mark Holm for The Chronicle
Lisa D. Chávez, an associate professor who moonlighted as a phone-sex worker, was not found to have violated any university policies. She remains at the center of a controversy over faculty governance and professors' obligations to protect students.
By Peter Schmidt
In some ways, working as a phone-sex dominatrix is a lot simpler than being on a college faculty. Your relationship with others is clearly defined, no one formally complains about anything you say to them, and you stand little risk of getting caught up in messy struggles over power.
It gets complicated, however, if you try to do both jobs.
Life has become extremely complex in the University of New Mexico's English department in the three years since Lisa D. Chávez, a tenured associate professor, was discovered moonlighting as the phone-sex dominatrix "Mistress Jade," and posing in promotional pictures sexually dominating one of her own graduate students.
Although she quickly quit the phone-sex job, admitted to a serious lapse of judgment, and was not found by the university's administration to have violated any law or policy, Ms. Chávez remains at the center of a bitter controversy that has raised questions about faculty governance, the obligations of professors to protect students, and the exact definition of a hostile workplace in an environment of shifting sexual mores.
Several members of the English department accuse Ms. Chávez of abusing her power over students, and allege that the administration retaliated against professors who complained about her extracurricular activities. They also say that the university administration violated a basic principle of shared governance by not entrusting the investigation of Ms. Chávez to a faculty ethics committee.
For her part, Ms. Chávez has accused her accusers, in complaints to the university and the state, of discriminating against her because she is bisexual and Hispanic.
The department has been riven by resignations, as well as by three faculty members' lawsuits, still pending, that stem from the controversy. Many faculty members complain that they now work in a deteriorating atmosphere, which is taking its toll on students.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
On Sunday morning September 19, 2010 Dor Chadash will hold a 5 kilometer walk/run in Manhattan's Riverside Park to raise money for Dror Foundation, which hopes to raise $20,000 to purchase five physical therapy and rehabilitation bicycles for Israeli soldiers with severe leg injuries or paralysis, at a cost of $4,000 each. Read the article on examiner.com for details of this event.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Rosh Hashana is behind us, Yom Kippur is upon us, and that means Sukkot is around the corner. Jewish New Yorkers can celebrate the Jewish calendar's most sensual and joyous holiday with like minded tribe members Tuesday September 28 from 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM Wednesday September 29 at The Sukkot Sizzle on the roof of The Delancey 168 Delancey Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side
American Jews for a Just Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews Say No! will hold a rally tomorrow evening September 16th 5:30-7:00 PM in front of the Museum of Tolerance, 226 E. 42nd Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan to protest that institution's alleged Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism in New York City and elsewhere.
Read the entire article on examiner.com
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
By Junaid Ahmed
Joumana Haddad, the editor of an erotic Arabic-language magazine and author of a new book that challenges sexual taboos in the Arab world, is drawing praise and death threats alike.
The Lebanese writer and poet publishes Jasad - Arabic for body - a glossy quarterly that deals with eroticism and body-culture.
Published since December 2008, Jasad's articles range from violence in relationships to voyeurism and masturbation.
Her works have been opposed by Muslims and Christian groups alike, but Ms Haddad says she will not be silenced.Read the entire article on bbc.co.uk
Monday, September 13, 2010
Yom Kippur starts at sundown Friday evening September 17th and continues all day Saturday September 18, 2010 until three stars are visible in the night sky. If you are gainfully employed, comfortably retired, or a person of independent means read no further. If you can afford to pay for High Holiday tickets or a shul membership then you should pay; rabbis, cantors and synagogue staff members should not be expected to work for free, and rent or mortgage payments on synagogue buildings are not paid on some Divine account.
On the other hand we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn in many decades, and not having the means does not mean you can't attend services somewhere locally.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This Sunday September 12, 2010 Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, an exhibit that explores the impact of feminism on contemporary North American painting for past half century, will open at The Jewish Museum located at 92nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The exhibit will continue through January 30, 2011. Tuesday morning your New York Jewish Culture examiner previewed the exhibit, which traverses Abstract Impressionism, Pop, and Minimalism through to the present.
Read the complete article and view the slideshow on examiner.com
Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Jewish Fest, a family oriented Jewish outdoor fair, will be held Sunday and Monday September 5th and 6th in Litchfield, CT, an easy drive from New York. The fair will include: musical performances; arts and crafts projects for kids and artist and artisan vendors, including decorative jewelry, ceramics, glassworks, painting, whimsical one-of-a-kind originals, mixed-media designs, unique children's gifts and other distinctive creations for grown-ups; and kosher food. The fair, which will be handicapped accessible, might be a good way to get kids ready for High Holiday children's services.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
In "The Grand Design," co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
With the new school year about to commence many New York area Jewish parents will have to find a way to fund their children's day school tuitions. In my June 10, 2010 article I shared my interview with Mindi Wernick and Malkie Grozalsky in which they speak of having made financial sacrifices to send their children to a Jewish school. In my interview with Nassau County residents Keith and Cindy Hamada, Keith speaks of day school tuition as a form of birth control that limits the sizes of Jewish families.
Although Keith and Cindy belong to an Orthodox synagogue and my wife Shoshana and I belong to a Conservative congregation, I was struck by how similar our levels of observance are, which teaches us that labels don't tell the whole story.
I interviewed the Hamadas at their Nassau County home two years and ten months ago. As in the Wernick/Grozalsky interview and the Simon interview that appeared in this column on July 2, 2010, to make the interview read like a dialogue I have edited out my questions; for clarity the interview subjects sometimes rephrase a question as a statement, and where this occurs it indicates a change of subject. I began the interview by asking how they met.