Jesus in all forms: Tattoo, phone & Jewish choir
OCCASIONALLY, we put our weekly "Where We Worship" coverage on sabbatical to bring you religious news and views from out of town that we think curious Daily News readers would enjoy knowing about - and thinking about as it relates to their spiritual lives.
This week, we bring you a believer bound for the Meadowlands, a scholar seeking daily prayer data, and the least unlikely "gospel" choir imaginable. (Hint: They're Jewish).
Prayer for interceptions?
"Legion of Boom" safety Earl Thomas, of the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks, wears his religion on his sleeve (the first two words in his Twitter profile are "God's son"), on his flesh (several of his tattoos reference scripture) and even on his athletic tape (sold by the Beaumont, Texas, company Shields of Strength).
He also wears a black wristband with "John 3:16" imprinted on it in white letters: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Thomas came up in the Sixth Street Community Church, in Orange, Texas, where his late grandfather Earl was the pastor and where he spent every waking hour that remained after football and school. "Tuesday, Wednesday, we were in that thing, bro," he told the Tacoma News Tribune recently.
When the Seahawks picked Thomas in the 2010 NFL Draft (14th overall), he took their call at the church, where his family, friends and half the town had gathered to see which team would get him - and where, according to coverage in the Beaumont Enterprise, the congregation had groaned aloud when the Eagles passed him over at No. 13.
Texting while seeking
"Did you pray in the last 24 hours?"
"Do you feel a sense of purpose right now?"
"To what extent are you feeling nurtured or angry with God?"
If you wouldn't mind receiving text messages like these on your smart phone twice a day for two weeks - at random times during your waking hours - there's a scholarly study of spirituality being conducted at the University of Connecticut that would value your answers.
The Soul Pulse study (soulpulse.org) hopes to track the ebb and flow of people's spirituality to see how it varies depending on everyday factors, like how well they've slept, how busy they feel and what they're doing at any given moment (commuting, for example, or playing video games).
Respondents reply using slider bars on their phone's touch display - ideally right away, "but later if necessary for safety reasons."
For their trouble, they get a snazzy set of customized graphs showing what has nourished (or sapped) their spirtuality over the course of the two-week study. Sociolgists and psychologists at UConn and some partner schools will then crunch the megadata looking for trends that apply across the board.
"Over the coming years, this will produce a number of findings that I think will help redefine how we understand day-to-day spirituality," lead researcher Bradley Wright told the Assoicated Press. For sampling purposes, the study is activively recruiting agnostics and atheists, along with believers of all stripes.
Go tell it on the bimah
Literally speaking, you can't have a Jewish gospel choir. The word "gospel" means "the good news of Jesus," which would be a hard sell at temple.
But as the Washington Post reported this week, the D.C. Jewish congregation Sixth & I has something close: an ensemble of 21 mostly Jewish singers who belt out Hebrew prayers set to gospel music.
A rabbi at Sixth & I reached out for melodic instruction to the pastor at Turner Memorial AME Church in Hyattsville, Md. - a congregation that had worshipped until a decade ago at the downtown location now occupied by Sixth & I.
"And last summer," as the Post reported, "the 6th in the City Chorus was born."
For the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last weekend, the choir played to packed houses Friday night at the synagogue and Sunday morning at the church.
Daily News wire services contributed to this report.