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Sunday, July 27, 2014

John Hick, English philosopher and theologian died he was 90

John Harwood Hick was a philosopher of religion and theologian born in England who taught in the United States for the larger part of his career. In philosophical theology, he made contributions in the areas of t

heodicy, eschatology, and Christology, and in the philosophy of religion he contributed to the areas of epistemology of religion and religious pluralism.[3]

(20 January 1922 – 9 February 2012)


John Hick was born on 20 January 1922 to a middle-class family in Scarborough, England. In his teens, he developed an interest in philosophy and religion, being encouraged by his uncle, who was an author and teacher at the University of Manchester. Hick initially pursued a law degree at the University of Hull, but, having converted to Evangelical Christianity, he decided to change his career and he enrolled at the University of Edinburgh in 1941.
During his studies, he became liable for military service in World War II, but, as a conscientious objector on moral grounds, he enrolled in the Friends' Ambulance Unit.
After the war, he returned to Edinburgh and became attracted to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and began to question his fundamentalism. In 1948 he completed his MA thesis, which formed the basis of his book Faith and Knowledge.[3] He went on to complete a D. Phil at Oriel College, Oxford University in 1950[4] and a DLitt from Edinburgh in 1975.[5] In 1953 he married Joan Hazel Bowers, and the couple had three children. After many years as a member of the United Reformed Church, in October 2009 he was accepted into membership of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain. He died in 2012.[6][7]


Hick's academic positions included Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University, California (where he taught from 1979 to 1992); H.G. Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham; and Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham.[8] While at the University of Birmingham Hick played important roles in a number of organizations centered around community relations. Non-Christian communities, mostly Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh, had begun to form in this central England community as immigration from the Caribbean Islands and Indian subcontinent increased. Due to the influx of peoples with different religious traditions, organizations focused on integrating the community became necessary. During his fifteen years at the University of Birmingham, Hick became a founder, as well as the first chair, for the group All Faiths for One Race (AFFOR); he served as a chair on the Religious and Cultural Panel, which was a division of the Birmingham Community Relations Committee; and he also chaired the coordinating committee for a 1944 conference convened under the new Education Act with the aim of creating a new syllabus for religious instruction in city schools.[9]
He also held teaching positions at Cornell University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Cambridge University.[10] During his teaching stay at Princeton Seminary, Hick began to depart from his conservative religious standings as he began to question "whether belief in the Incarnation required one to believe in the literal historicity of the Virgin Birth".[11] This questioning would open the door for further examination of his own Christology, which would contribute to Hick's understanding of religious pluralism. He was the Vice-President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and Vice-President of The World Congress of Faiths.[12]
Hick delivered the 1986–87 Gifford lectures[12] and in 1991 was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award from the University of Louisville and the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for Religion.[13]
Hick was twice the subject of heresy proceedings. In 1961 or 1962, he was asked whether he took exception to anything in the Westminster Confession of 1647 and answered that several points were open to question. Because of this, some of the local ministers appealed against his reception into the Presbytery. Their appeal was sustained by the Synod. A year later, a counter-appeal was sustained by the Judicial Committee of the General Assembly, and Hick became a member of the Presbytery (see Christian heresy in the 20th century).

Hick's philosophy

Robert Smid states that Hick is regularly cited as "one of the most – if not simply the most – significant philosopher of religion in the twentieth century".[14] Keith Ward once described him as "the greatest living philosopher of global religion."[15] He is best known for his advocacy of religious pluralism,[3] which is radically different from the traditional Christian teachings that he held when he was younger.[5] Perhaps because of his heavy involvement with the inter-faith groups mentioned above under the "Career" heading and his interaction with people of non-Christian faiths through those groups, Hick began to move toward his pluralistic outlook on religion. He notes in both "More Than One Way?" and "God and the Universe of Faiths" that, as he came to know these people who belonged to non-Christian faiths, he saw in them the same values and moral actions that he recognized in fellow Christians. This observation led him to begin questioning how a completely loving God could possibly sentence non-Christians who clearly espouse values that are revered in Christianity to an eternity in hell. Hick then began to attempt to uncover the means by which all those devoted to a theistic religion might receive salvation.
Hick has notably been criticized by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who now holds the position of Pope Emeritus), when he was head of the Holy Office. Ratzinger had examined the works of several theologians accused of relativism, such as Jacques Dupuis and Roger Haight, and found that many, if not all, were philosophically inspired by Hick. Therefore, the declaration Dominus Iesus was seen by many at the time as a condemnation of Hick's ideas and theories.

Kantian influences

Having begun his career as an evangelical, he moved towards pluralism as a way of reconciling God’s love with the facts of cultural and religious diversity. He is primarily influenced by Immanuel Kant in this regard, who argued that human minds obscure actual reality in favor of comprehension (see Kant's theory of perception). According to Richard Peters, for Hick, "[the] construal of the relationship of the human mind to much like the relationship that Kant supposed exists between the human mind and the world".[3]
It isn't fair to say that Hick is strictly Kantian, however. Peters notes "the divide between the 'noumenal' and 'phenomenal' realms (so far as nature is concerned) is not nearly so severe for Hick as it was for Kant".[3] Hick also declares that the Divine Being is what he calls 'transcategorial'. We can experience God through categories, but God Himself obscures them by his very nature.


In light of his Kantian influences, Hick claims that knowledge of the Real (his generic term for Transcendent Reality) can only be known as it is being perceived. For that reason, absolute truth claims about God (to use Christian language) are really truth claims about perceptions of God; that is, claims about the phenomenal God and not the noumenal God. Furthermore, because all knowledge is rooted in experience, which is then perceived and interpreted into human categories of conception, cultural and historical contexts which inevitably influence human perception are necessarily components of knowledge of the Real. This means that knowledge of God and religious truth claims pertaining thereof are culturally and historically influenced; and for that reason should not be considered absolute. This is a significant aspect of Hick's argument against Christian exclusivism, which holds that although other religions might contain partial goodness and truth, salvation is provided only in Jesus Christ, and the complete truth of God is contained only in Christianity.
Perhaps the simplest manner in which to understand Hick's theory of pluralism of religions is to share the comparison he makes between his own understanding of religion and the Copernican view of our solar system. Before Copernicus disseminated his views of the solar centered universe, the Ptolemaic system ruled in which the stars were painted in the sky, and the sun rose and set around the earth. In short, the rest of the universe existed for and was centered around our little planet. On the other hand, Copernicus asserted that the earth, and other planets as well, circled the sun, which in fact, did not move, but only appeared to move due to the revolution of our planet. Copernicus introduced our world to the understanding that other planets took similar paths around the sun; while each path differed, all served the same purpose and generated the same result: every planet makes a full path around our central star. Rotation of a planet about its axis creates day and night for that planet, just as day and night occur on earth. Although the time frames for a full trip around the sun and for a full day-night cycle differs on a planet-by-planet basis, the concept remains constant throughout our solar system.
Similarly, Hick draws the metaphor that the Ptolemaic view of religion would be that Christianity is the only way to true salvation and knowledge of the one true God. Ptolemaic Christianity would assert that everything exists and all of history has played out in specific patterns for the glory of the Christian God, and that there is no other possible path that will lead to salvation. Hick appears as Copernicus, offering the belief that perhaps all theistic religions are focused toward the one true God and simply take different paths to achieve the same goal.[16]
A speaker on religious pluralism, Keith E. Johnson, compares Hick's pluralistic theology to a tale of three blind men attempting to describe an elephant, one touching the leg, the second touching the trunk, the third feeling the elephant's side. Each man describes the elephant differently, and, although each is accurate, each is also convinced of their own correctness and the mistakenness of the other two.[17]
Robert Smid states that Hick believes that the tenets of Christianity are "no longer feasible in the present age, and must be effectively 'lowered'".[14]
Moreover, Mark Mann notes that Hick argues that there have been people throughout history "who have been exemplars of the Real".[18][19]
Hick's position is “not an exclusively Christian inclusivism [like that of Karl Rahner and his ‘Anonymous Christian’], but a plurality of mutually inclusive inclusivism.” [20] Hick contends that the diverse religious expressions (religions) are the result of diverse historically and culturally influenced responses to diverse perceptions of the Real. He states that "the different religious traditions, with their complex internal differentiations, have developed to meet the needs of the range of mentalities expressed in the different human cultures." [21]

Hick's Christology

In his "God and the Universe of Faiths", Hick attempts to pinpoint the essence of Christianity. He first cites the Sermon on the Mount as being the basic Christian teaching, as it provides a practical way of living out the Christian faith. He says that "christian essence is not to be found in beliefs about God...but in living as the disciples who in his name feed the hungry, heal the sick and create justice in the world."[22] However, all of the teachings, including the Sermon on the Mount, that form what Hick calls the essence of Christianity, flow directly from Jesus' ministry. In turn, this means that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus form the permanent basis of the Christian tradition. Hick continues in this work to examine the manner in which the deification of Jesus took place in corporate Christianity following his crucifixion and questions whether or not Jesus actually thought of himself as the Messiah and the literal Son of God.
In several places (e.g. his contributions to The Metaphor of God Incarnate, and his book The Myth of God Incarnate) Hick proposes a reinterpretation of traditional Christology—particularly the doctrine of the Incarnation. Hick contends "that the historical Jesus of Nazareth did not teach or apparently believe that he was God, or God the Son, Second Person of a Holy Trinity, incarnate, or the son of God in a unique sense."[23] It is for that reason, and perhaps for the sake of religious pluralism and peace, Hick proposes a metaphorical approach to incarnation. That is, Jesus (for example) was not literally God in the flesh (incarnate), but was metaphorically speaking, the presence of God. "Jesus was so open to divine inspiration, so responsive to the divine spirit, so obedient to God's will, that God was able to act on earth in and through him. This, I (Hick) believe, is the true Christian doctrine of the incarnation." [24] Hick believes that a metaphorical view of the incarnation avoids the need for faulty Christian paradoxes such as the duality of Christ (fully God and fully human) and even the Trinity (God is simultaneously one and three).
Neither the intense christological debates of the centuries leading up to the Council of Chalcedon, nor the renewed christological debates of the 19th and 20th Centuries, have succeeded in squaring the circle by making intelligible the claim that one who was genuinely and unambiguously a man was also genuinely and unambiguously God.[25]

Problem of evil

Hick has identified with a branch of theodicy that he calls "Irenaean theodicy" or the "Soul-Making Defense".[26] A simplification of this view states that suffering exists as a means of spiritual development. In other words, God allows suffering so that human souls might grow or develop towards maturation. For Hick, God is ultimately responsible for pain and suffering, but such things are not truly bad. Perhaps with a greater degree of perception, one can see that the "evil" we experience through suffering is not ultimately evil but good, as such is used to "make our souls" better.
Therefore, Hick sees the evils of pain and suffering as serving God’s good purpose of bringing “imperfect and immature” humanity to itself “in uncompelled faith and love.”[27] At the same time, Hick acknowledges that this process often fails in our world.[28] However, in the after-life, Hick asserts that “God will eventually succeed in His purpose of winning all men to Himself.”[29]
The discussion of evil in Hick has been challenged by a number of theologians and moral philosophers including David Griffin and John K. Roth. Using Hick's own words, Roth has stated, "Hick's theodicy is implausible to me because I am convinced that his claims about God's goodness cannot stand the onslaught of what he calls the principal threat to his own perspective: 'the sheer amount and intensity of both moral and natural evil.'"[30] In the book Encountering Evil, Stephen Davis has stated his four criticisms of Hick, "First, while no theodicy is free of difficulties, I believe Hick's is not entirely convincing in its handling of the amount of evil that exists in the world... Second, I am dubious about Hick's hope of a gradual spiritual evolution till human beings reach a full state of God-consciousness... Third, I believe Hick also faces what I call the 'cost-effective' criticism of the free will defense... My final and most serious criticism of Hick concerns his commitment to universalism."[31]

Major works

For a list of his books see the referenced footnote.[32]
  • Faith and Knowledge, (1st ed. 1957, 2nd ed. 1966)
  • Evil and the God of Love, (1966, 1985, reissued 2007)
  • The Many Faced Argument with Arthur C. McGill (1967, 2009).
  • Philosophy of Religion (1970, 4th ed. 1990)
  • Death and the Eternal Life (1st ed. 1976)
  • (Editor) The Myth of God Incarnate (1977)
  • (Editor with Paul F. Knitter) The Myth of Christian Uniqueness: Toward a Pluralistic Theology of Religions (1987)
  • An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent (1989, reissued 2004)
  • The Metaphor of God Incarnate (1993, 2nd ed. 2005)
  • The New Frontier of Religion and Science: Religious Experience, Neuroscience and the Transcendent (2006)

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Allan Segal, British documentary maker, died from cancer he was 70

Allan Segal  was a BAFTA-winning documentary film maker died from cancer.he was 70. He spent the majority of his career working for Granada Television.[1]

(16 April 1941 – 8 February 2012)


Early career

After studying for a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Economics at the London School of Economics under the supervision of Ralph Miliband, Allan Segal began his career as a research assistant at the BBC. Within two years he had been appointed as a Producer and Director for Horizon (BBC TV series), the long-running science documentary series.

Television career

In 1972 he was poached from the BBC by Granada Television to act as a producer on the investigative current affairs programme World In Action. Over the next five years he produced and directed over twenty films, all over the world, and often in hostile circumstances necessitating the use of hidden cameras and undercover filming. In 1976, Segal and a small film crew risked life imprisonment by posing as tourists and illegally filming in Brezhnev's USSR. Using one of the first ever amateur 8 mm film cameras, they shot "A Calculated Risk",[2] the story of Jewish refusenik Natan Sharansky (who went on to become Deputy Prime Minister of Israel) and his campaign to leave for the state of Israel.
In 1979 Allan was appointed as Editor of World In Action. His editorship saw the broadcast of the notorious "The Steel Papers"[3] programme, which prompted a House of Lords legal dispute, and almost led to the imprisonment of several Granada Television directors because of the programme's steadfast refusal to reveal the identity of the source of the confidential documents relating to the British Steel Corporation strike on which the programme was centred.[4]
Between 1990 and 1992 Segal acted as the series editor of the international, multi-million dollar documentray series "Dinosaur", presented by legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. The series aired in the USA on the A&E Network, on ORF in Austria, Primedia in Canada, SATEL in Germany and ITV in the UK. At the time, the series achieved the highest audience figures of any documentary shown on A&E, and remains one of the highest rated documentary series of all time.
After his retirement from programme making Allan Segal taught as a university lecturer and Professor of Media Studies at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, Dickinson College, Carlisle, USA, and Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, India.
Allan Segal's work won, amongst other accolades, two BAFTAs (for the films "Nuts and Bolts of the Economy" and "Made in Korea"), the Royal Television Society's Judges' Award, and a New York Film Festival Blue Ribbon.[5]

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Jimmy Sabater, Sr.,, American Latin musician died he was 75

Jimmy Sabater  was a Latin musician of Puerto Rican ancestry, who was a three-time winner of the ACE Awards died he was 75. He was a singer and timbales player, who primarily worked with The Joe Cuba Sextet.

(April 11, 1936 – February 8, 2012)


Sabater was the son of Néstor Sabater and Teresa González of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Born Jaime Sabater in Harlem Hospital, New York City,[1] he grew up in East Harlem, the Spanish Quarter of New York City known as "El Barrio". Like most teenagers in the neighborhood, he played stickball, flew kites, and harmonized the tunes of the popular R&B groups and vocalists of the day such as Nat King Cole.
He was inspired by percussionists such as Willie Bobo, Uba Nieto, Papi Pagani, Monchito Muñoz, and Willie Rodríguez. With encouragement from many of these same drummers who were from "El Barrio", Sabater practiced playing the timbales, the standing drum kit made famous by the "Rey del Timbal", Tito Puente. It was during a 1951 stickball game between the Devils and the 112th Street Viceroys that Sabater's life would make a historic turn. A young man named Gilberto Calderón of the Devils met Sabater and invited him to a party. The two became fast friends. They had a lot in common. Both wanted to be musicians after being influenced by the music of Machito, Marcelino Guerra, Noro Morales, Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez.


1954 saw the Joe Panama Sextet as one of Spanish Harlem's most popular music groups. When Panama's conguero, or conga drummer, left the group, Sabater recommended his friend Gilberto for the job. Soon after, bandleader Joe Panama fired his sidemen and replaced them with others. The now unemployed musicians, which included vocalist Willie Torres and pianist Nick Jiménez, formed a group which included bassist Roy Rosa, vibraphonist Tommy Berríos, Sabater, and conguero Gilberto Calderón (who had been selected by the musicians to direct the band).
One evening, the group appeared at La Bamba Club in midtown Manhattan under the name of "The Joe Panama Sextet". When Panama's mother threatened to sue Gilberto if he continued using the name, promoter Catalino Rolón recommended that the group change its name to "The Joe Cuba Sextet". They played gigs in the clubs of "El Barrio", as well as upstate New York venues such as The Pines Resort.
The popularity of Cuba's sextet began to rise when José "Cheo" Feliciano joined the group. This occurred when José Curbelo's vocalist Santitos Colón replaced Gilberto Monroig in Tito Puente's band. Willie Torres then left Joe Cuba's Sextet, and replaced Santitos in Curbelo's orchestra. This opened the door for Cheo with Joe Cuba. This worked out perfectly for Cuba. Feliciano was selected to sing songs with Spanish lyrics, while Sabater was selected to sing songs with English lyrics.
From the late 1950s and into the early 1960s the Sextet recorded on the Mardi Gras label, constantly increasing their popularity. In 1962, Seeco Records recorded Joe Cuba's album "Steppin' Out". This album would become a "monster hit", and Sabater would become part of history, as on the album he sang "To Be With You", by Willie Torres. Nick Jimenez composed the melody, but Cuba's decision to have Sabater sing the lyrics thrust him into almost immediate international recognition.
Cuba's sextet signed with Tico Records in 1964. By showcasing the smooth vocal style of Sabater, the group had achieved tremendous fame, both in the United States and around the world. In 1966, they recorded two albums, We Must Be Doing Something Right, and Wanted Dead or Alive. …Something Right scored big because of the hit composition "El Pito (I'll Never Go Back to Georgia)". Wanted… was a landmark recording because it was the first "boogaloo" style album to sell one million records. This happened largely because of another smash composition of Sabater and Jiménez called "Bang Bang". Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Sabater also had a flourishing career as a soloist, releasing the albums The Velvet Voice of Jimmy Sabater, El Hijo de Teresa, and Solo.
In 1977, Sabater left the Joe Cuba Sextet. From 1977 to 1981, he was the lead vocalist for Al Levy. In 1980 Sabater recorded Gusto on the Fania Records label. In 1982, he co-led "El Combo Gigante" with Charlie Palmieri until the latter's death in 1988. On November 12, 1997, Sabater became the recipient of an award from the City of New York for his contributions to the quality of life in the city, and in appreciation of his work since 1956. He was also the recipient of the "Outstanding Musician of the Year" award from the Comptroller of the City of New York, Alan G. Hevesi.
In 1998, Sabater became the lead vocalist of the Latin Septet "Son Boricua", led by Maestro José Mangual, Jr. Their first album, called Son Boricua, was the winner of the ACE Award as best new Latin release of that year. A second, and recently, a third ACE Award were awarded for the albums Homenaje a Cortijo y Rivera and Mo!.


Sabater died in February 2012, aged 75.


  • The Velvet Voice of Jimmy Sabater (Tico, 1967), with Joe Cuba
  • Solo (Tico, 1969), with Ray Barretto
  • El Hijo de Teresa (Teresa's Son) (Tico, 1970)
  • Mano a Mano Melódico (Tico, 1971), with Bobby Cruz
  • To Be With You (Mucho Love & Lotsa Boogie) (Salsa Records, 1976)
  • Gusto (Fania Records, 1980)
  • Mo! (Cobo, 2001) with José Mangual Jr.

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Gunther Plaut, German-born Canadian rabbi and author died he was 99

Wolf Gunther Plaut, CC, O.Ont  was a Reform rabbi and author died he was 99. Plaut was the rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto for several decades and since 1978 was its Senior Scholar.

(November 1, 1912 – February 8, 2012)

Life and work

He was born in Münster, Germany. His father's name was Jonas and his mother's name was Selma. Gunther had a younger brother, Walter, who was the Rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, NY at the time of his death in 1964 at the age of 43. Gunther received his Doctor of Laws degree and in 1935 fled the Nazis and went to the United States. In 1939, he received his ordination as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College. After receiving his U.S. citizenship on March 31, 1943, he enlisted as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. He was eventually assigned to the 104th Infantry "Timberwolf" Division and served as a frontline chaplain with the 104th in Belgium and Germany. He held pulpits in Chicago, Illinois 1939-49)[1] and at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, Minnesota (1948–1961). He moved to Holy Blossom Temple in 1961.
He published a volume of commentary on the Torah[2] and Haftarah, which has become the standard Humash used by the Reform movement. He was a long-time columnist for the Canadian Jewish News as well as a contributor of opinion pieces to various Canadian newspapers such as the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. He was the first recipient of the W. Gunther Plaut Humanitarian Award. In 1978, he was the honoree of the Toronto Jewish National Fund Negev Dinner.
He was president of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 1977 to 1980, and was also vice-chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
In 1978 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1999. In 1993, he was awarded the Order of Ontario. In 1999, he received the Commander's Cross (Komturkreuz) of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
All of Rabbi Plaut's papers are housed at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Rabbi Plaut's entire library was donated to York University and is housed at York's Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections.
A number of years ago, Plaut was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and withdrew from all public activities. In February 2012, he died at Baycrest Hospital in Toronto, Canada at the age of 99.
His son, Jonathan V. Plaut, was also a Reform rabbi, who served as rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Jackson, Michigan.[3] His nephew, Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, Ph.D (son of Rabbi Walter H. and Hadassah Y. Plaut) is the director of the New York City based American Friends of Rabin Medical Center (see the author of two books: A Kosher Christmas: 'Tis the Season to Be Jewish (see and Greek Jewry in the Twentieth Century, 1913-1983: Patterns of Jewish Survival in the Greek Provinces Before and After the Holocaust:. For over thirty years Joshua Plaut has been a renowned photographer of Jewish communities around the world, with museum and gallery exhibitions across the United States, Europe and Israel.

Selected works

  • Die materielle Eheungültigkeit (doctoral dissertation, 1934)
  • High Holiday Services for Children (1952)
  • Mount Zion – The First Hundred Years (1956)
  • The Jews in Minnesota; the first seventy-five years (1959) 59-14710
  • The Book of Proverbs – A Commentary (1961) 61-9760
  • Judaism and the Scientific Spirit (1962) 61-17139
  • The Rise of Reform Judaism: A Sourcebook of Its European Origins (1963) 63-13568
  • The Case for the Chosen People – The Role of the Jewish People Yesterday and Today (1965) 65-19869
  • The Growth of Reform Judaism (1965) 65-18555
  • Your Neighbour is a Jew (1967)
  • The Sabbath as Protest: Thoughts on Work and Leisure in the Automated Society (1970)
  • Page Two – Ten Years of “News and Views.” (1971)
  • A Shabbat Manual (1972) 72-10299
  • Genesis. The Torah, A Modern Commentary, Vol. I (1974)
  • Exodus. The Torah, A Modern Commentary, Vol. II
  • Time to Think (1977)
  • Hanging Threads: Stories Real and Surreal (1978) ISBN 0-919630-99-5. Published in U.S. as The Man in the Blue Vest and Other Stories (1978) ISBN 0-8008-5093-9
  • Numbers. The Torah, A Modern Commentary, Vol. IV (1979) ISBN 0-8074-0039-4
  • Unfinished business: an Autobiography (1981), ISBN 0-919630-41-3
  • The Torah: A Modern Commentary (1981), ISBN 0-8074-0055-6
  • Deuteronomy. The Torah, A Modern Commentary, Vol. V (1983)
  • Refugee Determination in Canada (1985)
  • The Letter (1986) ISBN 0-7710-7164-7
  • A Modern Commentary – Genesis. (1988) (In Hebrew)
  • The Man Who Would Be Messiah: A Biographical Novel (1990), ISBN 0-88962-400-3
  • The Magen David – How the Six-Pointed Star Became an Emblem for The Jewish People (1991) ISBN 0-910250-16-2
  • German-Jewish Bible Translations: linguistic theology as a political phenonomen (1992)
  • The Torah: a Modern Commentary ISBN 0-8074-0055-6
  • Asylum: A Moral Dilemma (1995), ISBN 0-275-95196-0
  • The Haftarah Commentary (1996) ISBN 0-8074-0551-5
  • More Unfinished Business (1997), ISBN 0-8020-0888-7
  • Teshuvot for the Nineties: Reform Judaism’s Answers to Today’s Dilemmas (1997) ISBN 0-88123-071-5
  • The Price and Privilege of Growing Old (2000) ISBN 0-88123-081-2
  • The Reform Judaism Reader (2001) ISBN 0-8074-0732-1
  • Die Torah in Judischer Auslegung (in German) (1999–2004)
  • The Torah: A Modern Commentary, Revised Edition (ISBN 0-8074-0883-2)
  • One Voice: The Selected Sermons of W. Gunther Plaut (2007) ISBN 978-1-55002-739-6
  • Eight Decades: The Selected Writings of W. Gunther Plaut (2008) ISBN 978-1-55002-861-4

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Laurie Main, Australian-born character actor (Welcome to Pooh Corner) died he was 89

Laurence George "Laurie" Main  was an Australian actor best known for hosting and narrating the children's series Welcome to Pooh Corner, which aired on The Disney Channel during the 1980s  died he was 89.
Born in Melbourne, Main moved to England at the age of 16, making his acting debut in The Yellow Balloon.

(29 November 1922 - 8 February 2012)

 He immigrated to the United States in 1960, studying with Agnes Moorehead.
His television and movie guest appearances include Wagon Train, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, I Spy, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, The Andy Griffith Show, The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, That Girl, Ironside, The Monkees, Hogan's Heroes, Mayberry R.F.D., The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Daniel Boone, Family Affair, Bewitched, The Partridge Family, McMillan & Wife, Land of the Lost, Little House on the Prairie, Punky Brewster and Murder, She Wrote.
He was also the voice of Dr. Wat­son in the 1986 Dis­ney car­toon movie The Great Mouse Detective. He also nar­rated the Dis­ney ani­mated shorts Win­nie the Pooh Dis­cov­ers the Sea­sons (1981) and Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore (1983). He also was the story reader on many Dis­ney Read-Along records, audio cassettes and compact discs.[1]
Main died on 8 February 2012 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 89.[2]


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John Fairfax, British ocean rower and adventurer died he was 74

 John Fairfax  was a British ocean rower and adventurer who, in 1969, became the first person to row solo across an ocean died he was 74. He subsequently went on to become the first to row the Pacific Ocean (with Sylvia Cook) in 1971/2.

(21 May 1937 – 8 February 2012)

Early life

Fairfax was born 21 May 1937 in Italy to an English father and Bulgarian mother.[1] As a child he was expelled from the Italian Boy Scouts for opening fire, with a revolver, on a hut containing other Scouts.[2] Soon after, he and his mother moved to Argentina where, aged thirteen, he left home to live in the jungle "like Tarzan", surviving by hunting and bartering skins with local peasants.[2] Also as a teenager, he read of Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo's famous row across the Atlantic Ocean (then the only ocean to have been rowed) and knew that someday he would row across the Atlantic.
At the age of 20 Fairfax attempted "suicide-by-jaguar". He kept a revolver with him just in case he changed his mind which he did in the end and shot the jaguar and sold the skin. He was later apprenticed to a pirate and also briefly managed a mink farm.[3]

Travels in Americas

In 1959 he flew to New York and drove across America to San Francisco. When he ran out of money, Fairfax decided to return to his mother in Argentina by bike. He got as far as Guatemala and then hitchhiked on to Panama. After a brief spell as a sailor on a Colombian boat he returned to Panama where he fell in with pirates and ended up spending three years smuggling guns, whiskey and cigarettes. After a dramatic escape from the pirates and the authorities, he returned to Argentina on horseback.
Back in Argentina he first read of Chay Blyth and John Ridgway’s successful row across the Atlantic and realised that if he wanted to be the first person to row solo across the Atlantic he would have to do it soon.

Atlantic crossing

After returning to England it took Fairfax two years to prepare for the row. On 19 July 1969 he became the first person to row solo across an ocean when he arrived in Florida having set off from the Canary Islands. The self-righting and self-bailing boat "Britannia", now located in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall[4] was designed by Uffa Fox.[2] The row took 180 days. Upon completion of his row he received a message of congratulations from the crew of Apollo 11 who had walked on the moon the day after he had completed his voyage. In their letter the crew stated:
"Yours, however, was the accomplishment of one resourceful individual, while ours depended upon the help of thousands of dedicated workers in the United States and all over the world. As fellow explorers, we salute you on this great occasion."[2]

Pacific crossing

Two years later in 1971 he set off with Sylvia Cook from San Francisco in an attempt to row across the Pacific Ocean. Cook had replied to a personal ad that Fairfax had put in The Times when looking for support for his first row.[2] The pair arrived at Hayman Island in Australia 361 days later, in the process becoming the first people to row across the Pacific, and Cook becoming the first woman to row across an ocean.

Later life

He was featured on This Is Your Life in January 1970.
He and his wife moved to Las Vegas in 1992 after a hurricane hit Florida.[5]
Fairfax died on 8 February 2012, at the age of 74 in Henderson, Nevada.[6]

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Phil Bruns, American actor (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Barney Miller, The Great Waldo Pepper), died from natural causes he was 80

Philip Bruns  was an American television actor and writer, best remembered for portraying George Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Shumway, the father of Mary Hartman on the 1970s comedic series

(May 2, 1931 – February 8, 2012)

Life and career

Bruns was born in Pipestone, Minnesota, the youngest of three children of Henry Bruns and Margie Trigg Bruns. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from Augustana College in South Dakota. He earned his Master's Degree from the Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut. He also studied at the Old Vic Theatre School in London, England. He appeared as Morty Seinfeld in the sitcom Seinfeld, in a first-season episode entitled "The Stake Out", but was replaced in the role by Barney Martin.
He also appeared in Sanford and Son, Columbo: Exercise in Fatality, Night Court, Airwolf, Just Shoot Me!, and M*A*S*H. He appeared in dozens of films, TV commercials, and on and Off-Broadway plays (winning an Obie award for "Mr. Simian" in the 1963-64 season). He played the Warlock in Werner Liepolt's "The Young Master Dante" at The American Place Theater in 1968. Films in which Bruns appeared include The Great Waldo Pepper, Harry and Tonto, Flashdance, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and Return of the Living Dead Part II.[1]
Bruns wrote The Character Actor's Do's, Don't and Anecdotes', which was published in early November 2008.
Bruns established the largest private school library in the Bahamas.


Until his death, Bruns resided in Hollywood with his wife, former Broadway musical actress Laurie Franks. He died of natural causes on February 8, 2012, aged 80.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Phil Shanahan, Irish hurler died he was 84

Phil Shanahan was an Irish hurler who played as a midfielder for the Tipperary and Dublin senior teams died he was 84.
Shanahan made his first appearance for the Tipperary team during the 1946 championship and became a regular member of the team over the next decade. During that time he won three All-Ireland winners' medals, three Munster winners' medals and three National League winners' medals. In 1955 and 1956 Shanahan played with the Dublin senior team, however, he returned to Tipperary before his retirement from the inter-county scene after the 1957 championship.[1]
At club level Shanahan is a county championship winners' medalist with the Toomevara club in Tipperary. He also played with the Young Irelands club in Dublin.

(January 1928 – 7 February 2012)

Playing career


Shanahan showed early promise making his debut at senior level with Toomevara in the 1945 championship, while still only seventeen years of age. The club were back in the senior ranks for the first time since 1938, when they failed to field a team in the first round of the senior championship.
In 1946 Shanahan won his first divisional medal when Toomevara defeated Roscrea in the north final, their first such victory since 1931.
A move to Dublin in 1950 saw him join the Young Irelands club, however, he enjoyed little success with the Dublin club before moving back to Tipperary in the late fifties.
Shanahan played in seven consecutive North Tipperary finals from 1957 to 1963, winning four in 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1962. He captained the team in 1958. There were also three county final appearances, with defeats in 1958 and 1961, and a great victory over Thurles Sarsfields in 1960, a victory that prevented the Thurles club winning six in-a-row.
Shanahan eventually retired from club hurling in 1966 after a career of twenty years.


Shanahan made his inter-county debut with the Tipperary minor hurling team in 1946. In the Munster final against Cork he collected a mis-hit seventy-yard free near the end of the game to score the winning goal and win the match by just a single point. Galway were well-beaten in the All-Ireland semi-final but the final was lost to Dublin in the infamous Billy O'Brien goalmouth incident. In the last few minutes the Dublin forwards succeeded in getting the ball over the goal line for a goal, which was only awarded after a three-minute consultation between the referee M. J. Flaherty and the umpires. Both umpires claimed that the goalie, Billy O'Brien, had been fouled before the goal was scored but the referee didn’t see the foul and allowed the goal. Dublin won by 1-6 to 0-7.
Shanahan's first entry into the senior ranks was when he was selected at midfield for Tipperary's 1948-49 National League campaign. Tipperary qualified for the final against Cork and won by 3-5 to 3-3. It was their first victory in the competition since 1928. Shanahan enjoyed further success later that year when Tipp defeated Limerick by 1-16 to 2-10 to take the Munster title. He subsequently lined out in his first All-Ireland final at senior level. Surprisingly, Laois were the opponents on that occasion, however, the result was expected. Tipp opened the floodgates with a Paddy Kenny goal before Jimmy Kennedy added two more goals in the second-half. At the full-time whistle Tipp were the victors by 3-11 to 0-3 and Shanahan had captured a coveted All-Ireland winners' medal. He finished off the year by winning his first Oireachtas title.
In spite of a move to Dublin 1950, Shanahan added a second National League winners' medal to his collection before further provincial glory followed. A 2-17 to 3-11 defeat of Cork gave him a second consecutive Munster medal and an easy passage into another All-Ireland final. Kilkenny provided the opposition on that occasion in a close but uninteresting game. At the final whistle Tipp emerged the victors by 1-9 to 1-8 giving Shanahan a second All-Ireland medal.
In 1951 Shanhan captured a third successive Munster title following a 2-11 to 2-9 defeat of arch-rivals Cork. This victory resulted in Tipp being installed as the favourites for a third consecutive All-Ireland title. Wexford, however, stood in Tipp's way after making a long-awaited breakthrough in Leinster. Nicky Rackard had been Wexford's star goal-poacher throughout the year, however, his artistry was beaten by Tony Reddin in the Tipperary goal-mouth. Séamus Bannon, Tim Ryan and Paddy Kenny got the goals in the second quarter that did the damage, however, Tipp forged ahead to win by 7-7 to 3-9.
For the next two years Tipperary were defeated by Cork in the Munster championship. It wasn't the end of his playing days, however, as he captured a third National League title in 1952.
Since Shanahan was now based in Dublin, he decided to line out for the Dubs in 1954. His two seasons at midfield resulted in Dublin being beaten by Wexford in the 1954 Leinster final and by Kilkenny in the 1955 Leinster semi-final.
In 1956 Shanahan lined out with Tipperary once again. He won a fourth National League medal as a non-playing substitute in 1957, however, Tipperary lost out to in the semi-final of the provincial championship. He retired from inter-county hurling following a tour to the United States at the end of the year.

Coaching career

With his playing days over Shanahan turned his attention to training and coaching. His training career began with Portlaoise, where he helped the club to five championship football titles between 1966 and 1971. He attained a coaching certificate in hurling in 1977. When he retired from Esso in 1982 he trained and coached Killenaule to win three South Tipperary intermediate championships in hurling in 1983, 1985 and 1986.

Personal life

Born in Toomevara, County Tipperary, Shanahan initially worked on the family farm. In 1950 he moved to Dublin where he found work with the Johnston Mooney and O'Brien bakery. After six years here he moved to Clonmel where he worked with Esso.
Shanahan married Joan Power in 1958 and the couple had three sons, Phil, David and Brian.
In his final years Shanahan's health deteriorated and he underwent open-heart surgery in 2008. He died on 7 February 2012.[2]





  • Sports Star of the Week: 1952
  • North Tipperary Hurling Team of the Millennium: 2000
  • Tipperary Hall of Fame Award: 2004

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