100 biggest churches in America

February 4, 2008

Some students really struggle with the idea of the role of religion in the founding and settling of America. Among interesting misconceptions I’ve run into in the past 18 months: Spanish settlers of Texas were Baptists (since so many Texans are Baptist today); the religious fights in England leading to the English Bill of Rights was between “Christians and others.”

I’m not sure Outreach Magazine’s list of the top 100 church congregations in the U.S., by size, would do anything to disabuse students of any of their misconceptions. Do we adequately teach about the role of religion in U.S. history? Why are so many students so ill informed? Can these churches help out?

Are churches doing their part in teaching the importance of freedom of religion, and especially of the history of religious strife in the western world? It doesn’t appear so. Maybe that list is the 100 top places for educators to visit to ask for help in getting the kids straight on the history of religion.

By the way: Spanish settlers of Texas were Catholic; the religious fights in England tended to be between Catholics and Anglicans, both considered Christian sects, to the surprise of too many students. Oy.

Seattle Times special on fighting malaria

February 4, 2008

Dr. Bumsted at Biocultural Science and Management alerted me to the Seattle Times’ special section on fighting malaria. The extensive set of articles ran in the newspaper on Friday, February 1, 2008. You can order a copy of the special reports in a separate section here.

Child suffering from malaria. Seattle Times, February 1, 2008

Child suffering from malaria. Seattle Times, February 1, 2008

Photo caption from Seattle Times: “Malaria strikes hardest at young children, such as 5-month-old Mkude Mwishehe, who lies comatose in the regional hospital at Morogoro, Tanzania. Babies often die as a result of fever, anemia and brain damage caused when the mosquito-borne parasites destroy blood cells and clog blood vessels.”

Seattle’s news organizations look at malaria in large part because malaria is a target of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The package features outstanding photography of malaria-affected Tanzania and Zambia, good interviews, in-depth reporting, good writing, and multi-media presentations that might be suitable for classroom work. The multi-media pieces could be used as examples of what students should be doing with PowerPoint projects.

The Seattle Times’ work on the fight against malaria is a tour-de-force masterpiece of what a newspaper can do to promote the public good. The newspaper demonstrates the heights writers can aspire to. Good on ’em, as Molly Ivins would say.

I have not found a single mention of experts calling for more DDT, as the junk-science purveyors do. There are several attempts to urge DDT by readers in the Q&A session, but the expert malaria fighters are careful with their facts — it’s a real education. Read the articles. The research and the work against malaria pushed by the Gates Foundation is exactly the research and work that DDT-happy advocates frustrate with their political screeds.

Which group does more to save Africans, those who fight malaria as described in The Seattle Times, or those who rail at environmentalists and call for more DDT?

Found: Last photo of Ernie Pyle

February 4, 2008

A reporter named Richard Pyle — no relation, he notes — writing for the Associated Press reports that a photograph of Ernie Pyle has surfaced, showing him dead, after he was hit by a Japanese machine gun bullet while reporting on U.S. troops, on the island of Ie Shima, on April 18, 1945.

Photos here, at the Dallas Morning News site. Story here.

Especially in black and white, the photo is not so macabre as to shock. Pyle looks peaceful, asleep, as Richard Pyle wrote. The value is historical. It’s a reminder that reporters, too, put themselves in harm’s way, to inform Americans about the world, providing the information our democratic republic needs to function well.

Remember to vote in your state’s primary elections this year. Deserve their heroism.

Earlier notes on Ernie Pyle:

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