The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 21, 2001 · Page 17
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 17

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Saturday, April 21, 2001
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THE SAUNA JOURNAL RELIGION SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2001 B5 • BAHAI RELIGION Gardens symbolize hope for universal peace Bahai teaches faithful to abandon prejudice and recognize unity By JASON KEYSER, The Associated Press HAIFA, Israel — Fulfilling a vision of the Bahai prophet Ba- hauUah, workers pruned and clipped grass and shrubs down a hillside in front of a gold- domed shrine — a symbol of peace and tranquility in a land where both are scarce. . Inside the silent, dim room of the serene shrine, a few Bahai faithful meditated above the tomb of one of their prophets. The completion of 18 gardens of eucalyptus and gnarled olive trees, flowers and ivy marks the realization of a century-old vision of the prophet Bahaullah. Followers of the Bahai faith believe he was sent to lead humanity into an age of universal peace. In a place where more than 450 people have been killed in months of clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, that hope can seem far away. Iran Hessami, 50, a pilgrim from Vancouver, Canada, prayed inside the shrine. "I prayed for peace of the world," she said, following a line of pilgrims smiling at two Arab couples taking wedding photographs in the gardens. "I am praying not only for the Ba­ hai people, but all the people of • ANCIENT SCROLLS Photos By The Associated Press ABOVE: This is a partial view of one of the 18 terraced gardens below the gold-domed Bahai shrine in the northern coastal Israeli town of Haifa. ABOVE RIGHT: Israeli flags fly in front of the Bahai Shrine, where Bahai faithfuls will gather in May to celebrate completion of the gardens. the world. Bahai believe in unity and diversity" Hessami was born in Iran, but left after the Islamic revolution in 1979, prompted by rules that prevented her children from going to school because their mother was Bahai. About 130 years earlier, one of the religion's founders, the Bab — who foretold the coming of the prophet Bahaullah — was shot to death in Iran along with 20,000 followers. Islamic clergy apparently felt threatened by the growing popularity of the religion. A few years later, Bahaullah was exiled from Iran to Acre, Space tool shines on scrofls NASA technology sheds light on ancient papyrus texts By The Associated Press PROVO, Utah — It used to take scholars weeks or even months to decipher ancient scrolls scorched in the eruption that buried Pompeii — if the texts weren't blackened beyond recognition. But Brigham Young University researchers have used light-imaging technology to clean up the scrolls, making it possible to read texts that date back more than 2,000 years. Scientists originally designed the technology for NASA. "Some scholars have told me they take two to three weeks to read a line of text," said BYU project leader Steven Booras, who presented his results Thursday at the annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. "When that first image came up, I have to admit I was thinking, 'Hey, we've got something here.' " The scrolls were found at a villa belonging to Julius Caesar's father-in-law. The villa T CHURCH AND POLITICS was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. The lava kept the papyri intact, but they were so carbonized by the heat that when they were first uncovered in the 1750s, archaeologists thought they were charcoal and threw many away Dozens more were lost as scholars tried to separate the rock-hard pages, using everything from corrosive chemicals to saws. Eventually, about 1,700 scrolls were unrolled and stored at a Naples museum. Because the blackened paper was almost impossible to discern from the jet-black ink, only a few yielded their secrets. The new technology has changed all that. Using light- imaging photography developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to study minerals on planet surfaces, the scroll fragments look as if they were written last week. To create the images, Booras takes pictures of each papyrus, slipping filters under the lens of a high-tech digital camera to limit the band of light. Photographers have long used filters to screen out unwanted images, but this system is more precise. Starting with the naked eye. Booras works his way through the spectrum until the black background starts to drop away Most often, the best results are with infrared light, which the ink seems to reflect most brightly. As Booras demonstrated the changes, running from charcoal-black fragments to clean, clear text, academics in the audience gasped. "I once spent a full hour or more looking at a scrap of papyrus," said Richard Janko, a classicist with University College of London. "This passage was dead black; we went over it and over it and all we could see was a few letters. ... With this technology, we may be able to rebuild the whole thing," That has archaeologists excited about future possibilities. The multi-spectral imaging system has already been used to decode religious texts found at a Byzantine church in Jordan and to uncover writing behind ancient murals in an Aztec temple in Mexico. And BYU's Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts is embarking on a project to examine ancient writings belonging to the Vatican. Study spotlights black churches Leaders differ in what congregations should focus on the most By The Associated Press '. WASHINGTON — Black churches' political activism is spotty and focused more on voter registration and getting people to the polls than on shaping public policy, says a scholar who has spent three years studying the churches. Black clergy appear to be divided on major issues, he also reported, with signs of resistance to President Bush's plan to attack social problems by funding religious groups. The Rev Dr. R. Drew Smith of Morehouse College in Atlanta, a political scientist and Baptist minister, released preliminary findings Thursday from the "Public Influences of African- American Churches Project" at the start of a three-day conference with church leaders. His conclusions were based mainly on a mail and follow-up phone survey prior to last year's elections, with 1,893 black clergy responding out of 10,000. Two-thirds of the pastors said their churches ran voter registration drives, and half said voters would be given rides to the polls on election day But less than a fourth reported their congregations were directly involved in advocacy on most public policy issues. The exceptions were public education, where 40 percent of churches were involved, and civil rights, with 29 percent. A subsidiary survey among 301 of these clergy showed splits over specific issues. On the Bush "faith-based" program, 39 percent were strongly opposed and 21 percent strongly in favor. On tax-supported vouchers for private school students, 46 percent strongly disagreed, and 25 percent strongly agreed. The Rev. Barbara Reynolds, a syndicated colvimnist and part- CHURCH NOTES • The annual spring concert at Trinity Lutheran Church, Ninth and Crawford streets, will be Sunday Excerpts from the "Messiah" will be presented by the Trinity Choir at the 8:30 and 11 a.m. services. • The Rev Pat Ault DueU will be a guest speaker at the 8:30 and 11 a.m. services Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 901 E. Neal. A breakfast buffet will be served from 9 to 11 a.m. in fellowship hall. • Laurine Gurley Tippen, a missionary from Singapore, will be the guest speaker Monday at American Baptist Women's Ministries Spring RaUy at First Baptist Church, 843 Lewis. Registration for the rally which is from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., is needed by Sunday Call the church office. Lunch is $4. • Glasco United Methodist Church wUl have a Victorious Christian Living Conference Thursday and Friday nights and all day AprU 27. The free conference is a 12-hour teaching series that focuses on the life empowered by Christ. Call Kelly Sipes at (785) 568-2221. Advanced registration is encouraged. • The Kansas Wesleyan University Chorale wiU present a free public concert, "An Evening of Folksongs and Part- songs" (including a performance in its entirety of Randall Thompson's Frostiana) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at University United Methodist Church. near Haifa, in what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. There he was kept under house arrest until his death in 1892. While under arrest, Ba­ haullah and the Bab wrote poems, ethical and social teachings and mystical writings, which form the basis of the religion. The world's 5 million Bahai are scattered throughout the globe, with an estimated 130,000 living in the United States. They teach the importance of abandoning all prejudice and recognize equality of the sexes and the essential unity and common themes of all religions. Bahaullah is considered by Bahais to be the last in a line of prophets that included Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. Before he died in Acre, Ba­ haullah pointed across a bay to Moimt Carmel in Haifa and said that the Bab's remains should be buried there and a shrine built. The structure was first built on the site in 1909. Bahais have made improvements and additions ever since. Anne Wong, a spokeswoman for the center, said the terraced gardens, which took 10 years to develop and cost $250 million, complete the project and fulfill Bahaullah's wish. Completion of the gardens wUl be formally celebrated May 22 in a ceremony to be attended by 3,000 believers from around the world. "The real message of these terraces is one about the victory of love over violence," said Albert Lincoln, secretary-gen-: eral of the Bahai International Community Lincoln said he hopes visitors perhaps may explore the message of the Bahais, who say believers in all religions are equal under one God. Illuminated by 2,000 lamps Their terraces illuminated by 2,000 lamps, the gardens symbolize the Bahai faith, said Fariborz Sahba, the Iranian- born architect who designed the gardens. "The meaning of the design is in those memories of those dark nights of the Bab in prison. So we flood this mountain with lights," Sahba said. The wind from the sea blew up the hillside as pilgrims climbed the steps through the center of the garden, which smells of flowers and herbs. "The visitor feels they are walking through a spiritual garden, not a beautiful garden," Sah­ ba said. "You can buy the beauty You cannot buy the spirit." time pastor in Washington, D.C., said "it's a scandal we're still silent" on issues such as combating AIDS in Africa and slavery of Christians in Sudan. The Rev William Whatley a pastor and black church liaison of the National Council of Churches, said congregations' nonpolitical work shouldn't be dismissed. "If a congregation has said our role is to serve the individual hurts and needs of our congregation, it is not to be written off as irrelevant if it is not on the firing line taking a stand on welfare reform," Whatley said. Civil rights leaders emphasized centrality of churches. "The African-American church is the most independent organization in our community" said Martin Luther King HI, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "The black church is still the best thing we've got," agreed the Rev Julius Hope of Milwaukee, religious liaison for the NAACE What You Seek Is What You Get! "I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round!" Surely we have heard that sentiment of emptiness or frustration. Every day seems like the next. We see one set of problems after another until we're dizzy and not merry at all. In contrast, a child sees the situation differently. As he whirls round and around, he sees something unique with every revolution, giddy and giggling with merriment! What makes the difference? Are we resigned to the fact that each day will be the same? Have we ceased to expect life to be an excitingly beautiful experience? Begin this week with a positive attitude. Expect beauty at every turn. As you worship this Sabbath, remember God's promise in Mark 10:15... "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a httle child will never enter it." Start the merry-go-round! As a child of God, you'll love the ride! Sunday Luke 19:28-48 Monday Luke 20:1-26 Tuesday Luke 20:27-47 Wednesday Luke 22:1-30 Thursday Luke 22:3i-71 Friday Luke 23:1-49 Saturday Luke 23:50-56 Scriptures Selected by the American Bible Society Copyright 2000, Kelster-Wllllams Newspaper Services, P.O. Box 8005, Charlottesville, VA 22906, www.kwnews.com Both your FAITH and your CHURCH GROW through REGULAR CHURCH ATTENDANCE OVER 37YEARS OF QUALITY SERVICE BYTHEHASSMAN FAMILY HASSMAN Termite & Pest Control, Inc. 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