Why is romaine riskier than other kinds of lettuce?

Three E. coli outbreaks tied to romaine lettuce in 2018 have changed the way we look at romaine lettuce. Is romaine riskier than other greens?

      

 

 

Why Apocalypse Is Essential to Advent

This season demands a clear view of darkness. Here’s how scholars reckon with it.

During Advent, we hear passages of Scripture that are infused with the language of darkness, tribulation, and apocalypse. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each have one fully apocalyptic chapter. In Mark 13, Jesus says, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Mark 13:8). The passage only gets darker as it goes. “In those days after that tribulation,” he continues, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’” (Mark 13:24–25).

Why is Jesus talking like this about death and destruction instead of talking about sheep, shepherds, and heavenly hosts?

For a couple of centuries, academic biblical scholars thought that Jesus couldn’t possibly have talked in these terms. The gospels’ apocalyptic chapters were dismissed as inauthentic additions and at best were ignored as “fake news,” if you will. However, in the mid-20th century—around the time that I was in seminary in the early 1970s—a striking shift was taking place in biblical scholarship. Theological and biblical studies began to change because of three key developments.

First, the two World Wars introduced into human history a phenomenon that required a new word, one that describes the deliberate destruction of whole people-groups. The word was “genocide.” It was first applied to the killing of the Armenians and then to the destruction of the Jews during the Holocaust.

The second shift that occurred is linked to the first. These early 20th-century wars and genocides—along with the development of nuclear weapons—made the end of the world seem like a real …

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Mary, Mary, Not Quite So Contrary

Finding common ground so that the Virgin Mary becomes less of a battleground.

Many pastors feel nervous as the third Sunday in Advent, “Mary Sunday,” rolls around. What congregant will turn out to be suspicious of any unusual respect shown for her? What visiting Catholic will be mystified or put off by a cautious and understated Protestant treatment? Should a preacher reckon the service a success if both extremes come away disappointed? How can it be that Jesus’ own mother has become the church’s most polarizing figure? And more importantly, what can we do about that?

Mother of all stereotypes

Let’s begin with a sketch of two Marys.

“Mary A”

This is the Mary of modest Protestant tradition, a humble, nondescript young virgin from the tribe of Judah. One day she got an extraordinary visit from an angel who told her that she would bear the Son of God. This wouldn’t happen in the usual natural way but by the sheer creating work of the Holy Spirit. She put her trust in the angel’s good news. She became a faithful wife and mother who protected and raised her son in sometimes extreme circumstances. At times Jesus surprised and even shocked her. Occasionally their relationship even seemed strained. But she stayed with him, all the way to the cross. She was among his faithful disciples in the Book of Acts. We don’t hear nearly as much about her as the apostles, let alone her Son. Nevertheless, she is still a beloved character in his story, especially during the Christmas season when we remember his birth.

Mary A is sparsely and cautiously sketched out, with very little speculation. She is basically what’s in the Bible about Mary. Indeed, Mary A’s fans speculate less about her than other biblical figures. They don’t mind conjecturing about …

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Scottsdale's La Camarilla to be razed for new Mountainside gym

A new Mountainside Fitness will replace Scottsdale’s well-known La Camarilla gym developed by controversial utility owner George Johnson

      

 

 

Suspect sought after Paradise Valley home burglary on Bluebird Lane

The suspect or suspects allegedly stole a wallet with three credit cards and $340 in Paradise Valley.

      

 

 

Why Putting Christ Back in Christmas Is Not Enough

The history of American holiday cheer obscures the difficult details of the nativity narrative.

Christmas in America has never been a straightforward event. Whether in the privacy of our homes or in the public square, it has always been a conflicted affair.

For some in our present cultural climate, it’s been a matter of religious liberty and a political right to be able to say “merry Christmas” at Target or Walmart. For others, it’s been a matter of religious pluralism and political hospitality to say “happy holidays” instead.

This pushes a portion of our society to want to abolish Christmas altogether. For others, the answer is to keep putting “Christ back in Christmas.” But maybe there is a deeper problem.

Perhaps the problem is not whether we remember “that Jesus is the reason for the season,” but that the story that “Christmas in America” tells looks nothing like the story that Matthew and Luke tell about the birth of Christ and always seems to distort or to leave out essential elements of the Nativity narrative.

There’s a reason for that, of course. Christmas in America is influenced less by the stories of a publican and a physician—the Gospel writers Matthew and Luke—than by the stories of a Puritan, a princess, a poet and a host of painters.

What’s needed, I might argue, is a far more radical re-conceptualization of the story of Christmas—what it sounds like, how it feels, where it takes us, and what it enables us to imagine—and for the story of Matthew and Luke to redefine how Christians in America celebrate the “mass of Christ.”

Perhaps what’s needed, more bluntly, is to leave the story of “Christmas in America” alone and for Christians to learn to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity. …

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China Closes Megachurches Before Christmas

Raids on major congregations led by pastors Wang Yi and the late Samuel Lamb represent “the most horrendous evil of Chinese society … hindering [non-Christians] from coming to Jesus.”

A week after a prominent pastor in China released his viral letter on faithful disobedience amid a government raid on his church, Communist authorities once again shut down worshipers from Chengdu’s Early Rain Covenant Church—one of the most prominent unregistered churches in the country—as well as Guangzhou’s Rongguili Church, one of its first underground Christian communities.

On Sunday, 60 police and religious affairs officials interrupted weekly gatherings at Rongguili, ultimately closing the church, seizing materials, and taking cell phones from attendees, Asia News reported.

“Halfway through the children’s Bible class, we heard the footsteps of dozens of police and officials stomping up the stairs,” one member said, according to the South China Morning Post.

“They read out law enforcement notices declaring our venue was an illegal gathering [that had engaged in] illegal publishing and illegal fundraising and confiscated all Bibles.”

The Protestant congregation, which now draws more than 5,000 people to worship each week, was founded in the 1970s by the late pastor Samuel Lamb; it represents one of the few churches in China dating back to before the Cultural Revolution.

Ahead of Christmas, Chinese authorities have continued their ongoing crackdown on underground Protestant churches, which do not belong to the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement and are illegal under Communist rule. The activity has spurred further concern by US officials and American Christians.

The previous Sunday, December 9, officials shut down Early Rain Covenant Church, arresting more than a dozen Christians, including pastor Wang Yi. After he was detained, the church released Yi’s …

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Arizona charter schools spend more on administration, less in classrooms

In the rush to write charters into law in 1994, legislators omitted regulations that would have constrained unruly school spending.

      

 

 

Driver sentenced to 10.5 years in death of Scottsdale motorcyclist

Tracy Morehouse was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2017 death of a motorcyclist.

      

 

 

French Designer Jeweler’s handmade, unique pieces spark conversations, loyal clientele

French Thompson, owner of French Designer Jeweler, has created a niche that jewelry aficionados have come to admire and expect.