Weekly Meanderings, 13 June 2020 | Jesus Creed

Weekly Meanderings, 13 June 2020 | Jesus Creed

I hope these links today can give you some things to ponder.

Maya Moore, a social justice advocate par excellence:

Among sports’ most influential civil-rights voices, a few names frequently rise to the top. In an earlier era, Muhammad Ali was the defining figure; more recently, Colin Kaepernick has stepped to the forefront in the battle for equality. But as ESPN’s Howard Bryant recently pointed out, there is an athlete who is consistently missing from these conversations, even though her sacrifice in the name of justice has been as great as anyone’s…

Maya Moore, one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players in the history of the sport, announced in February 2019 that she was taking a sabbatical, one that she was hoping would allow her to tap into her faith and find her life’s purpose. “I’m sure this year will be hard in ways that I don’t even know yet,” she said. “But it will also be rewarding in ways I’ve yet to see, too.”

It would become clear that Moore, who turns 31 today, saw the idea of criminal-justice reform as part of her calling. In our current moment, when America’s policing of people of color is getting a long-overdue reexamination, Moore’s mission should take on an even greater significance in the history of athletes whose impact was felt beyond the game itself.

Even in 2017, well before she left the WNBA, Moore talked about how her great-uncle’s work in prison ministry had influenced her. Her great-uncle had gotten to know one incarcerated man in particular who stood out: Jonathan Irons. Moore’s extended family began researching the details of his 1998 conviction on first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action charges, which resulted in a 50-year sentence.1 No blood, footprints or fingerprints tied Irons to the crime; and Irons, a poor black teenager from Missouri, had been convicted by an all-white jury.

Irons was 16 years old at the time of the crime.

Moore, believing Irons had been wrongfully convicted, got more involved in the fight to exonerate him, both visiting and befriending him in prison while also attending his hearings.

The effort culminated in March when a judge overturned Irons’s conviction. “She saved my life,” said Irons, who is now 40 years old and has spent 23 years behind bars. “I would not have had this chance if not for her and her wonderful family.”

Moore compared the overturning of Irons’s conviction to hoisting a Final Four trophy. When she heard the news, she said she felt “redemption” for taking time off from basketball.

When we return to church meetings, some suggested guidelines – by Adelle M. Banks:

(RNS) — An ecumenical group of clergy, scientists and other experts has released a guide to help congregations consider best practices for reopening for worship.

Among their suggestions:

Refrain from congregational singing. Clap or stomp instead.

Preachers, shorten your sermon.

Congregants, mouth your response during Communion instead of speaking.

Pass the peace to other worshippers with a gentle nod or a reverent bow, but no physical contact.

The 36-page document notes that church leaders will make different decisions depending on the recommendations of denominational and health officials.

A Presidential award for a handwashing machine.

(CNN)A 9-year-old Kenyan boy who made a wooden hand washing machine to limit the spread of Covid-19 received a presidential award on Monday.

Stephen Wamukota, from Bungoma County in western Kenya, was the youngest of 68 people to receive the award from President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Wamukota built a semi-automatic machine to help curb Covid-19 in Kenya, which has reported more than 2,000 confirmed cases.

Patrick Amoth, acting director general for Kenya’s Ministry of Health, and Wachira Waruru, managing director of Royal Media Service, also received the presidential award.

Wamukota’s father, James, told CNN that his son came up with the idea to build the machine after learning how to stay safe from Covid-19 on a local TV channel.

“The first time the president announced Covid-19 infection in our country, it was said that everyone should wash their hands regularly to prevent the virus. My son told me that time that he had come up with a structure to help make hand washing easier,” he said.

Misidentifying biblical terms for birds:

CARMEL MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Israel (Reuters) – The griffon vulture is not only ungainly, smelly and endangered: it is also often denied its biblical fame by being mixed up with the eagle.

But for a network of Israeli conservationists, the bird still has pride of place in the land whose ancient prophets saw in its soaring flight a metaphor for religious exaltation.

Hit by accidental poisoning and urbanisation, Israel’s griffon vulture population has fallen to around 180 in the wild, says Yigal Miller, manager of programs for endangered raptors at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

So as part of the ‘Under our Wing’ project run by his organisation and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the next generation is being reared in captivity before being let loose in the desert with tracking tags.

“We raise the vulture chicks… and after several years we release them to nature,” Miller said.

Named “nesher” in Hebrew, the bird has often been mislabelled in scriptures, notably in the King James version of the English Bible, which in Exodus describes God as bearing the Israelites on eagles’ rather than vultures’ wings.

According to Israel’s Biblical Museum of Natural History, many people still feel as uncomfortable as those 17th-century translators did in identifying as a vulture a bird described in noble terms by scripture.

“The vulture is (nowadays) commonly regarded as a loathsome creature,” its website explains.

“But in the Middle East, it is the griffon vulture that is the king of birds.”

Identifying ancient sites with radar:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a glimpse into the future of archeology, researchers have used ground-penetrating radar to map an entire ancient Roman city, detecting remarkable details of buildings still deep underground including a temple and a unique public monument.

The technology was used at Falerii Novi, a walled city spanning 75 acres (30.5 hectares) about 30 miles (50 km) north of Rome, researchers said on Monday.

Falerii Novi was founded in 241 BC during the time of the Roman Republic and was inhabited until around 700 AD in the early Middle Ages.

It marked the first time a complete ancient city was mapped using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), which lets researchers explore large-scale archeological sites expeditiously without excavation, which can be costly and time-consuming.

The technology can “see” beneath the surface using a radar antenna that sends a pulsed radio signal into the ground and listens for the echoes bouncing off objects. The GPR equipment was pulled over the surface using an all-terrain vehicle.

“This took one person about three to four months in the field,” said Martin Millett, a University of Cambridge classical archaeology professor who helped lead the study published in the journal Antiquity. “This really does change how we can study and understand Roman towns – the way of the future for archaeology.”

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