Fr Stephen Smuts

Archive for March 24th, 2011

Christians Have Good Reason to Fast: They’re Frequently Fatter

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Speaking of being too heavy fat, it’s not only on busses, it’s in Church too:

Young, religiously active people are more likely than their non-religious counterparts to become obese in middle age, according to new research. In fact, frequent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of obesity compared with little or no involvement.

What is unclear from the new research is why religion might be associated with overeating.

“Churches pay more attention to obvious vices like smoking or drinking,” said Matthew Feinstein, lead author of the research and fourth-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Our best guess about why is that…more frequent participation in church is associated with good works and people may be rewarding themselves with large meals that are more caloric in nature than we would like.”

The new research, presented at an American Heart Association conference dedicated to physical activity, metabolism and cardiovascular disease, involved 2,433 people enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. The group was tested – at first between 20 and 32 years old – for various cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and smoking. Those same tests were repeated in the same group over the next 25 years.

The results were mixed for many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but as researchers analyzed the data, one disparity stood out. Those who reported attending church weekly, or more often, were significantly more likely to have a higher body mass index than those who attended infrequently, or never.

Kenneth F. Ferraro, author of similar studies linking obesity with religion, suggested that marriage may have played a role in the weight gain.

“The time period studied is when many Americans get married,” said Ferraro, director of the Center on Aging and the Life Course at Purdue University. “We know that weight gain is common after marriage and that marriage is highly valued in most religious groups. Thus, one wonders if the results could be partially due to religious people being more likely to get married earlier and then gaining weight.”

Those church potlucks probably don’t help either…

The rest here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 24, 2011 at 21:15

Posted in Church

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Americans Becoming Too Heavy for Buses

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Overweight Americans throwing off safety of city buses.

USA Today reports:

It’s official: The federal government says more overweight Americans are squeezing onto buses, and it may have to rewrite bus safety rules because of it. The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) proposes raising the assumed average weight per bus passenger from 150 pounds to 175 pounds, which could mean that across the country, fewer people will be allowed on a city transit bus…

“This change is really just a bow to reality,”…

Current federal guidelines on average passenger weight are based on surveys in 1960-62 of what Americans weighed then. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, the average weight is 194.7 pounds for men 20 and older and 164.7 pounds for women that age range…

The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees airline travel, gauges average passenger weight at 190 pounds in the summer and 195 pounds in the winter. The Coast Guard’s assumed average weight is 185 pounds for boats and ferries…

It’s too soon to know what effect the proposed weight changes could have for riders — whether reducing the number of passengers per bus or changing bus design.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 24, 2011 at 20:56

Posted in Culture

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Do Beautiful Churches Produce Vocations?

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Fr Dwight Longenecker asks and answers the question.

BTW.  I picked up his book More Christianity – Finding Fullness of the Faith earlier at the bookshop today, and I’m really looking forward to getting into it. 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 24, 2011 at 19:01

15 Byzantine Tombs in Central Syria

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A nice archaeological discovery in Syria:

Hama – An archaeological burial from the Byzantine era was uncovered in al-Ruba village in Zighreen town, 30 km northeastern Hama, including a number of tombs inside which pottery, metal and glass findings and golden pieces were unearthed.

Abdul-Qader Farzat, Head of Hama Archaeology Department, told SANA that the burial comprises a 110 cm long and 60 cm wide entrance leading to a square surrounded by five chambers including three tombs each. The tombs are 175 cm long and 40 cm deep, separated by a 25 cm space.

The number of tombs found in the burial was 15. Some of the graves contained more than one burial covered with brick panels, while others however were covered with untrimmed natural basalt stone.

Farzat noted that the findings in the cemetery included 10 incomplete pottery jars, 5 metal and glass bracelets, 2 metal rings in a bad condition, 2 copper coins, 6 stone beads, 2 glass perfume bottles and 4 golden chips believed to be used to cover the eyes of the deceased during the burial.

He added that 8 pottery lanterns were also found in the cemetery, along with a number of broken and worn-out shoes made of leather, which indicates that the tombs are for soldiers who used those shoes during the time of wars to protect their feet from any possible injuries.

Ali al-Qatlabi, supervising the excavation works in the burial, highlighted the importance of this discovery as it is one of the few cemeteries in the area which have not been subject to much damage or looting over time.

Speaking of Syria, I found this observation interesting:

Regime change in Syria could mean the extinction of Jesus Christ’s language .

Read that one here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 24, 2011 at 17:22

Hirbet Midras Vandalized

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Terrible news:

Just reported by Ynet (in Hebrew), Hirbet Midras, the site of the Byzantine church in the Ella Valley with the incredible mosaic floors, uncovered just two months ago and visited by tens of thousands of people was deliberately and brutally vandalized Wednesday night. The Antiquities Authority had made considerable effort to prepare the site and had decided to leave the mosaics uncovered so that people could visit and see them. The supervisor and archaeologist in charge, Alon Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Crime Prevention unit was shocked to find the destruction this morning when he arrived at the site.

“Someone took a hammer and attacked the mosaic, digging them up in a large number of spots. A person hiking in the park had reported the damage. The mosaic looks like it has been hit by mortar shelling. It’s a sad sight, heart breaking. The mosaics suffered serious damage as a result of brutal vandalism. ” said Klein…

I blogged on the site here (with photos of the mosaic) and bemoaned it’s closure:

Instead of archaeological excavation, they’re covering up the site. This is so sad

Still saying, they should have developed and protected the place, not left it open to vandalism.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 24, 2011 at 17:07


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