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Archive for the 'Columns and Commentary' Category

Resurrection misunderstood

Posted by Gregov on 23rd March 2008

On Easter Sunday, Christians will proclaim the message at the heart of their faith — "He is risen" — and will affirm the hope that God will raise all the dead at the end of time.

But this belief is deeply misunderstood, say scholars from varied faith traditions who have been trying to clear up the confusion in several recent books.

"We are troubled by the gap between the views on these things of the general public and the findings of contemporary scholarship," said Kevin Madigan and Jon Levenson, authors of the upcoming book, "Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews."

The book traces the overlooked Jewish roots of the Christian belief in resurrection, and builds on that history to challenge the idea that resurrection simply means life after death. To the authors, being raised up has a physical element, not just a spiritual one.

Levenson last year wrote a related book, "Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life." Meanwhile, N.T. Wright, a prominent New Testament scholar and author of the 2003 book "The Resurrection of the Son of God," has justpublished "Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church."

Debate about Christ’s Resurrection has focused on whether Jesus rose bodily from the dead after the Romans crucified him on Good Friday, or whether Resurrection was something abstract.

Wright’s 2003 book was considered one of the most important recent arguments that Jesus was physically resurrected.

The three scholars also have been challenging the idea, part of Greek philosophy and popular now, that resurrection for Jews and the fol lowers of Jesus is simply the survival of an individual’s soul in the hereafter. The scholars say resurrection occurs for the whole person — body and soul. For early Christians and some Jews, resurrection meant being given back one’s body or possibly God creating a new, similar body after death, Wright has said.

Madigan and Levenson, among other scholars, also emphasize that resurrection for humankind is a belief that Christians and Jews share. Christians generally find it difficult to imagine that a faith that doesn’t believe in Christ’s Resurrection can believe in resurrection at all.
But "as the early church was developing, rabbis were making resurrection an article of normative belief," Madigan and Levenson said in e-mailed answers to questions from The Associated Press. "That is something many Jews do not know. Like many Christians, they are under the misimpression that resurrection is a uniquely Christian hope."

Jews in the time of Jesus believed that resurrection was bodily and communal — in that it brought justice to the oppressed and renewed creation, wrote Madigan, who teaches Christian history at Harvard Divinity School, and Levenson, who teaches Jewish studies there. That Jewish belief was absorbed and reshaped by the earliest Christians to form part of their religion.

Most modern-day Jews don’t know this. Except for the Orthodox branch of Judaism, Jewish groups deleted belief in resurrection from the traditional prayer book during revisions that began during the 19th century in response to rationalistic, Enlightenment thought.
Public understanding of resurrection has been influenced not only by modern rejection of the idea of miracles, but also by popular culture.
Alan F. Segal, a Barnard College professor and author of "Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion," notes that most Americans expect the afterlife will be a continuation of life on Earth — "like a really good assisted-living facility."

He also said that belief in an existence beyond death persists among Americans no matter how little they observe their religion. In the 2005 Baylor Religion Survey, 82 percent of respondents said they "absolutely" or "probably" believed in heaven. Nearly 71 percent said they "absolutely" or "probably" believed in hell.

But their ideas have been molded by Western individualism, and scholars say many important teachings from early Christianity have been skewed as a result. Indeed, even debating the specifics of resurrection may seem far removed from 21st century life.

Yet Wright and others say the church should teach what the first Christians believed. Wright also has argued that the physical reality of a future world after death shows "the created order matters to God, and Jesus’ Resurrection is the pilot project for that renewal."
Madigan and Levenson have an additional motivation. They said they wrote the book to help Jews and Christians understand more about their theological bonds.

Amy-Jill Levine, a New Testament scholar at Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School, said interest in resurrection — along with reincarnation, ghosts and contacting the dead — has grown in recent years.

"The more chaotic our world, with war and disease, hurricanes and famine," she said, "the more many seek a divine response to the problem of evil."

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Posted in Catholic Perspective | No Comments »

Global Psyche: The Name Game

Posted by Gregov on 22nd March 2008

In the Philippines, quirky monikers stick—even government officials are fair game for nicknames.

By: Tara Bruno

The Philippines is a spirited place where locals don’t think twice about calling a 60-year-old businessman Honey Boy. Or a beloved male professor Tatay—basically, dear old dad. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable (and not the least bit embarrassing) for Filipinos to take whimsical nicknames like Butterball, Boy Blue, or Pee-wee to the grave. "My cousin Kristina’s face looked like a perfect circle when she was born, so her nickname became Bilog, which means round," says Ruth Aniceto, originally from Quezon City. "Even though it doesn’t fit her anymore, she’ll always be Bilog."

On this archipelago comprising more than 7,000 islands, even government officials are fair game for nicknames. Former president Corazon Aquino was widely known as Tita Cory—Aunt Cory—when the people agreed with her policies. When they didn’t support her, they would call her Aling Cory, what one would call the old lady of the village.

And as if saying a name once just doesn’t cut it, nicknames are often repeated to create multimonikers like Len-Len or Ning-Ning. Also, parents tend to pick names for their children that all begin with the same letter or adhere to themes, such as a family of fruits (Cherry Pie, Peachie, Apple) or Greek philosophers (Aristotle, Socrates, Homer). The more creative, the better.

Nicknames are helpful just to tell everyone apart. The island nation was a longtime colony of Spain and still maintains a heavy dose of Spanish culture. Nearly all Filipinos are Catholic, and most are named after popular patron saints or religious figures. That’s a lot of Joses and Marias running around. "Since many of the same birth names are used, Filipinos want to instill individualism by finding the most unique name to identify a person," says Kathleen Angco-Vieweg, a professor of sociology at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Nicknaming also helps cope with hard times. The Philippines has a history of poverty and political corruption and has suffered natural disasters ranging from landslides and floods to volcanic eruptions and typhoons.

The country was ranked the world’s most disaster-prone nation by the Brussels-based Center for Research and Epidemiology of Disasters. So Filipinos seek happiness in their intimate personal relationships. "It’s important for Filipinos to feel a sense of community, and giving a person a nickname makes you feel closer to that person," says Joi Barrios, a professor of Filipino literature and languages at the University of the Philippines.

Filipinos try to laugh in the face of adversity by strengthening their communal bonds. "We are fun-loving and creative by nature," says Karla Villarin, who moved from Manila to New York. "Giving each other nicknames is an outlet for us."

Greatest Hits

Some nicknames have become more popular than others. Here are a few Filipino favorites:

  • Bing
  • Binky
  • Bo
  • Boy
  • Ching
  • Cookie
  • Ding
  • Dong
  • Girlie
  • NeNe
  • Jun-Jun
  • Wee-Wee

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Posted in That's Fascinating | No Comments »

Clean this mess up, I want it to be spick and span.

Posted by Gregov on 12th March 2008

spick and span - Perhaps you’ve polished your car and it looked "spick and span" or maybe one day you were convinced to buy that new cleaning product on TV because you were assured that your kitchen would be "spick and span" after usage. The phrase is derived from two archaic words: spick, which was a spike or nail and span, which meant "wood chip." When a ship was polished and new, it was called "spick and span," meaning every nail and piece of wood was untarnished. The phrase originally meant "brand new" but is now used to indicate cleanliness.

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Posted in English Language | No Comments »

Just cut to the chase and skip the big speech.

Posted by Gregov on 11th March 2008

cut to the chase -Remember going to watch those old black and white silent films? Sure you do! Well, you’ve probably heard of them, anyway. In the black and white silent film movie error, in the 1920s, a chase scene was often the exciting part of the film. Who really wanted to sit through that other stuff, anyway? Cut to the chase meant to cut the film, or edit it down to the good part, the chase scene––no speaking necessary!

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Posted in English Language | No Comments »

Vatican updates its thou-shalt-not list

Posted by Mai on 11th March 2008

Vatican updates its thou-shalt-not list

VATICAN CITY – In olden days, the deadly sins included lust, gluttony and greed. Now, the Catholic Church says pollution, mind-damaging drugs and genetic experiments are on its updated thou-shalt-not list. Also receiving fresh attention by the Vatican was social injustice, along the lines of the age-old maxim: “The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

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Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

Posted by Gregov on 10th March 2008

don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – What’s one to do when they only have one basin of bath water and a litter of children to be bathed? Easy! Use the same bath water and dump it out when your last child gets lost in it! Back in the pre-running water days, the order of the household determined which family member got to take the bath first. The man (or head of the household) naturally went first, followed by the children and the baby last. The water would become so dirty that when a baby was bathed in it, he could possibly be lost or even tossed out! Of course, one would hope that the parents would have enough common sense to check first!

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Posted in English Language | No Comments »