Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople | World news | The Guardian

The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will break off relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a religious schism driven by political friction between Russia and Ukraine.

The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elected on Monday to cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is viewed as the leading authority for the world’s 300 million Orthodox worshippers.

The split is a show of force by Russia after a Ukrainian church was granted independence.

Last week Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of eastern Orthodox clerics, granted autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which previously answered to Moscow.

Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople | World news | The Guardian

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Sabarimala: Mobs attack women near India Hindu temple

Crowds of agitated protesters in Kerala attacked female devotees, many of whom turned back as a result.

Several people including an old woman were injured as crowds threw stones at vehicles and attacked police officers.

…But while most Hindu temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, the Sabarimala temple was unusual in that it was one of the few that do not allow women in a broad age group to enter at all.

This was overturned by the Supreme Court last month, with judges observing that “the right to practice religion is available to both men and women”.

Sabarimala: Mobs attack women near India Hindu temple – BBC News

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Discovery of Galileo’s long-lost letter shows he edited his heretical ideas to manipulate the Inquisition

Galileo wrote the 1613 letter to Benedetto Castelli, a mathematician at the University of Pisa in Italy. In it, Galileo set out for the first time his arguments that scientific research should be free from theological doctrine (see ‘The Galileo affair’).

He argued that the scant references in the Bible to astronomical events should not be taken literally, because scribes had simplified these descriptions so that they could be understood by common people. Religious authorities who argued otherwise, he wrote, didn’t have the competence to judge. Most crucially, he reasoned that the heliocentric model of Earth orbiting the Sun, proposed by Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus 70 years earlier, is not actually incompatible with the Bible.

…The changes are telling. In one case, Galileo referred to certain propositions in the Bible as “false if one goes by the literal meaning of the words”. He crossed through the word “false”, and replaced it with “look different from the truth”. In another section, he changed his reference to the Scriptures “concealing” its most basic dogmas, to the weaker “veiling”.

This suggests that Galileo moderated his own text, says Giudice.

…For now, the researchers are stunned by their find. “Galileo’s letter to Castelli is one of the first secular manifestos about the freedom of science — it’s the first time in my life I have been involved in such a thrilling discovery,” says Giudice.

Discovery of Galileo’s long-lost letter shows he edited his heretical ideas to fool the Inquisition

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Korematsu decision finally rejected by Supreme Court

In her dissent to the majority’s ruling on the travel ban, Sotomayor compared the decision to the Korematsu v. US case, saying there are “stark parallels” in the reasoning.

“As here, the exclusion order was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States,” Sotomayor wrote.

The comparison triggered an angry response from Roberts, who chastised his colleague for using “rhetorical advantage” and said that Korematsu had “nothing to do with this case.”

Roberts was troubled enough with the comparison, however, that he did something that no party involved in the travel ban case had expressly asked for: He announced that the Supreme Court was overruling Korematsu.

…For her part, Sotomayor allowed that Roberts took an “important step of finally overruling” Korematsu. But it wasn’t enough, she said.

“By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another,” she said. She was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Under normal circumstances a justice ends a dissent with “I respectfully dissent.” Sotomayor said simply, “I dissent.

Korematsu decision finally rejected by Supreme Court – CNNPolitics

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An Illegal Archeological Dig in the West Bank Raises Questions About the Museum of the Bible

Like the ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the legitimacy of archaeology in the West Bank has been constantly in question since 1967. In the last half-century, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Staff Officer for Archaeology of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria (the military government that rules the West Bank outside of East Jerusalem) have conducted or licensed excavations at hundreds of sites in the West Bank. The 1954 Hague Convention severely restricts the archaeological activity that can be conducted in occupied territory, limiting it to salvage work where ancient remains are in danger, and then only to be conducted in cooperation with authorities from the occupied territory. But Israeli excavations in the West Bank — like the Museum of the Bible-funded Qumran dig — are routinely conducted unilaterally, without any Palestinian involvement. This means that all of these excavations, including the one at Qumran, are in violation of international law. There are also ethical questions about the use of archaeology, intentionally or not, to stake claim to Palestinian land and provide evidence of ancient Jewish presence there.

…It is not merely the Museum of the Bible’s funding of a West Bank excavation that is ethically dubious, however. There is also the matter of whom they are funding. Randall Price, the recipient of the grant and co-director of the excavation, is Distinguished Research Professor at Liberty University, founded by prominent televangelist and Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell. Price is the main figure profiled in a February 2013 Atlantic article entitled “The Biblical Pseudo-Archaeologists Pillaging the West Bank.” As the Atlantic piece indicated, Price (who has also taken part in an expedition to look for Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat in Turkey) and evangelicals like him might have difficulty receiving permits to dig within Israel proper, but he has been able to dig at Qumran over many years because of looser restrictions within the West Bank licensing system.

…In 2016–17 the Museum of the Bible reported a grant of $38,413 to the university to publish the Aramaic magic bowls in the Museum of the Bible’s own collection. Already by 2011, the Green Collection claimed to have the “second-largest holding of incantation bowls in the world.” However, most Aramaic incantation bowls are unprovenanced, and hundreds suddenly appeared on the market starting in the early 1990s, apparently looted in the aftermath of the Gulf War. If the Greens acquired such a large collection within a mere two years (it is widely reported that they began collecting artifacts and manuscripts in 2009), it is almost certain that they must have acquired unprovenanced items looted and smuggled out of Iraq — in violation not only of Iraq’s antiquities laws but also of a UN Security Council resolution.

…This funding arrangement may shed some light on the issue of the rumored “First Century Mark.” Starting in 2012, rumors circulated among biblical scholars of a fragment of the New Testament Gospel of Mark dating to the first century CE. This rumored First Century Mark would be significant as the earliest known version of the text, and one dating shortly after the book would have been written (it is generally dated by scholars sometime in the middle decades of the first century CE). It was thought that the Green family owned or was trying to purchase this fragment, but no firm evidence was ever put forward about this. Last month, the EES posted a note about a recently published Oxyrhynchus papyrus, confirming that this was in fact the rumored First Century Mark — except that it dated to the late second or early third century, and was owned not by the Museum of the Bible but by the EES. The publication of the fragment was edited by Dirk Obbink. The Museum of the Bible’s funding of Obbink’s Oxyrhynchus projects might have some bearing on puzzling aspects of the case, such as why it was believed that the fragment was owned by the Museum of the Bible. (If in fact the Green family is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars funding Oxyrhynchus-related research, then they may have a proprietary attitude toward that research even if they do not own the fragments themselves.)

…Why does all of this matter? The Museum of the Bible is an evangelical Christian institution. Its original mission statement, on its first Form 990 given in 2011, declared that the museum’s goal is “to bring to life the living word of God, to tell its compelling story of preservation, and to inspire confidence in the absolute authority and reliability of the Bible.” While this has since been modified, and the museum is careful to check its displays with consultants to remove language of exclusivity, there is still an implicit Christian — and particularly Protestant — bias throughout the museum’s narrative. The museum and Green maintain that they want to be “nonsectarian” and “let the facts speak for themselves,” but the museum’s own exhibitions undermine these claims. In its walls the Bible is understood first and foremost as the Christian Bible; Jews are just bystanders in a Christian world, or else they are props. And the Bible is seen as historically correct, without nuance.

…The public will get a distorted view of what biblical scholarship actually does, or should do. And, through the museum’s various collaborations, its vision of the Bible is one that is increasingly endorsed, even if implicitly, by academic scholars. Then there is the museum’s willingness, even eagerness, to acquire and fund the study of unprovenanced antiquities. Most of these items are probably either forged or stolen. Their acquisition has involved the violation of the antiquities and customs laws of several countries as well as of international law. And these objects have often been looted from war zones, where their purchase funds continued violence.

If there is a battle between Museum of the Bible funding and scholarly ethics in the study of the ancient world, then it appears that the money is winning. Hands down.

An Illegal Archeological Dig in the West Bank Raises Questions About the Museum of the Bible

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