Miracles from Heaven

One of our wonderful Year 11 students who has almost finished her time at Thomas Knyvett College has emailed to let us know there’s a great film to revise Religious Studies Unit 1 Section 1 ‘Believing in God’ called Miracles from Heaven.  Apparently it shows evil and suffering, miracles as well as unanswered prayers. Could this be a good revision film to watch for Year 10 students before Thursday?

On IMDb it says: MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN is based on the incredible true story of the Beam family. When Christy (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored and their community inspired.

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What does Islam say about homosexuality?

The Qur’an doesn’t mention homosexuality at all, and when it does mention “men who are not in need of women” it doesn’t condemn them. All of this might be surprising when you consider the impression most of the media has given about Omar Mateen’s killing of nearly 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The Independent reports how the recent rise of political Islam and jihadism by extremist groups, had lead to more homophobic talk by not only Muslim extremists but also the general Muslim population. A study in the UK over the last 12 months showed that 50% of Muslims thought homosexuality should be made illegal. I wonder what the Christian population of Britain would say? Would they have a similar opinion?

Whereas homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Islam sacred writing, in the Bible it is clear: homosexuality is a sin.

  • Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
  • Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them.”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

However we know from studying Christianity that different denominations of Christianity follow these Bible teaching to different extents. That some Christians would rather follow the Golden Rule or try to follow Jesus’ teachings of always doing the most loving thing and remembering to forgive.

Revising for the Year 8 RE Summer Exam

Year 8 have given themselves a really good grounding in RE this year with the two units: What does it mean to be a Christian, and, What does it mean to be a Muslim. These two updated units were specifically designed to drip some of the new GCSE Religious Studies into Key Stage 3 so when students get to Year 10 and 11, they’ll understand a lot already!

We also have the Caring for Others, Genesis (creation and environment) and Suffering and Evil units to revise for the summer exam.

Here are some things to watch from BBC Bitesize Learning to get you started:

Revising for the Year 9 Summer Exam

Year 9 have enjoyed some updated units this year, helping them to prepare for the new AQA Religious Studies GCSE which we’ll start after the May half-term. So what will they have to revise for their summer exam?

This should be enough to get you started on revision. Don’t forget there’s also some SAM Learning which has been set for all Key Stage 3 students.

Transplant Surgery

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What is a transplant? It’s a surgical operation to introduce organ or tissue from one person (the donor) to another (the recipient). It may also refer to the transfer of tissues from one part of a person’s body to another part of the same person’s body.

Way back in 1908 Alexis Carrel came up with a way of transplanting organs but most of the organs he transplanted from one animal to another failed, as organs were eventually rejected. From the 1950s onwards organ transplants gradually became more successful with the development of drugs (e.g. cortisone) to help organs be accepted in the recipient’s body. The first successful heart transplant happened in 1967. For 18 days the patient Louis lived with the heart of a 25 year old woman beating inside him. Nowadays this would be seen as a failure, but back then this was a huge breakthrough. By 1984 heart transplants had become common place around the world and even children were having heart transplants.

In the second half of the 1900s development has continued with the options for transplant surgery growing. Artificial hearts have been with us since the 1950s. Since the late 1970s it has been possible to offer some deaf people the chance to hear with the aid of cochlear implants. In 1981 the first successful heart-lung transplant was performed in Stanford.

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Despite this, replacement surgery remains a highly technical and very specialised profession. Its success also depends on the availability of suitable organ donations, and in many places in the world there are not enough to meet the demand. The NHS website explains which organs people can donate  as well as what the main faiths teach about organ donation.

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This can raise serious ethical questions and, some fear, lead to the body being treated as a commodity.

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There is much debate within Islam on whether organ donation is halal or haram.

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This has lead to a shortage of organs for Muslims with them having to wait on average an extra year for an organ compared to non-Muslims. The reason for this is that of the three million Muslims in Britain most have a South Asian ethnic background: so if less Muslims of this ethnic background donate organs there’ll be less organs which match people of that ethnic background who need them. Hospitals have had to urge Muslims to donate because the shortage of organs is so severe.

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“Miss we’re not allowed to say hot cross buns anymore!”

Today at school a student claimed we weren’t allowed to say ‘hot cross buns’ anymore as it would offend Muslims. I questioned where he’d got such a story from and then demonstrated that we were allowed to say both hot cross buns and Easter eggs without offending anyone.

So where had he got this story from? I’ve tried to find the story online but failed. What I did find was a newspaper article in the Express from 2007 which explained how a hospital banned hot cross buns to not offend ethnic minorities. This didn’t go down well with religious leaders saying how ludicrous it was and Muslims saying how they’re not offended by hot cross buns and often eat them themselves.

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Meanwhile in 2003 the Telegraph reported how lots of local councils were banning their schools from putting hot cross buns on the menu to avoid offending non-Christians. Again this move met with lots of criticism: The Muslim Council of Britain called the decision “very, very bizarre”. A spokesman said: “This is absolutely amazing. At the moment, British Muslims are very concerned about the upcoming war with Iraq and are hardly going to be taken aback by a hot cross bun.

“Unfortunately actions like this can only create a backlash and it is not very thoughtful. I wish they would leave us alone. We are quite capable of articulating our own concerns and if we find something offensive, we will say so. We do not need to rely on other people to do it for us. British Muslims have been quite happily eating and digesting hot cross buns for many years and I don’t think they are suddenly going to be offended.”

Making the whole furore more ridiculous is the fact hot cross buns were probably around first as a pagan snack before being adopted by the Christians in England. It wasn’t until Queen Elizabeth I that hot cross buns were pushed to only be eaten around Good Friday. You can find out more hot cross buns and Simnel Cake from a website about England’s history.

In the staffroom today we all enjoyed a hot cross bun: teachers and TA’s of all faiths and none. Nobody broke out into song though! Off school on Wednesday when my son was ill we went to rhyme time at Woking library and sang along…

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