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Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College, recently gave a talk, “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness,” in which she described things that we think will make us happy but don’t and things that really do. It turns out that a private plane would not make me happier. (I’m still not convinced.) It also turns out that people who have religious or spiritual beliefs are happier than those who don’t, no matter what their beliefs.
— Washington Post
Teach less religion and more reading says education minister
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has said that primary schools should use time allocated for religion to focus on improving pupils’ reading and maths. The minister’s controversial comment was a response to complaints from principals who say they have difficulties covering an “overloaded curriculum”.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad urges public unity to resist anti-Hindu pogrom
Ten Hindu idols in a Narsingdi temple were desecrated by some 10-12 unidentified miscreants yesterday. Meanwhile, speakers at a human chain demanded that the Rajapur upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) in Jhalakathi be punished for allegedly aiding two local brothers in an attempt to grab a 55-year-old Hindu widow’s land by labelling it as vested property.
— The Daily Star
Beyond communal attacks in Bangladesh
Recent attacks on Hindus and their property demonstrate the immensely sad but blunt reality that even after forty two years of democratic pluralistic existence, the religious minority of Bangladesh have not been able to save themselves from the deadly embrace of communal fire. When the battered Hindu citizens propose to disenfranchise the entire community by publicly asking to strike Hindus off the voters list so that they can escape the wrath of politically motivated obscurantist elements, one can gauge the depth and severity of the wound.
— The Daily Star
In the Name of Religion or Politics?
More than a few people got upset with what I had to say regarding the alleged “Jihad” in Syria and my description of the different groups using Islam for their political ends as criminals. It’s amazing how fast people will turn on you when they discover that you’re not exactly falling in line with their political ideologies. It’s the same person, with the same writing style who was on your good graces just last week. But all of a sudden he’s on your naughty list because he voices a different stance than you on some political matter that you happen to feel very strongly about. More amazing still are the fervour and zealotry political difference comes with. It definitely puts the whole “religion is the cause of all conflict” business into perspective.
— Mohamed Ghilan
Christianity enters ‘Age of the Spirit’
“I’m spiritual but not really religious.” This is the new mantra of our age. I hear it all the time. I’m sure you’ve heard it. For some reason, people don’t seem to have a problem with spirituality, but there are many stereotypes and preconceived notions about organized religion and church. Some of them are accurate and some of them are not, but these stereotypes are certainly present.
— The Tennessean
Pursuing God Through Science
According to David Larson, MD, President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, in the past ten years research focused on the effectiveness of prayer has nearly doubled. Dr. Mitchell Krucoff, who has been studying prayer and spirituality since 1996, commented, “…we’re seeing systematic investigations – clinical research – as well as position statements from professional societies supporting this research, …funding from Congress, …all of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.”
— Aliso Laguna News
Atheist Becomes a Christian after Hearing the Gospel from a Muslim
Zach was an atheist, until he talked to his Muslim friend about God. Zach’s friend Wessam explained what Christians believe, in an attempt to show Zach that Christianity is false and Islam is true. But Zach became a Christian, not a Muslim.
— Answering Muslims
Many seekers of Living Gurus long for closeness with their Masters for transcendental attainment. The presumption that spiritual progression requires physical proximity has little relevance because spirituality cannot be “taught” but is “caught” through meditative concentration as preached, rather than external affiliation.
— The Economic Times
Religion and Politics in South Asia
The dilemma posed by religion’s role in contemporary politics can be generally brought under the rubric of the problem of pluralism in the modern world. Pluralism- or the respect for diversity- along with caste, class and gender remains a major fault line of South Asia- the politics of which threatens to tear apart South Asian societies.
— Ground Views
If you sweep the floor, you can become spiritual. If you breathe, you can become spiritual. In that context, you can play music and also become spiritual. A whole lot of people have identified spiritual process and music, not because these two things are connected. If you play proper music, without involvement, you cannot do it. If you are absolutely involved, only then you can produce some worthwhile music. In that involvement, doors have to open for you. There is no other way. I am telling you, if you sweep the floor with absolute involvement, it will happen. You do not have to learn any musical instrument.
— Huffington Post
Lenin and religion
With each twist and turn, Lenin’s position has become ever more complex. No longer do we have a Lenin who dismisses religion as fiction and curse. Instead, we find arguments for the duality of religion as response to and cause of suffering, multi-layered metaphors of opium and booze, the dilemma of what happens after the revolution when religion persists, the tension between the party’s opposition to religion and the refusal to stipulate atheism as a requirement for party membership, and even an awareness of the revolutionary potential of religion. However, I close with a regret: the moments when Lenin saw the potential of the religious Left were relatively few compared to his attacks on religion. That is, I regret the fact that he was not as clearly aware of such possibilities. Perhaps the Russian Revolution may have found matters a little easier if he had.
— Philosophers for Change
The Religion With No Name: An Interview With Thomas Moore
For most of us, the days of growing up within a fixed religious tradition is long past. Seeking a lifeline to what really matters, many are either bewildered by the array of spiritual choices, or dulled by the materialism of Western culture. In his latest book, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World, former monk and bestselling author and psychotherapist Thomas Moore explores this modern-day dilemma. Drawing from the well of his own inner sources, he offers a new vision of how seekers can fashion their own connection to the sacred out of the materials of ancient faiths and everyday life. This is the first in a three-part interview.
— Huffington Post
The centrality of the Prophet Muhammad to Islamic Spirituality
Most people, including many Muslims, view Islam in an exoteric sense. That is, they see Islam as simply a set of beliefs and ritual observances by which Muslims hope to gain salvation after death.But they know very little about Islam as an esoteric or spiritual path. Although modern western societies might be more alienated from religion than most, they tend to regard with greater reverence the mystical paths of religion. Buddhism for example, came to be known to the West through the oriental martial arts, Zen poetry, and even through fiction. Hinduism is also sympathetically looked at because of Ayurveda, Yoga, and meditation. Outwardly, these two religions are far more alien to the Western psyche in terms of spiritual traditions, and the socio/cultural environment that supports their beliefs; nevertheless they are seen in a more sympathetic manner than Islam.
— AhlulBayt Islamic Mission
Time to unite religion with conservation
Religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world today. If we could be united on the common ground of biological conservation, the problem would soon be solved. By their definition, religions inherently aim to pursue moral good and, have for centuries, guided people with respect to what is right and what is wrong. Though I never tried to talk to a religious leader, I realised that the negative report on the issue would never support the cause alone. We have to think in a broader perspective and make them a partner in saving the last of what we have left. The world without these species will be an incomplete creation of god and it’s time we understand and work towards this.
— Financial Chronicle
Religion rules in Russia
Two issues preoccupying post- Soviet society are a wish to oppose outside influences (mainly from the West), and to resist aggressive behaviour in matters of religion. It is not difficult to point out inconsistencies and contradictions in these approaches, but more germane is the fact that both have survived, if in modified form, to the present day. When the possibility of further restrictions on freedom of conscience are being discussed, a key topic is invariably the need to protect society from the “expansionism” of new religious movements and radical Islam.
— Index on Censorship
Values, ethics, spirituality vital to education system
It is important for values, ethics and spirituality to be part of an education system to ensure and nurture the development of well-rounded individuals. Stressing the importance of values based education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told participants at the Education World Forum 2014 here yesterday that ignoring values, ethics and spirituality is no longer acceptable as about five billion of the world’s population was involved in the major religions.
— New Strait Times
A former Coral Reef High School teacher dying of brain cancer visits former students to find out if he made a difference
Six years into his no-holds-barred brawl with terminal brain cancer, David Menasche was partially blind and crippled. He couldn’t drive and he could barely read. Huge swaths of his memory had been wiped clean. His marriage was falling apart. “I was afraid of losing my purpose in life,” recalled the Miami-born, Pembroke Pines-raised Menasche, now 41. “For so long I had lived to teach my students and I couldn’t even do that.” So Menasche did what no sane person in his condition would seriously consider. He stopped treatment and set off on a cross-country trip at the end of 2012 to visit his former students. He wanted to know “what kind of legacy I was leaving and if I had made a difference in their lives.”
— Miami Herald
What Is Spirituality? And Are Introverts More Spiritual
Spirituality, the way I interpret it, is the search for meaning, purpose and direction; the journey of self-discovery and self-understanding. It is a desire to become your best possible self, and to transcend who you are, or who you think you are, through either a higher power or our interconnectedness as living beings.
— Loner Wolf
Inmates find faith behind bars
Hisham (not his real name) would probably not have got the chance to read the Quran had he not been imprisoned. Nine months after he was in prison for substance abuse, the 34-year-old had memorised two chapters of the holy book. He is also learning tajwid (rules governing the pronunciation of Quranic verses) so that he could be an Imam in mosques when he finishes his 33-month sentence. “I am putting my past behind me and working towards building my career to be a tahfiz teacher who is well-accepted by the community.”
— New Straits Times
‘Human evolution likely led to rise of religion’
Gopikrishna Deshpande, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, and the NIH researchers found differences in brain interactions that involved the theory of mind, or ToM, brain network, which underlies the ability to relate between one’s personal beliefs, intents and desires with those of others. Individuals with stronger ToM activity were found to be more religious. Deshpande said that this supports the hypothesis that development of ToM abilities in humans during evolution may have given rise to religion in human societies.
— Zee News
Faith, trust, belief: a poem
Things are often not what they seem to be,
Words seldom send out the meaning they mean to be,
— Variant Columnist
Engaging in regular meditation or another spiritual practice is linked to a thickening of the brain cortex, according to new research published in JAMA Psychiatry. This discovery could lead to new insights as to why these activities help guard against depression, particularly in those who are genetically predisposed to the mental health disorder.
Punishment for anti-Hindu pogromists demanded
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury yesterday said the people responsible for attacking Hindus around the country should be punished regardless of their political stripes. Such attacks were a shame for the nation, she told the BBC Bangladesh Sanglap, a debate on contemporary affairs, in the capital’s Biam auditorium.
— The Daily Star
I know better than to take religion too seriously, says religious scholar Reza Aslan
Aslan is Muslim but he converted to Christianity when he was young, only to convert back to Islam later. Even though he considers himself Muslim, he doesn’t believe in religion. “As a religious scholar, I know better than to take religion all that seriously. I am a Muslim but my faith is in God and I use the symbols and metaphors of Islam to help define what that means,” he says.
Muslims, SC, ST have voted for BJP in Assembly polls: Advani
To shed its image of being a Hindutva and upper caste party, BJP today said it had got support of Muslims, SC and ST communities in the recent Assembly elections even as it noted that it did not believe in vote bank politics and minority appeasement.
— Business Standard
Faith and families: the name game continues
I was born in a liberal Muslim family in 1950. There was nothing liberal about my name, though: Mohammed Nadeemullah Khan. The mixed neighbourhood where I grew up never found it worthy of notice. But some children in school found its association with a religious community a source of entertainment – at my expense. Digs on beards, lungis, skull-caps, Friday baths, and – the perennial favourite – circumcision.
— The Hindu
UConn prof delves into spirituality in daily life
University of Connecticut Professor Bradley Wright has all types of questions for his research: Did you pray in the last 24 hours? To what extent are you feeling nurtured or angry with God? Do you feel a sense of purpose right now? And he’d like the answers in real time, launching a website that sends texts to smartphones that it’s time for participants to take the twice-daily survey. It’s part of an ambitious look by Wright and other researchers into the role of spirituality in the daily lives of Americans and its links to well-being.
— Washington Post
The heart of Islam
The truth, as dangerous as it might be to articulate, is that Islam, in current day Pakistan, has been hijacked by a brand of mullahs who hold the dogmatic practice of rituals to be the end-goal of religion. We live in the shadow in a religious ideology, which argues that killing in the name of God, is higher than living to uphold His majesty. We are told that slight differences in the way that another bows before Allah, or calls His name, is reason enough to hate such individuals. Even to kill them. We are told that black is the color of Shias, and green the color of Sunnis. We are told that Arabic is good, and English is bad. We have been taught that convictions for rape cannot take place based on scientific evidence because only ocular proof is Islam. We are told that a beard, without a mustache, is a service to the Prophet (PBUH). We are told that Allah deals in plus and minuses – ten pluses for each time you drink water while sitting down, and ten minuses if you eat from your left hand. That the relationship between God and man is one of barter – if you say some Quranic verse seven times, yours will be Jannah. Otherwise, the tormet of hell awaits you. We are told that simply the act of prostrating in the director of Kaaba is the highest of ibadaat… irrespective of the darkness that might fill the heart of such supplicator.
— The Nation
Spirituality drives Brampton woman to write book
Brampton accountant Jodie Lobana’s book is proof that irrespective of their origins, lessons of spirituality are timeless and universal. In the book, Songs for the Soul featuring 100 beautiful poems of Saint Kabir, Lobana deciphers the works of Saint Kabir and demysifies his philosophy.
Bantock recommends that with creativity we set out on a journey and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed, then to be informed by what occurs and all the while maintaining balance as well we can. This process will allow us to go in the right way without knowing what it is at the outset. He believes that this method is more likely to lead to somewhere we have not been before and therefore somewhere growth can happen saying, ‘It is critically important not to predetermine what is being created so that you can be taught by it; if you create something that is preconceived and it will be half dead’.
— Times Colonist
Godliness in the Known and the Unknowable: Alan Lightman on Science and Spirituality
If science is the religion of the twenty-first century, why do we still seriously discuss heaven and hell, life after death, and the manifestations of God? Physicist Alan Guth, another member of our salon, pioneered the inflation version of the Big Bang theory and has helped extend the scientific understanding of the infant universe back to a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after t = 0. A former member, biologist Nancy Hopkins, manipulates the DNA of organisms to study how genes control the development and growth of living creatures. Hasn’t modern science now pushed God into such a tiny corner that He or She or It no longer has any room to operate—or perhaps has been rendered irrelevant altogether? Not according to surveys showing that more than three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, eternal souls, and God. Despite the recent spate of books and pronouncements by prominent atheists, religion remains, along with science, one of the dominant forces that shape our civilization. Our little group of scientists and artists finds itself fascinated with these contrasting beliefs, fascinated with different ways of understanding the world. And fascinated by how science and religion can coexist in our minds.
— Brain Pickings
The Spirit of Now
Just sixty years ago, Tibetan Buddhism was the most secretive religious tradition in the world. It reserved its initiations exclusively for monastics, who had to prove themselves worthy of higher teachings with decades of intensive practice locked way behind the world’s highest mountains. Now you can sign up in any small Western city for a weekend workshop that will offer you those same practices for the price of admission. And you may combine those Tibetan practices with your yoga, with your faith in Christ, with a little Zen, or with some personal combination of everything.
— Huffington Post
Muslim OBCs turn against Congress
In what may queer the pitch for the Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra, organisations of Muslim OBCs have alleged that the party has been unable to ensure welfare of the community despite being in power for decades and, hence, have called on Muslims to vote against it.
Greece, religion and politics: A pinker shade of black
Nikos, a young man from the northern Greek town of Xanthi, spends his life holding a difficult balance. Like many other Hellenes in their twenties, he is horrified by the social cost of the austerity which the country has had to endure as part of a rescue programme negotiated with its creditors. His political ideas hew towards the leftist opposition party, Syriza, which wants to renounce the memorandum on which the package is based. In his other life, he is an active and articulate member of the national church, who participates in theological debates and helps out at services with his accomplished chanting.
— The Economist
Today, many organizations in Nepal are starting to accept that stress among employees is a serious issue that cannot be ignored any more. As such, a number of organizations are now starting to embrace workplace spirituality as an effective approach to tackle human relations issues like stress, conflict, teamwork, job satisfaction, motivation and productivity. There is a growing need to explore unconventional methods to motivate people who often work under stressful conditions. This is the reason many organizations have been conducting wellness programs that take a holistic approach of body-mind-spirit.
— My Republica
An End to Arrogant Atheism
As an atheist who is also a humanist, I find that in our efforts to point out the dangers and failings inherent in religion, we sometimes fall into the language of arrogance. I read a recent quote from famed evolutionary biologist and past Humanist of the Year awardee, Richard Dawkins, which, upon reflection, showed that even he can fall prey to this tendency. He stated that “religion is an organized license to be acceptably stupid.” While Dawkins certainly has a valid point regarding mainstream religion’s frequent opposition to critical thinking and empiricism, he makes his point in such a way that is likely to leave religious people offended by, instead of interested in atheism and rational thinking.
— Huffington Post
Turning to Spirituality for Guidance on Sex
For people of countless faith traditions, sex has become inextricably linked with religious practice. Trying to discern God’s will in regard to sex can be daunting, and efforts to reconcile faith and life can cause confusion or guilt. Looking at Christian sexual ethics, Catholics differ wildly from Protestants, who in turn vary wildly from each other. For someone watching this conflict from outside the Christian community, it can be just as amusing as it is terrifying. Christians have struggled to create spiritually based constraints for such a framework capable of transcending modern realities. Extremely conservative, middle-of-the-road and liberalized Christians have thus divided more or less into three groups. While each group approaches sex with religion in mind, each reaches wildly varying conclusions.
— The Hoya
Activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami were blamed for attacks on the Hindus, who were accused of backing Awami League which won the January 5 polls despite a boycott by the opposition.
— The Free Press Journal
Is the Bible’s definition of faith opposed to logic and evidence?
Probably the biggest misconception that I encounter when defending the faith is the mistaken notion of what faith is. Today we are going to get to the bottom of what the Bible says faith is, once and for all. This post will be useful to Christians and atheists, alike.
— Wintery Knight
‘Hand on the faith,’ Pope instructs parents at baptism
During his homily at Sunday mass, Pope Francis reminded parents who had brought their infants to be baptized of their duty to pass on the faith to their children. “Today, carry this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think of this, think always of how to hand on the faith to (your) children,” he told the families who were gathered for mass in the Sistine Chapel.
PM: Government to administer country based on Islamic principles
The government is committed to ensure that Malaysia achieves the developed nation status by the year 2020 and will use the Islamic principles and syari’a as the mould for administration as provided for by the constitution, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
— New Strait Times
Beat illness – Build a healthy body – like Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris pummels his enemies and opponents. When it comes to martial arts and his acting roles in television and films (Walker, Texas Ranger/Delta Force), Norris knows how to take care of business. You may have seen him act and, perhaps, talk about exercise (Total Gym), but did you know that Norris also speaks about spirituality walloping pain and disease?
A 6.47- minute video.
— ET Now
Pakistan’s Sufis Preach Faith and Ecstasy
In the desert swelter of southern Pakistan, the scent of rosewater mixed with a waft of hashish smoke. Drummers pounded away as celebrants swathed in red pushed a camel bedecked with garlands, tinsel and multihued scarfs through the heaving crowd. A man skirted past, grinning and dancing, his face glistening like the golden dome of a shrine nearby. “Mast Qalandar!” he cried. “The ecstasy of Qalandar!”
Christians in Libya cast anxious eye at religious freedom
Libya has undergone a two-year transition since 2011 when demonstrations toppled Moammar Gadhafi. Before the revolution, Christians were granted religious freedom, but with the change of power, they have been arbitrarily arrested, attacked, killed and forced by the Islamist groups to convert to Islam.
— Washington Post
Atheists reject God without exploring the evidence for his existence
An atheist is a person who believes that God doesn’t exist (in contrast to an agnostic, who says he doesn’t know whether or not God exists). But look carefully at that definition: An atheist believes God doesn’t exist. He can’t prove it; he can’t verify it; he can’t demonstrate it. He lives only by faith — faith that he is right and everyone else is wrong.
— Kansas City
Comparative religion series will focus on ‘evil’
“The goal is to help people understand different faiths and that we’re not in opposition to each other, but we have different views,” said Gene Meyers, chairman of the Comparative Religion Series committee. “There are a lot of places you can go and learn about the basics of religion.
— The Charlotte Observer
Science, religion coexist to help us flourish
When it comes to the two — religion and science — the general sentiment with our group was that they have to coexist to flourish. The foundation of religion is faith and the foundation of science is research. The Lord has created a formula for each element of the universe and it is humanity’s (scientists’) job to research these formulas and apply them to our everyday lives. This is why the world spends so much money on scientific research and development, to help humanity understand and enjoy the wonders of the universe.
— Tri-City Herald
New ‘SoulPulse’ app lets users monitor their spirituality in real time
“I discovered I was more tired than I knew that I was. I have begun going to bed earlier and I was tested for sleep apnea. I also realized, as an introvert, I’m more aware of God if I have a bigger chunk of quiet time. I started scheduling more time to be alone with God so when I am with people I can really be with them.”
— Washington Post
Freedom of speech means that you have full permission and a right to say what you want, write what you want and speak what you want. Sadly, some groups believe this means you should be silenced if your beliefs are different than mine, or even given special rights if your faith is threatening mine.
Yoga is the best way to enforce prohibition, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Tuesday termed people who do not practise yoga as ayogiyan (a term in Sanskrit and Tamil which means unethical person). “If you don’t practise yoga, you are good for nothing. This has been the belief since ancient times,” he said while speaking at the valedictory function of the 20th international yoga festival organized by the tourism department.
— The Times of India
Harassed 300 Dalits Embrace Buddhism
The Dalits were banned from entering the temple and were also not allowed to use the local crematorium. They alleged that the district administration had failed to respond to as many as 28 petitions filed by them in the last two years. Around 79 Dalit families live in a colony in the hamlet which houses over 3,000 Caste Hindus. “As we are in the minority, Caste Hindus banned our entry inside their temples,” a Dalit said.
— The New Indian Express
What 21st century Buddhists need to do is study: His Holiness
He said that among the three turnings of the wheel of Dharma, the Perfection of Wisdom teachings, the second turning of the wheel is supreme. The Heart Sutra describes both the Buddha and Avalokiteshara as absorbed in concentration. Initially the Buddha taught how we are propelled into cyclic existence, but not who is propelled. The Heart Sutra teaches not only that the person is empty, but that the five aggregates that are its basis are also empty. This indicates that phenomena as well as persons are empty of inherent existence. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutras teach that there is no essence in anything, everything is empty of inherent existence and is merely designated, nominally existent.
— The Tibet Post
This is your brain on religion: Uncovering the science of belief
As far as I’m concerned, the most interesting question about religion isn’t whether God exists but why so many people are religious. There are around 10,000 different religions, each of which is convinced that there’s only one Truth and that they alone possess it. Hating people with a different faith seems to be part of belief. Around the year 1500, the church reformer Martin Luther described Jews as a “brood of vipers.” Over the centuries the Christian hatred of the Jews led to pogroms and ultimately made the Holocaust possible. In 1947, over a million people were slaughtered when British India was partitioned into India for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims. Nor has interfaith hatred diminished since then. Since the year 2000, 43 percent of civil wars have been of a religious nature.
Religious NGOs, Civil Society and the United Nations
A new study by the University of Kent’s Department of Religious Studies in the United Kingdom has revealed that more than 70% of the United Nation’s religious non-governmental organisations are Christian. The report, religious NGOs and the United Nations, calls for better clarity in how religious NGOs are represented at the UN and for more emphasis to be placed on religious tolerance.
— Global Research
The shadow government’s secret religion
The expansion of Washington’s national security state — let’s call it the NSS — to gargantuan proportions has historically met little opposition. In the wake of the Edward Snowdenrevelations, however, some resistance has arisen, especially when it comes to the “right” of one part of the NSS to turn the world into a listening post and gather, in particular, American communications of every sort. The debate about this — invariably framed within the boundaries of whether or not we should have more security or more privacy and how exactly to balance the two — has been reasonably vigorous. The problem is: it doesn’t begin to get at the real nature of the NSS or the problems it poses.
Religious Homophobia Is Still Homophobia
I’m a bisexual Seventh-day Adventist evangelical Christian. I’ve only ever gone to Seventh-day Adventist educational school systems. I grew up in pathfinders, singing for church special music since I was three, and going to Bible camps during my summers. I still go to a Seventh-day Adventist university where I work on creating safe spaces (unofficial GSA’s) nationally within the Seventh-day Adventist church. I get the Gay Christian world — I live in it. Around the entire LGBT conversation, whether it’s marriage or politics, the main contention point is religion. It’s the root of the opposition and it is where homophobia was birthed.
— Huffington Post
Spirituality in a secular world — a conversation
Something essential is missing from modern life. Many who’ve turned away from religious institutions — and others who have lived wholly without religion — hunger for more than what contemporary secular life has to offer but are reluctant to follow organized religion’s strict and often inflexible path to spirituality. In A Religion of One’s Own, bestselling author and former monk Thomas Moore explores the myriad possibilities of creating a personal spiritual style, either inside or outside formal religion.
Philosophy and Religion Intermarried in Groundbreaking New Book
Gleason’s book journeys through the depths of passion and prudence, of belief and rationality, of theology and philosophy. Loosely interlinked ordinary people represent moral allegories that attempt to explain whether free will or determinism exists, or whether humanity simply exists in a random set of events. The book’s overall theme is the merging of religious credos with philosophical underpinnings, the thematic crux of this fictional novel.
— Digital Journal
Faith is not beating someone over the head with your beliefs and trying to get them to convert to your way of thinking. Faith is believing in the unseen and calling those things that are not, as though they are. I believe that faith works in the workplace. Taking the uncommon path to profits and changing people’s lives simultaneously has been my business plan for many years. Faith works.
Censorship and Repression in the Name of Religion
There are far too many countries where news and content providers constantly face a very special and formidable form of censorship, one exercised in the name of religion or even God. And with increasing frequency, this desire to thwart freedom of information invokes the hard-to-define and very subjective concept of the “feelings of believers.”
— Sampsonia Way
Sonia Gandhi to seek dismissal of lawsuit in 1984 riots case
Congress President Sonia Gandhi will move a US court here seeking dismissal of a human rights violation lawsuit filed against her by a Sikh advocacy group and will urge the court to prevent it from filing further cases on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in America. Gandhi’s attorney Ravi Batra, who also represents the Congress party in the US courts, yesterday filed an 85-page memorandum in the District Court Eastern District of New York in support of Gandhi’s motion for dismissal of the amended complaint filed against her by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).
— First Post
Religion versus spirituality in the war zone
Recently, I was moved when I got to know one of the people who I see on the flight line on a regular basis whenever we load remains or wounded on aircraft. This man is a civilian. His son was a Marine who died during the invasion of Iraq. When his son died, he and his wife decided that his death would not be the end to the story. They chose to honor their son, by continuing the dream that their son died for. This wife and husband quit their jobs and took jobs with the contractor who hires people to do the jobs they are both currently doing here. This husband-and-wife team do the exact same thing — he is here and she is in Kuwait. When we send remains back home to the states, they are processed from here through Kuwait and placed on aircraft where they will directly return to America. He ensures they make it on the plane on this end, and she is in Kuwait receiving those remains and ensuring that each one of them is taken care of until they are loaded on aircraft back to the states. What a better way to honor your son’s memory than to take his place in the battle. What a special couple. Please pray for them that they will find peace with their son’s death, and for all those who have lost someone in this war.
UPA has done quite a lot for Sikh victims of 1984 riots: Manmohan Singh
UPA has done “quite a lot” for the Sikhs who suffered in 1984 riots but no compensation could be “adequate” to compensate for the loss of valuable lives, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today.
— The Economic Times
The wonderful world of religion: Stories from 2013
Religion continued to wield undue influence in world culture and politics, with a number of seismic shifts felt throughout 2013. Here are some of the notable stories of 2013 as collated by Atheist Alliance International:
— Atheism UK
Politics and religion a tinderbox of tension
Malaysia would be better off separating religion from politics, rather than using matters of the faith as a tool to crackdown on political dissent, said former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. Weighing in on Harussani Zakaria’s statement that those who protested at the New Year’s Eve anti-hike rally were bughah (traitors), Mohd Asri said he was disgusted at the blatant misuse of religion by “so-called scholars”.
— Malaysia Today
No Form, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, Consciousness: A Buddhist Perspective on AI
It seems as though every day we grow closer to creating fully conscious and emergent artificial intelligences. As I’ve written about before, this poses a problem for many religions, especially those that ascribe a special place for humanity and for human consciousness in the cosmos. Buddhism stands out as an exception. Buddhism may be the one system of religious thought that not only accepts but will actively embrace any AIs that we produce as a species.
Review, Ten Sacred Cows in Christianity that Need to be Tipped
When I reviewed the Harry Potter Bible Study on the Intermountain Christian News, I didn’t give it a favorable review. The Bible Study written by Second Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Jared Moore, was (at least in my opinion) a contrived attempt at eisegeting Gospel themes where they weren’t present. I also thought that the book pandered unnecessarily to secular culture and bordered on sacrilegious, using a wizard as a type or shadow of Christ. When I had Moore on my radio program, he obviously disagreed. Moore has written another book, “Ten Sacred Cows in Christianity that Need to be Tipped.” Unlike the aforementioned book, I would recommend both the premise and the content of “Ten Sacred Cows…”
— Pulpit and Pen
Rich Kerala Christians praise Narendra Modi as he gets Orthodox Seminary support
For a second time in the last two weeks, two smaller Christian denominations, dominated by businessmen and professionals, have made statements in support of Narendra Modi and his work in Gujarat.
— The Economic Times
Do Christians Threaten Religious Liberty?
Jews ought to back away from any alliance with Christians when it comes to the contraceptive mandate, argues Yishai Schwartz in Tablet. His main reason: Catholics and Evangelicals and legal advocates like the Becket Fund are undermining religious liberty, not promoting it. “Although the rhetoric of religious freedom is seductive, using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to strike down the contraceptive mandate would not serve that cause, but discredit it.”
— First Things
Is conversion the only path to Judaism?
As someone who is married to a convert, who has spent the better part of his professional life as a Jewish communal leader and counseled a wide range of sincere people in intermarriages who seek entry into the Jewish people, I find such a proposal shallow, impractical and offensive.
— J Weekly
No one is a born terrorist: Karmapa
“They are the creations of living environment and it is the responsibility of the religious leaders to create a healthy situation and guide people in such a way that terrorism becomes a thing of the past and people live in peace and harmony,” the Karmapa said. He made the observation during a formal interaction with mediapersons in his Tregar monastery. He was responding to questions regarding the terrorist attack on the world famous Mahabodhi temple in July, 2013.
— The Times of India
China’s Kaifeng Jews Rediscover Their Heritage
“Are you Jewish?” my Israeli boyfriend likes to ask me every time I do something like mumble oy va voy when I spill a bag of oranges outside of the grocery store. It’s a running joke, albeit not a very good one, since I’m ethnically Chinese. But the premise of our joke—that the notion of a Chinese Jew is oxymoronic— is not technically true. Lately, Chinese Jews have been coming out of the woodwork, and, because of the obvious novelty factor, are getting a decent amount of media attention.
— The Daily Beast
Jews for Jihad
Stockholm Syndrome reared its head last Friday, when an academic who identifies herself as Jewish published op-ed in the Los Angeles Times explaining why she voted for the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli universities, about which I wrote recently in the Jerusalem Post. The Times piece said that the writer had just returned from a trip to Israel and “Palestine” sponsored by Interfaith Peace-Builders, a group that subtly propagandizes for the Palestinian jihad. She was easily taken in. “Palestinian students of all ages,” she claimed, “endure harassment at military checkpoints, frequent school closures, unprovoked arrests, imprisonment and sometimes death at the hands of trigger-happy soldiers.”
— The Jerusalem Post
Uttar Pradesh to asses Muslims’ condition through survey
The survey by the minority welfare department, under the multi-sectoral development programme (MSDP), would be conducted in villages and towns followed by a developmental package to pep up infrastructure, an official told IANS. The survey would cover 144 minority-dominated blocks.
— Business Standard
8 Reasons to Develop Your Spiritual Connection
Through the years of trying to create my personal spirituality, I finally discovered that keeping my heart open to learning about loving myself and others is the key to maintaining a consistent spiritual connection. I also discovered the enormous benefits of staying connected with my spiritual guidance — benefits that I don’t think my religious grandmother or my atheist parents ever experienced.
— Huffington Post
US-based Muslim body writes to Akhilesh on riots
An organisation of US-based Indian Muslims — Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) — has criticised the UP government for its mishandling of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots, saying its “insensitivity” was “shockingly close” to that of the perpetrators of the violence.
— The Indian Express
Best of 2013: Faith in the community
Religious freedom — what it means, who it’s for, how it’s protected — has been a source of debate and news for centuries. And 2013 was no exception. What sets apart today’s debate from the past? As I interviewed scholars, lawyers and those with a personal stake in a religious freedom claim, it became clear to me that as America becomes more diverse, recognizing and protecting individual conscience rights takes on added importance.
— Desert News