Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NBA's Jeremy Lin 'called to be a Christian ... to be different'

NEW YORK (BP) -- A lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, Daniel Chan faced a dilemma on Feb. 10 with his team playing the hated New York Knicks and their sudden star Jeremy Lin.

Photo by Dave Saffran/MSG Photos
"Some people had asked me before the game who I'd be cheering for -- Jeremy or the Lakers," said Chan, pastor of student ministries at Redeemer Bible Fellowship in Mountain View, Calif. "I've never cheered against the Lakers. But Jeremy is a member of our church and a friend, part of our flock --– I had to root for him. It was hard, but...."

Lin has gone from unemployed NBA wannabe to household name and worldwide superstar in only a matter of days. His unexpected emergence as the starting point guard for the Knicks has sparked the struggling team and launched the "Linsanity" that has gripped both the city of New York and the broader sports world.

Lin's is a story of perseverance and persistence, of hard work and humility. But most of all, Lin's is a story of strong faith in Jesus Christ, of devotion to Bible study and prayer and of commitment to spreading the Gospel whenever he gets the opportunity.

"I'm just thankful to God for everything," Lin said in a recent post-game interview, as quoted by Religion News Service. "Like the Bible says, 'God works in all things for the good of those who love Him.'"

How good has Lin been since cracking the Knicks' lineup? New York was 8-15 before Lin scored 25 points off the bench Feb. 4. His next six games as a starter were all wins. He set an NBA record for the most points scored in the first five starts of a career.

In that game against the Lakers, Lin scored 38. On Feb. 14 against Toronto, Lin drained a three-pointer with less than a second remaining to give New York a 90-87 win. After struggling against New Orleans in an 89-85 loss on Feb. 17, Lin bounced back to score a team-high 28 points in a Feb. 19 win over Dallas.

The son of Christian Taiwanese immigrants who settled in California, Lin led his high school team to a state championship before playing college basketball for Harvard and helping the Crimson to their best record ever (21-7) in 2009-10.

Lin, who became a Christian as a freshman in high school, matured greatly in his faith during his time at the Ivy League school. He was an active member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Christian Fellowship, one of eight InterVarsity chapters at Harvard. Lin met regularly with Adrian Tam, an InterVarsity campus staff member at the time. The two studied the Bible together and read books together, such as "Too Busy Not to Pray."

"First and foremost, he is a disciple of Christ," Tam said about Lin. "That becomes very evident from the beginning. When you meet him you don't think, 'Oh wow, this must be an important person.' He's very humble. In some ways, you might even think he downplays a lot of these things -- his intellect, his ability and all that."

Tam said Lin's goal and quiet ambition was to be "not only the best basketball player he could be, but also to be the best Christ-follower he could be."

Lin didn't get picked in the 2010 NBA draft but signed with his hometown Golden State Warriors in July of that year. He saw little playing time with the team in his first season, however, and the Warriors waived him in December before the 2011-12 NBA season.

The Rockets claimed Lin off waivers, but then waived him again a couple weeks later. On Dec. 27, the Knicks claimed him to be a backup. Lin soon changed those plans and has become the NBA season's biggest news. According to a USA Today story Feb. 17, Lin had the top-selling jersey at NBAstore.com from Feb. 4-12, with merchandise being shipped to 22 countries.

In the midst of his sudden fame, Lin's pastor said his desire is to use it to glorify the Lord.

"He wants to be careful with it," said Stephen Chen, pastor of Redeemer Bible Fellowship. "I think he wants to be able to enjoy what he can enjoy in the things that would honor God, and at the same time be cautious about how he lives his life. He wants to be the same person."

In a 2010 interview with Patheos.com, Lin explained how his faith in Christ affects who he is and what he does on the basketball court.

"Not just in basketball, but I think in life, when you're called to be a Christian, you're automatically called to be different from everyone else. In today's world of basketball, it makes you really different, because the things that society values aren't necessarily in line with what God values.

"Much of it comes down to humility," Lin said. "We as Christians are called to be humble. And if we really understand the Gospel, we will be humble. We should be humble, and understand that everything that is good comes from God."
Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.BPSports.net) and director of news and media relations for Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

In 200-year tradition, most Christian missionaries are American

SALEM, Massachusetts (Reuters) - At a church on the New England coast 200 years ago, five young men became ordained as Congregational missionaries and set off on cargo ships to India as the first organized group of American missionaries to travel overseas.

Their departure signaled the start of the U.S. missionary movement, and today the United States sends more Christian missionaries abroad than any other country, experts say.

The United States sent out 127,000 of the world's estimated 400,000 missionaries abroad in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

In distant second place is Brazil, which sent 34,000 missionaries abroad in 2010, he said.

The United States receives the most missionaries as well, with 32,400 in 2010, he said. Many are Brazilians - Catholic, Protestants and Pentecostals - who largely work in Brazilian communities in the Northeast, Johnson said.


Church Takes on Mental Illness


Avon Lake United Church of Christ will offer 5-week class exploring mental illness for loved ones.

Last summer, Rev. Kelly Brill of Avon Lake United Church of Christ officiated at funerals of five suicide victims.

“The common denominator in many of those cases was mental illness and substance abuse, which frequently go hand in hand,” Brill said.

So she decided to team with the National Alliance of Mental Illness of Greater Cleveland to offer a free, five-week class for friends and family members of people experiencing a mental illness. The classes, led by three NAMI members, will teach students about mental illness and how to be supportive to their loved one.

“This is my attempt to offer something to our local community because I’ve found in work and personal life that there is…a lack of opportunity for those with loved ones suffering from mental illness to talk to each other and feel like they’re not alone,” Brill said.

Brill is no stranger to the classes – she was once a student in a 12-week NAMI program.

“I have a brother who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about nine years ago,” Brill said. “Going to these classes helped me understand what he was going through.”

And Brill sees the chance to help others understand what their loved ones are going through as a unique opportunity for the religious community.

“One of the roles of the church is to provide a community for one another and to help each other through difficult moments in life,” she said. “This is a unique way for churches to bring a little hope into people’s lives.”

The hour-long classes will be held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. beginning Feb. 29. Registration is required by calling or emailing the church no later than Monday, Feb. 27.

Congress Bans Access to Welfare Cash From ATMs Within Liquor Stores, Stripclubs and Casinos

A ban on EBT card withdrawals from ATMs in casinos, liquor stores, and stripclubs was included in the Payroll Tax Cut Bill which passed in House and is waiting for President Obama’s signature. NBC New York notes that the measure of the bill regarding EBT card withdrawals was opposed by some Democrats.

“What stops people from going to Whole Foods and using their EBT card there and then going to the casino?” said Rep. Gwen Moore during Congressional debate before the bill’s passing.


FRC Releases Letter Signed By 2,500 Religious Leaders Opposing Contraceptive Mandate

BELOW IS THE LETTER to sign click here

Sign the Letter to President Obama on the Contraceptive Mandate

Dear President Obama:

The undersigned pastors and Christian leaders all write to raise serious concerns over what some have called the "contraception mandate" stemming from the action of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on August 1st, 2011 to mandate that all health insurance plans in the individual and group market cover all FDA approved "contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures," including abortifacient drugs and other devices that can destroy life in its early stages.

This mandate was not necessary, nor warranted under the provision of "preventive care services for women" contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Worse still is the fact that the mandate essentially ignores the conscience rights of many Catholic and Protestant Americans. Our country was founded on certain freedoms, the first of which is the freedom of religion. The ability of a religious person to follow their conscience without fearing government intervention has long been a protected right for Americans. It is unfathomable to picture a country that would deny religious freedoms.

On August 1, 2011, your Administration granted a narrow exemption that only covers houses of worship. However, the fact remains that the vast majority of religious organizations will be required to choose either to violate their consciences or drop their health coverage for employees. This mandate is all the more egregious for including drugs and devices that are known and scientifically shown to function in ways that can cause abortions, including varieties of the morning-after-pill, both before and after implantation. The conscience rights of those who object to such drugs, let alone object to being forced to cover such drugs, is clearly violated by the Administration action.

Due to significant opposition to this mandate, many people of faith hoped that the Administration would chose to protect the conscience rights of all people who have moral or religious objections to covering contraceptives and sterilization procedures and accordingly submitted comments to your Administration totaling over 200,000. In the face of this outcry, your Administration issued a press release on January 20, 2012 that offers groups only a one year reprieve on being forced to violate the tenants of their faith. Worse still, the decision includes a new requirement that all such religious organizations will be required to refer for that which they find objectionable in the first place.

The contraceptive mandate with the requirement that there will be no co-pay to the patient means millions of Americans will incur the additional cost for these drugs and devices. Forcing religious entities to do the same, despite objections of good conscience, is a severe blow to our religious liberty. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in 1779, which passed in 1786, and set the stage for the First Amendment. In it, Jefferson states: "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical." Consequently, we ask that you would reverse this decision and protect the conscience rights of those who have biblically-based opposition to funding or providing contraceptives and abortifacients.


Victoria’s Secret Model Who Quit Over Faith Tells Beck: ‘There’s No Happiness‘ in Getting ’Half-Naked’

“My faith is more important and I want to honor God,” she said. “I don’t feel like I am honoring him when I am half-naked.”

Why modern life left polygamy at the altar

- Futurity.org - http://www.futurity.org -

UC DAVIS (US) — Compared to monogamous societies, polygamous cultures see more rape, kidnapping, murder, child abuse, and other crimes, a new study suggests.

When men take multiple wives, the competition for fewer available women results in greater levels of strife, the researchers hypothesize.

The findings may explain the global rise of monogamy as the dominant marriage institution in recent centuries, replacing polygamy, which was once practiced by 85 percent of the world’s societies, says Peter Richerson, environmental science professor at University of California, Davis. [1].

“We wanted to understand both why monogamous societies have been economically more successful in the last few centuries and why monogamy has spread to many formerly polygamous societies in the course of modernization,” adds Richerson.

Straight from the Source

Read the original study [2]

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0290

Criminological data suggest unmarried men, particularly unmarried men of lower social status with lesser prospects of attracting wives, are disproportionately responsible for violent and other seriously disruptive behavior, he says.

Polygamy continues to be practiced in parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America.

“The emergence of monogamous marriage is also puzzling because multiple marriage is mostly practiced by the economic and political elite who should be in a position to defend the practice,” Richerson says. “South African President Jacob Zuma, for example, is proud of having several wives.”

But, Richerson points out, what seems good for the man who has many wives does not work out as well for the rest of society.

“Our findings suggest that institutionalized monogamous marriage provides greater net benefits for society at large by reducing social problems that are inherent in polygamous societies.”

Published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, [2] the study says that by shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, institutionalized monogamy increases long-term planning, economic productivity, financial savings, and child investment.

Monogamous marriage also results in significant improvements in child welfare, including lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death, homicide, and intra-household conflict. These benefits result from greater levels of parental investment, smaller households, and increased direct “blood relatedness” in monogamous family households, the researchers say.

Joseph Henrich, a cultural anthropologist at the University of British Columbia, led the study, working with Richerson and Robert Boyd, a UCLA anthropology professor.

More news from UC Davis: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/ [3]

Article printed from Futurity.org: http://www.futurity.org

URL to article: http://www.futurity.org/top-stories/why-modern-life-left-polygamy-at-the-altar/

URLs in this post:

[1] University of California, Davis.: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10142

[2] Read the original study: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1589/657

[3] http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/

There’s math hiding in the music we love

Posted By Katherine Gombay-McGill On February 21, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

- Futurity.org - http://www.futurity.org -

MCGILL (CAN) / STANFORD (US) — After analyzing close to 2,000 compositions, researchers have uncovered a mathematical formula governing the rhythmic patterns in music.

“One of the things that we’ve known about music for a couple of decades is that the distribution of pitches and loudness in music follow predictable mathematical patterns,” says Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University [1] and co-author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Rhythm is even more fundamental to our enjoyment of music: it’s rhythm that infants respond to first, it’s rhythm that makes you want to get out of your chair and move, and so it’s not really a surprise to discover that rhythm, too, is governed by a similar mathematical formula.”

Levitin and Vinod Menon, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, led the team that analyzed the scores of close to 2,000 musical compositions written by more than 40 composers over the last 400 years in a large variety of Western musical genres.

They found that all the musical compositions they studied shared the same “fractal” quality, where the part is a more limited repetition of the whole. That is the larger temporal structure of well-formed musical pieces is composed of repeating motifs of their own short-term temporal structure.

At the same time, researchers also discovered that each composer had his or her own highly individual rhythmic signature.

“This was one of the most unanticipated and exciting findings of our research,” asserts Levitin. “Mozart’s notated rhythms were the least predictable, Beethoven’s were the most, and Monteverdi and Joplin had nearly identical, overlapping rhythm distributions. But they each have their own distinctive rhythmic signature that you can capture.

“Our findings also suggest that rhythm may play an even greater role than pitch in conveying a composer’s distinctive style.”

From snowflakes to fern fronds and broccoli florets, fractal patterns are to be found throughout the natural world. The discovery that four centuries of musical compositions obey this same mathematical rule strongly suggests that composers’ own brains may have incorporated certain regularities of the physical world, to recreate self-similarity in works of musical art.

Indeed, the authors suggest, building on work begun in the 1970s that our sensory and motor systems may have a fundamental propensity to both perceive and produce fractal patterns not just across the three dimensions of space, but also across time.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the National Science Foundation.

More news from McGill University: www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/ [2]