Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Hello everyone!

Going back to Tuesday…

We started the morning with breakfast in the room and a short discussion of what we’d be doing for the rest of the week.  Then we all made our way down to Drift (near Janskerkhof in central Utrecht) where we had a wonderful lecture on the religious history of the Netherlands by Professor Henk Tieleman.

Andrew, Prof. Nyitray, Cori, Erin, Perla, Prof. Tieleman, Jason, and Angelique in the classroom at Drift – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

From there we walked over to lunch under the Dom (in the Domplein) and tried wonderful Dutch specialties like uitsmijters (open-faced sandwiches with 3 over-easy eggs on top) and kroketten (soft gravy/meat inside a hard fried shell).  We weathered the huge summer storm under the lunch umbrellas and then walked to the St. Willibrord’s church, the most richly decorated church in the Netherlands.  It was built in 1877 in the neo-Gothic style.

St. Willibrord church – Photo by Jason Cardenas

At St. Willibrord’s we were taken around by a nice volunteer who made sure to point out all of the unique nooks and crannies inside the church (including the dual-facing pews that flip up and down so parishioners didn’t have to get up and change seats when the speaker would walk up and down the aisles).

St. Willibrord church – Photo by Jason Cardenas

From St. Willibrord’s, we walked under heavy skies to the Catharijneconvent, a peaceful former convent that currently has the largest collection of relics and religious artifacts in Europe outside the Vatican.  We had coffee in the museum’s cafe and talked about the pillars of Dutch society and what it means to be Protestant and Catholic in the Netherlands both historically and contemporarily.

An intrepid few walked all the way back to the Hotel Mitland from the Catharijneconvent before heading out for dinner later that night.

Next installment coming later tonight!

Tot straks! (See you soon!)

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Hello everyone 🙂

We’re getting close to our departure date, so stay tuned for more frequent posts during the month of July including…a packing list!

If you have a little time now that finals are over, this is an interesting article to check out.  Like the French headscarf ruling that had the world watching closely a few years ago, this German decision on male circumcision has many people very upset (and others very happy– as controversies go).  A fascinating look into religion in the public sphere in one of the countries we’ll be visiting…

German Ruling Against Circumcising Boys Draws Criticism

By 
Published: June 26, 2012
BERLIN — A German court in Cologne ruled on Tuesday that circumcising young boys represents grievous bodily harm, a decision that could have significant repercussions for religious groups.Follow@nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the decision as “an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the self-determination of religious communities” and called on the German Parliament to pass legislation protecting circumcision as a religious practice.

The case centered on a 4-year-old boy whose Muslim parents had him circumcised by a doctor, which led to medical complications. Although both Muslims and Jews circumcise infant boys as a religious practice and many other people do so for health reasons, the court found that the child’s “fundamental right to bodily integrity” was more important than the parents’ rights.

According to the court, the religious freedom “would not be unduly impaired” because the child could later decide whether to have the circumcision.

Millions of Muslims call Germany home, as do more than 100,000 Jews, as part of a community that has enjoyed a significant resurgence here. Since World War II, many Germans have been careful to consider Jewish sensitivities as a result of the horrible crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust in the name of the German Reich.

Jewish leaders reacted furiously to Tuesday’s decision. The central council’s president, Dieter Graumann, called it “outrageous and insensitive,” saying in a statement that circumcision had been practiced worldwide for thousands of years. “In every country in the world this religious right is respected,” Mr. Graumann said.

Germany has no law against male circumcision, as there is against female genital cutting. Experts said that the decision would not be enforceable in other jurisdictions. But the legal uncertainty and threat of possible prosecution could lead doctors to decline to perform the procedure.

The central council said the national Parliament, the Bundestag, should “create legal certainty and thereby protect religious freedom from attacks.”

The decision by the court “places an intolerable burden on the free exercise of religion by Jews and also by Muslims who practice male circumcision as part of their religious faith,” Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director in New York, said in a statement.

While the ruling did not appear to have specific anti-Semitic intent, Mr. Foxman said, “its effect is to say, ‘Jews are not welcome.’ ”

Holm Putzke, a criminal law expert at the University of Passau, told the German news agency DPA that the ruling was not binding for other courts, but could send a welcome signal.

“After the knee-jerk outrage has faded away, hopefully a discussion will begin about how much religiously motivated violence against children a society is ready to tolerate,” he said.

Hello everyone!  I know I usually just focus on things in the past whenever I do “this week in history,” but we are on the eve of history being made.  In just a few hours it will be HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee!  That means she’s been on the throne for 60 years.

Now looking back again (yes, this time it covers a little bit over a week, but hey)…

April 29, 1916 – Irish nationalists in Dublin surrender to British authorities, ending the Easter Uprising.

April 29, 1967 – Boxer Muhammad Ali is stripped of his titles after refusing to serve in the US Army on religious grounds.

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April 30, 1789 – George Washington is sworn in as the first president of the United States.

April 30, 1945 – Adolph Hitler commits suicide in his bunker as Soviet forces overrun Berlin.

April 30, 1975 – The South Vietnamese government surrenders unconditionally to North Vietnam, ending decades of war.

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May 2, 1945 – The Battle for Berlin ends after lasting less than two weeks with the capture of the city by Soviet forces.

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May 4, 1942 – The first ‘selection’ for gassing takes place at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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May 5, 1980 – The SAS storms the Iranian embassy in London, freeing 19 hostages held by terrorists.

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May 7, 1945 – Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at General Eisenhower’s HQ in Rheims, France.

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May 8, 1945 – Prime Minister Winston Churchill announces the end of the war in Europe following Germany’s surrender.

This week in history from the BBC and National Native News:

March 16…

1988 – A chemical attack by Saddam Hussein’s forces on the town of Halabja, Iraq, kills up to 5,000 Kurds.

2011 – Navajo Code Talker Lloyd Oliver passed away. The 88-year-old was from Shiprock, New Mexico. He joined the Marines in 1942 and was one of the original 29 Navajo men who created an unbreakable code in their traditional language. The code was used to transmit messages in the Pacific during World War II.

March 17…

2003 – Britain and the US abandon attempts to gain UN backing for the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

March 18…

1992 – White South Africans vote overwhelmingly for an end to the racist apartheid system in a referendum.

March 19…

1179 – The Third Lateran Council of the Catholic church calls a crusade against the Cathar heretics in Toulouse.

1920 – American senators reject the Treaty of Versailles, ensuring the US will not join the League of Nations.

March 20…

1933 – The first Nazi concentration camp is completed at Dachau, near Munich.

2003 – ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom,’ the invasion of Iraq by US and British forces, begins with airstrikes.

March 21…

1556 – The first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, is burned at the stake for heresy.

1918 – General Erich Ludendorff launches his huge spring offensive, which ultimately exhausts the German army.

1960 – South African police kill 72 people (majority black South Africans) protesting against identity papers in the township of Sharpeville.  The event has come to be known as the ‘Sharpeville Massacre.’

Today in history…

…in 44 BCE* Julius Caeser, dictator of Rome for life, is assassinated in a conspiracy led by Cassius and Brutus.

…in 1912 CE** Judson Lawrence Brown was born in Kluckwan, a small Tlingit village 40 miles from Haines, Alaska. He was the first Native person to attend an integrated school in Alaska. Brown was the first Alaska Native to serve as mayor of Haines and served two terms.

 …in 1917 CE Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicates after the February Revolution, ending 1000 years of Imperial Rule.
*BCE (Before Common Era) is used in place of BC (Before Christ); for more info click here.
**CE (Common Era) is used in place of AD (Anno Domini / The year of the Lord); for more info click here.

MARCH 12

1881 – Mohandas Gandhi begins a campaign of civil disobedience against British rule in India

1938 – Germany occupies and then annexes Austria in the “Anschluss,” supposedly intended to re-establish order

MARCH 13

1881 – Tsar Alexander II is assassinated in St. Petersburg, ending reform and causing the scapegoating of the Jews

MARCH 14

1939 – At Germany’s insistence, Slovakia declares independence from Czechoslovakia, becoming a German satellite

1991 – The ‘Birmingham Six,’ jailed for killing 21 people in two IRA bombings, have their convictions quashed

And, from National Native News:

During this month in 2011, an honoring ceremony was held for the first South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations Leroy LaPlante. The Cheyenne River Sioux tribal member was named to the post to foster a better working relationship with the state and nine tribes within its borders. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard created the cabinet-level position after taking office last year.

Photograph from jasoncholt.com

Translation: Barbarism has no religion, no culture, and no race.  No to terrorism.  Not in our name.  Muslim Youth of Madrid.

On March 11, 2004, ten bombs were planted on commuter trains traveling in the Madrid metro area.  Set off during the morning rush hour, they killed 191 and wounded 1,800 passengers and bystanders.  Initially, the Basque separatist organization ETA was suspected.  After a thorough investigation, the attacks were attributed to an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist group.  This marked the first time an Islamic extremist group committed acts of terrorism on European soil and is still considered the worst terrorist attack in the history of Spain (and Europe).

Also on this day (from the BBC):

On March 11, 1941, the United States Congress passes the Lend-Lease Bill, authorizing huge war loans to Britain and the Soviet Union.

On March 11, 1985, reformer Mikhail Gorbachev is confirmed as the Soviet Union’s new (and ultimately final) leader.