Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sustainable methods of livestock production will be analyzed at conference

Is it possible to raise livestock in Alaska? You betcha!

UAF SNRAS and CES will host the Sustainable Livestock Conference Oct. 13-14 at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. The conference, which aims to help increase agricultural production in Alaska, will focus on sustainable red meat production.

“We know we have the potential to produce enough red meat to feed the people of Alaska but we don’t do it. Why not?” said assistant professor and conference coordinator Jan Rowell. “What would it take to develop this industry?”

The conference will draw producers, researchers, retailers, policymakers and students, who work toward identifying:

· practices that work, from the production of healthy meat to environmental compatibility.

· barriers to sustainable red meat production, from animal production to market issues and consumer attitudes.

· how the university can support the development of sustainable agriculture through research, education and extension.

“Alaska is positioned to design and develop a sustainable agricultural system unique to our situation, incorporating practices and attitudes different than those used elsewhere in the U.S.,” Rowell said. “Developing sustainable food systems is the first step on the path to food security and demonstrates a significant investment in Alaskans.”

The keynote speaker is Dr. John Ikerd, professor emeritus of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Missouri Columbia, and author of “Small Farms are Real Farms,” “A Return to Common Sense,” “Revolution of the Middle and the Pursuit of Happiness” and “Sustainable Capitalism.”

To register, visit here or contact Rowell at 907-474-6009.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Forest fest to test woodsmen's skills on Oct. 1

The log birling event is always popular at the Forest Fest. (UAF Photo by Todd Paris)

If you’ve got what it takes to compete in old-time woodsmen skills, mark your calendar for Oct. 1. The day’s itinerary includes ax throwing, log rolling, bow saw and crosscut sawing, fire building and more when the 14th annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival occurs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Everyone is welcome to participate as individuals or as teams of four to six. Observers are also invited to this free event. Awards will be granted to individuals, teams and the “Bull of the Woods” and “Belle of the Woods.”

Faculty members and students at UAF's Department of Forest Sciences developed the competition as a way to commemorate old-fashioned forest festivals. While high-technology tools are the norm for forest professionals in today's world, the festival pays tribute to a time when traditional woods activities were the basis for work and play, survival and revival.

The morning events begin at 10 a.m. at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm fields across from the Georgeson Botanical Garden. At 1 p.m. the games move to Ballaine Lake on Farmers Loop. A warming fire and hot drinks will be available at the lake. Participants are advised to dress warmly.

The festival is sponsored by the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Forest Sciences and the Resource Management Society, a student organization. Contact Professor David Valentine for more information.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Holy Land Pilgrimage: A Gate, A Basilica, and a Royal Match

By Glenn Patrick Juday, Professor of Forest Ecology, School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, based on travel May 3-June 1, 2011

The Name of a Gate
Our Footprints pilgrimage group takes a short ride from the Notre Dame center to the northeast corner of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. Access for large vehicles anywhere near the Old City is difficult, so we disembark and walk south along the eastern city wall. We walk through the Muslim cemetery of Al-Yousafeah along an old, minor street mainly being used at this early morning hour as a service road. For a pilgrim to gain a real historical sense of a city such as Jerusalem, there is something salutary about this earthy experience of a living city, as the small vehicles haul garbage out and maintenance workmen make up most of the foot traffic. It reminds us of the difference between a tourist display or exhibit, and a living city many thousands of years old.

We enter the Muslim Quarter through Lion (in Arabic ‘Assad’) Gate, also known as Sheep Gate, and finally St. Stephen’s Gate. Why so many names? The short answer is that a lot of history happened here, and names stack up like the archeological layers themselves. But these simple, single words speak volumes about the circumstances of the people and place.

Carved figures of lions at Lion Gate through the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The walls of the Old City were rebuilt in 1541 under the direction of Suleiman (Solomon) the Magnificent. The current location of Lion Gate is essentially the same as the ancient Sheep Gate, a northern gate close to the Temple, through which animals were led for temple sacrifice. Christians also refer to this as St. Stephen’s Gate, the site where the Deacon Stephen was stoned to death, the first recorded Christian martyrdom. Bullet pockmarks in the stone are from the 1967 Six Day War, as Israeli Defense Forces entered the Old City through this gate. (Glenn Juday photo)

A Gate for Sheep
The oldest name is Sheep Gate, which apparently refers to the sheep that were brought to the Temple for sacrifice. The historical book of the Bible, 1st Kings, records the events and words of King Solomon (in Arabic ‘Sulayman’) as he dedicated the first Jerusalem Temple, probably in the mid-tenth century BC. Even at that early time the Biblical narrative includes universalist themes and promises. The key point is that the Israelites believed they were under Divine direction to offer animal sacrifice in order to restore at-one-ment with their God. In the English language, the term for the action which would bring about that restored condition became the word ‘atonement,’ and it applied to reparation for sin.

41 “ ‘Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of thy people Israel, comes from a far country for thy name's sake … comes and prays toward this house, hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to thee … that they may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name…’ 54 Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, … and blessed all the assembly of Israel … 61 ‘… Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.’ 62 Then the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD. 63 Solomon offered as peace offerings to the LORD … a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8)
Obviously this was a spectacular number of animal sacrifices for what was regarded as a signal occasion. The animal sacrifices then continued at much smaller numbers on a daily basis. In this early period animal sacrifice was a ritual act that definitively renounced the worship of animal gods that the Israelites were prone to, for example in the episode of the golden calf at Mount Sinai.

The handling of this many animals, and the routine continuation of the daily animal sacrificial system, was a significant logistical challenge which required arrangements that gave the city and temple distinctive aspects of something like a stockyard. A shallow ravine to the north of the temple was dammed and permanent water pools were constructed early in the First Temple Period. Undoubtedly this was done partly to meet the human need for water, but almost certainly also to meet the water needs of animals being held immediately adjacent to the temple for sacrifice.

In 587 BC the Babylonians conquered Judah, destroyed the First Temple and took the Jewish people off into exile. Not long after this, the Babylonians were themselves conquered by the Persians under the ruler Cyrus the Great. After Jews spent some decades in exile, Cyrus allowed a number of them to return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. The next year the returnees laid the foundation of the Second Temple. But Jerusalem was undefended and surrounded by a number of hostile local rulers. These petty rulers did not wish to see more of this “foreign,” formerly exiled, population of Jewish settlers come back into the area they had managed to assume control of. The local rulers were particularly unwilling to see this Jewish in-migration justified by ethnicity and an attachment to ancient history described in their sacred writings. But the local rulers did not get their way, because they were still under a Persian overlord.

The Bible picks up the story in 444 BC, the 20th year of the reign of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes, as related by Nehemiah, the king’s Jewish cupbearer (wine steward).

Nehemiah Chapter 2: “1 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Ar-ta-xerx'es, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing else but sadness of the heart.’ … 3 I said to the king, “… Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lies waste, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’ .... 5 And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may rebuild it.’ … 8 … And the king granted me what I asked … 11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. … and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which had been destroyed by fire. … 17 Then I said to them [Jerusalem residents], ‘You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer disgrace.’ 18 ... And they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” [Nehemiah Chapter 3:1] “Then Eli'ashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and they built the Sheep Gate.”
In the Book of Nehemiah, Sheep Gate was the first gate mentioned, as it was very close to the Temple. The other gates are then named moving clockwise around the walls of Jerusalem. The name Sheep Gate was continued for many more centuries. The Greek word for sheep is “probaton,” and it was a long tradition that the features nearby, such as the pool and an adjacent church, were called “probatica.” The early (1582) Douai-Rheimes English translation of the Bible continued the tradition by translating John 5:2 this way: “Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica [sheep], which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida …”

The First Martyr
Christians often refer to this gate as St. Stephen’s Gate. Stephen was a follower of Jesus, and one of the group of seven men first anointed as deacons. “These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.” (Acts 6:6). The office of deacon was an ordained ministry established in the earliest Church in Jerusalem to provide practical material support and service, such as caring for elderly widows in the community (Acts 6: 3). The Catholic Church has sustained this office ever since, as one of the three levels of ordained ministry (deacon, priest, bishop).

St. Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin (the supreme council or court in Jerusalem) for blasphemy. Stephen’s speech in reply was famously mocked in a wildly uninformed polemic by George Bernard Shaw in his preface to the play Androcles and the Lion. Stephen was thrown out the original gate that was at or very near the modern Sheep Gate, and stoned to death. He is regarded as the first Christian martyr (“protomartyr”).
...and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, ... And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.... And cast him out of the city [ed. - here at Sheep Gate], and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit". (Acts 6: 5-8; 7: 58-59)
The incident is particularly poignant because of the mention of Saul (Paul) who becomes the dominant figure in the second half of the history of earliest Christianity, as recounted in the second half of the Book of Acts: “… though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief …” (1 Timothy 1:13).

The New Walls
During the Ottoman period the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt into essentially their current form and location. One legend is that Sultan Suleiman (the Magnificent) had a vision that if he did not construct a wall around Jerusalem, he would be killed by lions. So, during the rule of this later-day Solomon (Suleiman) the city walls were rebuilt, and completed in 1541. As a final sign of fulfilling his responsibility, he ordered the figures of lions to be placed on the wall next to this gate, and so it became known as Lion Gate.

As we walk through the gate, pockmarks from modern military weapons are visible. During the Six-Day War of 1967, the IDF fought an encircling campaign around the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) refrained from using air power and artillery in the hilly Jerusalem area, and armor proved almost useless. The Jordanian Army was professional, well trained, and had fortified positions outside the Old City. The campaign involved a number of costly, bloody infantry attacks by the IDF against bunkers, trenches, and machine gun positions. The Israelis captured the entire area around Jerusalem, but then hesitated – poised just outside Lion Gate – while the war cabinet debated whether to seize the Old City. When the order for the final assault came, ecstatic IDF soldiers rushed forward through Lion Gate almost heedless of casualties or resistance (real, but generally light).

As the assault proceeded, a big problem the IDF faced, ironically, was units getting lost. The IDF had no particular plans to take Jerusalem in June 1967, because the threat was seen as coming from the large Egyptian force on the Sinai border with Egypt. There were no military maps of the Old City of Jerusalem in the IDF, just a few tourist guides. No one in the IDF assault forces knew the area, because Jews had been excluded from the historic heart of Jerusalem for so long.

Basilica of St. Anne (Hannah)
In all our visits to pilgrimage sites the routine has become familiar. The narrative our Footprints group has heard almost everywhere goes like this: “Church X was originally used in the first century (or built in the fourth century). That earliest church was destroyed during or after the Persian invasion in the seventh century. Then a new church was built during the Crusader era and it was destroyed. Finally, the current church was built next to (or on top of) the Crusader-era ruins.” But this morning, at last, we are going to an intact Crusader-era church, one of the most intact of any such structures in the Holy Land. It is regarded by many as the childhood home of a wildly popular figure throughout the history of Christianity. And, its location is also as close to the former site of the Second Jerusalem Temple as we will get.

We pass some familiar places on the route of the Stations of the Cross. Within less than 100 meters we enter a gate into an attractive, pleasant garden. It is long-standing tradition in Jerusalem and the Holy Land that Saint Anne (Hebrew name - Hannah) and her husband Joachim were the parents of the Virgin Mary. The city of San Joaquin, Calif., was named for Joachim. Their names are also mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of James, which, while not entirely reliable in its spiritual narrative, appears to have been correct on such otherwise verifiable facts commonly known at the time. So we are going to visit the home of the grandparents of Jesus, and the childhood home of the Virgin Mary.

In Hebrew, the name of a person is more than casual. Joachim means “he whom YHWH has established or set up.” Hannah is derived first from the root word “Khen” (charm/charism) and the suffix “Ah” (the Lord). It means “charm/gifted of the Lord” or “Grace of the Lord.” The tradition is that Hannah (Anne) and Joachim were holy people who went about the tasks of their lives with a particular sense of dedication to God - St. Anne as mother, and St. Joachim as a member of the Jewish priestly class. The Catholic Church eventually established a feast day for St. Joachim and St. Anne, even though there is no specific knowledge that they were Christians.

Local tradition, which the Crusaders recorded, also held that the Virgin Mary was born in a cave dwelling near the Pools of Bethesda. At the site we are visiting, an older (5th century) Byzantine church commemorating the birthplace of Mary was burned and partially damaged during the Persian invasion of 614. It was repaired, but then nearly totally destroyed by 1010, during the time of odd behavior of the “mad caliph” Hakim. Ruins of the Byzantine structure are immediately adjacent to and partly under the current basilica.

Interior of the Basilica of St. Anne, an original church from the Crusader era, completed in the year 1138. The structure survived because after the conquest of Jerusalem by Salah ad-Din (Saladin) in 1192, it was converted into an Islamic seminary/school of Sharia Law. The basilica is an active Catholic parish today owned by the French government and operated by a religious order. The position just in front of the altar and below the smooth dome of the apse offers a superb acoustic effect. (Glenn Juday photo)

The site of the basilica, and thus the Virgin Mary’s childhood home, would have placed it literally in the shadow of the Temple. The district in the northeast corner of Jerusalem just outside the Temple walls was one of the two Essene areas in Jerusalem. If the tradition is correct, then Mary grew up in the shadow of the Temple, the daughter of particularly devout parents, one of whom was in some way part of the Temple priesthood within a district inhabited by a Jewish sect that had a strong and distinctive tradition of celibacy.

At the least, this situation would mean that the consecration of the daughter of the family as a (life-long) virgin would not be at all surprising, hardly an aberration in the Judaism of the time. An arranged marriage to an upright, established older man of the community, perhaps a widower with children (e.g. Joseph, husband of Mary), would provide the material and social support necessary for the daughter to live out this pledge. At any rate this is the tradition of the apostolic Churches of the Middle East.

It is a plausible, even likely scenario. It would account for the tinge of surprise in the response Mary gave to the angel Gabriel when she was invited to become the mother of the Messiah. Mary was already in a betrothal marriage. As such she was fully legally married to a man of the House of David, but it was before the time that she lived in his household, and yet she responds with confusion to the prophecy that she will bear the Messiah – “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” – in the sense not that she was ignorant of the physical process that would produce children within a marriage, or obviously not that she was never to marry, but that she was already pledged to a different life. In any event, the Catholic Church teaches its members definitively that Mary was special because of the fullness of favor (Greek: kecharitomene) she received and her single-minded dedication to God, that she lived her entire life as a virgin, that Anne and Joachim were holy, and that Mary’s husband Joseph was a just and upright man.

The Basilica of St. Anne was a special project of Arda, the rejected Armenian wife of Baldwin I, the first Crusader king of Jerusalem to accept the title (the first ruler refused kingship). The basilica was completed in 1138. It incorporated a few lower parts of the earlier Byzantine structure but was larger, extending further to the south. It is an outstanding example of Romanesque architecture. When the Kurdish military leader Salah ad-Din (Saladin) conquered Jerusalem in 1192, the basilica was not destroyed, essentially a unique fate for Crusader-era structures. Instead, a year later Saladin had the interior stripped, and converted the basilica into an Islamic seminary or school of Sharia Law. A five-line stone inscription in Arabic describing this event was placed above the side door at that time and remains today. For the next several centuries Christians could pay a fee if they wished to visit the site.

As time went by and Jerusalem followed a long path of decline, the building was abandoned. However, the basilica was so well built that it did not fall down in ruins, although it was severely neglected and became filled with refuse. Then in the middle of the 19th century, the Ottoman Sultan turned the place over to the French government, an ally during the Crimean War. Although the basilica experienced restoration work, most of the structure is original construction from the twelfth century. Today it is still the property of the French government, although it is very much an active Catholic parish. It is staffed by the White Fathers, a religious order named for their white robes (they specialized in work in Africa where black clerical clothing would be too hot).

Sign (in French) at the entrance to the Basilica of St. Anne and the Pools of Bethesda. The pools are a significant archeological site dating back at least to the time of the First Temple. The basilica is an active parish and is closed to commercial tourism on Sundays so that the congregation can use it for worship. (Glenn Juday photo).

Rays of Light, Doves, and Music
The plaque on the wall identifies the site as the Basilica of St. Anne and the Pools of Bethesda. The site receives heavy visitation, but is closed for tours on Sundays when the church is in use as a regular parish. As we enter the main door of the basilica, we find there are no other visitors for the moment. We encounter a three-aisle arrangement with a nave and two lower lateral aisles. The ceiling is cross-vaulted with an arcade of pointed arches supported by pillars, and a smooth hemispherical dome directly above the altar.

As we move forward toward the altar, a window on the east exposure of the dome admits intense, piercing rays of the morning sun that are outlined by lingering incense from the early Mass that has wafted up to the uppermost heights. It’s almost a visual cliché of an intensely spiritual Catholic setting, and I find myself thinking all that is missing are doves fluttering above. And then a couple of doves flutter above the altar in the space just below the dome. I am so transfixed, I simply watch as the pilgrims seat themselves in the front pews. I finally realize that simply recounting the story will sound contrived, and so I take out my camera. The doves choose that moment to roost on a distant ledge in a dim corner, but I will “capture” some with my camera in a few moments outside. Later I see the loose-woven nets placed over the doors to minimize the bird presence within the basilica.

View upward into the dome above the apse of the basilica of St. Anne. Early morning light is entering from the east window of the dome. Shafts of light are defined by the lingering remnants of incense that have wafted up to the ceiling. Doves that entered the basilica were fluttering above moments before. (Glenn Juday photo)

Dove fluttering just outside the front entrance of the basilica of St. Anne. (Glenn Juday photo)

The lines in the rows of the basilica’s Jerusalem stone are clean and symmetrical and the joints are tight, reflecting both excellent design and craftsmanship. The interior surfaces are clear (lack major projections), and relatively unadorned. The predominant impression is one of verticality – everything is tall. The result is an exceptional acoustic effect, perhaps the finest in the Middle East. The basilica has been called “virtually a musical instrument to be played by the human voice.” As pilgrim groups come in each day, nearly always someone will assume the prime acoustic position in front of the altar and sing.

The rule in the basilica is that anyone is welcome to perform a religious song, essentially of any religion. But secular songs are not permitted, and a sign next to the prime spot forbids lectures inside the church. One of our pilgrims performs a beautiful rendition of the Salve Regina. And then one of the pilgrim priests, Father Franz, quietly comes forward and begins the Te Deum – the hymn of thanksgiving we last heard in the Solemn Reception into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – in a high tenor. The tones are exquisite – crisp, rich, and clear despite the rapid or polysyllabic Latin phrasing. It’s an exceptional experience of sound.

The construction or reconstruction of many Catholic churches and other structures in Jerusalem, often placed on the site of previous ruins as we have seen, was particularly active during the first half of the twelfth century. This was the same period as the construction of the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe. The High Middle Ages in Europe were a time of real accomplishment in several fields of technology – architecture being among the most prominent. Because of the great numbers of these large structures, usually cathedrals, being built, experimentation and refinements of technique were constant. The enthusiasm for building cathedrals caused significant advancements in architectural design, stone handling, use of timbers in construction, stained glass art and technology, and not least of all - acoustics. In Europe these became the largest roofed structures built to that time.

The knowledge pool of skilled designers, construction supervisors, and craftsmen was limited and so very likely shared between Europe and the Kingdom of Jerusalem - as it was called then. Since architectural drawings and plans did not exist, specific and exact knowledge had to be transmitted in the minds of the skilled workers or their apprentices moving from job site to site. The dates for this cross-diffusion are quite compatible here. For example, the (first) period of the construction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris began in 1163, only 25 years after the completion of the Basilica of St. Anne here in Jerusalem. Whatever limitations of European societies that can be identified during those times, it would be a major misconception of history to portray them as lacking accomplishment. Architectural skill of the highest order, for example, was in plentiful evidence.

Making a Royal Match
Our Footprints group moves to the south aisle and takes a flight of steps down to the crypt and a grotto said to be the Mary’s birthplace. It is another of the cave (or semi-cave overhang type) dwellings we have seen elsewhere from the time. Only part of the original cave surface, bright rusty red with iron oxide, remains. An icon of the child Mary with Anne and Joachim is on the wall. The icon contains the familiar monogram “ΜΡ ΘΥ” – in which MP are the Greek letters for MU and RHO, an abbreviation for “mater” (mother), and “ΘΥ” are the Greek letters THETA and UPSILON, an abbreviation for “Theou” (of God). The formal term for this belief is “Theotokos,” or “God bearer” which applied to Mary by the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Chamber under the Basilica of St. Anne believed to be the home of the St. Anne and St. Joachim, parents of the Virgin Mary, and her childhood home. A remnant of the cave dwelling, bright rusty red with iron oxide, can be seen in the center. (Glenn Juday photo)

What kind of a match did the parents of Mary make for her? Given her position (literally) in the heart of Jerusalem, how did she later end up in a tiny Galilean residence? Why didn’t she get a match at a high level? Actually, she did.

In the Gospel of Matthew the angel calls Mary’s husband Joseph, “son of David” (Mt 1:20), confirming his descent from the royal line of King David. As he entered into the marriage to Mary, his adoption of Jesus conferred the legal status of inheritance. The rules of kingly accession to the throne occasionally could depart from the norm. For example, even though David was not his father Jesse’s first son in birth-order, he was anointed as firstborn (head or lead) and because of that inherited the honor of his father’s house as King of Israel. He was promised a house (dynasty) that would rule forever.
“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom...I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me...Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12–16)
But a few centuries after David established this dynasty, events challenged its survival. The Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom (Judea), leveled its capitol Jerusalem, and carried off its citizenry to exile in 586 BC. When the Babylonian conquerors blinded the last king (Zedekiah) and executed his sons (2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:7) as successors of David, they assumed that they had finally destroyed the Judean line of royal descent. It did appear that the royal line of David had come to an end. But there were rumors.

The rumors were that a shoot (in Hebrew “netzer’) would sprout from the fallen tree of Jesse (David’s father) and a branch would arise (Isaiah 11:1). In essence the underground (and dangerous) belief was that the murders committed by the Babylonian conquerors had not been quite complete, and that God’s promise that the Davidic throne would last forever might yet be fulfilled. It is known that a clandestine family line whose members believed that they were offspring of David kept alive the consciousness of that identity during the first and second centuries BC. They believed that ultimately it was their destiny to provide a royal heir who would resume legitimate dominion. This (understandably) secretive clan was identified by the semi-cryptic (to outsiders) name Netzoreans or Natzoreans – the ‘branch’ family of David.

They kept contacts with Jerusalem (by marriage, among other means). But the Nazoreans chose an out-of-the-way location in Galilee for their family seat, a place so small it was on the margin between a village and simply the dwellings of an extended set of relatives. The name applied to the place had no connection to the deep history of the land, and unlike nearly any other inhabited place in the Holy Land it was not mentioned in the Bible. Instead it was simply named after the family line (Netzorean) of royal Davidic origin – Nazareth – or, if you will, branch-town. The place name Nazereth was even the diminutive form of the word – “little branch.”

But while the place did not count for anything, the Netzoreans or Nazoreans thought of themselves as special. At the time it would have been logical to look to them to provide the long awaited messianic leadership. “He will be called a Nazorean.” (Matthew 2:23). But the view from outside of the clan may not have been as confident, particularly as the Roman occupation of Judea and Galilee dragged on, and as the Edomite usurper Herod and his degenerate clan became more entrenched on the throne. What were the people to think?
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ ” (ESV John 1: 45-49).
One gets a sense of all these themes in what is called the Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat, from the Latin first word of the first line (Magnificat: anima mea Dominum). In the tradition of the eastern Church, this was one of the first Christian songs, which in an oral culture was the means of preserving an important “document.” A number of great composers have set the Magnificat to music, including Monteverdi, J.S. Bach, Bruckner, and Rachmaninoff.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever. (Luke 1: 46-55)
All the elements of Mary’s personality as recorded in Christian scriptures, and the context of her times and circumstances are there: a deep and humble dedication to divine will, a messianic and ecstatic anticipation, a sense of impending revolutionary upending of established but non-legitimate power, proud Israelite and Jewish identity, and long-hidden fidelity to a divine promise with the obvious belief that it was about to be vindicated.

In the English-speaking world of today, it is common to speak of “Jesus of Nazareth,” with the implicit assumption that the modifying phrase conveys geographical information exclusively. But from the perspective of the people, places, and circumstances of the time, the geographical component to the term Nazareth may well have been secondary. Instead, the term Nazarene applied particularly to lineage, status, and destiny. This deeper historical view provides insight into another incident in Jericho in which a stranger, hearing only that a Nazarene (or Nazorean) was passing by, immediately made the association with the royal line of David:
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! ‘Be quiet!’ the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ (NLT Luke 18: 35-39).
At the end of Jesus’ life the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate decided to make the same association - of Nazarene status with having royal Davidic lineage, even if he intended to send a mocking/warning message against troublemaking from any other members of the clan. He ordered a titulus (public notice or declaration) to be placed on the cross above the prisoner he was about to execute, with the words in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew/Aramaic, the latter possibly in Hebrew letters in the Syraic dialect (John 19:19-20):

Latin: “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”
“Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews (Judeans)”

Greek transliteration: Iesous ho Nazoraios ho Basileus ton Ioudaion.

To this day, all Latin Rite Catholic churches and chapels are required to have a crucifix (a cross with the corpus or body of Jesus attached) in place at the altar during Mass, and virtually all such crucifixes include the Latin letters of abbreviation of this titulus – INRI. These words were, at the same time a political/criminal charge, a simple matter of self-identification for any Nazorean, and of course, ever since then a claim that arouses passions much like it did at the time.

In one of the very few episodes that records the actions of Mary in Christian scriptures, the mother of Jesus is described as being there at the cross (John 19:25), where she would have seen the written charge against her son and watched as the sentence was carried out. The aftermath was imagined by Michelangelo Buonarroti and depicted in his Pietà, which is generally regarded as one of the greatest sculptures in history.

The thoughts going through the mind of a quiet, devout Jewish woman who probably started life here in the shadow of the Temple, living among a clan of royal expectation, can only be imagined. It must have been as if a sword had pierced her heart.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SNRAS plays key role in STEM conference

The Alaska Math and Science Conference will be held in Fairbanks Sept. 24-26 with a focus on STEM Education: Foundation for Alaska’s Future.

Teachers from around the state will learn innovative educational approaches that will help emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their districts, schools and classrooms. Workshops and sessions will be held at Lathrop High School and Ryan Middle School.

STEM education is important because there will be eight million jobs available in STEM-related fields by 2018. One of the objectives of the Alaska Math and Science Conference is to assure that attendees have a clear picture of the importance of STEM education.

SNRAS faculty and staff are integral to the STEM conference, with programs represented including OneTree, MapTEACH, UA Geography Program and GLOBE.

Adjunct Professor Janice Dawe of OneTree is leading field trips to the OneTree plots in the T-field and will have an exhibit at the Sunday evening celebration where teachers will get to make knitting needles out of birch. Dawe will give two presentations on Monday during the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in-service training. An artist volunteer with OneTree, John Smelter, will lead a teacher workshop also.

Assistant Professor Patricia Heiser and Instructor Sidney Stephens will introduce the MapTEACH program to 40 teachers from around the state at the conference. In collaboration with the Yukon Koyukuk School District and funding from the Alaska State Department of Education, the workshop includes classroom and outdoor activities on Friday.

Teachers will be attending from Allakaket, Anchorage, Arctic Village, Atqaksuk, Barrow, Bethel, Chevak, Chuathbaluk, Chugiak, Cordova, Fairbanks, Hoonah, Huslia, Kaktovik, Kaltag, Ketchikan, Koyukuk, Manley, Minto, Point Hope, Point Lay, Sitka, Sleetmute, St. Mary's and Wrangell.

On Saturday morning there is a MapTEACH half-day "interpreting the landscape" field trip around the Goldstream Valley using maps, air photos and satellite images, with the teachers collecting GPS data. On Monday, there will be a MapTEACH session to introduce participants to GIS.

UA Geography Program Education and Outreach Coordinator Katie Kennedy is leading several sessions on online GIS and Google Earth.

On Sunday evening, Sept. 25 UAF will host a celebration in the Great Hall and Davis Concert Hall. From 6 to 7 p.m. there is a student showcase and at 7 p.m. Vi Hart will present Mathemusician's Musings, which integrates math, technology, music and art.

SNRAS project receives national recognition for successful researcher-community partnerships

“The Subsistence Sharing Network Project,” a UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences cooperative study, will receive highest honors from the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary of Interior Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

The “Secretary’s Partners in Conservation Award” is granted to organizations demonstrating exemplary collaboration and unique investigations. The Sharing Project is one of 17 projects receiving the award.

Begun on the North Slope in 2008, the “Subsistence Sharing Networks Project” was headed by SNRAS Associate Professor Gary Kofinas (pictured above) and post-doctoral researcher Shauna BurnSilver. It was conceived by Dee Williams of BOEMRE, building upon work initiated by Jim Magadanz of Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“The project sought to realize a good approach for working with communities and in that effort, shift the paradigm of how researchers and communities work together in arctic social science,” Kofinas said. “The success of the project is explained, in part by the extra effort made cooperating and building relationships with local residents, who helped design and shape the project.”

Another key factor was community leaders who understood the value of documenting their subsistence systems using quantitative research methods and encouraged local residents to participate. “The effort modeled good research partnerships with communities, which is what our university tries to do,” Kofinas said.

Many community, tribal, state and federal agencies were involved, including the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Subsistence and the North Slope Borough Wildlife Management Department. The project was funded by the Environmental Studies Program of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Services).

Although studies of Alaska Native subsistence activities have been undertaken for decades, most of the research has been limited to recording harvest levels. This project used cutting edge methods of social network analysis to document and analyze subsistence food sharing networks, cooperative hunting, participation in the cash economy and issues of food security.

Through broad collaboration among project partners, the project provides a novel means to quantify the traditional values of cooperative and reciprocal relationships among Alaska Native people, who are bonded by deeply embedded cultural sharing behaviors. The study identifies how these relationships contribute to the resilience of rural communities, as well as the vulnerabilities of resident households, to a variety of forces of change and potential disruption.

Research was conducted in Kaktovik, Wainwright and Venetie. Each community had its own advisory board to help guide the study and identify ways to communicate goals. Seventeen village residents were hired and trained as research associates, working alongside UAF graduate students to conduct interviews. The success of the project was demonstrated by a high survey response rate of 92 percent of all household heads in all three study communities.

The project provides baseline data that will be invaluable for monitoring change and potential impacts from climate change and anticipated oil and gas development, both onshore and offshore, that may affect residents of the North Slope Borough. This monitoring effort will facilitate long-term conservation of cultural resources and wildlife resources.

SNRAS Dean Carol Lewis said, “The research has accomplished what many others have not been able to address, the role and significance of subsistence resources in traditional lifeways. The methodology will pave the way for future work and hopefully lead to a monetary and non-monetary system for tracking subsistence resource use in the face of a changing climate.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fire science workshop set for Oct. 6-7

Artists gathered at Denali National Park in July 2011 to learn about fire effects and succession in the 2002 Horseshoe Lake Fire area. (Photo by Jen Northway)

The Alaska Fire Science Consortium is hosting the 3rd annual Fire Science Workshop Oct. 6-7. All UAF faculty and students interested wildland fire-related research are invited to attend.

This event will be a great opportunity to connect and interact with the fire and land management community along with other fire scientists.

This year’s workshop will cover several topics ranging from new fire behavior modeling tools, to the effects of changing fire regimes, to communicating fire science through art. There will also be an informal poster session on Thursday, Oct. 6. Bring a poster to share your latest projects.

Check out the workshop agenda to see the full list of presentations along with directions and remote participation instructions.

The Fire Science Workshop will be held at the BLM – Alaska Fire Service main office on Fort Wainwright.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Northway, AFSC Coordinator, or call 907-474-6964. If you would like to receive AFSC news, announcements and future event information, join the mailing list or visit the website.

NSF director to visit UAF

Matt Kane (pictured at right), program director of the National Science Foundation Ecosystem Science Cluster, will visit UAF Sept. 20-23, hosted by Alaska EPSCoR and the Institute of Arctic Biology.

All interested faculty, staff and students are invited to attend his two seminars and to meet with him individually. Please contact Mary Beth Leigh to schedule an individual or group meeting during the day or for lunch or dinner through the week.

Matt Kane will be giving two seminars:
"The NSF Proposal Submission and Merit Review Process," Tuesday, Sept. 20, O'Neill 201, 1 p.m.

“NSF Trends and Funding Opportunities in the Biological Sciences,” Friday, Sept 23, Elvey Auditorium, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Dr. Matthew D. Kane is a program director in the Ecosystem Science Cluster in the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation and has an appointment as a Visiting Fellow at Yale University. In his 12 years at NSF he has served in both DEB and the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, managed or co-managed a dozen different programs and the review of over 2,000 proposals and worked with colleagues throughout the foundation and with other federal agencies.

He currently serves as a program director for the NSF Ecosystem Studies, Long Term Ecological Research sites and Dimensions of Biodiversity programs, and has oversight of the NSF Science and Technology Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education.

Dr. Kane served for four years as the leader of the General and Applied Microbiology Divisional Group of the American Society for Microbiology. Prior to joining NSF, he held positions at the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral fellow for NSF at the University of Illinois. Dr. Kane received his B.S. with honors in biology at the University of Michigan, and his PhD in microbiology at Michigan State University.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Growers' school offered by distance delivery

The Advanced Alaska Growers School is accepting registration from master gardeners and others with at least two years of gardening or farming experience.

The free course, which is sponsored by the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, begins Sept. 21. It will be offered through four distance-delivery methods, including self-paced options.

Instructor Donavan Kienenberger said the 12-week course is the next step for anyone who wants to pursue farming, ranching or starting a small business to sell Alaska-grown products. The course will introduce participants to sustainable farming practices, raising bees, chickens and livestock, as well as marketing and other aspects of running a business.

Kienenberger said the course is open to everyone, however, Alaska Natives or people living in villages will be given priority if more people sign up than space is available. The course is offered through a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Project director Heidi Rader, tribes Extension educator for the Tanana Chiefs Conference region, said the course will help Alaska Native people in remote communities grow food to complement traditional subsistence activities.

Those who are interested in the course are asked to complete a survey and pre-quiz.

Beginner and advanced versions of the course will be offered again next year. For more information, call Kienenberger at 9097-452-8251, ext. 3447.

Monday, September 12, 2011

GIS software will open new worlds to Alaska teachers and students

Elementary and secondary classrooms across Alaska now have access to geographic information system technology, thanks to a partnership between the University of Alaska Geography Program, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and Esri, a leading software development company.

Students, educators and administrators in all of Alaska's primary and secondary schools will be able to use Esri's full range of ArcGIS software, plus gain unlimited seats in self-paced training through Esri's Virtual Campus.
"Many instructors are currently teaching GIS in the classroom, and others are using it to augment their science and geography curricula," said Katie Kennedy, education and outreach coordinator for UAGP. "However, we believe that the technology has the potential to change the way students and their teachers fundamentally approach a topic, and we intend to introduce it throughout the state as a hands-on tool that supports inquiry-based learning."

The site license provides an opportunity for K-12 teachers to incorporate GIS into their classes across the curriculum, from geography to history, language arts and math. GIS software not only allows users to visualize spatial data, but also to analyze it, helping make complex concepts clear and understandable. For this reason, teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects are quick to take advantage of the power of GIS. Some teachers attending the 2011 Alaska Math and Science Conference in Fairbanks Sept. 24-26 will have a chance to gain hands-on experience with GIS software.

School districts can also utilize the Esri software for administrative purposes, such as bus routing. School districts will be able to better manage their facilities, safety planning and implementation, capture and analyze demographic data and more, all with the software available through the Esri Statewide K-12 license.

“I am proud of UAF’s role in forming this powerful partnership with Esri and EED,” noted UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers. “This initiative will serve educators and students throughout our state and I view this initiative as a critical step forward in linking UAF, private industry and educators to better prepare Alaskans for the future.”

“This partnership boosts Alaska students’ opportunities to engage in hands-on, problem-solving learning,” said Alaska Education Commissioner Mike Hanley. “This is the sort of learning that keeps students in school and prepares them for college and careers.”
“The Esri software provides opportunities for rural teachers to utilize technology in real-world activities,” said Roxanne Mourant, Alaska educational technology coordinator. “GIS is a growing technology popular in numerous industries that is accessible to remote areas of Alaska that may not have cell phones or Internet, but can pick up the GIS satellite signals.”

Teachers may visit here to request the software and find resources for using GIS in the classroom.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Alaska schools invited to participate in Geographic Bee

Alaska students competing in the Geographic Bee last spring in Anchorage nervously awaited the final round. The winner of the Alaska Geographic Bee represents the state at the national event in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Katie Kennedy)

Alaska schools and homeschool associations with fourth through eighth graders are eligible to participate in the Geographic Bee. Not only is the contest a fun, educational activity, one winner from each state gets to attend the national meet in Washington, D.C.

Schools are asked to send a letter on school letterhead, enclosing the registration fee of $90 and designating a teacher to receive contest materials.

School bees are held from Nov. 14 to Jan. 13, the Alaska state bee is March 30 and the national bee is in May 2012. Visit National Geographic for more information.

Schools may send letters to National Geographic Bee, 1145 17th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. The Alaska Geographic Bee is sponsored by the UA Geography Program and the Alaska Geographic Alliance.

Marti Wynn is the state coordinator of the Geographic Bee.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Students may apply to attend agriculture conference; travel awards to be granted

The UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and the UAF Cooperative Extension Service are hosting the Sustainable Livestock Production in Alaska conference at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel, Oct. 13-14. The conference will bring together livestock professionals and others interested in developing a stronger, more functionally integrated red meat system in Alaska. The goal of the conference is to identify the “best practices” for healthy and sustainable red meat production in a context of healthy ecosystems and financial viability.

Using money from a USDA grant, there are six student travel awards to the conference available in the amount of $500 each. Award recipients are expected to attend and participate in the conference, help the conference organizers with registration and with other conference activities as needed. Students are expected to fully participate in all conference activities, including topic discussions during breakout sessions. This is a tremendous opportunity to meet and interact with a wide variety of agricultural professionals, farmers and stock growers, and many others involved in all aspects of the supply chain from production to consumption, from the pasture to the fork.

To be considered for the award you must be a registered student in the UA system. Please submit a one- paragraph synopsis of your interest in the conference, of your ideas about, and commitment to, sustainable agriculture and red meat production, and your long-term educational goals. After the conference, you will be asked to submit a brief summary and overview of what you learned, where the conference activities were strong or weak, and your ideas about sustainable agriculture in Alaska.

Please submit your synopsis paragraph to Dr. Jan Rowell, chair of the organizing committee, by Sept. 20. Award recipients will be notified by email on Friday, Sept. 23.

For more information contact Dr. Rowell at 907-474-6009 or one of the other conference organizers, Milan Shipka, Joshua Greenberg, Tom Paragi or Craig Gerlach.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reindeer calves dubbed with names

For reindeer calves at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, the feed trough is much more interesting than a new name.

At the age of five months, the calves in the UAF Reindeer Research Program have received their names. While one was named Obama last year, the "politician of the moment" name granted a calf this time is Sarah P.

"Sarah Palin was the name nominated but we shortened it to Sarah P to avoid trademark issues," said Darrell Blodgett, RRP technician.

Sarah P is healthy young female who spends her days frolicking and eating at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm. Her companions are the other 18 calves born in April.

RRP staff wait until the calves are weaned from their mothers to begin the naming process. Until then they are simply referenced by the numbers on their ear tags.

Monikers are suggested by school children from around the country. Students from Fayetteville, Ga., Savage, Md., Surprise, Ariz., and other towns nominated names and the RRP staff gets the privilege of selecting which ones will be applied to which calves.

Male names this year are Fireball, Rocko, Sami, Dexter, Graham, Fritz, Pikachu, Froggie, Clyde, Ernest and Houdini. In addition to Sarah P, females will be called Penelope, Solveig, Trudy, Bella, Lucy and Jellybean.

The name Solveig came from Colorado, which happens to be where RRP Manager Greg Finstad's granddaughter of the same name lives. "This calf is adventurous and independent just like my granddaughter," Finstad said. On the day of her birth Solveig entered the world at 7 a.m. and escaped her pen by crawling under a fence. By 9 a.m. workers found the calf in a completely different area than it had been and reunited it with its mother. "How and why it managed to get out of the pen it was in and away from Mom we will never know for sure," Blodgett said.

School children are welcome to enter names each spring. The program received 58 male names and 61 female names at the RRP website this year.

RRP conducts research in meat science, range management, nutrition, reproductive health, disease prevention and radio telemetry. The program has been active at UAF since 1981.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Potato disease found in Alaska

Late blight has shown up in the fields of two potato producers in Palmer and Delta Junction.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service is working with major potato producers to help prevent the spread of the blight, a fungus-like disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine. The disease can rapidly kill plants in the field or cause potatoes to rot in storage.

Late blight was discovered earlier this week in Palmer. Extension agriculture and horticulture agent Steve Brown said the farmer has taken proper steps to prevent further spread. Late blight can be controlled through the use of fungicides. The Delta producer is also working to prevent infecting the rest of his fields or his neighbors’.

An infected plant will appear to have brown to black lesions that develop on leaves and/or stems. Light blight spores form on the underside of leaves and will have a gray-white color. If farmers or gardeners suspect late blight, Brown suggests that they contact their local Extension agent.

Potatoes from diseased plants remain good to eat, as long as they do not show signs of the blight, but should not be stored as seed potatoes. Brown said growers should kill all affected plants within 100 feet. It takes about seven days for the highly contagious disease to develop so nearby plants are probably already infected. Options for destroying the infected plants include using a weed burner or bagging the plants and placing them in a landfill.

A hard frost and freezing temperatures will kill the disease. Delta has already experienced several light frosts. Although late blight is common in the Lower 48, it was first reported in Alaska in 1995 and there have been three subsequent outbreaks in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough region.

Jeff Smeenk, Extension horticulture specialist and SNRAS assistant professor, said plant samples from both late blight sites will be examined to identify which type of late blight is involved. Conditions in Alaska this summer have favored the formation of blight.

“This disease likes cool and wet,” he said.

To prevent the disease, gardeners can apply fungicides with the active ingredient chlorothalonil. The fungicide is usually sold as a general-purpose garden fungicide.

To prevent late blight from showing up in next year’s potato or tomato crop, the following guidelines are suggested:

• Plant only Alaska grown certified, disease-free potatoes.

• Remove and destroy any diseased plants.

• Purchase tomato transplants only germinated and grown in Alaska.

• Use an irrigation system that keeps plant leaves as dry as possible.

More information is available by calling Brown at 907-745-3360 or through Extension’s publications on late blight.