Saturday, June 10, 2023

FROM Ramallah Friends School


"#Visualart #Developingskills #creativethinkingskills #Compositioninartunitplan
In their MYP 4 visual art classes, ninth-grade students embarked on a journey of creating abstract artwork. Prior to completing their final pieces, they underwent a process that involved researching and designing their compositions. To gather inspiration, they delved into the works of abstract artists from around the world. They meticulously crafted sketches to plan their art compositions, applying various elements and principles of art as their tools for bringing their creative visions to life."

HISTORY of the Quaker School:

"In 1869, a fifteen-year-old Palestinian girl named Miriam Karam mustered up the courage to ask two Quaker visitors to Ramallah, Eli and Sybil Jones, to start a girl’s school in the area. At that time, no education program existed for girls in this region.
Before long, Friends had established a medical mission and boarding school for girls. By 1902, a similar boarding school for boys was created by Friends.

"It is doubtful that Miriam, Sybil, or Eli could ever have imagined what Ramallah Friends School would look like in the twenty-first century. As the only accredited International Baccalaureate World School in Palestine, RFS offers an innovative and multi-disciplinary education that prepares Palestinian young people to be outstanding scholars, leaders, and change-makers in their community and around the world.

"Nurtured in an academic and community life guided by Christian Quaker values and spirituality, the School aims to impact both Christian and Muslim students in a wholistic and life-changing way.

"Despite being in one of the most politically and spiritually challenging locations on the planet, RFS continues to thrive. Through a terrific partnership with USAid/American Hospitals and Schools Abroad, the School has been able to build a world-class facility. Even with the constant pressure of living under occupation and the regular threat of violence, RFS consistently prepares students who are ready to thrive in college or university, work, and service.
Please pray:
• for Rania Maayeh, Head of School, that God may guide her in her decisions.
• for the safety of everyone who must cross military checkpoints while coming to school amidst the current political upheaval. • for success for the IB students who will be starting their official exams soon.
• that suitable staff is found to replace those who are retiring; and for all the best for the staff who are leaving the school. • for economic sustainability, so that RFS can continue to meet the needs of its students despite challenges.
• for necessary resources and funding to continue to be granted through ASHA (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad) to support the ongoing educational initiatives and programs at Ramallah Friends School.
• for RFS student Shadi Khoury, who will be facing four court sessions in May"

How inspiring!

These pictures from Ramallah take me back to when I lived and worked in Palestine-Israel years ago. I only vaguely remember seeing the great Quaker school back then. But for all those years ago, since 1869, the school has taken a stand for peace, justice, and caring.

In the LIGHT,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, June 4, 2023


Nihilism of major LIFE STANCES versus Opposing Views

1. Hinduism: ALL that comes about in the cosmos was and is and will be is CAUSED by Brahman.

2. Buddhism: Many different views, some totally deterministic, some emphasizing human creativity and hopeful choice.

2. Greek and some Middle-eastern religions: FATE causes all that happens.

That’s why Oedipus must murder his father even though he doesn’t want to, tries to avoid doing so.

3. Orthodox Judaism: Divided views, depending which version of Judaism is asked.

“The Pharisees held that not all things are divinely predestined, but that some are dependent on the will of man; the Sadducees denied any interference of God in human affairs; while the Essenes ascribed everything to divine predestination ("B. J." ii. 8, § 14; "Ant." xiii. 5, § 9).”

“In an essay entitled "Iggeret ha-Gezerah," Abner of Burgos propounds the Ash'ariya doctrine of predestination, according to which every human act, both in the material and the spiritual life, is predestined. This doctrine, however, was combated by all Jewish thinkers, and especially by Maimonides, who pointed out all the absurdities to which the Ash'ariya were compelled to have recourse in order to sustain their views ("Moreh Nebukim," iii., ch. xvii.).”
“Talmud…asked…God how long he would suffer from his poverty.” [God[ answers “Eleazar's poverty could not be helped, he having been predestined to be poor.”

“…saying of Ḥanina's is, "A man does not hurt his finger in this world unless it has been decreed above" (Ḥul. 7b).

4. Islam: Allah causes all /wills all—predestines all (Qadar).

(Like some versions of Judaism, and most versions of creedal Christianity, IF SOMETHING HAPPENS and EVERYTHING THAT HUMANS DO—all is predetermined by God.

However, there are a minority of Muslim leaders such as in some Shia branches of Islam in history and now who reject this total determinism.

“Naser Makarem Shirazi gives a similar example: They say, “Does God know that so and so at such and such an hour on such and such a day will kill someone or will drink an alcoholic beverage?” If we say, “He does not know,” we have denied God's knowledge. And if we say, “Yes, that person must do this, otherwise God's knowledge will be imperfect,” then, in order to preserve God's knowledge, a person is obliged to sin and obey God!” Shirazi, Naser Makarem (12 May 2015). "The Issue of Predestination and Free Will. God's Knowledge". The Justice of God.

5. Augustinian Roman Catholicism, Reformed, Lutheran, Calvinistic, etc. (most creedal Christians):
They claim as a central doctrine of the Creeds and most theologians based in Augustine/Calvin/Luther that the Trinity predestined/foreordained/willed/caused all that happens.

For example,this is extremely claimed in Luther’s The Bondage of the Will. Luther had first been an Augustinian monk.

6. In contrast, Wesleyan, Quaker, Anabaptist, etc., and Eastern Orthodox Christianity take a very different view: They OPPOSE the hard DETERMINISM of the Augustinian West (Roman Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, etc.)

Eastern Orthodox-- “…these two principles can be at odds one with another. God may always will the salvation of man, but man may not always accept it. Such was the case in the Gospels, when it was said of the Pharisees and the lawyers that “they rejected the will of God for themselves.”

7. Most of Atheism-Naturalism-Materialism very strangely strongly agrees with creedal Western Christianity such as famous leader R.C. Sproul who claimed that Not a single molecule moves in the cosmos but that God planned/willed/ caused it.

The HUGE difference, of course
is atheists claim, NOT that any god caused all of history going back over 14 billion years, But Nature-Cosmos COMPLETELY DETERMINED ALL at the beginning of the Cosmos,
determined at the microsecond of the Big Bang or the Laws of Physics.

For instance, the famous scientist and atheist Sam Harris claims that all actions of all humans, etc. even if the universe repeats a “trillion” times will happen exactly the same.

All humans are “puppets”--our sense of "I" is an illusion--according to Harris, that Reality is like gigantic “tumors all the way down” that force everything to happen in the past, present, and future, at least until the cosmos ceases to exist. Harris states that just like a guy in Texas was forced to commit mass murder from a university tower, so ALL humans are forced by the Cosmos/Big Bang to do what happens.

IN CONTRAST, some life stances OPPOSE DETERMINISM; INSTEAD they STATE that the Cosmos is OPEN to Hope, Creativity, etc.

While there are givens in the Cosmos, in nature and history, such as the Laws of Physics, and that one human can’t be everywhere at once, so is finite and limited, YET
Individual humans can creatively (and hopefully reasonably) make one choice out of many possible ones.

All humans do have moral responsibility and by their moral choices and discoveries can give new creative directions to themselves, and to a finite extent, even nature!


Despite all of the suffering, havoc, disasters, diseases, and destruction in the Cosmos, and many immoral and unjust choices of humans,
There is YET HOPE to counter the horrific tragedies.

--Dan Wilcox

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