Mosque offered as Covid-19 quarantine facility in Pune | SabrangIndia

person

Azam CampusImage Courtesy:painamdar.in

Over the last few decades P A Inamdar has artfully juggled multiple roles as an educationist, legal luminary, social worker, builder and much more. As President of the Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society that runs a host of educational institutions at Pune’s sprawling Azam Campus, Inamdar has created educational infrastructure that at present empowers 27,000 students including 14,000 who hail from economically backward families living in low-income neighbourhoods.

Now, Inamdar has offered 9,000 sq ft. of space on the first floor of a mosque located in the Azam Campus as a quarantine facility. In an exclusive interview to SabrangIndia, he explained his motivations and hopes:

What prompted you to offer the space in the mosque as a Covid-19 quarantine facility?

Ultimately all religions and all religious places are meant for human beings. No religion teaches discrimination, especially when a human life is in danger. Now is the time to put into practice what religion teaches us. Now is the time to act. If we are not able to apply religious principles now and help our fellow human beings, then when will we?

What are the facilities you are offering?

We are offering a hall that measures 9,000 sq ft. It is located on the first floor of the mosque. I have already spoken to the Municipal Commissioner. They will arrange for the doctors and the police. They had originally asked for about 40 beds, but we are offering them 100 beds. All arrangements are being made in compliance with social distancing measures. If they can arrange for lunch and dinner that is fine. Otherwise, we can also offer them food.

Is it true that you are also trying to arrange for 10 more similar facilities in mosques across the city?

I have already spoken to them (mosque authorities). It is important that we offer as much help as possible. What is the meaning of religion if we cannot help our fellow human beings?

We have seen various instances of Muslims being targeted and accused of spreading the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you think your efforts will help send out a positive message on behalf of the community?

See, politicians often play with people’s emotions as it is easier to do that instead of actually solving their problems. That is how they get votes. But that should not stop us from setting a good example in whatever way we can. Our organisation has already helped distribute food and rations worth Rs 30 lakhs to people living in Pune’s slums and low-income neighbourhoods. We did this with full cooperation of the police. Now with this space we have another opportunity to offer our service to humanity, so we are doing it. This is not the time to make speeches or hold meetings. This is the time to act.

Do you think our education system has failed to root out communalism or is that a much deeper problem?

The educational gap between the haves and have-nots is thousands of years old. The higher classes and castes have always benefitted more. But luckily, we are now able to bridge the gap gradually with technology. When more people will be on the same platform, we can expect real development. There are 27,000 students studying on my campus and 14,000 of them some from the slums. But we teach them all about technology and they are now making computers and cell phones.

Additionally, it is also the responsibility of religious leaders to speak out in wake of hate crimes. We always hear the activists and intellectuals speak, but why are the religious leaders silent? No religion supports lynching. Therefore, everyone, whether a Maulana or a Shankaracharya, should come out and condemn it.

What is your message to your fellow Indians in this holy month of Ramzan?

It is very important that when it comes to religion, we don’t limit ourselves to just learning about philosophy, but instead put that philosophy into practice and help our fellow human beings. We can’t leave religion in temples and mosques. We must make it a part of our daily conduct and serve humanity, because that is what all religions teach us.

Azam CampusImage Courtesy:painamdar.in

Over the last few decades P A Inamdar has artfully juggled multiple roles as an educationist, legal luminary, social worker, builder and much more. As President of the Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society that runs a host of educational institutions at Pune’s sprawling Azam Campus, Inamdar has created educational infrastructure that at present empowers 27,000 students including 14,000 who hail from economically backward families living in low-income neighbourhoods.

Now, Inamdar has offered 9,000 sq ft. of space on the first floor of a mosque located in the Azam Campus as a quarantine facility. In an exclusive interview to SabrangIndia, he explained his motivations and hopes:

What prompted you to offer the space in the mosque as a Covid-19 quarantine facility?

Ultimately all religions and all religious places are meant for human beings. No religion teaches discrimination, especially when a human life is in danger. Now is the time to put into practice what religion teaches us. Now is the time to act. If we are not able to apply religious principles now and help our fellow human beings, then when will we?

What are the facilities you are offering?

We are offering a hall that measures 9,000 sq ft. It is located on the first floor of the mosque. I have already spoken to the Municipal Commissioner. They will arrange for the doctors and the police. They had originally asked for about 40 beds, but we are offering them 100 beds. All arrangements are being made in compliance with social distancing measures. If they can arrange for lunch and dinner that is fine. Otherwise, we can also offer them food.

Is it true that you are also trying to arrange for 10 more similar facilities in mosques across the city?

I have already spoken to them (mosque authorities). It is important that we offer as much help as possible. What is the meaning of religion if we cannot help our fellow human beings?

We have seen various instances of Muslims being targeted and accused of spreading the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you think your efforts will help send out a positive message on behalf of the community?

See, politicians often play with people’s emotions as it is easier to do that instead of actually solving their problems. That is how they get votes. But that should not stop us from setting a good example in whatever way we can. Our organisation has already helped distribute food and rations worth Rs 30 lakhs to people living in Pune’s slums and low-income neighbourhoods. We did this with full cooperation of the police. Now with this space we have another opportunity to offer our service to humanity, so we are doing it. This is not the time to make speeches or hold meetings. This is the time to act.

Do you think our education system has failed to root out communalism or is that a much deeper problem?

The educational gap between the haves and have-nots is thousands of years old. The higher classes and castes have always benefitted more. But luckily, we are now able to bridge the gap gradually with technology. When more people will be on the same platform, we can expect real development. There are 27,000 students studying on my campus and 14,000 of them some from the slums. But we teach them all about technology and they are now making computers and cell phones.

Additionally, it is also the responsibility of religious leaders to speak out in wake of hate crimes. We always hear the activists and intellectuals speak, but why are the religious leaders silent? No religion supports lynching. Therefore, everyone, whether a Maulana or a Shankaracharya, should come out and condemn it.

What is your message to your fellow Indians in this holy month of Ramzan?

It is very important that when it comes to religion, we don’t limit ourselves to just learning about philosophy, but instead put that philosophy into practice and help our fellow human beings. We can’t leave religion in temples and mosques. We must make it a part of our daily conduct and serve humanity, because that is what all religions teach us.

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‘They saved my life’: Stabbing victim meets bystanders who came to her rescue | Stuff.co.nz

person

A young Auckland woman who almost died after being stabbed by her ex-boyfriend more than 20 times has met the bystanders who “saved her life”.

In November 2018, Crystal Tupou was lured to Anzac Ave by ex-boyfriend Micah Santos who used a fake Facebook profile to invite her to lunch.

When she arrived at the meeting spot, Tupou said she came across the “one person I didn’t want to see”.

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou said she wanted to share her story to encourage other victims of domestic violence to seek help.

After arguing and threatening to kill her, Santos attacked Tupou, repeatedly stabbing her in the street.

In August 2019, Santos plead guilty to attempted murder and was jailed for six years.

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou was stabbed more than 20 times by her ex-boyfriend Micah Santos.

Now, Tupou has met with the three men, Steve Smith, Daniel Coombe and Walker Hunt, who ran to her aid and stopped Santos.

Detective Tim Johnston said Santos told police he only stopped stabbing Tupou after seeing the men.

“I believe if they did not do that, the victim may have got more serious injuries and may not have survived.”

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou embraces Steve Smith, the first person to come to her aid during the attack.

Johnston said the men didn’t hesitate to help Tupou and put their own lives at risk.

“Their actions were nothing short of heroic.”

In a video shared by police of Tupou meeting Smith, Coombe and Hunt, she was in tears as she embraced them.

NZ POLICE
Detective Tim Johnston said Crystal Tupou may not have survived the attack had the men not intervened.

Smith, who was the first to reach Tupou, was also in tears.

“It’s very emotional to see something like that,” he said, “breaks my heart”.

Coombe said what Tupou went through was “horrendous” but people aren’t powerless to change the outcome of events.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
Police at the scene of the stabbing on Anzac Ave, central Auckland.

Tupou said she was “incredibly grateful” for the men who stepped in that day.

“They saved my life. There’s no way I’d ever be able to repay them but I hope a big thank you would be enough, and not only that but I want everyone to know that they’ve played a big part in getting me here, because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here and alive today.”

Santos took two knives from the kitchen of his Henderson home in a Louis Vuitton bag and caught the train to meet up with Tupou on the day of the attack.

CATRIN OWEN/STUFF
Micah Santos was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

After the three men scared Santos off, he ran from the scene, dropping a knife and his bag.

He was arrested at Orakei train station after calling 111 and telling the phone operator what he had done.

By sharing her story, Tupou hoped it may help other women in controlling or abusive victims seek help.

“There were signs but I chose to see the good side of him. People would say bad things about him but I chose to ignore it.

“I knew that one day it would get out of hand, and I let it happen.”

Police encouraged anyone who was in, or knew someone who was in a harmful relationship to ask for help.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Women’s Refuge Centre 0800 773 843

Family Violence Line 0800 456 450

Shine National Helpline 0508 744 633

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Brit man, 24, plummets to his death off a cliff during night out in French ski resort

A BRITISH man has died in the French Alps after a night out with friends.

The 24-year-old’s body was discovered yesterday afternoon at the foot of a cliff after he was reported missing at 5am.

The British man died after a fall near the resort of Brides les Bains, Savoie, French Alps,
The British man died after a fall near the resort of Brides les Bains, Savoie, French Alps,
Alamy

Police believe he fell off a cliff after getting lost on his way back to his accommodation after a night in the pub.

The man, who has not been named, was staying in Brides-les-Bains, near the ski resorts of Courchevel and Méribel.

His body was discovered near Les Allues where he had been socialising for the night.

A search involving police, firefighters and mountain rescue equipped with dogs was launched and continued throughout yesterday.

His body was spotted by a helicopter crew at 4.50pm, almost 12 hours after he was reported missing.

‘FELL WHILE WALKING HOME AFTER NIGHT OUT’

A spokesman for Albertville police said: “Unfortunately the body of a man was discovered yesterday after a big search. 

“He was most probably the victim of a fall.

“We believe he was walking back from Les Allues to his accommodation in Brides-les-Bains. He departed with some other people but they became separated. 

“He was reported missing in the early hours. He was discovered not far from Les Allues. It appears he had not walked that far.

“We have no further information. An investigation into the death of the man has been opened and this will determine how he died and how far he fell. We can give no further details.

“Currently we have little information about him and are trying to establish if he was a season worker or a tourist.”

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The three-mile walk between Les Allues and Brides-Les-Bains takes about an hour-and-a-half. In the early hours of Thursday the temperature was minus three degrees celsius. 

Brides-les-Bains is directly linked by a cable-car to the famous resort of Méribel, popular with British skiers. The town was an Olympic Village for the 1992 Winter Olympics based in Albertville. 

The tragedy comes just weeks after British doctor William Reid, 25, fell to his death in the French ski resort of Avoriaz.

William, from Edinburgh, was on the fifth day of a New Year holiday with his girlfriend and his family. 

They had just enjoyed lunch and were making their way back to their accommodation. His family said he took a wrong turn and fell. Medics battled in vain to try and save him.

For the latest news on this story keep checking back at Sun Online.

Thesun.co.uk is your go to destination for the best celebrity news, football news, real-life stories, jaw-dropping pictures and must-see video.

Download our fantastic, new and improved free App for the best ever Sun Online experience. For iPhone click here, for Android click here. 

Like us on Facebook at  and follow us from our main Twitter account at @TheSun.

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Ex-NNPC staff hacked to death by own worker

Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin

A 65- year-old ex-staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ibrahim Ajayi Allah has been gruesomely murdered by his ex-worker.

The late Allah who retired from the finance department of the NNPC was allegedly hacked to death on December 13 by one of the workers in his farm at Oke-Oyi, outskirts of Ilorin.

It was learnt that the alleged culprit identified simply as Waheed has been arrested by the police.

Police spokesman said: “The suspect in a had confessed to the commission of the crime. He is helping the police in their investigations and bid to close in on other accomplices.”

Speaking with The Nation, younger brother of the deceased, Yakub Abejide Allah said: “My elder brother was murdered on December 13th on his farm site in Oke-Oyi area of Ilorin East local government area of the state.”
“Three years ago, he retired and chose to pursue agriculture which has always been his passion. He bought hectares of land in Ogidi, Kabba/Bunu local government area of Kogi State and poured all his passion into it. However, because of so many unanticipated factors, the returns were not as expected.

“About six months ago, he decided to gradually move out of Ogidi. So he bought about eight hectares of land at Oke-Oyi near Ilorin and restarted his farming there.

“The suspect picked up by the police is a man from that community with whom he had developed a close relationship. He was always going in and out with the man. In fact, on the day of the murder, they were said to be together and had lunch together before he was savagely axed to death at about 5pm.

“When the police searched the suspect’s house, they found my brother’s phone and other personal effects. He is said to have confessed to having killed my brother.”

READ ALSO: NNPC records trading surplus of N5.20b

Yakub added: “I felt so bad when I heard the news of my brother’s gruesome killing. It was the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Oke-Oyi Police Station that narrated how my brother was hacked to death.
“Subsequently, I called his wife and our other family members and broke the sad news to them. The police said they have arrested the alleged perpetrator of the heinous crime. According to them, he was initially detained at the Oke-Oyi police station before being transferred to the state Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Ilorin.

“We learnt that during a search in his house the late Ibrahim’s phones, personal effects as well as other dangerous items the perpetrator used to kill my brother were found there. I know the name of the alleged murderer as Waheed and he is in his 40s. “My appeal to the police and other security agents is to help us find out the real killer (s) of my brother, because the person that was killed has a lot of responsibilities that I cannot shoulder. We also want to know why he carried out the dastardly act. They should let us know if the killers were sent to kill him or they did it intentionally. That is what we need.

“The wife of the deceased, who is based in Abuja also came down to Ilorin and I took her to the police station; recovered the corpse for burial in Ogidi, our country home.”

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Nigerian student arrested in India for stabbing fellow Nigerian to death after fight over lunch box

sandwich person

A 39-year-old Nigerian identified as Morado was allegedly stabbed to death by a fellow Nigerian in Hennur, east Bengaluru, on Sunday.

According to the police, the victim was killed at his residence in Janakiram Layout, by his friend Samuel, 30, a BBA student with KNS College, near Hebbal.

Narrating the incident, Bengaluru police said that Morado, who was without a job, was miffed with Samuel for leaving behind his tiffin box at a food joint on Saturday afternoon.

The police also added that Morado was frustrated for staying unemployed for a long time which is believed to have contributed to him being short-tempered.

“Samuel and Morado were partying at a common friend’s house in Hennur from Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, Samuel took Morado’s lunch box to buy chicken from Africans’ Kitchen, a food joint in Hennur. However, Samuel forgot the lunch box at the joint and got the chicken wrapped in an aluminium foil. Seeing his lunch box missing, Morado, who was in an inebriated state, abused and slapped Samuel. Others intervened and pacified them,” police said.

According to the FIR filed, Samuel couldn’t forget the insult. He returned to Morado’s residence in Janakiram Layout in Hennur at around 3 am with a kitchen knife.

However, Morado did not open the door at first questioning why he came.

“Samuel couldn’t forget the insult. Armed with a kitchen knife, he rode back to Morado’s residence in Janakiram Layout at 3am and knocked on the door. Without opening the door, Morado asked Samuel why he’d come. Samuel is said to have asked Morado to apologise for having slapped him,” police said.

Neighbours told police they could hear Samuel and Morado shouting at each other around 3.30am.

“Morado then opened the door. Samuel stormed in and stabbed Morado on his chest and stomach,” police said.

Some of the neighbours alerted the police of the commotion but Morado had died by the time police arrived at the spot.

“Samuel was arrested from the place of crime in Morado’s residence after which he later confessed the incident on inquiry,” the police said.

A thorough investigation and verification of statements are now underway.

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President Obama Signs Final Executive Orders for Black America – R. Eric Thomas

person tie

Last month I did a guest editorial spot during the run of 1812 Productions‘ political comedy show, This Is The Week That Is. I was very excited to break news about President Obama’s final Executive Orders. And I’m equally as delighted to share them with you today!

In case you don’t know, I’m the local chapter president of National Black Friends of America. We are the organization that represents your black friend.

And maybe you have more than one—that’s great; we love overachievers—but statistically…

One of our most popular services is our hotline. You can call any time day or night for references. So, if someone accuses you of being a racist, just give us a call and we can get on the line and say “No. He has a black friend.” That usually settles it.

But I’m not here to talk about us; I’m here to talk about America’s black friend—President Barack Obama.

As you’re aware, America’s black friend is leaving his job in one month. We’re very sad about that. And I think we all know that even though President Obama is great and we love being around him, America’s main interaction with him has been through work. And now that he’s leaving the company, it’s going to be harder to hang out. We want to make plans and we’ll probably grab a beer at Applebee’s once or twice, but you know, everyone is so busy these days.

Anyway, before he leaves, President Obama has been making tons of last-minute pardons, endorsements and executive orders. Just yesterday he pardoned more people in a single day than any president ever.

But it’s his executive orders that are of particular interest to us, the National Black Friends of America. The president, as a parting gift to post-racial America, has made a list of decrees for things that Black people can now do (or now no longer have to do). Here are our ten favorites:

1. If you’re black, you don’t have to wait in line at the deli anymore. Just walk right up to the front. You can take a number if you want to but then just crumple it up and throw it on the floor.

2.The president is really concerned about all this Russian hacking business. The DNC can’t order lunch from GrubHub without it getting leaked. To prevent any further internet impropriety, all American correspondence will now have to go over the only server we trust–the one from the dating site BlackPlanet. If you’re trying to reach me, you can e-mail MochaChocolata@BlackPlanet.com

3. Speaking of Social Media, after these new executive orders, Black Twitter is now the only Twitter. Now you may say to yourself “Isn’t Black Twitter a part of Twitter? Is it a separate entity now? How do I find Black Twitter?” I’m not going to tell you.

4. Free hoagies at Jimmy John’s on Wednesdays! Very exciting.

5. Obama also made some changes to the criminal justice system. For instance, all trials will now exclusively have all-black juries. We’re just going to see how it goes. Don’t be nervous.

6. It’s also illegal, now, to perform routine traffic stops on black people. You can’t stop us anymore. It’s going to be like Mario Kart out there. Don’t worry; we’re very good drivers. It’s fine. The historically black driver’s ed schools are some of the best in the country. But, yeah, you can’t stop a black person in a car. We know our taillight is out. We know.

7. Michelle Obama is going on Mount Rushmore. But we’re moving Mount Rushmore to Miami because it’s just easier to get to.

8. Everything is church now. Tambourines. Ushers in orthopedic shoes. People doing cartwheels of praise down the aisle. Offering baskets. Everything. Church can happen anywhere at any time. Church is about to happen here. Venmo me your offering please. Hallelujah.

9. Oh! This is a new order that just went into effect last month at the Country Music Awards. Starting now, Beyonce can perform any kind of music she wants, at any time, anywhere. Coming in 2017: Beyonce does Klezmer. You’ll love it!

And lastly:

10. Beginning next year, we can’t use the n-word anymore either.

We’re very excited to be living in these post-post-racial times. Until then, as we now say in America, as allah malakim. And may Black Jesus bless us all!

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4 Tips For Running Effective Church Tech (even on a small budget)

person

I’m going to date myself here but when I started leading worship and helping with media at my church, a typical Sunday looked like this:

  1. Show up an hour before rehearsal and pick out songs. (“Let’s see… This week we’ll do Jehova Jireh, Ancient of Days, I Give You My Heart and maybe we should introduce that new song, I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever!”)
  2. Run-off a bunch of photocopies of chord sheets with most of the correct chords penciled in.
  3. Insert about 50 slides into the Kodak 4400 Carousel Slide Projector (oops, I guess we’ll have to do without the lyrics for that new song!)
  4. Run through the songs with just enough time to go to the bathroom before the service starts.

I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

Fast forward a few years. Our new youth pastor says “why
don’t we purchase a computer and projector and get with the times and use
PowerPoint?” Wow, we were high tech now! Then, sometime around 2003, that same
youth pastor says “you’ve got to check out this awesome presentation software.
It’s called EasyWorship. You can even use video behind the lyrics to enhance
the worship time.” Yep. We never looked back.

All
Scott Breault – New Life Church, Escanaba MI

Almost 20 years later, this is what a typical Sunday…err…week
looks like:

Monday: Pick out the worship set and plan the service.

Tuesday: Make some tweaks to the order of service, finalize the worship set and send out the Planning Center requests to the worship and tech team.

Wednesday: (This is where it gets fun) Head to the media booth, open EasyWorship 7 and drag the songs, graphics, videos and any content being displayed into the schedule. Go through the motion packs and drag and drop the motions that seem to fit the tempo and mood of the song.

Thursday: Mow the lawn (or shovel snow), Spend time with family.

Friday: Program lights, make sure the stage is ready for the team, and do a test run-through of lights, lyrics, presentations, and media while playing the worship set through Planning Center.

Saturday: Mow the lawn that I never got to on Thursday. Spend time with family.

SUNDAY: Drink coffee. 8 am run-through. Start the 5-minute countdown. Start the live stream. 9 am service. Drink coffee. 10:30 service. Eat lunch. Nap.

Okay, I know I said 4 tips for running effective church tech (even on a small budget), so here are those tips and a little look behind the scenes.

1. Keep it Intentional

alpha

Don’t do things just because you saw it at a conference or at another church. Do things out of vision and purpose. Ask yourself “what, why and how?” What do I want to accomplish? Why is it important? (Yes, it is important) How can I do this effectively? One of the things I’m very intentional about is our motion backgrounds and stage lighting. Those things can either cause distraction or be a powerful tool for removing distractions and helping people focus. Make sure what you are doing is achieving the latter. Don’t use fast, bright motions on slow, contemplative songs. If you’re using colored lights then make sure the colors match or complement the backgrounds you’re using. Think about how colors affect emotion. Cool. Warm. Energetic. Calming. Be intentional.

2. Keep it practical

app

It’s easy to look at what the “big churches” are doing and get discouraged. Don’t get discouraged. Keep looking at what the “big churches” are doing, be inspired and scale it down to what fits your resources. LED walls and moving heads are all the rage. I get it. They look awesome. We can’t afford those things right now. How can I get a similar look on a small budget? We looked at LED tape, and movement of light and textures across the stage. (We built this set for around $500 and it has been our backdrop for the last 1 ½ years)

Ask

Our monitor setup: We are running desktop, main display, foldback, and alpha. The main display goes into a splitter that sends the signal to the front projector, secondary monitor and video switcher. The video switcher goes out to our streaming device, and TVs throughout the church.

Awesome

Our live stream setup: We use the Blackmagic Studio HD as our video switcher. We have the PC running the main display and alpha and a couple of cameras. This allows us to show videos and media as well as our cameras on our live stream. The alpha allows us to do lyrics over the camera feeds during worship.

Our lighting setup: Luminair app $99 on an iPad, EZ Kling controller $99, DIY LED tape setup $300. (YouTube and Google are your friends.) Inexpensive LED lights that we’ve purchased over the years.

3. Keep it updated

birth

Seriously. Keep your computer updated. Keep your software updated. Make sure you’re using the recommended specs for what you’re doing. If you can’t afford the video card, ram, and processor required for HD video, then use still backgrounds. You want things to be reliable during the service. It can still look modern and professional. Use clean, sans serif fonts. (not comic sans) No more than 4 lines per slide. No outline. Soft shadow if you need the contrast. Remember, it’s our job to remove distractions not create them. Keep your equipment updated and keep your look updated.

4. Pass it on

Don’t just find people to push buttons. Train your volunteers. Teach them to troubleshoot. Teach them the “what”, “why” and “how”. Communicate your vision and most importantly, build healthy relationships with them.

Some of the things we’re looking to do in the near future are IMAG and syncing our lights and lyrics with our clicks. (All of which EasyWorship 7 has the ability to integrate with.)

I’ll leave you with this: Don’t make things complicated. You
could have all the tools and resources in the world but if you don’t know how
to use them then they do you no good. Learn how to effectively use the tools
and resources you have. Sometimes that forces you to tap into a level of
creativity that will give birth to all sorts of new ideas. Thanks for taking
the time to read this blog. If you have any specific questions about our setup,
feel free to message me on FB or send me an email. scott@newlife906.com

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How ‘The Good Place’ made the cast, creative team and maybe even the viewers better people

creative team and maybe even the viewers better people - CNN

(CNN)“It felt a little bit like what I imagine sending your kid off to college feels like,” says Kristen Bell about wrapping up “The Good Place,” currently in its fourth and final season on NBC. “It’s a good and bad feeling.”

“I refuse to spend my final moments being allowed to play with these people in misery — I think that would be pitiful,” says Bell. “I didn’t want to let that ruin it, because it is a gift. It really does feel like we did it for a reason, and when you see the ending you’ll know.”
When the finale comes, it will mark the end of a long, always fitfully funny but also moving journey of striving for enlightenment and self-betterment in the afterlife of a group of damned souls — Eleanor (Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto), plus the reforming demon Michael (Ted Danson) and the ultimate Siri/celestial automaton Janet (D’Arcy Carden). It’s meaty philosophical, territory peppered with silly swear word substitutes.
    “I definitely felt the anxiety of landing the plane more acutely than in previous years,” the show’s creator and executive producer Michael Schur tells CNN. A veteran of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” — two series both riotously funny and deeply warm-hearted which also struck pitch-perfect notes as they concluded — Schur admitted his team sweated many details crafting “The Good Place’s” endgame. “We spent a massive amount of time on the ending. Because we really wanted to get it right,”
    “I feel like we had a fairly good handle going into it, where our end point was,” says supervising producer and writer Jen Statsky, who explained that the series’ creative team constantly took a “forward-thinking” approach to the way the story unfolded season by season, neatly set up the story and character arcs to play out in subsequent episodes, which paid off as the final season was conceived. “You want to give the proper ending to these characters.”
    “And to make sure that we had covered all the ground we wanted to, and to be like, ‘Did we explore every facet of these characters and of the world?'” adds co-executive producer and writer Megan Amram, nodding to the rich, comic afterlife mythology the series has constructed. “In some ways we’ve been talking about the ending of the show almost since we started writing the show.”
    Thus the decision to end after four seasons, on their own terms, at a moment in time where broadcast networks tend to mine hit series for as long as they possibility can. When it became apparent that the fourth season would lead to the most organic and satisfying conclusion, NBC deferred to Schur’s creative vision. “We knew why [it was time to end], and it was because of the meaning of the show and it was because we were telling story that deserved its ending,” says Bell.
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    As the cast and crew delved into the many ethically and morally thorny issues the show’s characters would have to contend with, they found themselves in an extended learning curve as they routinely consulted academic experts in fields such philosophy, neuroscience and criminal justice to bring nuance and context to the series. “We’ve learned so much about so much stuff,” says Schur. “It’s been like a rotating course of lectures that we’ve had in our writers room, and it’s been so fun.”
    “We’ve all been very lucky to work with various writers rooms before, but this is the first one that felt like a combination writers room/college course,” agrees Statsky. “And for a true dummy like myself, it’s been very enjoyable to just not only get to be at work, but get to be learning about these topics that I had no previous knowledge of.”
    “This is paying us to go to college,” laughs Amram.
    Bell says that by exploring such heady, meaningful topics, even through a comedic lens, had a profound effect on everyone involved in the show, leaving everyone considering seriously what it meant to make a positive impact, both on those around them and on a global scale.
    “There are these opposing theories in my head about ways to be, to state my opinion fighting for good or do it with my art, and I vacillate between the two,” says the actress. “This was one where I felt like I really did it with my art, where I was a part of saying some things that I wanted to put out in the world, and I was really lucky to be able to be offered a job that was both creatively fulfilling and emotionally fulfilling to my sort of maternal instincts towards the world…I hope to get both again, but this is a pretty lucky experience.”
    The show’s conceit, to strive to be better even in the face of eternal damnation, proved downright infectious.
    “In the fabric of the show we talk about, life is a lot of little choices,” says Amram. “The show helped me realize that going through my day, I am presented with a lot more moral decision-making than I had previously thought. And I try to always make this slightly better choice now. And I think that is what the show is about. It’s like, when presented with two things, think about it, and maybe try to make the slightly better choice.” As a result of her involvement on the show, for example, Amram committed to a vegetarian lifestyle.
    “I don’t think that I totally understood the level of which moral decision making can become a factor in your life, where from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep almost everything you do has a moral component,” says Schur. “It can drive you nuts. I’m not necessarily saying this is a good thing.”
    “We do it when we order lunch and when we have any big decision to make. You can get really paralyzed,” adds Schur, noting that the show used the character of Chidi and his inability to resolve micro-ethical considerations to illustrate the point.
    How 'The Good Place' made the cast
    “If you let the idea of making a moral decision infect your life to that level, you become a nonfunctioning human being,” he adds. “The important thing is that you think about it, and then the next most important thing is that you are okay with the idea that you’re going to blow it sometimes…You need to let yourself off the hook when you do things that aren’t exactly perfect.”
    It’s a quandary that resonates deeply for the actor who brings Chidi’s indecision to life.
    “A lot of that is a very intuitive manifestation of a lot of my own stuff,” says Harper. “Maybe it’s more universal than I thought. Maybe a lot of people feel that way, but I personally get stuck a lot, and I think that just seeing what that paralysis looks like can actually be freeing, because sometimes it’s really useful to see it from the outside, the commitment to an action or inaction, how frustrating that can be. Especially to someone who is like, ‘Any choice you make right now will be better than not making one’… The most salient thing about the show and especially about this character for me is that.”
    Harper says that as a result of being a part of “The Good Place,” on screen and off, he couldn’t resist a powerful impulse for self-improvement.
    “I’ve learned in a very visceral way that people make the world, and the world that we are so privileged to inhabit for these past four seasons is beautiful, and wonderful, and full of good feelings and positivity and kindness,” he says. “And there’s no way to have that environment at work and not feel like, ‘Well, why can’t this be what the rest of my life is like?’ So coming away from the show, I want to make sure that I try to put as much good into the world as I can going forward.”
    Much of that is a result of the people Schur invited in to “The Good Place’s” world, says Stasky.
    “Mike’s an expert picker of people to work on projects. He has a very good radar for good people who want to make good things and treat each other well in the process of making those things. He empowers people to feel like they are a part of the project, and that really I think creates this environment where everyone is just happy, they’re happy to come to work, they feel they have a stake in it, and it’s a fertile ground for relationships to grow.”
    Indeed, as the public face of the show, the cast has demonstrated an emotional investment in both “The Good Place” and one another that’s rare among even the oft-self-proclaimed “families” of other TV series. A recent panel at the Television Critics Association’s press tour found the actors all tearing up as Danson waxed poetic about what a gift the series had been to them. And the show’s fans are likely to have similarly intense feelings about its departure.
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    But will it have a lingering effect on the way its viewers choose to impact the world?
    “I am extremely wary about ascribing success or failure to the show in any goal,” says Schur. “People used to ask if I felt like ‘Parks and Recreation’ had convinced people that government could be good or something.”
    “The only thing you can ever do is you can be very specific about what the show is saying. You can’t force people to hear the message or to react to it in any specific way,” he continues. “I don’t know whether people engage with the show purely comedically, or whether they engage with it spiritually, or academically, or whatever. I don’t think you can ever hope to control that. You can only say, ‘Here’s the thing: now it’s yours. You can react to it however you want.’ And we certainly have hopes that that’s true, but I don’t think there will ever be a meaningful way to gauge that.”
    Harper, however, offers anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise.
      “I remember this one time there was a woman on a train who recognized me from the show, and we started crying,” he says. “I feel like there’s a real desire for people to see other people being good to each other, especially where we’re at right now in the country where it just doesn’t feel like that’s happening very much.”
      “It gives you hope that this is something that is possible, that there’s someone out here that’s thinking about these things, and putting it on television for people to watch.” Harper adds. “It must be comforting for people to know that people like Mike Schur exist.”

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      Greta Thunberg Responds Perfectly To The Internet Trolls

      In August 2018, then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg staged her first strike outside the Swedish parliament. By November, the movement had caught on. Kids across Europe went on strike walking out of schools, sparking what would become the largest climate protest ever held around the world. Earlier this year, less than a year after she started campaigning, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for starting what is now truly a global movement.

      Over the last month, she’s captured even more media attention to her cause – the current climate crisis – by sailing (rather than flying) across the Atlantic to attend the United Nations climate action summit in New York, where she gave a powerful speech that got seen by the world.

      Despite her message being relatively non-controversial – Earth’s climate is demonstrably changing and we need to do more to prevent catastrophe – and backed up entirely by science, she has drawn the attention and abuse of prominent Internet trolls and actively controversial media figures. 

      You’d hope that people would temper their language when talking about someone who is still only a 16-year-old child, but that has not been the case.

      It’s not just the accurate scientific information she is sharing that has been questioned by detractors. She has been attacked on the grounds that she, a young person with Asperger’s syndrome talking on national television fluently in a second language, delivered this information in too much of a monotone, with critics calling her “chilling” and “creepy”. When she chose a boat not a plane to travel to the US to give a talk on how we should be limiting our carbon emissions, grown adults made jokes about her drowning

      She’s even been likened to Nazi propaganda because she braids her hair.

      When she’s not being attacked by prominent members of the media, she is regularly asked by the general public things like “if you’re so scared of climate change, how come you eat food?” because she was pictured eating lunch. (Yeah, they’ve totally got her there.)

      Throughout all this, she has kept relatively quiet about on her thoughts on trolls. Even when the President of the United States mocked her on Twitter, she merely updated her bio to show how little it bothered her.

      Now she has responded to the abuse and conspiracy theories, in a thread that’s gone viral.

      She got succinctly to the point.

      “It seems they will cross every possible line to avert the focus, since they are so desperate not to talk about the climate and ecological crisis. Being different is not an illness and the current, best available science is not opinions – it’s facts,” she wrote on Twitter, from the boat she is currently sailing on back home.

      “I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead. I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us.”

      “But don’t waste your time giving them any more attention. The world is waking up. Change is coming wether they like it or not. See you in the streets this Friday!”

      Perfect.

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      The Bachelorette Is The Worst Show On Television, So Why Do I Never Miss An Episode?

      I’m about to make a bold statement, so hold onto your hats!

      I love watching The Bachelorette.

      I already know what you’re thinking. Yes, I know it’s generally degrading. I know it makes otherwise good folks look like imbeciles. I know I’m being emotionally manipulated by myriad producers and editors whose sole job is to secure ratings. I know, I get it. But, ain’t ya ever heard of a guilty pleasure afore?

      Growing up, I watched only a handful of episodes from a couple seasons. I was first introduced to the show at 13, when I began to see Trista Rehn‘s face on the cover of every tabloid magazine at the grocery checkout. I remember being fascinated with the show’s concept. A bunch of dudes fight over one girl and then she has to pick her favorite ultimately making him the “winner.” But “winner” of what? Her heart? A game? Both? That sounds like fun!

      Thankfully, as a young adult, I didn’t waste my time being sucked into Bachelor Nation (the title given to super fans, ya know like Dead HeadsLittle Monsters, or Beliebers). No, as a young person I spent my time on more important things. (Like watching every episode of  and)

      It was until my mid-twenties that I officially joined the “Nation.” Now, the show has me dutifully plopped in front of a television set every Monday night.

      And I’ve done a lot of thinking and asked myself some pointed questions: Why do I love this show so much? Why do I look forward to Monday nights with such fervor? Why do I ignore the unrealistic message it’s sending to folks about relationships and love? Am I morally obligated to denounce the show in the name of feminism while saving my own dignity?

      While these are important and reflective questions to ponder, I already know the overarching answer is a blunt no. No, I won’t stop watching this show for the foreseeable future. But now, it’s time for my reasons…

      Why do I love this show so much?

      The simple answer (and arguably the most important): it’s entertaining. The folks who produce this show have gotten things down to a perfect science. They know exactly how to craft an episode or season’s trailer to leave you excited and salivating. Now, I’m not saying it’s great television. It’s trash. But like a crappy romance or dime-store novel, you just can’t help but turn the page. Or in this case, endure the commercials.

      Why do I look forward to Monday nights with such fervor?

      You know how folks love to get together for the Super Bowl? No matter who you are, how little you care about sports, or how much you hate Tom Brady, everyone LOVES to watch the Super Bowl. It’s a gathering. An excuse to get together with friends and family. A reason to pull out the old Crock-Pot and make Mom’s chili. A great opportunity to clink your beers and cheer on a team. Doesn’t matter which one, just pick a side.

      You see where I’m going with this… Monday’s are an excuse to get together with my girlfriends and sisters. Drink rosé and predict what might happen after the commercial break. Will the cocktail party be canceled tonight? Is Luke P finally going the f*$% home? Then there are all the mid-week, post-show convos. Are you all caught up yet? What did you think of Jed? Yeah, I’m free for lunch on Thursday!

      The Bachelorette is a really great excuse to hang out.

      Why do I ignore the unrealistic message it’s sending to folks about relationships and love?

      Let me rephrase this question: is it wrong for me to support a show that so inaccurately and unrealistically depicts relationships and love? I guess this question goes hand in hand with “Am I morally obligated to denounce the show in the name of feminism while saving my own dignity?” My answer to both is: no.

      But let me tell you a secret: THIS SHOW DOES NOT ACCURATELY DEPICT HOW HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS FUNCTION!

      There. I said it.

      No, it’s not normal to date 30 people at the same time. No, it’s not normal to “need” to hear that someone “loves” you after 4 dates. And no, it’s not normal to truly and firmly believe that a man you’ve known for less than six weeks should propose to you. My biggest pet peeve with the show — other than repeatedly hearing Chris Harrison say “The most dramatic (insert noun) ever is about to begin!” — is how contestants seem to forget that other people exist on Planet Earth.

      “No!” they say, “I want THAT ONE!” And we all know that has to do with the chase and competitive nature of the show. It’s not so much that they’re in love with the Bachelor or Bachelorette, they really just want to win. And then, maybe they can go on to do something really great with their lives, like use Instagram to promote products they don’t even use themselves. FabFitFun codes for everyone!

      Here’s the thing, the people that decide to go on the show, know exactly what they’re signing up for. They know they’re going to get to meet cool people, grow their Instafollowing, travel all over, and hey, maybe they’ll get engaged to someone. If it’s truly real love, they’ll stick it out. If not, they’ll announce it in an Instagram post and then move on with their lives, FabFitFun commission check in tow.

      Oh and as far as my own personal dignity goes, I’m pretty proud of its current state and not watching a vapid reality show isn’t going to make me “better than anyone else.”

      Now, let’s all cross our fingers and hope Hannah B. picks Tyler C.

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