Orthodox Episcopalians of New York maintained by the Rev. Anthony Seel

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's the ideal amount of sleep?

Dover, Delaware
Dear Kathy:
We love to give definitive answers to your questions. Unfortunately, for this one we're gonna have to fall back on that most annoying of caveats -- "It all depends."

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) writes that most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Adolescents need a bit more -- about 8.5 to 9.5 hours. And infants are the "laziest" of all, needing around 14 to 15 hours of sleep each day (including naps).

And speaking of naps, the NSF explains there are real benefits to catching some ZZZs during the day: "A short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness, and performance." In fact, a NASA study found that when tired military pilots and astronauts took 40-minute naps, their performance improved 34 percent.

If you have trouble sleeping or feel you might be sleeping too much, the NSF offers tips to get you back on schedule. And even more importantly, if you want some advice on how to convince your boss that workplace naps are good for the company, Napping.com has you covered.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Why do so many people get married in June?

Bronx, New York
Dear Clark:
Historically, June tends to be the most popular month for weddings. The reason has less to do with nice weather and more to with an ancient Roman goddess named -- you guessed it -- Juno.

This article from Associated Content explains that Juno was the Roman goddess of marriage. For this reason, many Romans chose to honor her by tying the knot in June. Like a lot of traditions, this one stuck.

Still, honoring Juno isn't the only reason why June is such a popular wedding month. According to Associated Content, couples often married in June so they could time the conception of their first child. This way, the wife wouldn't be too far along in her pregnancy to perform the manual labor required during harvest time. Romantic, eh?

The site SuperWeddings.com offers a different theory. Apparently, during the 1400s and 1500s, people took their "annual bath" during May. So, "the over-all population was smelling relatively fresh in June, making it a good time to hold a special event like a wedding!"

Whatever the reason, it's worth noting that June might not be the most popular month for weddings anymore. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that August may have surpassed it. Oh, well -- at least June still has a lock on dads and grads.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What is the oldest university in the world?

Encino, California
Dear Adam:
Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, is generally considered to be the oldest university in the world.* It was founded roughly the same time as the city of Cairo, in 969 AD. The first lecture was delivered in 975 AD.

Like many centers of learning, Al-Azhar University was originally intended as a place of worship and religious instruction. The mosque at Al-Azhar is one of the most famous in the Muslim world, and is still considered the seat of Sunni Islamic study.

The university pioneered systems of advanced academic instruction with its hierarchy of regular instructors and visiting professors. Its history follows the turbulent rise of the Islamic Empire, replete with political revolutions and competing religious philosophies. While Al-Azhar University has a storied history of religious instruction, it also boasts a robust secular curriculum, offering advanced degrees in engineering and medicine.

As with all matters medieval, historical facts and figures are up to academic interpretation. Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez, Morroco, has also laid claim to the title of oldest university in the world.

Europe's oldest university was founded in 1088 in the northern Italian city of Bologna. The United States's oldest university, Harvard, opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1636, not long after the first English colonists arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

* Editor's Note: Several learned readers wrote in to tell us that Nalanda University and Takshashila University, both ancient schools located in India, predate Al-Azhar University. Thanks for the education!

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

How do I clean my flat-screen monitor?

If that wonderfully sleek, space-saving flat-screen monitor adorning the top of your desk or workstation is blurry with fingerprints and smudges, there is hope. LCD (liquid crystal display) screens are especially susceptible to scratches and require a little special care, but you can have yours shining like new in no time. Apparently, every manufacturer has their own recommendations on how to best clean their particular model of LCD, but there are some general guidelines.

You don't have to turn the monitor off before cleaning it, but this will help you see the smudges and smears. If your screen is merely dusty, you can wipe gently with a soft, cotton cloth or try a can of compressed air. But if your screen is downright grungy, you might have to resort to some tougher tactics.

Though some people recommend using Windex, ethyl alcohol and ammonia-based cleaners can yellow your flat-screen or laptop monitor over time, so it is best to avoid such products. You can find an array of commercial products specifically designed to clean LCD screens, but you may prefer to just head to your kitchen and mix up your own solution. Plain old water can do the trick, or you can concoct a solution of vinegar and water or isopropyl alcohol and water.

Always use a soft cotton cloth, rather than a rag or paper towel to wipe the screen. Some people recommend special electrostatic cloths, like those used to clean eyeglasses treated with anti-glare finish, or even dryer sheets. Apply the cleaning solution to your cloth rather than directly to the screen and wipe in one direction -- from the top of the screen to the bottom.

One final word of warning, never touch or press on your LCD screen with your fingers as this can cause the pixels to burn out.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

From Martin Peretz in The New Republic Online:

For all their purified language, the House of Bishops and the consultative councils of the Anglican Communion are settings either for ideological dogmatism, nearly always with unanimous decisions, or for lifestyle fratricide, as in the debates about gay clergy and gay marriage. In any case, the number of Episcopalians is in steep descent. The influence of the American church–such as it is–seems to be limited to the sway it exercises over the bureaucracies of the 35 other declining Protestant denominations assembled in that portentous rump called the National Council of Churches, always “joining hands and voices” for something goofy or worse.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

To Set our Hope on Christ: "It Stinks," says orthodox ECUSA theologian

by Stephen Noll
June 2005

"To Set Our Hope on Christ" (TSOHOC), the document circulated by the
ECUSA delegation at Nottingham, is condescending and pedantic:
condescending in its assumption that the Episcopal Church's rationale
represents advanced thinking on a subject where the rest of the
Christian world needs to catch up, pedantic in its fatuous quotation of
one-sided and dull official reports and statements to bolster its case.
It is unworthy of the VTS scholars who are credited with writing it. I
suppose they felt constrained, in the spirit of Marse Robert, to
sacrifice their all for the Great Cause.

While noting the concern about conservatives not being politically savvy
or involved, may I humbly suggest that many of us need to begin looking
to the future rather than fighting rearguard actions. Conservatives
inside the Episcopal Church need to be tough in upcoming political and
legal battles, but honestly there is no point in further theological

The document at hand is proof of the fact that the 815 crowd will never
give fair representation to us and our views. No doubt they felt they
had to make an overwhelming case to the ACC (which failed, thank God),
but the lopsided delegation and report in effect disenfranchised all the
people and views opposing the drift of the past couple decades. They
made it sound like the Episcopal Church had reached a consensus on the
issue. There was not the slightest hint given that anyone on this side
of the Atlantic was reconsidering the decisions of GC 2003. Look for
more of the same at GC 2006.

As a biblical scholar who has been part of the fray for twenty-odd
years, I must at least make this comment on the biblical exposition in
TSOHOC: it stinks. It is regurgitated "Dirt, Greed and Sex" (William
Countryman 1988). I think I am right in saying that TSOHOC deals with
homosexuality only in Countryman's skewed paradigm of purity vs.
property. I can find no references in the whole document to Genesis 1-3
as a foundational text, nor our Lord's appeal to God's plan for marriage
"from the beginning." The whole argument is based on Countryman's
extrapolation of Christian freedom from the ceremonial law to freedom
from the moral law, i.e., the creation order. The historical Jesus
declared all foods clean; now the Spirit of Jesus declares all
[consensual] sex clean.

I was amused to see (in Fn. 23) they inadvertently quote my book Two
Sexes One Flesh, out of context and without attribution:

While marriage may be preceded by erotic courtship and fulfilled in
sexual delight, the union of man and woman brings about a new reality, a

What is omitted is my identification of the "biological purpose of

The first humble purpose of marriage is, simply, the survival and
flourishing of the human race. This is the evolutionary success story
the biologists tell of the human sperm uniting with an unlike egg, with
XX and XY chromosomes coming together to reproduce distinct
personalities within the immutable two-gender plan. It is the story of
hormones and instincts that have led males for millennia to search out
desirable females, and females to attach these males to themselves and
their offspring. It is the origin of the hope of having descendants and
the instinctive pride of mother and father in saying: "This is our own

It is also, I might add, God's stated design in creation for a man to
leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife so that the two might
become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

In that same book, I come up with the phrase "proof-analogy," as a
hermeneutical battle-axe wielded by revisionists against
"proof-texters". Indeed the whole TSOHOC case rests on a single
proof-analogy from Acts 10-15. As a nit-picking proof-texter, let me
quote from the decree of the Jerusalem Council:

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no
greater burden than these necessary things [epanangkes ? "essentials"]:
that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood
and from what is strangled and from unchastity [porneia* - fornication].
If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (Acts

So how can it be that the Spirit-led Council was able simultaneously to
open the door of the Gospel to the Gentiles but close it on the sexual
libertines of the day? How is it that the Church was broadminded on
ethnicity and narrow-minded on moral purity? According to TSOHOC 2.18,

It seems very likely there was no phenomenon at the time of the biblical
writers directly akin to the phenomenon of Christians of the same gender
living together in faithful and lifelong unions as we experience them

This assertion, which the PB makes wherever he goes, is totally
unsupported by the historical evidence or by the generalizing thrust of
Paul's argument in Rom 1:18ff. Indeed Robert Gagnon (www.robgagnon.net)
has demolished this argument. But of course it would be inconvenient to
let evidence to deter the moving of the spirit as s/he teaches new
duties (the same spirit of Lowell's hymn "Once to Every Man and Nation"
lives on: "New occasions teach new duties/ Time makes ancient good

I would like to make one practical political suggestion proceeding from
the lesser ACC Resolution that was unanimously passed. It asks the
Secretary General "to collate relevant research studies, statements,
resolutions and other material on these matters from the various
provinces." I think this should permit conservatives in the Episcopal
Church to dust off all the pieces we wrote over the past couple decades
that were deep-sixed by the powers-that-be and make sure through
pressure from the Global South that they are not deep-sixed by the ACC
staff. This will make it clear that the Anglicans in North America are
not all of one mind ? indeed, that they have a mind!

--The Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll is Vice President of Uganda Christian
University in Kampala, Uganda
Much has been made of the vote of the Anglican Counsultive Council against ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada passed by a margin of two votes. From another blog:

The ACC passed a resolution at their 1971 meeting concerning Women's Ordination. The vote was 24 to 22. It was the Bishop of Hong Kong that brought the resolution (surprisingly, not the U.S.) and the ACC agreed that it would do everything in its power to prevent this from becoming a “Communion-breaking” issue.

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