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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
Myth One: Jesus Christ was born on Dec 25 and Christians are celebrating his birthday.
Myth Two: Christmas trees are compulsory – Westerners chop them down and Asians buy fake ones.
— The Star
Parties should compete by governance, not religion: Sachin Pilot
Urging politicians to ensure that the polity does not become acrimonius by invoking traditional divisions, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot Saturday said the time had come for parties to put speeches into action. “Time is ripe for us (parties) to make sure that our polity does not become acrimonious, that we approach people not as enemies, but as competitors asking people to vote not on the basis of the religion and caste we belong to, but who can serve you better,” Pilot said in an interactive session organised here by FICCI at the industry chamber’s 86th annual general meeting.
Salman Khan booked for insulting religion
Police here Friday booked actor Salman Khan for hurting religious sentiment of Muslims in a TV reality show hosted by him on Colors channel. A case against Khan and producers of the show “Bigg Boss” for insulting a religion was booked under section 295 of the Indian Penal Code at Falaknuma police station in the old city of Hyderabad.
— Gulf News
Advanced economies ‘can learn from the Islamic system’
The Islamic financial system grew out of the great trading and commercial empires established after the rise of Islam in the seventh century, stretching from the Atlantic coast of North Africa to the islands of South East Asia.
— The National
Indians push to tame Hindu-Muslim rioting with new bill
Tensions between the majority Hindu population and the Muslim minority go back centuries. Half a million people died in rioting during the 1947 partition of India, when Pakistan was created as a Muslim homeland. While religious violence has dropped dramatically since then, the number of incidents is ticking upward — from 668 last year to 725 in the first 10 months of this year, causing 143 deaths, official data show. And many Indians are concerned that divisions between religious groups could deepen with the national elections scheduled for next year, especially because the main opposition party is led by a fervent Hindu nationalist, Narendra Modi.
— The Washington Post
Pope Francis Christmas Message To Curia Warns Against Mediocrity, Gossip In Vatican
Already, heads have started to roll: Just last week, Francis reshuffled the advisory body of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, the office that vets all the world’s bishop nominations. He removed the arch-conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a key figure in the U.S. culture wars over abortion and gay marriage, and also nixed the head of Italy’s bishops’ conference and another hardline Italian, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, earlier axed as head of the Vatican office responsible for priests.
— Huffington Post
History textbook under fire in Marion County
Some conservative activists in the Ocala area say a state-approved textbook for 10th graders slights Christianity and Judaism while being favorably biased toward Islam.
— The Ledger
The need for spiritual transformation
MORE and more, inter-faith and inter-religious dialogues are being organised to bring together leaders of the world’s major religions to address ways of promoting peace and unity among mankind. While a major part of the discourse centres around identifying commonalities across the religions and focusing on the universal values and ideals, there also arises the need to pinpoint the uniqueness of each faith and belief system. Often the outcome is an impasse as spiritual leaders and adherents speak about the exclusiveness and autonomy of their own religion.
— The Sun Daily
Constitution-Making in Islamic Countries – A Theoretical Framework
New paper that explores the different theoretical models that underlie constitution-making, and highlights the conceptional differences often masked by the dominant focus on elections.
— Social Science Research Network