Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Religious leaders look back at the last decade

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As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, we ask our In Theory writers this week: For you, what has been the most memorable experience of these first 10 years of the 2000s? What advice can you share with our readers to make this new year and decade a prosperous one?

Here is a sample of what they had to say. Catch their complete responses in this week’s editions of the La Canada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.

Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian: “I cannot believe the first decade of the 21st century is coming to a close. My belief is to live our lives, not perfectly, but to contemplate what we can do to be history makers. What legacy can we leave behind?”

Rev. Amy Pringle: “Remember the old ‘Star Trek’ series, and how it always seemed to end with some cheesy Capt. Kirk speech about how the human spirit can’t be defeated, no matter how overwhelming the odds? I thought it was as silly as the idea that you could flip open a little box and talk to someone through it. This decade has proven me wrong, on both points.”

Rev. Skip Lindeman: “For me, the most significant thing that happened was the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. We are still feeling the effects of that attack, whether we’re flying on an airplane or staying at home.”

Rev. Jon Barta: “My most memorable experience in terms of “shock value” was the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001. But there are many more quiet, personal experiences that affected my life in a more dramatic way.”

Graham Bothwell: “We should not underestimate the role of prayerful spiritual thinking in ensuring a progressive and balanced future for humanity, where social, political, economic, and environmental conditions are peaceful, satisfying, and sound.”

Rabbi Simcha Backman: “Once the final decade of the 20th century had come to a close, we had seen many extraordinary events that provided cause for great optimism … I hate to sound negative, but now that we have lived through this first decade of the 21st century, I must admit the sad truth that I was wrong.”

Rev. Bryan Griem: “… Where darkness lurks and evil plots, flowers continue to bloom and love still makes its sporadic appearance.”


Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Religion

A guide to Christmas worship for novice churchgoers

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People around the world are thinking of going to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day according to a survey this week. That’s about four times as many people as on an average Sunday.

Even if many of those who are considering stepping over the threshold eventually decide not to, Christmas is far and away the busiest time of the year for churches up and down the country.

For many in the congregations, Christmas is an important time to reflect on spiritual matters and church-going is a key part of this. But many others will be walking into a building that looks strange, for a service that’s not familiar. So what will happen and what should they watch out for?

Read the full story from BBC News here.

Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Religion

Student’s death teaches painful lessons

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This week, we ask our In Theory writers about the death of South Pasadena High School senior Aydin Salek, whose death has made shock waves from the scene of the incident to La Cañada.

Reports indicate that Salek was attending an unsupervised party where he was offered alcohol. This is not unlike an incident in 1993 where a Crescenta Valley High School senior was murdered at an unsupervised post-prom party. Who do you believe is at fault here? The parents? The students? Or both? What steps would you suggest to parents in order to deter this behavior? What steps would you suggest to students considering going to an unsupervised party tonight about ways to avoid this behavior and maybe save a life — theirs, perhaps?

Here is a sample of what our writers had to say:

Rev. Jeri Linn: “It is our job, as adults, to mentor young people by example, by sharing information about how destructive any substance abuse can be, and by being present and available to them — even if it means supervising a party.”

Pastor Jon Barta: “Finding ‘fault’ seems harsh at the moment when everybody is emotionally devastated, but I suppose it’s prudent to identify a couple of ways similar incidents might be avoided.”

Pastor Skip Lindeman: “There is no way to guarantee that there will be no more premature deaths due to alcohol poisoning, but parent and child can strive to love and respect each other.”

Rev. Amy Pringle: “Look at every single drink that comes your way and ask: What am I choosing here? Is this particular drink worth whatever I’m risking? (Trouble with your parents, puking your guts out, getting in a car accident, losing the favor of the guy/girl who sees you drunk and stupid; and yeah, alcohol poisoning …)

“Is the next drink worth it?


“Is that sorta-nasty-tasting cup of something sorta-nasty-tasting worth it?”

Levent Akbarut: We are very fortunate to live in cities where we have every opportunity to prevent this kind of tragedy from occurring again to our children. In Islam, we are taught to express love and friendship at all times, but not at the expense of protecting crime or social danger. It takes courage to disrupt social order when the status quo is unacceptable.

Rev. Bryan Griem: “While most everyone that drinks with moderation has at one time or other overdone it, a lot of kids know nothing of this because nobody is telling them anything except ‘don’t.'”

Rabbi Simcha Backman: Although, statistically, our local neighborhoods rank relatively low in regard to underage drug and alcohol use, the fact is that any amount of adolescent substance abuse is dangerous. Every single child is precious, and it is incumbent upon society to do everything possible to protect its young people from harm.”

Fred L. Carpenter: “Too often parents are in denial when their children are participating in drinking parties, drugs or other like events. Parents have to be smart and understand what their children are doing.”

Rev. Richard Albarano: If we receive the love, nurture, security and guidance we need, we will grow — as the scriptures say about the boy Jesus — in age and wisdom and grace. That is not to say that we will not have temptations and have to overcome obstacles, but we will have the character development to overcome these.

Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 23, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Religion

St. Bede’s to celebrate Simbang Gabi

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Saint Bede the Venerable Catholic Church’s Filipino American community presents its annual Simbang Gabi celebration at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 in the church.

The celebration highlights the rich spiritual and cultural experience of the Filipino people as they prepare for the coming of the Lord on Christmas Day.
Simbang Gabi is a series of nine dawn Masses that culminate on Christmas Eve.

During Simbang Gabi, Catholic churches will open their doors before the break of dawn (usually by 4 in the morning) to welcome the faithful to the Simbang Gabi Mass.

St. Bede’s is at 215 Foothill Blvd. in La Canada.

Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 16, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Hanukkah begins at sundown

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Credit: Creative Commons

DOWNTOWN — Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights celebrated by Israelis and Jews around the world, begins at sundown.

Families across the region will gather to light one candle of the menorah and recite blessings to God to commemorate an improbable victory over invaders who debased the temple in Jerusalem.

Hanukkah this year begins and ends on the Jewish Sabbath, requiring minor liturgical changes. Still, the holiday traditions of candles, gifts and jelly doughnuts will remain constants.

The following celebrations are planned across Burbank, Glendale and the Foothills:

Chabad Burbank Jewish Center: Hanukkah celebrations at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Jewish Center and 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Burbank Town Center. For more information, visit

Burbank Temple Emanu El: Hanukkah Shabbat evening service at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Hanukkah Shabbat morning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and a Havdalah and potluck at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. Visit for more information.

Temple Beth Emet: Shabbat services begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday followed by the annual Hanukkah celebration at noon Saturday. E-mail the office at or call (818) 843-4787 for more information.

Temple Sinai of Glendale: Shabbat Service followed by Oneg Shabbat at 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. Tot Shabbat, a special service for pre-schoolers and their parents or grandparents, at 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday. Chanukah Dinner from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Social Hall. Visit for more information.

Chabad of Glendale and the Foothill Communities: Hanukkah festival at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Glendale Galleria outside Crown Books. The event includes the lighting of a 9-foot menorah. Visit for more information.

The Americana at Brand: The public is invited from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday to celebrate the tradition of Hanukkah. The afternoon will feature a musical performance by children’s group Parachute Express; an appearance by storyteller Rebecca Martin and arts and crafts sponsored by the Skirball Cultural Center.

Written by Christopher Cadelago

December 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Posted in burbank, Foothills, glendale, Religion

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Is selling grades teaching kids the wrong things?

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A teacher in North Carolina was recently fired for introducing a fundraising program at school that involved selling grades to students for $10 each. For $10, one extra grade would be added to a test. If you gave $20, you would get two extra points on two tests throughout the year. This allowed students to go from a C to a B, or a B to an A. However, the state’s Department of Public Instruction disagrees, saying that “exchanging grades for money teaches students the wrong lessons.”

We asked our writers what they think about this. Is selling grades a bona fide way of raising funds for a school, or are we teaching kids that money can buy you anything in life — even grades?

Here is a sample of what they had to say:

Rev. Richard Albarano: “Money and earning money is a most important part of living life in our age. It is not a bad thing; it is a good thing. However, it is earned always through hard work, whether intellectual or servile. It is a means to an end: a reasonably comfortable life.”

Bishop Fred L. Carpenter: “Schools should teach children correct principals. Selling grades does not do this, even if the fundraising is for a good cause. In fact, if the principal’s rationale for approving the program is correct, then the children were being motivated by a false premise — that the donations would have a positive effect on their final grades.”

Rev. Jeri Linn: “A good grade needs to be earned by study, doing well on the tests, good attendance and participation in class. Perhaps, other fund raising projects, other than selling candy, can be done by the school to raise funds.”

Rabbi Simcha Backman: “Offering points for money — even if its disguised as a ‘fundraiser’ — sends a poor message to students and will only serve to further exacerbate the sad state of our educational system.”

Rev. Bryan Griem: “This is much ado about nothing, and I do not see it as a moral/spiritual issue. In fact, if my kid told me he could up his grade by participating in such a school fundraiser, I’d say, ‘Great. Wash the car, mow the lawn and clean the garage, and the $20 will be on the table at breakfast.'”

Pastor Jon Barta: “Schools exist to educate children, not to get money. Students attend to get an education, not to get grades. Yes, schools need money to stay open that they might educate children. But awarding grades for donated money creates a never-ending cycle of futility. ‘Give us money to get a grade’ means that the school hasn’t educated and the students haven’t learned.”

Pastor Paige Eaves: “Though the cash-for-grades scheme was terrible, Principal Shepherd’s motives were good. So let’s step back from her blunder and look at the bigger picture. Sharing is not just kindergarten good manners, it’s good public policy, and it’s what God has asked us to do.”

Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian: “Instant gratification and taking matters into our own hands are not teaching the moral standards we need to learn — whether we are Christian or not. A middle school in North Carolina failing to make their quota in chocolate sales, and then deciding to add 10 points to the student’s grades if they donate $20, does not teach a work ethic, is unfair to the students who do study hard, and is unethical — period.”

Rev. Skip Lindeman: “A middle school in North Carolina is not a Las Vegas show; you can’t pay your way to the front of the class. I can’t believe what a no-brainer this is.”

Rev. Beverly Craig: “Providing students with an escape route for what must be earned is unethical and a travesty.  Principal Shepherd obviously didn’t think through the future ramifications of her decision. This is definitely not a bona fide method of fund raising. Bringing students’ grades into the arena of fund raising is like mixing oil with water.”

Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Religion

St. Finbar Catholic Church to purchase property at 2600 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank

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St. Finbar Catholic Church in Burbank this weekend announced its plans to buy office property at 2600 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank. The announcement was made by the Rev. Albert Bahhuth, pastor of St. Finbar’s Church, in a letter to parishioners on the church website.

The purchase is part of the parish’s development plan called “Building on the Keystone,” the largest construction project at the church since 1950 when the original church was built.

According to the church’s website, “This plan is designed to provide the resource space and facilities needed to meet our mission and accommodate our community’s continuing growth”

“I’ve had numerous prayerful and practical consultations with our Pastoral, Finance and Ministry Leaders Councils, in order to explore the concept of purchasing this property,” said Bahhuth. “I believe this decision has resulted in a very smart financial move for our long-term facility operation and parish plan.”

Read the Rev. Albert Bahhuth’s letter to parishioners >>>

Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm