I doubt I could do this:

A mother whose only child was shot dead has shown the ultimate forgiveness – by inviting her son’s killer to live next door.

Mary Johnson, 59, now lives in the apartment adjoining the home of 34-year-old Oshea Israel and they share a porch.

In February 1993, Mrs Johnson’s son, Laramiun Byrd, 20, was shot in the head by 16-year-old Israel after an argument at a party in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Israel, who was involved with drugs and gangs, was tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 and a half years. He served 17 before being released.


She sought a relationship with him:

Then just a few years ago, the 59-year-old teacher and devout Christian, asked if she could meet Israel at Minnesota’s Stillwater state prison.

She said she felt compelled to see if there was a way in which she could forgive her son’s killer.

At first he refused but then nine months later, changed his mind. Israel said he was shocked by the fact she wanted to meet him.

He said: ‘I believe the first thing she said to me was, ”Look, you don’t know me. I don’t know you. Let’s just start with right now.”

‘And I was befuddled myself.’

The pair met regularly after that. When Israel was released from prison around 18 months ago, Mrs Johnson introduced him to her landlord – who with her blessing, invited Israel to move into the building.

What a woman!
Read more:


From today’s Wall Street Journal:

How would you begin a news article about a women’s magazine published by Al-Queda — what one might call “Jihad Cosmo”?  The Daily Mail opens with one of the most striking sentences in the history of journalism:

Al-Qaeda has launched a women’s magazine that mixes beauty and fashion tips with advice on suicide bombings.

Apparently, the magazine is full of timely advice for the complete woman:

Al-Shamikha magazine – meaning The Majestic Woman – has advice for singletons on ‘marrying a mujahideen’.

Readers are told it is their duty to raise children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.

And the ‘beauty column’ instructs women to stay indoors with their faces covered to keep a ‘clear complexion’.

After all, nobody likes a leather-skinned suicide bomber.

A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that Americans really don’t know much about their own religion:

More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45 percnt) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53 percent) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43 percent) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.

The chart below breaks down the respondents’ accuracy on the Pew quiz:

Amazingly, atheists/agnostics scored higher than anyone but Jewish respondents.

The image at the top of this post came from the article (link below).  It reminded me of this bumper sticker that I recently saw on the web:



star of david

How do you say “irony” in Polish?

Two Polish neo-Nazis who were childhood sweethearts and later became skinheads have discovered what for them is a shocking family secret: They’re actually Jewish.

Pawel and Ola, identified only by their first names, are the subject of a CNN documentary about Poles rediscovering their Jewish roots generations after their ancestors hid their religious identities to escape persecution during World War II.

A few years ago, Ola found out from Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute that both she and her husband are technically Jews. “It was unbelievable — it turned out that we had Jewish roots. It was a shock,” she said.

At the time, she and Pawel were active in Warsaw’s neo-Nazi movement. “I was a nationalist 100 percent. Back then when we were skinheads it was all about white power… that Jews were the biggest plague and the worst evil of this world,” Pawel said.

Both 33, they’ve now embraced their Jewish identity and are active in their local orthodox synagogue.

via Neo-Nazi Couple Find Out They’re Jewish.

These are the Said sisters, Amina and Sarah — two pretty Texas teens who were brutally murdered on New Year’s Day 2008. The main suspect: their father, Yaser. Their crime: dating non-Muslim boys. Their penalty: honor killings.

Tonight (Friday, August 6) at 10 p.m. eastern, Fox News will broadcast Bill Hemmer’s one-hour special investigating the case, and the risk Muslim girls face at the hands of their male relatives if they act too . . . American.

via Honor Killing in America – The Corner – National Review Online.

smiling methodist

Why is this man smiling? Now we know!

ANOTHER idea I’d not thought of: according to a new study, the Methodist church gives its ministers an incentive payment for bringing in more congregants.

Of course, not all ministers avoid self-interest in their work.  But this seems to be making the matter overly explicit.

And, according to the study’s abstract, the payment is higher for attracting parishioners who switch from toher Methodist congregations.  That seems to be exactly the wrong incentive!

See: “Is a Higher Calling Enough? Incentive Compensation in the Church” by Jay C. Hartzell, of the University of Texas at Austin – Department of Finance, et al.


We study the compensation and productivity of more than 2,000 Methodist ministers in a 43-year panel data set. The church appears to use pay-for-performance incentives for its clergy, as their compensation follows a sharing rule by which pastors receive approximately 3% of the incremental revenue from membership increases. Ministers receive the strongest rewards for attracting new parishioners who switch from other congregations within their denomination. Monetary incentives are weaker in settings where ministers have less control over their measured performance.

via SSRN-Is a Higher Calling Enough? Incentive Compensation in the Church by Jay Hartzell, Christopher Parsons, David Yermack.

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