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Earthpages gets a new Facebook page!

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Earthpages new Facebook page

There’s an old saying that success is like a snowball. The more it rolls down the hill, the bigger it gets. This has certainly been the case with my use of Facebook.

Since opening my personal Facebook page to the public, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people. People who I’ll probably never meet in person but who are open to relating through the web. Not everyone has that kind of global perspective. Some want to keep their Facebook page private for known friends and family. And I can appreciate that. But I believe the broader perspective will become increasingly normal in the future (it already is with musicians, who collaborate with like-minded souls at a distance).

It’s only a matter of time before mankind’s little boundaries get bigger. And I want Earthpages to be at the forefront of that change.

Funny thing is, as I get to know my new Facebook friends (whom I haven’t met in person), the whole bunch starts to feel like an extended family. Or maybe a circle of acquaintances. We all have common interests. And many post vital stories that I want to share with the rest of my Earthpages visitors.

But still, there’s a slight tension – I’ll be honest – with my extended circle, on the one hand, and my old friends and family, on the other hand. I have to think before posting family photos or divulging somewhat personal info. So far, I’ve managed the two realms on one Facebook page pretty well.

But it’s time to break free and start up a whole new page. And that’s why I’ve launched a second Facebook page for Earthpages. It’s quite new and doesn’t have many followers yet. But I am delighted that the search engines have picked it up.

This new page contains cutting edge stories and alternative commentary. It won’t tell you how I feel today or if I brushed my teeth after dinner! That kinda stuff will be at my first Facebook page, which everyone is still welcome to join. My new page, simply called “Earthpages“, is about what’s happening now. And what will make a difference tomorrow.

Check it out!  https://www.facebook.com/earth5569

—MC


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Five Million Free Kid’s Books

Purim: Attack of the Happy Kids by Flavio~ via Flickr

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

You would think that Jews, who are called “The People of the Book” by the Qur’an, would have lots of Jewish books for their children.

But there are many Jews whose homes lack even a few Jewish kid’s books. This is especially true for Jews who live in remote areas or have a spouse who is not Jewish. But for them things are changing.

A recent report carried by the Religious News Service relates how more than 10 years ago, Harold Grinspoon learned that Dolly Parton, who grew up in a poor home with no books, gives away thousands of books each month as part of her “Imagination Library” literacy project.

Grinspoon signed on to help her, sending books to kids in western Massachusetts, where he lives. Then he decided to start his own free book project, the PJ Library, for Jewish kids who might not know much about Jewish values or Jewish holidays.

“I love the Jewish people,” said Grinspoon, 84, who worries about rising rates of intermarriage among Jews. “If I can bring something warm and fuzzy in the form of the PJ Library into the homes of Jewish children, then that’s a good place for me to be,” he said.

Now 9 years old, the PJ Library — which stands for “pajamas,” because many PJ books are read at bedtime — recently gave out its 5 millionth book in North America. Grinspoon delivered it himself to a 4-year-old named Jake in Natick, Mass.

That book was one of 130,000 books the PJ Library mails to homes across North America each month, for which the Harold Grinspoon Foundation pays approximately $4 million a year. Those funds are matched by local Jewish organizations in each community served by the PJ Library.

These include many areas with tiny Jewish communities, such as Zion National Park where my granddaughters, the only Jewish children in 50 miles, live.

A Spanish version of the PJ library just started in Mexico and Grinspoon wants to bring the PJ Library to Russia — a country with a large Jewish populations where Jewish children were cut off from Jewish education for over 70 years.

In Israel, both Muslims and Jews receive books; in Arabic for the Muslims and in Hebrew for the Jews.

In the U. S. many of those who sign up for the PJ Library, are non-Jews who are or were married to Jews.

The sign-up form asks for little more than an address and the ages of the children in a household, so that the library can send them age-appropriate books. Anyone can sign up online.

Marcie Greenfield Simons, the PJ Library’s director, said a new study commissioned by the Grinspoon Foundation of 20,000 American Jewish families that receive the free books shows they are doing their job.

Nearly 58 percent said the program has moderately or greatly influenced their decisions “to build upon or add a Jewish tradition to their home life.”

And more than 62 percent said it “increased their families’ positive feelings about being Jewish.”

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Q/A – Religions and Schizophrenia

One of several versions of the painting "...

One of several versions of the painting “The Scream”. The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do volunteer work at Allexperts.com. Sometimes I get kooky questions. Other times I get really boring questions. One time someone down in the States threatened me physically because s/he didn’t like my suggestion that s/he seek counseling. The threat only reinforced my impression that s/he could benefit from professional help.

Being a volunteer isn’t always easy. I disabled the ratings feature at Allexperts because I’m not doing it to be at the top of the heap, or anything like that. Instead, I find it’s a wonderful way to contribute.

Volunteering also keeps me on top of things. If anyone has ever tried to teach they’ll know that teaching is the best way to learn. People ask questions on all sorts of topics, some I’m only vaguely familiar with. But I’m usually confident enough in my research abilities to get to the heart of the matter and offer something of value.

After all, a lot of the ideas found in religion, mysticism, and parapsychology are interrelated. If you know something about “A” “B” and “C”, chances are you can muster up something intelligent to say about “D”, even if it’s a relatively new facet of the same old recurring themes. And if a question is just too far out of my area of expertise, Allexperts gives the option to decline. So it’s all good.

Photo of Tabaret Hall with the Desmarais Build...

Photo of Tabaret Hall with the Desmarais Building in the background, on the University of Ottawa campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day I got a question on the relation between mental illness and religion. I actually wrote an essay about this in a required Ph.D. seminar on “methodology” in the department of Religious Studies, University of Ottawa. Back then I tried to apply postmodern insights about deconstruction to some of the truth claims forwarded by mystics and psychiatrists, alike.

So that’s the background to this recent question/answer at Allexperts.com. The questioner is asking about religions and the idea of schizophrenia. I can’t reproduce my answer here for copyright reasons, but I checked with Allexperts.com and they are totally okay with my linking to published answers at their site:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Comparative-Religious-Studies-1596/2014/2/religions-schizophrenia.htm

—MC


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Contention with the classics

Originally posted on Blog of Natalie Gorna:

The genre we have named “the classics” are a tricky bunch to like.  It’s not just that some are written in a foreign language or in a dialect of one’s native language that is centuries/decades old.  Or that the author takes forever to get to “plot progression” (in other words, making the story go on). Or that the whole book can be literally exhausting for the mind to understand.  It’s not the length, the subgenre, the writing style, the vocabulary, or the time period when the work was written.  Public pressure, media adoration, film adaptations: these are all factors to consider. Usually every person has expectations (e.g. from recommendations and favorite TV series) for the classics, especially in view of that worldwide thought that classic reading is good reading. And when it comes to reading certain classics, it’s literally like trying to translate your modern understanding of the work and/or your preconceptions into a entirely different language when your mind is processing the actual, original text.

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Online Parapsychology Course through the Rhine Research Center


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Teachers Love Technology

by Staff Writers at OnlineUniversities.com

Once upon a time, the role of the teacher in the classroom conjured up images and ideas of blackboards, rulers, chalk, and pencils. But now, technology is becoming more and more integrated into modern school systems—not just as an added bonus, but as a necessity to how students learn and how teachers teach. While at one point in time, adopting technology into the classroom may have been perceived as stressful and forced for teachers and students alike, as it stands now, students aren’t just excited about using technology, teachers are excited and highly capable of utilizing its presence in the classroom. From smartboards to class computers to e-readers and e-textbooks, each new technology presents new modes of both teaching and learning opportunities. Now, every day teachers with tech access are finding new ways to embrace technology and incorporate it into the classroom. As a result, teachers are more efficient than ever, and students are capable of learning faster and more efficiently. In fact, a majority of students say that technology has helped them to achieve their academic goals, while a majority of teachers say they would like to use even more technology in the classroom. The following infographic looks into the tech-teaching phenomenon, and why teachers love it so much.

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