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tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  PBS  December 21, 2014 4:30pm-5:01pm EST

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>> coming up, humanitarian groups are supposed to report between the border between turkey and syria. sculptures of mary, the mother of jesus. how have artists portrayed her? >> what it means to sing the messiah. >> major funding for religion and ethics news weekly is provided by the lily endowment
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and private family foundation dedicated to the interest in religion, community development and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america. designing customized individual and group retirement products. >> welcome, i'm bob abernathy. some are calling a hanukkah miracle. alan gross arrived safely in the u.s. this week after five years of imprisonment in cube a. the 65-year-old gross, a jewish aid worker had been jailed on charges of espionage although he maintained his innocence. the jewish council was among the many groups welcoming his release. gross thanked all those who prayed for him and said he would use his freedoms for good. >> we must never forget the two
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pillars, freedom and responsibility. i'm incredibly blessed finally to have the freedom to resume a positive and constructively life. >> gross's release came as the u.s. and cuba announced a new era of normalized relations ending 50 years of hostility. the white house met pope francis and was instrumental in persuading both. many faith groups welcomed the move while others raised concerns, especially about the state of religious freedom in cuba. prayer vigils were held for the people killed in a taliban attack on a school. the brutal massacre drew condemn nations from all over the world. protests were held across pakistan accusing the government of not doing enough to crack down on the taliban.
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it is reported to have carried out more than 1,000 attacks on schools since 2009. pope francis condemned what he called inhuman terrorist attacks. not only in pakistan, about sydney, australia where two people were killed after a muslim cleric took them hostage. he prayed for the victims and that god would convert the hearts of those who were willing to kill even children. >> rising isis violence generated what the united nations calls the worst refugee crisis since world war ii. they put out a new call for donations saying people inside syria exhausted their resources and nearby countries that are being flooded with refugees are at a breaking point. nearly 1.6 million refugees fled
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to turkey. managing editor kim lawsuit on traveled to the border between turkey and syria for this special report about the challenges facing the refugees and how people of faith of trying to help. >> southeastern turkey shares a 500 mile long border with syria. it looks quiet or peaceful. a few miles from here, government forces, rebel groups and isis are waging a brutal battle for control. so far nearly 1.6 million syrians sought safety in turkey and more are coming every day. >> they couldn't break any kind of stop together with them. they left everything behind. >> since the beginning of syria's civil war in march 2011, nearly 11 million people have been forced to flee from homes.
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almost 8 million of displaced while 3.5 million ended up in neighboring countries. darrell focuses on the mideast for the advocacy group refugees international. >> we are talking huge numbers, fully half the population of prewar syria needing humanitarian assistance. it's hard to keep up with both the needs and the numbers. >> a turkish nongovernmental aid organization that is part of a movement started by scholars. the group works in 113 countries around the world and is also helping in the burge yonning refugee crisis in turkey. >> i put myself into their place. i would be in the same situation. i will be the wrong way just from the war. they came here and it's the
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hospitality. they came to our country and it is our duty to help them. >> here in the southeastern city just on the border with syria, officials say there more than 100,000 syrian refugees. that far out numbers the local population. they sponsor a program here that distributes 4,000 meals every day except friday. people wait in line sometimes for hours to have their buckets filled with food for their families. the volunteer director said many of the refugees had middle class lives in syria, but are forced to survive on charity. >> there is definitely a need for food. if we didn't need it, we wouldn't be waiting here. >> right at the border crossing is a government-run camp for syrian refugees as the turks prefer to call them. 40,000 syrians live in two government-run camps, but the camps are full.
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>> about 3/4 or more of the syrian refugees are not in the camps at all. they are living in host communities and maybe they have friends and family helping to take care of them, but many have to rent hotels or apartments and if you don't have money for them, you can go to a public park or live in an abandoned building. >> they distribute boxes of food, blankets and other supplies to the refugees. this man and his wife and their small daughters live in one room of a house where five other families have rented rooms. they came a year and a half ago. >> he said you don't know when they will come to your house and kill and you your family. that's a problem for me. i came from there to here. >> many can't find work and the demand for housing that has driven up rent prices and small spaces that are ill-prepared for winter.
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they have the five children that live in this drafty shed that floods every time it rains. her husband can't find a job. she said they don't want to go back to syria when it's over. hussein and his family same last year after his home and business were destroyed by bombs. he has a job making office furniture, but said it's not enough to support his eight family members including the baby born six months ago in turkey. kim continued working with syrian refugees despite political differences between the turkish government and the ñ borders. many say they are motivated to help, but they have islamic beliefs. >> this is the religious side has been the same from the prophet mohamed. he has a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry. >> the u.s.-based forum believe
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such work makes the world a better place. >> we need to do something to alleviate the problems for the people who are suffering. people who are crying and asking for help. it is incumbent upon us and everyone to alleviate those problems regardless of religious and cultural and racial backgrounds. >> while most of the refugees are in border areas, more and more are making their way to other parts of turkey, especially to big cities like istanbul. after the holy spirit cathedral. the father leads special programs for children from syria as well as a growing number whose families are fleeing isis persecution. because the children don't speak turkish, it's difficult to attend local schools. >> we teach english of course,
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but it's music and dancing to make them to feel like they are children. like any other children and liberate them a little bit from their problems. above all to open their eyes and their hearts to the future. >> most, but not all children come from christian families. church leaders in iraq and syria are urging them to consider coming back to repopulate into christian communities decimated by the violence. >> they are very much concerned. christianity is like a power to disappear in this region. it was here with christianity for 2,000 years of christian with churches and monsters and crosses everywhere. now this is becoming part of history. >> many of the refugee families say stay in istanbul a short
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time and while they are here, the father said the mission of the church is to create an environment of love. religious and ethnic a tilliations don't matter. >> syria and the iraqi children are together. they don't mind. they're don't mind. they make a big family. >> although turkey and the other neighboring countries initially welcomed the flood of refugees, the sustained crisis is taking its toll. in some areas, tensions have been rising between refugees and roll locals. >> you can imagine the strain on the local markets and the ability to get food. the labor market, for example. on the water resources and the sanitation systems and the infrastructure like roads and hospitals. all of the host communities are feeling the strain and hoping and asking for help for sometime. >> donations to humanitarian groups have not been keeping pace. turkey has limited the number of
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permits to international nongovernmental aid organizations working with refugees and other countries preferring to handle the crisis internally. that may have to change as there is no sign of things letting up. for turkey, for any of the host countries. they said the international community needs to work harder for peace. >> there needs to be a political crisis. the outflow of people and people being pushed into needing assistance needs to stop. >> despite the challenges, many say there is a moral imperative to try to help. on the border between turkey and syria. >> the vatican and the controversial more than five-year investigation of u.s.
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nuns. in a report released tuesday, they praised the work of american sisters, specially for service toot poor. it was a different tone from previous statements which had provoked strong debate and anger for raising doctrinal concerns about the leadership conference of women religions. the largest umbrella group of u.s. nuns. the final report did not contain any restrictions or punishments, but instead urged the sisters to discern for themselves how to best deal with their challenges. >> this rabbi is the new ambassador at large for religious freedom. the newish leader is the first non-christian to hold the position. the church of england named the first female bishop. a matter priest with two children. the issue of female bishops
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remains a controversial one throughout the worldwide community. we look at the many ways artists have portrayed marriage of jesus's mother. there was women in the arts of depictions of mary from the 14th through 17th centuries. some of them never seen before in the u.s. our guide to the show was monseigneur timothy burden in florida, italy. >> this is an exhibit about mary, the mother of jesus. more specifically it is about the way in which people have seen mary through the centuries. the ways of presenting mary in art changes as society evolves. the early church showed mary as
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a kind of goddess, rigid and splendidly, regally attired and the christ child, the son of such a woman made the emperor, as it were. at the end of the middle ages, a new class of people emerged. the urban mercantile class who wanted art that could show them religious subjects in a way that allowed them to feel comfortable. they didn't immediately respond to the regal image of mary, but mary as a well off lady of the upper classes with a beautiful baby in her arms allowed them to see their own wives or daughters or mothers and so we begin to find much more human images of mary who was in dresses who were in fashion in the 15th or early 15th century.
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it is a very contained posture of her body. her person is deeply humble and thankful to god. it's the image of people whose life may be comfortable, but in their hearts they maintain a spiritual simplicity. mary is usually shown with the christ child and in a certain number of these works even when christ is still a child, one senses that she is aware of his future of suffering and death and her joy in holding the child in her arms is overshadowed by that future sadness and tragic fate that awaits her son. >> it's deeply reflective and sat appearance, they want to
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than they are thinking about the child's future. a later artist puts in the signs of that. the child has three small nails and a crown of thorns. it shows mary tickling the baby. they are loving it. it's the kind of magical moment of intimacy between a mother and a child which touches everyone. it was a marvelous painting by an artist whose name they don't know. in all of these paintings, people are smiling and they seem to wink at you. they put it over his head, the mother's vail over the child's head as a symbol of god's son and took his human nature from
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mary and he covers himself with it. at the same time they had this charming image of the mother and child playing and an image that the artist would have read in these theological terms. >> the real life dimension is the translation of what christianity tried to convey to people. got gave every aspect of human lives. even the wonderful and at the same time so fleeting moments. >> on our calendar, jews are celebrating the eight-day festival of hanukkah that remembers the story of the rededicated average temple and a
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name that burned for days even though there was only enough oil for one. >> happy hanukkah, everybody. >> president and mrs. obama hosted more than 500 jewish leaders from across the country at a hanukkah reception at the white house wednesday. the hanukkah story teaches us. the candles from the menorah from the interfaith school in jerusalem. they said it would continue on its path. it was displayed outside the white house. >> and for christians, final preparations are under way for christmas. it will be a difficult holiday season this year at sierra leone
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that has the most ebola infections in west africa. the government banned all public christmas and new year's celebrations in an effort to help stop the spread of the deadly virus. festivities are in full swing in many other parts of the world. at the vatican the pope has a busy schedule. he urged people to be joyful as they prepare for christmas and thank god each day for the blessings they have been given. plenty of prechristmas joy when he celebrated his 78th birthday. crowds of pilgrims sang happy birthday to him and in honor of his argentinian roots, a flash mob danced the tango. >> finally, messiah composed in 17 sfron, the messiah is revered at christmas and easter and many congregations, singing along.
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we visited the united methodist church in northern virginia and talked with one of the choir members about what singing the messiah at advent as christmas approaches means to him. >> advent is the beginning of the christmas season where we are waiting for something to happen. that happening is the birth of christ. it's always a traditional event here at the united methodist church for the purposes of singing with a sing along group. people outside of a congregation and the community to sing with us. ♪
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the music for messiah is one that is an important and integral part of the season itself because of a message it carries. it's a timeless piece and it's funny how overtime the music itself takes on new meaning and new facets. i was doing it out of respect and love for my mother who was a great singer. i would go with her to the church and sing with her. now it's a reflection and looking back on that experience, i have three kids myself and all of them have sung at one point or another. it's a passing along of that tradition that is an important aspect of our family. i have been singing the messiah for a long time. it is familiar music to me. we do our rehearsals and then reflect ourselves individually about what the music means to us
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and what the singing can do for us as well. the singing is an important part of my faith and important part of my experience of my faith. the music itself is probably one of the most emotional pieces that i have ever sung. i have sung a lot of music over 60 years. there is so much good music and so much of a challenge in terms of singing, but the message that is conveyed and that comes through the music is important. it sends a message of hope, a message of faith and joy. especially with regard to the season. the music accelerates that aspect of the joy, becoming the
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idea of christ being inkarnate here on earth and experiencing what it is that we on a daily basis is. knowing that that is an aspect of his life here, it makes our life more easy in terms of our faith. i don't think you can sing the messiah without sing the chorus, but for unto us a child is born is another chorus. there other choruses as well. for me, the messiah is the hallelujah chorus. ♪ hallelujah ♪ hallelujah >> it is an emotional experience in the sense that you listen to the music and you listen to the swelling of that music going towards the end. and the idea that you are giving
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thanks and praise and glory to god. in the end, that's what life is about. the idea of giving that glory to god being here on earth. ♪ hal ♪ hallelujah >> that's our program for now. i'm bob abernathy. you can follow us on twitter and facebook and watch us any time on the pbs app for iphones and ipads. much more on our website where you can listen to or watch every program. join us at and merry christmas. as we leave you, more scenes from christmas around the world
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as the boys of st. paul's choir school in cambridge, massachusetts sing road to bethlehem. . >> major funding for religion and ethlicks news weekly is provided by the lily endowment, an indianapolis based family foundation dedicated to the founder's interest in religion, community development and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america providing customized, individual and group retirements. that's why we are your retirement company.
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>> rose: welcome to the program. i'm charlie rose. the program is "charlie rose: the week." just ahead, an historic breakthrough with cuba. an insider reacts to the senate report on the c.i.a., and david oyelowo as dr. martin luther king jr. >> the president doesn't want us to march today. the courts don't want to us march. but we must march. we must stand up. we must make a mass itch demonstration of our moral certainty. >> rose: we'll have those stories and more on what happened and what might happen. captioning sponsored by os


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