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Showing posts from October, 2014

10 things you didn’t know about the history (and mystery) of Halloween

#1 Most people believe 31 October is an ancient pagan festival associated with the supernatural. In fact, it has religious connotations– although there is disagreement among historians about when it begun. Some say Hallowtide was introduced as All Saints’ Day in the 7th century AD by Pope Boniface IV, while others maintain it was created in the 9th century AD by Christians to commemorate their martyrs and saints. In medieval Britain, ‘Halloween’ was the eve of the Catholic festival All Saints or All-Hallows (from Old English ‘Holy Man’) on 1 November, and was followed by the feast of All Souls on 2 November.
#3 Much of the modern supernatural lore surrounding Halloween was invented as recently as the 19th century.Scots and Irish settlers brought the custom of Mischief Night visiting to North America, where it became known as ‘Trick or Treat’.  Until the revival of interest in Halloween during the 1970s, this American tradition was largely unknown in England. The importation of ‘Trick o…

Gold in Antiquity

Gold, chemical symbol Au (from the Latinaurummeaning ‘shining dawn’), is a precious metal which has been used since antiquity in the production of jewelry,coinage, sculpture, vessels and as a decoration for buildings, monuments and statues. Gold does not corrode and so it became a symbol of immortality and power in many ancient cultures. Its rarity and aesthetic qualities made it an ideal material for ruling classes to demonstrate their power and position. First found at surface level near rivers in Asia Minorsuch as the Pactolus inLydia, gold was also mined underground from 2000 BCE by the Egyptians and later by the Romans inAfrica, Portugal and Spain. See pictures and read article at --

Translation of report from the recent general assembly of Roman Catholic Bishops

You have probably read about the Church Councils that met back in the days of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, Eusebius, Athanasius, Augustine, etc. Their votes produced the foundational doctrines of Christianity. The bishops have continued to meet over the centuries and the English translation of the report from their most recent meeting -- Synod14 - "Relatio Synodi" of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization” (5-19 October 2014) – is now online. Take a moment to glance over it and get a feel for the process that has governed the Roman Catholic Church since the first meeting in 325 CE – the Council of Nicea. Read the current report at --

6,000 Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered in Ukraine

A 6,000-year-old temple holding humanlike figurines and sacrificed animal remains has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Built before writing was invented, the temple is about 197 by 66 feet in size. It was a "two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard," the upper floor divided into five rooms. See pictures and read article at --

Paul’s Gospel

Dr. Ike Tennison and I have been working with the Greek text of Galatians. We believe it provides one of the best sources for understanding how Paul viewed himself and understood his calling and message. Galatians is loaded with clues that are often overlooked because of the attempts of later Christian writers to recast Paul and make him better fit into the context of the original Jesus Movement – specifically Luke’s (or whoever the unknown specified author was) in the Book of Acts. Pay close attention to what Paul wrote in the first chapter of Galatians:
Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through a man . . . For I make known to you, brothers, the gospel preached by me is not from a man. For I received it not from man, nor was I taught (the gospel) it; but (I received the gospel) through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:1a, 11-12)
We find these points very interesting:
(1) My authority did not come from any human being. – In our opinion, the specific human beings Paul had in mi…

“My Higher Power”

I'm responding to a question on the TOV Center Blog about why I placed the term “Higher Power” in parenthesis in an earlier blog. I am a rabbi, counselor and police chaplain. I work with all kinds of people from many different backgrounds, cultures, religions with different beliefs about God, as well as some with no concept of any "Higher Power." During my years working in hospice as a bereavement counselor/chaplain, I came into contact with a number of people and families with different or no spiritual/religious beliefs. I needed to find a way of bringing them comfort, healing and peace as life was coming to an end. Read Rabbi Leynor’s complete blog at --

Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in Israel

A lunar-crescent-shaped stone monument that dates back around 5,000 years has been identified in Israel. Located about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northwest ofthe Sea of Galilee, the structure is massive  — its volume is about 14,000 cubic meters (almost 500,000 cubic feet) and it has a length of about 150 meters (492 feet), making it longer than an American football field. Pottery excavated at the structure indicates the monument dates to between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C., meaning it is likely older than thepyramids of Egypt. It was also built before much ofStonehengewas constructed.  See picture and read article at --

Important! Smartphone flashlight apps are stealing info.

Gary Miliefsky, SnoopWall CEO, and founding member of the US Department of Homeland Security announces a privacy breach posed by smartphone flashlight apps. You will probably have to take your phone back to the store where you bought it and have it factor reset to remove all of the adware & spyware it has stored on your phone. A friend of mine took his back, the store reset it and a few minutes later it reappeared again. The store had to repeat the procedure again. So far it hasn’t come back. Be sure to watch this video and share it with your friends.

Shortcomings of Religious Monopolies

As Adam Smith recognized so clearly, religious organizations are not immune to the shortcomings that soon beset all monopolies. Rather, when fully supported by state establishment, “the clergy, reposing themselves upon their benefices,” give “themselves up to indolence” and neglect “to keep up the fervor of faith and devotion in the great body of the people.”

Source: The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark © 2005; Random House Trade Paperbacks, New York, NY; pp. 204-205.

The Nazi Doctors and Nuremberg: Some Moral Lessons Revisited

Clearly, protection of the integrity of medical ethics is important for all of society. If medicine becomes, as Nazi medicine did, the handmaiden of economics, politics, or any force other than one that promotes the good of the patient, it loses its soul and becomes an instrument that justifies oppression and the violation of human rights. . . Hitler, like his counterparts in Stalinist Russia and Imperial Japan, recruited medicine at the very beginning of his regime. Physicians should have refused. Even Hitler would probably not have prevailed against a united profession exerting its collective moral power. But the caduceus joined the swastika in a lethal symbiosis that cost millions of lives and forever branded German medicine as a traitor to every tradition that ever made medicine a beneficent rather than a maleficent enterprise. Read the complete article at --

Brittany Maynard -- My right to death with dignity at 29.

“I was 29 years old. I'd been married for just over a year. My husband and I were trying for a family. In April, I learned that not only had my tumor come back, but it was more aggressive. Doctors gave me a prognosis of six months to live. Because my tumor is so large, doctors prescribed full brain radiation. I read about the side effects: The hair on my scalp would have been singed off. My scalp would be left covered with first-degree burns. My quality of life, as I knew it, would be gone. After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.” Read article & watch video at --

Whose God wants wives to submit to violent husbands?

The Dallas Morning News has been running a series called Deadly Affection. In a recent article, a woman, who was the member of a church, came to a service one Sunday black and blue from her husband's beatings. The pastor told her she needed to keep forgiving him, pray for him, just keep asking God to change him -- and ask God to help her be a better wife. He didn’t tell her to protect herself from that predator or offer to go see her husband and tell him that the church wasn’t going to set back and ignore what he was doing to her. Look folks; God is not our cosmic bellboy/bellgirl and prayer isn’t a drive-thru window that we use to place our orders. Read Rabbi Leynor’s latest blog at --

Yom Kippur Before the Temple was Destroyed

Today (October 3, 2014) at sundown is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is by far the most widely observed of Jewish holidays and fast days. Synagogues are packed with families in Israel, as well as throughout the diaspora. It has been the most important Jewish holiday throughout the centuries, going back into the Second Temple Period -- the times of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and the Jesus Movement. A good way for Christians to understand its importance is to compare it to what Easter means to Christians. In this article I am going to focus on Yom Kippur during the Late Second Temple Period, rather than the rituals now practiced in synagogues. Keep in mind that what follows will reflect what Jesus and his original followers experienced every year. There are hints in the Synoptic Gospels that the final year of the life of Jesus may have coincided with the Year of Jubilees, but we will look at what happened every year at the Temple. The fact that the highest …

The U.S. Navy Saved Jews of Eretz Yisrael Exactly 100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago the Jews of Palestine suffered terribly from hunger, disease and oppression.  The territory was ruled with an iron fist by the Ottoman (Turkish) army.  The Middle East teetered on the brink of World War I, and in 1914 Turkey abolished the “capitulation” agreements with European powers which granted them elements of sovereignty over their subjects in the Ottoman Empire.  For many Jews ofEretz Yisraeltheir French, British and Russian protectors were gone. The financial assistance they received from their European Jewish brethren evaporated. In late 1914, the war in the Middle East began with Turkey massing troops in Palestine and the Sinai to move against the British along the Suez Canal.  The Turkish army prepared for the attack by forcibly conscripting locals, including Jews, and by looting (so-called “levies”) supplies, food and animals from residents of Palestine. See pictures and read the complete article at --

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

This Friday (sundown - October 3, 2014), as the sun goes down, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) begins. As I have mentioned before, it is our responsibility to repair and reconcile relationships. The three most important relationships are the one we have with ourselves, the one we have with our "Higher Power" (whatever that might or might not be), and the ones we have with the rest of creation. All the work seems to be on us and rightfully so, because of all of creation, humans are the one creature that always needs improvement. Read Rabbi Leynor’s complete blog at --