07/16/14

Ancient priest’s tomb painting discovered near Great Pyramid at Giza

ANCIENT EGYPT

By Owen JarusPublished July 16, 2014

A painting discovered in the tomb of a priest, just 1,000 feet from the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt depicts scenes of ancient life.

A wall painting, dating back over 4,300 years, has been discovered in a tomb located just east of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The painting shows vivid scenes of life, including boats sailing south on the Nile River, a bird hunting trip in a marsh and a man named Perseneb who’s shown with his wife and dog.

While Giza is famous for its pyramids, the site also contains fields of tombs that sprawl to the east and west of the Great Pyramid. These tombs were created for private individuals who held varying degrees of rank and power during the Old Kingdom (2649-2150 B.C.), the age when the Giza pyramids were built. [See Images of the Painting and Giza Tomb]

The new painting was discovered in 2012 by a team from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which has been excavating these tombs since 1996.

A surprise discovery
Scientists discovered the painting when they began restoring the tomb of Perseneb, a man who was a “priest” and “steward,” according to the tomb’s inscriptions.

His tomb, located 1,000 feet east of the Great Pyramid of Giza, contains an offering room, central room and burial chamber. The three rooms contain 11 statues showing depictions of Perseneb and members of his family. First recorded in the 19th century by the German explorer Karl Richard Lepsius and French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, the tomb is believed to date to the middle or late fifth dynasty (ca. 2450-2350 B.C.). The fifth dynasty is a time period within the Old Kingdom.

“Known since the 19thcentury, the [tomb] could hardly present any new principal features. Therefore, it was a real surprise to discoveran Old Kingdom painting on the eastern wall of the central room,” wrote Maksim Lebedev, a reader (the American equivalent is a professor) at the Russian State University for the Humanities, in an email to Live Science.

“The painting was made on a thin layer of fine white plaster darkened with 19th-century soot and dirt.By the time of recording, only about 30 percent of the original plaster had preserved on the wall,” Lebedev said.

Since the 19th century, the growth and industrialization of Cairo has led to problems with pollution at Giza. And the fact that people were actually living inside the tomb in some periods (including the Middle Ages) also damaged the painting, Lebedev said.

Nevertheless, “none of the scenes has been lost completely. The remaining traces allow [for the] reconstruction [of] the whole composition,” Lebedev said.

Scenes of life
The reconstructed painting reflects ancient life. At the top of the painting there are images of boats sailing the Nile River, their sails pointing south. They “probably represent the return of the owner from the north after a pilgrimage or inspection of his funerary estates,” Lebedev said. Funerary estates were tax-exempt property left by the deceased to help support surviving dependents and the upkeep of his tomb. [Photos: Amazing Discoveries at Egypt’s Giza Pyramids]

The painting’s “two lower registers preserved representations of various agricultural scenes: plowing, sowing, workers driving sheep over sown seed, driving donkeys laden with sheaves to the threshing floor,” Lebedev said.

The painting also shows an image of Perseneb, his wife and what appears to be his dog. There is also a marsh scene with a man on a boat who appears to be bird hunting.

“All the depicted scenes had important symbolic meanings. Fowling (bird hunting) in the marshland could refer to the ideas of rebirth and taming of chaotic forces,” Lebedev said. “The full agricultural sequence relating to crops represents the most crucial event in the life of ancient Egyptian society,” he added. Also, the representation of “boats with sails going southwards is another important tomb subject, which reflected the high status of the person.”

More discoveries to come
The area the Russian team has been excavating contains a number of tombs that may hold undiscovered wall paintings. The team has found indirect evidence for paintings in some tombs, such as very smooth walls and remains of wall plaster and paint, Lebedev said.

“Since many rock-cut chapels of the eastern edge of the Giza plateau were rapidly excavated or just recorded [without excavation] in the first half of the 20th century, sometimes without sufficient documentation, and still covered with thick layers of rough plaster left from later inhabitants [who lived in the tombs], one may expect that more paintings will be discovered in this part of the necropolis.”

The tomb of Perseneb was partly restored by the Russian mission in 2013. The work was supported by a donation from the Thames Valley Ancient Egyptian Society in the United Kingdom.

The painting reconstructions will be published, in full, in a scholarly publication in the future. The images on Live Science show just a few of the reconstructed scenes.

07/10/14

Resilient children – resilient parents

07/10/2014 12:45 By BATYA L. LUDMAN

We can’t protect our children from all we might wish, but we can help prepare them to deal with the routine challenges of life.
Resilient

As I write this second column on parenting, we are mourning the loss of the three beloved young boys.

I am once again reminded how situations like this put everything into perspective.

As parents, we can’t protect our children from all we might wish, but we can help prepare them to deal with the routine challenges of childhood and adolescence, and enable them to become competent, confident and caring young adults.

These three young men seem to have had a wonderful start in life.

As the mom of three now-adult children, each very different in personality but all very close, they have in no small part been the ongoing laboratory of my clinical experience. I marvel at them as individuals, enjoy watching them interact with each other, and love to see how their personalities, shaped before birth and already evident as little children, peek through and influence all they do.

How do we raise resilient children? Resilience – the ability to roll with the punches, to experience life’s challenges and not just bounce back but thrive – is critical for all of us, individually and collectively as a community. This is especially so for children living here, and in these times, worldwide. Resilience is in large part learned, and as parents we serve as valuable role models for our children.

While a parent may very much want to, they can’t shelter their child from all of life’s challenges. They can, however, give their children the tools needed to help face these challenges, turn challenges into opportunities for growth and learning, and help support them as they mature.

How parents cope with daily life and its many stresses, both good and bad, greatly influences how our children see and manage their world. We may not have much control over the many challenges that come our way, but we certainly can exercise some control in how we choose to see and ultimately deal with them.

A positive attitude can be learned, and even enable us to discover strengths that we didn’t know we had. The more resilient we are, the happier, healthier and more successful we can be as individuals and in our interpersonal relationships.

In short, resilient people are more satisfied, live longer and lead more productive lives. With this in mind, here are a few thoughts about helping to build resilience in your child.

1. Children need to feel your love and security in order to explore their world and feel safe. From an early age, they need to know that you’ll meet their needs, that you honestly care about them and that you’ll comfort and support them with unconditional love and affection.

2. Children need to know that you are there for them and fully present. This means reducing and eliminating outside distractions. Stop whatever you are doing, put away your “i-stuff” and look your child happily in the eye.

Studies suggest that good eye contact is an essential aspect of developing social skills in children of all ages, yet how often do we see a parent with their face buried in devices? Quality and quantity time are essential in building a strong relationship between you and your child.

3. Listen to and believe in your child. Help your child identify and express his emotions. Find out what he actually thinks and feels, and validate his feelings. The fact that you are empathetically attuned to his needs teaches him how to better understand others and increases resilience. Kids need to feel heard, understood and accepted for who they are. Mutual trust is crucial to your relationship.

4. Encourage an atmosphere of open communication and honesty, where conflict can be expressed and there’s a safe forum for discussion and resolution of issues. Through taking responsibility for your own behavior and acknowledging your mistakes, you can help your child become more assertive and learn that limit-setting and consistency are important. Criticism done with love and discipline (not punishment) can teach a child that their behavior has consequences.

5. Laugh and have fun with your child. Help your child learn to express his feelings, see humor in the moment and more fully appreciate the little things in life. Watch a toddler spend an inordinate amount of time just looking at a leaf or a flower, and you too can be amazed by the beauty all around us that we often miss. Teach your children to show gratitude and appreciation for what they have.

6. Find ways to make family time enjoyable, relaxing and meaningful. Eat, pray, play, exercise and sing together. Read aloud, tell stories and share family photos. Family meals, from preparation to clean-up, offer the opportunity to check in with each other.

7. Teach your children how to slow down, develop self-calming strategies, and reduce stress through breathing and relaxation. Children need time to play. Reduce over-scheduling and increase independent creative play and reading, and see the difference it makes in their lives and your own.

8. Help your child focus on her strengths and abilities. Empower her by showing you have trust and confidence in her decisions, and praise both trying as well as succeeding with tasks. Encourage patience and understanding, and help her let go of the drive for perfection – and instead see mistakes as part of learning.

9. Work on being the best person you can be, and encourage this for your children. Show your kids how their behavior affects others. Create family opportunities which encourage sharing, volunteering and kindness to others. Teach them about modern-day heroes.

10. Model a healthy lifestyle. Eat well, keep fit and promote healthy sleep. Provide routine, structure and consistency while being open to new ideas; be flexible and positive. Be hopeful and optimistic and be a friend to others who are going through a difficult time.

Teach your child to see the good in any situation and to move forward in spite of challenges. Through strength and resilience, we can all take a difficult situation and not just weather the storm, but help drive the boat.

The writer is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Ra’anana, and author of the book, Life’s Journey: Exploring Relationships – Resolving Conflicts. She has written about psychology in The Jerusalem Post since 2000. ludman@netvision.net.il; www.drbatyaludman.com

07/10/14

Book Review: ‘The Age of Evangelicalism’

BOOKSHELF
Book Review: ‘The Age of Evangelicalism’ by Steven P. Miller
The ‘religious right’ was merely the political aspect of a much larger cultural moment that may now be drawing to a close.

By BARTON SWAIM
July 3, 2014 8:27 p.m. ET
The word ‘evangelical,’ both the noun and the adjective, is burdened with ambiguity. It comes from the Greek (euangelion, meaning “good news”) and is the New Testament’s word for the Christian gospel. In the 18th century, it came to designate a party within the Church of England whose members tended toward Reformed or Calvinistic views on theology and liturgy, with their emphasis on Scripture rather than tradition and on good works as a consequence of salvation rather than as a way of achieving it. Over time, and especially in early 20th-century America, it came to describe anyone who believed the New Testament’s account of the “good news” about Jesus and who therefore wanted others to believe it, too. For the past 20 or 30 years, it has designated nearly any Christian believer, Protestant or Catholic, who feels strongly about his or her faith.

Which is to say that it’s not a very helpful word. Indeed, many evangelicals, or rather people who might otherwise be known as evangelicals, have long since disavowed the term. Steven Miller in “The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years” doesn’t work very hard to define it; he says only (in a parenthetical aside) that evangelicalism is “the label commonly given to the public expression of born-again Christianity.” That definition is at once too narrow and too broad. It’s too narrow because it deals only with “public expression”—that is, politics—as if evangelicalism were primarily a political creed. And it’s too broad in that it conflates people who want nothing to do with one another. What, other than perhaps a rough similarity in voting patterns, do followers of the mega-church Texas pastor Joel Osteen have to do with members of the primarily northeastern Orthodox Presbyterian Church? Not much.

The Age of Evangelicalism
By Steven P. Miller
Oxford, 221 pages, $24.95
Even so, Mr. Miller’s account of the rise and recent decline of evangelicalism in American politics and society is consistently incisive and well-researched. He begins in 1970. On July 4 of that year, Bob Hope and Billy Graham co-hosted an “Honor America Day” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event blended Graham’s Bible-oriented preaching with a kind of ill-defined civil religion. Calls for personal repentance and acceptance of Jesus as savior blended with pleas for a return to the nation’s founding principles and for a more conservative moral code—almost as if the nation itself were God. As if to foreshadow the next 40 years of quasi-comedic acrimony between the right and left, both secular and religious, about 1,000 people protested the event, many of them holding a marijuana “smoke-in.”

During the 1970s, the line distinguishing evangelicalism from American society at large blurred to the point of vanishing. From the amorphous Jesus Movement to the craze for “end times” best sellers like Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970)—a book, as I learned from Mr. Miller, made into a documentary narrated by Orson Welles —religious belief was in fashion. Celebrities were “born again” in droves. (The phrase comes from John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said . . . Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”) Bob Dylan had a brief born-again phase before moving back to some form of Judaism; so did the Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver before moving on to Unificationism and, later, Mormonism.

It was from this strange cauldron that the “Christian right” was born. Attempts by the IRS to downgrade churches’ tax-exempt status in the early 1970s, together with the Supreme Court’s school-prayer decisions (beginning with Engel v. Vitale in 1962) and the Equal Rights Amendment (passed by Congress in 1972, though never ratified), pushed Bible-believing Christians to engage in politics as they never had before. But, even then, conservative Protestants’ marriage to the Republican Party wasn’t ensured. As late as 1971, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution urging Baptists to “work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, [and] clear evidence of severe fetal deformity.” It was only when Catholic organizations drew their attention to the full import of Roe v. Wade that many evangelicals took sides and made the pro-life cause a serious political force.

By the late 1970s, left-leaning evangelicals were badly outmanned. Concern for the poor (or, as I would put it, concern that taxpayers be concerned for the poor) could not compete with the feeling that areligious radicals were having their way in Washington. In the 1980 election, self-described evangelicals plumped in decisive numbers for Ronald Reagan —this despite the fact that Reagan’s religious credentials looked flimsy next to the devout Baptist Jimmy Carter’s. The evangelical right had reached a level of influence that many liberals found profoundly unnerving.

Mr. Miller narrates two “evangelical scares,” both of them roughly coincidental with the Reagan and George W. Bush presidencies and both of them inspiring emotionally overheated rhetoric from the evangelical right’s critics. Yale president Bart Giamatti averred, in a speech to the school’s freshmen in 1981, that evangelicals had “licensed a new meanness of spirit in our land”; television producer Norman Lear, rather less cleverly, saw only “fascism masquerading as Christianity.”

The second scare produced an even more intense panic, though the evidence for an evangelical resurgence—either political or cultural—was far less obvious than it had been in the early 1980s. Apart from the Terri Schiavo affair, in which congressional Republicans tried to stop a Florida man from having his coma-bound wife taken off life support, evangelical conservatives’ supposed renaissance amounted to little more than the election of an evangelical president and an experimental White House program to help the poor by means of “faith-based” institutions. (The program soon fizzled.) Comparisons between evangelicals and the Taliban abounded in the media, and academics who should have known better spoke as if a coup were imminent. “Seldom has the wall of separation between church and state,” wrote two Cornell professors in 2005, “seemed so fragile as in the America of George Walker Bush.”

By the mid-2000s, Mr. Miller notes, many observers wondered if efforts like those associated with President Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” “were but stalking horses for a broader agenda of ‘Christian nationalism.’ ” The author seems to sympathize with those observers, but I find it hard to see why a social group that had no influence on higher education or in the entertainment industry and very little in the mainstream media should have produced so much fear and loathing.

Mr. Miller is a refreshingly opinionated writer for an academic, though some readers will find his tone cynical. He hints at motives. The figures of whom he manifestly disapproves are always “positioning themselves,” as if he somehow knows that their writings and actions have reference only to their own reputations. The Catholic social critic Richard John Neuhaus “positioned himself as a hostile critic of the religious left,” for example, and the University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter “positioned himself as an impartial, if gravely concerned, chronicler of American public life.”

The figures of whom Mr. Miller approves, by contrast, are given far gentler treatment. The Pentecostal minister Eugene Rivers and the political scientist John DiIulio, both of whom have expressed left-leaning positions as well as centrist ones, are “deeply religious men who saw the church as the most effective force for addressing the social problems of needy Americans.” Still, “The Age of Evangelicalism” is one of the most efficient and well-rounded accounts of the evangelical movement in America to appear in recent years. It deserves a wide non-specialist audience.

Is the “age of evangelicalism” drawing to a close, as the author thinks and as most readers in 2014 will feel instinctively? In a sense, yes. The era when Bible-believing Americans were plausibly represented by self-assured bombastic moralists—Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell —is certainly over. But don’t confuse politics with culture. Many evangelical or otherwise orthodox Christians have realized that politics is only one among many manifestations of a culture’s values. They may have gone quiet. That doesn’t mean they’ve gone away.

—Mr. Swaim is writing a book on political language and public life.

07/8/14

Chief Rabbis condemn killing of Abu Khdeir as ‘outrageous murder’

By JEREMY SHARON
07/07/2014 17:04

Rabbi Levanon says it is biblical precept to ‘eradicate evil from your midst;’says death penalty should also be used for Jewish teens’ murderers. ELYAKIM LEVANON

Mati Wagner Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau both condemned on Monday the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the Arab youth who was burnt alive last week, and called for an end to the violence and inter-communal tensions that have gripped the country in recent days.

Lau spoke out strongly against the murder saying it was not the way of the Torah, but also called on Arab leaders work actively to prevent a further deterioration in the security situation.
“There is no place for continued blood-letting from all sides, and communal tensions must be calmed,” Lau said during the meeting of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate.
Yosef also condemned the murder, although a planned visit to Abu Khdeir’s family was canceled by the police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) due to specific security concerns for public figures wishing to pay their respects at the family home.
Yosef’s office said the chief rabbi had wished “to transmit a message of conciliation and to fiercely denounce the outrageous murder that was perpetrated against the innocent young man.”
“We as religious leaders need to lead with a conciliatory message to prevent continued pain and bereavement so that no one else is harmed,” Yosef said.
And on Sunday, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, one of the leading rabbis of the settlements in Judea and Samaria, has called for the imposition of the death penalty for the murderers of Abu Khdeir.
Speaking to Walla news website, Levanon said Jewish law is not merciful when dealing with “such a cruel murder,” regardless of whether the victim was Jewish or not.
“There is an obligation to give them the death penalty, in order to fulfill the [Biblical precept of] ‘you shall eradicate the evil from your midst,’” the rabbi said.
“The State of Israel and its operational arms, the IDF and the security services are required and commanded to wage war against terror without mercy, until it has been expunged from the world,” adding that the murderers of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel should also receive the death penalty.
And the Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics, which provides training for communal rabbis, called on synagogue rabbis to underline to their congregations that “revenge has absolutely no place in Judaism and that there is no such thing as murder in the name of God.”
Rabbis David Fine and Shlomo Sobol, the deans of Barkai, said “congregational rabbis during these times can have great influence and therefore it is critical that rabbis speak out unequivocally and unambiguously in deploring this dangerous and non-Jewish trend.”
07/1/14

Credo: Mystical forces can build an interreligious Third Temple

Simon Rocker

Published at 12:02AM, June 28 2014

We tend to think of mysticism as remote and other-worldly, the preserve of a spiritual elite. A mystical approach sometimes may have practical benefits and it may even prove helpful in the context of the Middle East.
At the epicentre of the conflict between Arabs and Jews is the city of Jerusalem and within it there is potentially no greater flashpoint than the Temple Mount. On Judaism’s holiest site once stood the First and Second Temples, destroyed respectively by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and Romans in 70 CE. However, for Muslims, it is Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, location of the golden Dome of the Rock, dating from the late-7th century, which marks the place of the Prophet Muhammad’s night ascent to heaven, and the silver-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque.
When, 2,500 years ago, Jewish exiles returned from Persia to Jerusalem, they set about building the Second Temple. Orthodox Jews believe that the Temple will one day be restored, as the prophets of the Bible foretold. Yet, despite the return of Jewish sovereignty with the new state of Israel, there has been no move to rebuild it. Mainstream rabbinic opinion has even prohibited Jews from visiting the mount less they stray on to sacred ground in a state of ritual impurity. Providentially, one might say, the Third Temple has been indefinitely deferred.
However, activists are getting itchy feet. Some Israeli politicians want to introduce a bill to enshrine the right of Jews to pray there.
On the other side, there is a trend within Palestinian and wider Islamic circles to deny the Jewish significance of the mount by referring to an “alleged Temple” — in contrast to a booklet published in the 1920s by the Muslim authorities in Jerusalem which said that its status as the site of Solomon’s Temple was “beyond dispute”.
The consequences of a fight for control of the site hardly bear thinking about. However, maybe we can take a cue from the mystical tradition, which goes back to the prophet Ezekiel. His biblical book opens with the revelation of a moveable throne bearing the divine presence, transported by four-faced angelic creatures.
The vision harks back to the two cherubs that sat atop the most intimate place in the Temple — the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, which the High Priest entered once a year to invoke the otherwise ineffable Divine Name. Ezekiel, a priest writing after the destruction of the First Temple, poetically reconstructed the Temple as a place of the mind. The Israeli scholar Rachel Elior says his vision of “the Chariot-Throne eternalises the destroyed earthly Temple through a visionary metamorphosis of its component parts”.
Ezekiel’s vision laid the foundations of a mysticism which continued after the destruction of the Second Temple. The arcane symbolism may now concern mainly kabbalists and scholars. However, the creative idea still has force — transmuting a physical building into an object of spiritual contemplation.
The Temple was seen as the place where heaven touched earth, a representation of sacred order and harmony. In the prophetic mind, it became the centre of Judaism’s highest ideals. Envisioning the rebuilt Temple, Isaiah wrote, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (56:7): the restoration of Zion is coupled with his most famous prophesy, of nations beating “their swords into ploughshares” (4:2).
These ancient dreams can point a way forward: to make Jerusalem known as a place of interreligious understanding rather than rivalry. Whenever Jews, Christians and Muslims meet in the spirit of reconciliation, a stone of the Temple is, symbolically, relaid. We may have territorial claims we do not want to relinquish, but we do not need to press them. As for building the Third Temple, that can be left safely to the Messiah.
Simon Rocker is a journalist with the Jewish Chronicle