Toni Morrison         2/18/ 1931 – 8/5/ 2019

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Toni Morrison (Courtesy Alfred A. Knopf)

Toni Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus at Princeton University. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. She was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1993.  She also wrote “Beloved,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

In an interview with Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Mario Kaiser for Granta,  she said,  “What people outside this country, particularly in Europe, think about this country, what they like about it is generally something that comes out of black culture. It’s jazz. It’s even language. Think about what this country would be like without us. I wouldn’t even visit! I came with my first book trying to say, ‘Look, racism really and truly hurts. If you really want to be white and you’re not, and you’re young and vulnerable, it can kill you.’ That was when I first began to write, and finally, after all these years of reading books, editing books, working in libraries, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, there’s no book in there about me!’ So if I wanted to read it, I would probably have to write it.”

Read more HERE and HERE and HERE.

America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches

Religious communities often face a choice: Sell off the buildings they can no longer afford, or find a way to fill them with new uses.

NOV 25, 2018  Jonathan Merritt, Contributing writer for The Atlantic

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http://timesofahmad.blogspot.com/2015/03/usa-more-than-3000-people-leave-church.html

 Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population. Any minister can tell you that the two best predictors of a congregation’s survival are “budgets and butts,” and American churches are struggling by both metrics. As donations and attendance decrease, the cost of maintaining large physical structures that are in use only a few hours a week by a handful of worshippers becomes prohibitive.  A church building is more than just walls and windows; it is also a sacred vessel that stores generations of religious memories.  Read more HERE.

Church of England staring at oblivion as just 2% of young Britons say they identify with it

Chris Baynes    Friday 7 September 2018

The number of people who identify as belonging to the Church of England has dropped to a record low in an “unrelenting decline” that could threaten the denomination’s future, research suggests.

CofE affiliation has fallen to just 2 per cent among adults aged 18 to 24, while the majority of every age group now has no religion, the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found.

The number of Britons who describe themselves as part of the church has more than halved since 2002, from 31 per cent to 14 per cent. The number who actually attend sermons is far lower.

The drop comes amid a trend towards a secular society. Fifty-two per cent of people now say they belong to no religion, up from 41 per cent in 2002.

Read more HERE.

Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster 

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The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism. Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarianism) is a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. According to adherents, Pastafarianism is a “real, legitimate religion, as much as any other”.  The “Flying Spaghetti Monster” was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In the letter, Henderson demanded equal time in science classrooms for “Flying Spaghetti Monsterism”, alongside intelligent design and evolution. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.

Male Heart Health

How Pushups Can Help Men’s Hearts

By Matt McMillen

In a 10-year study published in February, researchers reported that men who can do 40 pushups have a whopping 96% lower risk of heart disease than guys who can’t muster 10. The average man in the study: Nearly 40 years old and overweight, but not obese. All 1,562 men were physically active firefighters rather than office workers. The study’s results strengthen the case that muscle-building promotes heart health.

Read more HERE.

New W-4Forms

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The New W-4 Form Changes Could Make Your Life A Lot Harder

By SETH MILLSTEIN  @ Bustle.com 

The tax law signed by President Trump in 2017 resulted in a complete rewriting of the W-4 form, the standard tax form workers fill out for employers before getting hired. The new W-4 form changes will likely make your life a whole lot harder — but luckily, the IRS won’t be using the new forms until the 2020 tax season.  The new form references no fewer than 12 other forms that employees may have to refer to in order to complete their W-4, according to USA Today.  Read the entire article HERE

Encounters

About Encounters

The Hartford History Center at Hartford Public LibraryThe Amistad Center for Art & Culture, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Old State House, and UConn Humanities Institute -UCHI formed a community engagement partnership to present Encounters, a series focused on encouraging informed and informal conversations about issues that affect our lives. The aim is to strengthen our ability to know ourselves and to develop a forum for respectful and challenging dialogue. Click HERE for more information.

The IQuilt Plan

Where should Hartford be when it turns 400?

The City of Hartford, in partnership with The IQuilt Plan Partnership, invites you to kick off a community conversation about this question by participating in an online survey, at www.hartford400.org.

We want you to think big! Your responses will help shape the development of a comprehensive plan for Hartford’s future. To get the latest updates about this planning process, including future opportunities to participate, be sure to sign up for our mailing list at www.hartford400.org.  

The US Census is Hiring

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APPLY ONLINE TODAY!  THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU IS SEEKING QUALIFIED OFFICE STAFF FOR 2020 CENSUS OPERATIONS IN THE LOCAL AREA. THEY PROVIDE:

  • Excellent Pay
  • Flexible Hours
  • Paid Training
  • Temporary Positions

Apply Online Today@ 2020census.gov/jobs
1-855-JOB-2020  (1-855-562-2020)
Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339 TTY / ASCII
www.gsa.gov/fedrelay