307: A Visual ‘Tuesday Quiz’: So, what’s wrong with these signs of the times?

Today’s Quiz comes from one of those chain Emails that spreads around the Internet. I’ve received it now from several people over several months. It’s a remarkable example of spiritually witty sparring between a couple of quite different churches — or really between the clergy, most likely — via the churches’ signs along the road.
    Read through the exchange. It’s sure to make you smile.
    Then, here’s the Quiz:
    What’s wrong with these signs of the times? I’ll explain at the very end of this exchange of signs.


SO, What Do You Think
of This Remarkable Exchange?

    Did you notice anything about these images? The messages are funny, because such debates do take place — although rarely with such wit! The idea that a couple of clergy sparred along a busy roadway over a period of days or weeks — hilarious, right?
    But what made me suspicious about the images is that the lighting is exactly the same in every photograph. In fact, the tree-limb shadows cast across the Catholic sign are in the same place each time. Of course, there’s also a light-colored car in an identical position in the left corner of each Catholic sign.
    So, what could have happened here? Did a couple of clever people stage this debate one afternoon with lots of black letters and a camera?

    No, the sun and shadows are absolutely precise.
    I began to dig further and discovered through a couple of intriguing phrases that I found within the forwarded Email that this all came from a Web site. I spent a little spare time, over a period of days, and tracked down a Web site with some pretty clever — and also troubling — software that lets people fake photos. The creator of the site allows people to fake more than church signs, if you dig around on his site. The church-sign feature seems pretty funny, given the popularity of clever church signs all across the U.S. these days. Heck, there are even picture books now devoted to the best church signs photographers have spotted coast to coast.

    Now, one wonders about some of those photos we see of way-too-clever signs, hmmm? And, this is also an excellent reminder that a photo, these days, is not proof of anything.
    I visited the site myself and easily came up with the following … (I’ll show you 2 versions just to demonstrate the software’s ability.)



    I’m not going to spread the URL further, because apparently during the Jewish High Holidays someone used the site to spread offensive signs around the Internet. The people who did this also targeted Orthodox Christians. They did this using a variety of simple tools the creator of the site laid out for anyone to use.
    There is now a fairly lame “apology” on the Web site that says, in part: “If you’ve received a photo of a sign from ‘Beth Shalom Synagogue,’
or from ‘Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church,’ or some other
denomination, that had an offensive message spelled out on it, and
wondered where this church or synagogue is, the answer is: it isn’t. … It’s a fake photo
created with software on this website. … Someone used the site to create that sign and then they chose to
e-mail it to a lot of Jewish people on Rosh Hashanah, and another
person made another offensive sign and sent it to a lot of Greek
Orthodox people. I’m sorry if you received it, but I’m afraid there’s
not much I can do about it.”

    Well, one thing we can do is to decline to lead you to the site.
    And, we can show you this Quiz today, so that the next time you’re sent a troubling photo in an Email chain — think twice about its accuracy.

PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.

    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those
    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)


302: A Double-Barreled Double-07 Quiz (perfect to start a Bible-study buzz)

ODAY, we’re contributing to the rich array of materials available for small groups preparing to study “Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins & 007’s Moral Compass: A Bible Study with James Bond.”
    Inside the book, which you can read more about on the Bible Study landing page, there is a section devoted to short quizzes by Benjamin Pratt to break the ice in discussion groups week by week. Here are two more quizzes—and, this week, we’re giving you EASIER and a MORE CHALLENGING options.
    That’s right — we’ve got double-barreled, 007 quizzes!


1.) Which of the following is NOT the title of an Ian Fleming story:
    A. You Only Live Twice
    B. Quantum of Solace
    C. Never Say Never Again

2.) Which is the first novel Ian Fleming published?
    A. Casino Royale
    B. Dr. No
    C. Goldfinger

3.) What musician did Ian Fleming describe as looking most like his image of Bond?
    A. Dean Martin
    B. Frank Sinatra
    C. Hoagy Carmichael

4.) In the Fleming novel, what did the fire-breathing dragon turn out to be in “Dr. No”?
    A. An elaborate array of Chinese fireworks
    B. A camouflaged tractor with a flamethrower
    C. A holographic projection of a dragon

5.) James Bond did spend some time in the U.S. during his globe-hopping adventures. Which city did he visit for one big adventure?
    A. Los Angeles
    B. Houston
    C. Las Vegas

6.) Which Bond movie set the opening-weekend box office record among the two-dozen Bond films?
    A. “Quantum of Solace”
    B. “Living Daylights”
    C. “Die Another Day”

7.) In the Bible, the book commonly referred to as “James” comes between which two books?
    A. Titus and Philemon
    B. Hebrews and 1 Peter
    C. Joel and Amos

8.) Which is NOT a verse in James?
    A. The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
    B. God helps those who help themselves.
    C. Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.

9.) Which of the following is NOT a foe of Bond?
    A. Sir Hugo Drax
    B. Colonel Klebb
    C. Lex Luthor

10.) Bond’s dry martini now is world famous, prepared shaken. What name did Fleming have Bond give to this drink?
    A. The Bullet
    B. The Holy Grail
    C. The Vesper


1.) Ian Fleming’s short story “Quantum of Solace” tells this story:
    A. Bond must stop an evil genius who tries to control much of the world’s water supply.
    B. A conversation unfolds in which Bond sits in a chair and listens to the story of a troubled marriage.
    C. Bond travels into the future beyond the effects of a devastating nuclear war.

2.) Which Bond tale most closely replicates the ancient tale of St. George and the Dragon?

3.) In “Casino Royale,” James Bond points out that there’s one person who has no one to record his stories and parables. Who?

4.) In which Bond tale is the term “theatrical” used to explore the sin of hypocrisy?

5.) In “Moonraker,” Bond encounters a prescient sign along the road as he is driving to confront the card-cheating Sir Hugo Drax. The sign is broken, but what did it say originally?

6.) In “From Russia with Love,” we do not even meet Bond until Chapter 11. For much of the novel, he is without a mission and is struggling with a sin that Fleming made a point of describing by name in many of his books. Which sin?

7.) Bond says, “Oh Lord, give me chastity. But don’t give it yet!” Which world-famous saint is he quoting?

8.) James Bond is called St. George in nearly all of Fleming’s stories. In “Goldfinger,” the CIA agent Felix Leiter (who continues to show up in the Bond movies) refers to him by a different saint’s name. Who?

9.) Among Ernst Blofeld’s dramatic moves is a transformation into a new body. Fleming’s writing reveals that he was fascinated by classic theological imagery. The Blofeld transformation is characteristic of which religious figure?

10.) Which of Fleming’s fictional characters has the license plate GEN II? And what does that license plate mean?

    When you think you’ve got the answers, CLICK on the link below in the online version of this
quiz, and the ANSWERS will pop up!

    Ready? CLICK for the ANSWERS below …



1.) C. It was good enough for Sean Connery’s return to the screen, but it’s not a Fleming title.

2.) A. Casino Royale

3.) C. Hoagy, the composer, popular piano player and occasionally an actor in the movies himself.

4.) B. A camouflaged tractor with a flamethrower

5.) C. Las Vegas

6.) A. “Quantum of Solace” took in more than $70 million in its opening weekend, dwarfing the $41 million that Daniel Craig drew in the new “Casino Royale,” and overshadowing the previous Bond record holder, “Die Another Day,” which took in a mere $47 million on its opening weekend.

7.) B. It’s in the New Testament, nestled between Hebrews and 1 Peter.

8.) B. That line is frequently repeated in our culture, but it never appears in the Bible.

9.) C. Superman tackles ol’ Lex.

10.) C. Named after the girl, of course.


1.) B. Oddly enough, the entire short story takes place during a conversation with Bond. The movie plot is quite different.

2.) “Dr. No”

3.) The Devil

4.) “Diamonds Are Forever”

5.) SHELL IS HERE. The “S” was broken away, so the warning Bond spotted was dire.

6.) Accidie, a term that Fleming frequently used in the Bond novels. Read more about this sin and Fleming’s reflections on it in Dr. Pratt’s book. The temptation is similar to the classic sin of Sloth, but is an even larger spiritual problem in Fleming’s view.

7.) St. Augustine

8.) Felix calls him “St. James”

9.) The Devil

10.) Chitty Chitty. Genii.

PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.

    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.
PLUS, we invite you to sign up for our free Planner newsletter,
which we send out every Monday. The Planner gives you a quick overview
of what’s on the horizon, each week. To check out the Planner, take a look at this sample issue!
   (Published in the ReadTheSpirit online magazine.)

287: Our Most Popular Tuesday Quiz Returns: “The Bard or the Bible?”

THE MOST POPULAR QUIZ we’ve ever published:

Here at ReadTheSpirit, our aim is to connect you with great spiritual voices who’ll enrich your experience of the world. And, “Coined By God” is an excellent example of a book that takes us into familiar territory—the Bible—and lights up jewels within the Bible itself that most of us probably didn’t know were lying among its pages.

Stanley Malless and Jeffrey McQuain love language. They also love history. And they’ve devoted years of research to those centuries when the English language was blossoming in its present form. Hundreds of the popular words and phrases that we use today either arose from the work of William Shakespeare—or were summoned from the creative minds of early English-language translators of the Bible. These researchers want to inspire us to celebrate the explosion of creativity and communication in those eras. And they want us to think in fresh ways about the language we have inherited.

So, this quiz is quite simple to explain—although it may prove more challenging to complete correctly.

Below, you’ll find 10 words or phrases. Half of them were introduced into the English language through the creativity of early Bible translators. The other half are from the Bard—and, to keep things within a manageable scale, we’ll limit the Shakespearean phrases to a single play: Hamlet. Your quest is to identify which 5 are from the Bible—and which 5 are from the text of Hamlet.

Try to answer all 10—then, scroll down for the answers.


    1.) Apple of his eye.

    2.) Blind lead the blind.

    3.) City set on a hill.

    4.) Pluck out the heart.

    5.) Confess yourself to heaven.

    6.) Eat, drink and be merry.

    7.) Get thee behind me, Satan.

    8.) Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

    9.) Passing through nature to eternity.

    10.) The rest is silence.



1.) Bible. It’s first usage was in Deuteronomy 32:10: He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

2.) Bible. From Matthew 15:14: Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

3.) Bible. Matthew again was the birthplace of the phrase, slightly revised over time, that’s now common political coin. In 5:14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

4.) Shakespeare verbally sent us down this horrific path, perhaps softened by those who, later, preferred only to pluck the heartstrings.

5.) It’s a timeless religious idea, but the phrase was from Shakespeare — not early Bibles.

6.) Bible. Yes, this one surely sounds Shakespearean — he reveled in this stuff — but it’s from Luke 12:19: And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

7.) Bible. Matthew once more! This time 16:23: But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art
an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God,
but those that be of men. (If you guessed it was Shakespeare, you may have been thinking of his line, “Get thee to a nunnery!”)

8.) You might want to reach for Benjamin Franklin as an answer for No. 8 — but he’s not an option in this quiz! There are countless “wisdom” passages in the Bible — but this one also arose from Shakespeare’s pen.

9.) And so we are, often inspired by Shakespeare’s reflections. The phrase came from his pen, not the Bible.

10.) Thus ends our quiz! The 4-word sentence is truly Biblical in its poetic theme — but it was also from the pen of the Bard.   

How’d you do?

(Published in the ReadTheSpirit online magazine.)

282: QUIZ: Your Favorite Superhero is a Card-Carrying … What?

ReadTheSpirit staff is regrouping for several projects we will launch
in the next few months. During these two weeks, we’re publishing a mix
of new articles and some earlier stories that are favorites with our
    TODAY, we’re republishing part of a series we produced about a year ago on the spirituality of comic books and graphic novels. The most popular part of that series was this Tuesday Quiz on the religious lives of Superheroes.

    This is Part 1. FOR THE REST OF THIS 3-PART SERIES on the creative explosion in spiritually themed Comics, click here: Part 2. Part 3.

Today, we’re saluting a true media pioneer who is helping to Make the Comic World Safe for faith. He’s a Texas computer programmer, Preston Hunter, and a decade ago he created one of the Internet’s most popular hubs for religious data: Adherents-dot-com. This quiz is a special salute to the enormous amount of data he has collected on the religious affiliation of scores of comic book superheroes.

    SERIOUSLY — a major cultural shift that’s showing up now even in the most popular comic books is a new openness to expressing characters’ spirituality. Hunter and other observers argue that this shift in comics reflects a larger shift in American culture.
    What they’re finding in comic books, graphic novels and Japanese-influenced manga is yet another tip of the cultural iceberg documented from World Values Survey data by University of Michigan sociologist Wayne Baker in “America’s Crisis of Values“: As Americans, we’re overwhelmingly religious and increasingly we feel it’s our right to express ourselves about our faith.

    Here’s today’s 10 Question SUPER Quiz:
    INSTRUCTIONS: Match these Superheroes to the religious affiliations Hunter’s web site attributes to each one. When you think you’ve got all 10 matched up — click on the link at the
end — and the correct answers will pop up. If you’re a daily subscriber by
Email (you can sign up for free on the right-hand side of our site),
we’re sorry that you don’t get this Click-to-See-the-Answers feature in
your Email versions — so, please don’t read too far ahead today, if
you’re an email reader.


    1.) Superman

    2.) Batman

    3.) Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards, of the Fantastic Four

    4.) The Thing, Ben Grimm, of the Fantastic Four

    5.) The Invisible Girl, Susan Storm, of the Fantastic Four

    6.) Wonder Woman

    7.) The Hulk, Bruce Banner

    8.) Captain America

    9.) The Flash

    10.) Hal Jordan, the most famous of the Green Lanterns

    BONUS QUESTION: So, what’s Lois Lane? (No, she’s not included in any of the following 10 affiliations.)


    A.) Believes in God, but a Humanist with a strong scientific focus.

    B.) Noted as quite a religious person — although not terribly active as an Episcopalian.

    C.) Follows Greco-Roman religious traditions — perhaps called “pagan” in modern terms.

    D.) Generically Protestant. Attends church every week.

    E.) Most likely Protestant, but pretty much inactive — although there’s a long-running debate over whether this character really is Jewish.

    F.) Currently, the most famous Jewish character among super heroes.

    G.) No question about it — grew up Methodist, but not really active as an adult.

    H.) Catholic. And shown in a Catholic wedding to underscore the affiliation.

    I.) Hmmm. Debatable. Perhaps Jewish. Perhaps Catholic. Perhaps not part of any earth-based religion.

    J.) Another mysterious affiliation. Debatable whether Episcopalian or Catholic.

    When you think you’ve got all the answers, CLICK on the link below in the online version of this
quiz, and the ANSWERS will pop up!

    Ready? CLICK for the ANSWERS below …


1.) Superman. G.
    Preston Hunter points out that Clark Kent always was depicted as growing up in a solid, Midwestern, church-going, Protestant family — although an explicit reference to his youthful Methodism didn’t crop up in print until recent years. After his super powers fully developed, however, Clark felt uncomfortable attending Sunday services.

    2.) Batman. J.
    According to Hunter’s site, Bruce Wayne’s parents were from these two different denominations. Batman is increasingly depicted as an exceedingly dark and mysterious super hero — and certainly lapsed from any organized religious tradition.

    3.) Mr. Fantastic. A.
    Reed has said as much in Fantastic Four storylines. What’s more — in one mythic storyline — Mr. Fantastic actually meets God. In the movie version of The Fantastic Four, this is a somewhat striking culture clash of images, because Mr. Fantastic is portrayed by Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, who also starred in the movie “Amazing Grace” as William Wilberforce!

    4.) The Thing, Ben Grimm. F.
    If you’re not already familiar with the recent history of comic books — this is one of the astonishing tales. After decades in which writers downplayed serious religious themes in comics, the creators of the Fantastic Four’s storyline portrayed Ben Grimm as suddenly revealing a proud connection to his Jewish faith. In one key comic book issue, he prayed in Hebrew and spoke proudly of his religious heritage.

    5.) The Invisible Girl, Susan Storm. B.
    The Fantastic Four writers must be intrigued by this new openness to spirituality. It’s true: Although she doesn’t regularly attend services, the Invisible Girl is singled out in print as especially religious.

    6.) Wonder Woman. C.
    If you’ve read her comics, you know. This one isn’t much of a mystery, Hunter says.

    7.) The Hulk, Bruce Banner. H.
    Hunter’s site says there’s really no question about this affiliation. The clearest evidence is that Dr. Banner was married in a Catholic ceremony to a Catholic woman.

    8.) Captain America. D.
    Knowing the Captain’s longstanding history as a cultural icon, going way back to the World War II era, it’s not surprising that he was portrayed this way, Hunter suggests. If you haven’t noticed this, though, Captain America is back in a big way since 9/11 — and he famously defends religious diversity now!

    9.) The Flash. E.
    The speedy super hero seems to be Protestant, Hunter’s site says, although religion plays little role in his life, apparently. But, among comic fans, there’s a famous storyline in which someone wishes him a “Happy Channukah,” spelled just that way.

    10.) Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. I.
    He’s a toss up religiously, Hunter’s site suggests. Like a lot of comic characters, the few tantalizing clues about his spiritual affiliation have evolved over the years. That’s not even mentioning the fact that, down through comic history, there have been more than one Green Lantern.

    BONUS: Lois Lane is Catholic, although she may not be a Catholic in good standing with the church. Hunter’s site nails this down in several fascinating ways. Apparently, an earlier writer of Lois Lane comic books — a popular series devoted to her own adventures — makes a point of saying that Catholicism was an intentional part of Lois’ back story, even though it wasn’t explicitly a part of the comics for years. Hunter’s site picks up other evidence, as well.

How’d you do?
    Remember — if
you enjoyed this week’s
quiz, you can print it or email the entire text it to a friend. We
only ask that you credit the quiz to “David Crumm” and
“readthespirit.com” (If you’re new to ReadTheSpirit, we often run
quizzes on Tuesdays and you can quickly find our past quizzes by
finding the “Categories” area on our Web site and clicking on the
“Tuesday Quiz” category!)

PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.

    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those
   (Published in the ReadTheSpirit online magazine.)

277: Tuesday Quiz: What’s it mean to pray, Give us this day Our Daily Bread?

ll this week, we’re exploring the values that keep humans healthy on this big blue ball wrapped in its safety blanket of 20.95 percent oxygen and just a dash of water vapor most of the time.
    Today, our Tuesday Quiz returns, exploring a theme so common that the three-word phrase “Our Daily Bread” keeps popping up in the titles of books, magazines and movies.
    Thousands upon thousands of sermons have been preached on those three little words — basically arguing that, at the core of our faith, God wants each of us to have the physical sustenance we need to live fulfilling lives.

    Now, two British scholars are giving us “The Atlas of Food,” which is a terrific resource for teachers, preachers, small-group leaders, students and pretty much anyone who wants to understand the larger significance of our daily br… — well, to be honest, our daily hamburger, pizza, nachos, chicken and, oh yes, that cup of coffee that may be starting your day right now.
    In the introduction, Erik Millstone and Tim Lang tell us that we may still be focused on the world’s oil economy as the key to planning for our future — but, they argue, global power already is moving into the hands of food traders, retailers and land-owners who control the production and distribution of the stuff that our neighbors must have to survive, whether they’re using oil or not.
    The authors write: “The irony is that enough food is produced on this planet to feed everyone adequately, IF it were to be shared uniformly. But, some over-eat while others are malnourished.”

    So, today, let’s see what we know about worldwide patterns of food.


    This is a classic multiple-choice quiz. Make your choices — and don’t peek at the “ANSWERS” below until you’re ready.

1.) Food is essential for life, but for some it costs more than others. For some families worldwide, money spent on food makes up 75% of household spending. Rank these countries from most to least in order of the portion of their money spent on food.
    A. Rwanda
    B. U.K.
    C. U.S.
    D. Tajikistan
    E. India

2.) Millstone and Lang tell us that as countries industrialize, more people are living sedentary lifestyles than ever before, while eating diets high in meat and dairy products. Obesity is increasing worldwide, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes are on the rise. Which countries have the highest rate of diabetes?
    A. Germany, Bulgaria, Singapore
    B. USA, Pakistan, Thailand
    C. Iceland, Japan, South Africa

3.) An increase in technology has allowed scientists to genetically modify crops. Genetic modification allows the cross-breeding and strengthening of crops, but can also have negative effects on the larger food-chain. Which 3 countries are world leaders in the production of Genetically Modified (GM) crops?

    A. Spain, Russia, Japan
    B. Australia, Sweden, France
    C. USA, India, Brazil

4.) For almost half the world, land is the main source of both food and income. In recent Western history, we tend to think of agriculture as a male-dominated task, but in other places and times this may not have been the case. In how many countries world-wide do females currently dominate the agricultural work-force?
    A. 9
    B. 30
    C. 62
    D. It’s a trick question, males dominate agriculture in all countries.

5.) While producing more food than ever, with the help of better technology and the cultivation of high-yielding crop breeds, many varieties of crops and breeds of domestic animals have become extinct. There were at one point 1,311 breeds of domestic cattle in the world. About what percentage of cattle breeds are currently recognized as endangered or at critical risk?
    A. 25%
    B. 50%
    C. 75%

6.) The total value of agricultural exports produced around the world in 2005 was $852 billion. Which region is responsible for almost half of this trade value?
    A. Asia
    B. North America
    C. South and Central America
    D. Europe

7.) For some countries, agriculture is the bread and butter of the economy. For which nations is agriculture the most important portion of the country’s economic output? (Rank in order of importance, from most to least)
    A. Central African Republic
    B. Brazil
    C. China
    D. Afghanistan

8.) There are almost 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the US, and there are thousands more around the globe. More people than ever before have the option to buy Big-Macs, but the sandwich doesn’t come at the same cost to everyone. Rank these countries from most to least hours of work (on average) required to buy a Big Mac.
    A. Ukraine
    B. Moldova
    C. Sweden
    D. Turkey

    IN THE ONLINE VERSION OF TODAY’S QUIZ, when you’ve got your answers
ready — click on the link below and the answers will appear. If you’re
taking this Quiz via RSS feed or an Email version, the answers are
next, so stop reading here — until you’re ready.


1.) D, A, E, B, C. Perhaps not surprisingly, as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the U.S. spends the least on food as a proportion of household spending (only 14%). The UK spends 22% of household money on food, followed by India at 50%, Rwanda at 72%, and Tajikistan at a whopping 75%.

2.) A. More than 10% of the population in Germany, Bulgaria, and Singapore have some form of diabetes. In countries like Thailand and Japan, in contrast, people have maintained a traditional diet of fruits, vegetables, and cereals (grains) and the rate of diabetes is much lower (less than 7.4% of people have diabetes in Japan, less than 2.5% in Thailand).

3.) C. The US devotes more than 54 million hectares of land to the cultivation of GM crops. Brazil has more than 10 million hectares and India follows with just under 7 million. Other lead producers include Argentina, Paraguay, China, Canada, and South Africa. 

4.) B. Women make up more than 50% of the agricultural workforce in 30 countries, largely in Africa and the Middle East.

5.) B. Roughly 50% of cattle breeds are officially recognized as endangered or at critical risk. Of the original 1,311 breeds, about 5% are already extinct, and 15% are not at risk. The status of the rest of the breeds is officially unknown, although some of these may be endangered as well.

6.) D. Europe was responsible for 47% of the $852 billion. Asia exported 18% of the value, North America made up 16%, South and Central America traded 11%.

7.) From most to Least: A, D, C, B. For the Central African Republic, agriculture makes up more than 50% of the country’s economic output. (For Afghanistan, agriculture is over 30%; for Brazil it’s less than 10%; and China’s economic reporting is not as detailed, but China’s total falls between 10% and 30%).

8.) B, A, D, C. In Moldova, you’d have to work 4.1 hours to have enough money to buy a Big Mac. In the Ukraine it’s 3.3, in Turkey 1.4, in Sweden only 0.3.

THANKS to Megan Crumm, an occasional editor and contributor to ReadTheSpirit, who wrote today’s quiz based on data reported in the “Atlas of Food.”

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK! You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those

272: Tuesday Quiz: So, what do you know about the Middle East?

he Tuesday Quiz is back!
    Yes, we’ve heard from readers that you’ve missed this gem in the last couple of weeks. All we can say is: Late September was jammed with so much news this year that we ran out of space for the Quiz until today.
    Please drop us an Email with your thoughts anytime. We appreciate hearing from you. We’ve published some unusual quizzes in the last month or so — and we’ve heard that readers who enjoy printing the quizzes and sharing them with small groups had a little challenge dealing with our video quiz and our rather strange social-mapping quiz.
    So, today, here’s a fascinating little 10-question, multiple-choice quiz that’s perfect for Emailing to friends, reprinting in newsletters or copying to share with participants in your small group.
    We’ve just completed Ramadan and we’re in the heart of the Jewish High Holidays — so millions of people are looking toward the Middle East. Today’s quiz challenges us to learn more about this crucial and sacred part of the world.
    If you want to learn more about these issues in a fun and colorful format, click on the cover of Dan Smith’s new edition of “The State of the Middle East Atlas.” (By clicking, you’ll jump to our book review and you can order a copy via our Amazon bookstore.)

    This is a classic multiple-choice quiz. Make your choices — and don’t peek at the “ANSWERS” below until you’re ready.

1.) How big is Israel?
    A. About the size of California
    B. About the size of New Jersey
    C. About the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River

2.) How big is Iraq?
    A. About the size of California
    B. About the size of New Jersey
    C. About the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River

3.) We all know that the founding of Israel in 1948 — after the devastation of the Holocaust and World War II — led to a large Jewish immigration to Israel. In the period from 1948 until the early 1970s, rank these three countries by their levels of immigration to Israel — from most to least?
    A. Morocco
    B. Poland
    C. Iran

4.) Based on UN tracking of Palestinian refugees that started in 1951, rank these destinations of Palestinian refugees from most to least?
    A. Jordan
    B. Gaza
    C. Lebanon
    D. Syria

5.) How much of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow bottleneck between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula that opens into the Arabian Sea?
    A. 10 percent
    B. 25 percent
    C. 40 percent

6.) One powerful player in Middle East politics is Syria. Since it declared independence from Vichy France in 1944, how many times did military coups topple the country’s leadership?
    A. never
    B. only once
    C. ten times

7.) Age is an issue in many parts of the Middle East. In Egypt, for example, a major seat of global civilization, what’s the population below age 18?
    A. 10 percent. It’s an aging nation.
    B. 25 percent. It’s much like some other Western countries.
    C. 50 percent. It’s a remarkably young country.

8.) Where do the Kurds live? Of course, they live almost everywhere now. Germany counts more than 500,000 people with a Kurdish background, for example. But, within the Middle East, rank these three countries based on their populations of Kurds — from most to least:
    A. Iraq
    B. Syria
    C. Turkey

9.) Looking at a map of Israel, is the West Bank on the left side or the right side of the map?
    A. Left side
    B. Right side

10.) American officials have been banking on Saudi Arabia’s stability. According to Smith’s count for this edition of the atlas, how many terrorist incidents in the Middle East were inside Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006?
    A. 0, the Saudi’s don’t allow it inside their country
    B. 3, about 1 per year slips through
    C. Nearly two dozen

    IN THE ONLINE VERSION OF TODAY’S QUIZ, when you’ve got your answers
ready — click on the link below and the answers will appear. If you’re
taking this Quiz via RSS feed or an Email version, the answers are
next, so stop reading here — until you’re ready.


1.) B. U.S. government publications compare it to the size of New Jersey.

    It’s a small country overall — 20,770 square kilometers. That’s the total size of Israel listed in the U.S. government Factbook of nations. (This total doesn’t include Gaza or the West Bank.)

2.) A. Once again, drawing from data in U.S. government publications, Iraq is described as “twice the size of Idaho,” but we think that’s an almost meaningless comparison. Who knows how big Idaho is? Then we have to mentally double its size? Too complicated!
    Checking the data further, a good description is: “about the size of California.” Actually it’s somewhat larger than California, but that gives a good mental picture of the scale. Iraq is 437,072 square kilometers.
    Another way to look at these comparisons: You could fit 21 Israels inside Iraq!

3.) A, B, C.
    There are fascinating maps and charts like this throughout Smith’s book, showing geography but also movements of people, resources, cultural divisions, etc. In this ranking of Jewish migration to Israel from 1948 to the early 1970s, many Americans may not be aware that significant numbers of Jews migrated from predominantly Muslim countries. Also, the Holocaust devastated Jewish populations in countries like Germany and Poland, leaving shockingly few people left alive compared with pre-war populations. Smith’s chart lists Morocco as the origin of 260,000 Israelis in this period, Poland as the origin of 156,000 and Iran as the origin of 60,000.

4.) Once again, the list is correctly ranked already: A, B, C, D.
    Palestinian refugee statistics are very difficult to track even though the issue lies at the heart of global debates over the future of the Middle East. Many families left without officially registering as refugees. The larger Palestinian migration pattern now is global. But this chart, based on UN records of migrating refugees that was started in 1951, is helpful in understanding where the major populations of displaced families wound up within the immediate area.
    The chart in this new atlas, based on this initial picture of movement developed by the UN in 1951, lists 430,000 moving into Jordan, 200,000 moving into Gaza, 120,000 moving into Lebanon and 80,000 moving into Syria.
    Now, when world leaders debate the question of whether Palestinians will have a right to return to earlier homes and communities, these displaced populations have grown much larger. A 2005 estimate also included in the atlas, for example, lists Jordan as the current location of 1.8 million Palestinian displaced people. However, this is interesting: Currently, these four countries still rank in roughly this same order of Palestinian populations, although the 2005 estimate places Syria now as slightly higher than Lebanon.

5.) C. This number fluctuates over time, but Smith’s atlas uses the latest data available.

    The Strait of Hormuz is known as a “Choke Point” in global energy flow. If the Strait of Hormuz closes, the world stalls. That narrow “Choke Point” of the Arabian Peninsula includes the small countries of Qatar, UAE and Oman with Saudi Arabia sitting right behind them.

6.) C. The atlas lists 10 that succeeded and two more that came very close to succeeding.

    General Hafez al-Assad’s coup was one of the 10 successful takeovers. His son, Bashar, became the head of state after his death in 2000.

7.) C. Egypt is remarkably young and this adds to forces of instability.

   Another way to look at the age issue is that the median age in Egypt is 24, compared with 37 in the United States.

8.) C, A, B. By far, the largest Kurdish population is in Turkey, which is why Kurdish independence movements threaten existing global boundaries. Over many years, those boundaries were deliberately drawn to separate ethnic groups and the Kurds famously are one of those divided groups.

   In addition to the three choices above, Iran also has a significant Kurdish population. The atlas lists these populations: 15 million in Turkey, 5.2 million in Iraq, 4.7 million in Iran and 1.7 million in Syria.

9.) B. It’s on the right.

   It’s called “West Bank” because it is the west side of the Jordan River.

10.) C. The questions of Saudi stability and responsibility for global tensions are hotly debated issues.
    As Smith analyzes the 23 incidents in Saudi Arabia that he charts from 2003 to 2006 (which was the best set of data available to him as he completed the book) — he counts 7 terrorist acts against Saudi authorities and 16 against foreign citizens or interests.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK! You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those

252: QUIZ: What can TV commercials tell us about our “Most-Liked” spiritual themes?

his week, we’re examining how spirituality shapes social networks and how—in the other direction—social networks shape our sense of spirituality. So, today, we’ve got a fun quiz about the world’s biggest social network: television. TV draws hundreds of millions of viewers globally and it is sending us spiritual messages all the time.
    No, we’re not talking about UFOs beaming secret code directly into the cerebellum. We’re talking about something as simple as a TV commercial. And, how do we know that commercials have an impact?
    Well, that’s thanks to a sophisticated market-analysis by Nielsen IAG, the “Nielsen ratings” people who claim that they are conducting more than “100,000 surveys daily about the television programs panelists watched the night before.” One type of report Nielsen IAG now releases periodically is a listing of “10 Most-Liked New TV Ads.”
    Some of Nielsen’s “Most Liked” ads, month to month, are simply funny
or clever or have unusual special effects. What’s interesting to us
here at ReadTheSpirit is how many ads wind up beloved by viewers because they include what we would describe as
spiritual themes.
    If you’re trying to keep a finger on America’s spiritual pulse—well,
network TV and big-time advertising campaigns like these are good spots
to take a pulse.


    Here’s your challenge: Below you’ll find 10 brands. Five of them have made it into Nielsen IAG’s “Most Liked” lists in recent months—and they’ve done it with ads that we think have timely spiritual themes in them. The other five brands haven’t made it into that top list of beloved TV ads this year.
   In today’s quiz, you’ve got a pretty good chance because the five ads we’re highlighting were seen by millions of people and made a big enough impression coast to coast to make it into this prestigious set of rankings. So, especially if you’re a TV viewer, trust your instincts on which five to pick.












WHEN YOU’VE GOT YOUR ANSWERS—in the online version of this story, CLICK and you’ll see the Answers pop up. WORD OF WARNING TODAY: In the online version, we’ve conveniently embedded the 5 correct answers as video screens so you can view them right here. If you’ve got a slow connection, that might take a moment for your computer to load—SO we’ve also got direct links to the videos on other web pages, if that’s easier for you.
    READY? If you’re online, click the link below.


Here are five of the brands—out of the list of 10 named in our quiz—that have placed on Nielsen’s “Most Liked” TV commercial lists in recent months. They’re fun to watch and it’s fascinating to think about why the themes in these commercials, seen by millions of viewers, made them especially beloved messages.

BRIDGESTONE—SCREAM: Going green is a theme that’s finally showing up in houses of worship coast to coast. It already ranks among the beloved themes in advertisements this year from subtle imagery and settings in many advertisements—to over-the-top comedy like this ad that began airing during the Superbowl then has been going viral all summer and into the fall, according to Unruly Media. People still are watching this ad online as it spreads through various sites around the world. Click to watch it on YouTube if you don’t see a convenient video screen below in your version of this story.

COKE—80 YEARS of OLYMPICS: The No. 1 “most liked” TV ad from mid July to mid August was a special Coca-Cola commercial highlighting Coke’s 80 years of supporting the Olympics. The ad continues to spread online because it not only celebrates sports heroes—but it also mainstreams Special Olympics athletes. If you don’t see a video screen below to watch the commercial, then this link will take you to a YouTube version with a few Special Olympians’ names added as highlights. That’s part of “going viral” and being taken to heart by men and women—allowing people to add their own personalized touches as someone has in this YouTube version.

DOVE SOAP—GIRLS UNDER PRESSURE: If you don’t see a video screen below in your version of this story, click on this link to jump to BlipTV to watch the ad for Dove soap. This is part of Dove’s campaign, selling soap while encouraging girls and women to feel confident about themselves in all stages of life. Here’s one way that message pays off for Dove—it earned a heart-felt article on Blessed Nest, praising the campaign. Blessed Nest is a green Mom’s friendly support site. Dove is making customer evangelists with this approach to advertising.


GENERAL ELECTRIC—DRAGON: Viewers really enjoyed this advertisement for bio-gas energy—perhaps because of the green theme, perhaps because of the intriguing cross-cultural theme and perhaps because of the fanciful special effects. This video is based on an Asian Web site and should show up in a video screen below. If not, click here to view it on the other Web site.

OREO—GIRL ON A TRAIN: However you feel about Oreo cookies, this film in 30 seconds says everything that needs to be said about initially overcoming the chasms of cultural difference. It starts with joyfully realizing that our basic daily desires are the same around the world. This video is starting to “go viral” online, according to the folks at Unruly Media who track these things.

PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.
    You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those