Mea Culpa! I forgot to post this on Sunday, so here’s a better-late-than-never Faith Forum with links to articles about faith from around the world that I found interesting during the last week (or so).
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a 50-state survey regarding prison chaplains in the US. I found it particularly interesting in light of the story discussed by Jason Pitzl-Waters at the Wild Hunt regarding the search for a Wiccan chaplain in British Columbia, Canada and the subsequent reversal by a Canadian government official. Check out Jason’s coverage here (and a brief follow-up about here).
Another report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life discussed a rising tide of restriction on religion throughout the world between mid-2009 and mid-2010. Pew Forum reports can be difficult to wade through so CNN Belief provided a summary of the report for the less adventurous! An observation regarding the United States was separated from the overall report in which it shows that government restriction and social hostilities involving religion to be rising in our country, though not nearly as much as in others. I would be interested to see this same report repeated for a time frame including the Oak Creek, Wisconsin shootings and the many examples of anti-Islamic crimes that took place during this year’s Ramadan. Did those events represent an escalation of social hostilities since mid-2010 or are recent events simply part of a new status quo since then?
Speaking of the Oak Creek shootings, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing on hate crimes and the threat of domestic extremism. Valarie Kaur–a filmmaker, civil rights advocate, interfaith organizer, founding director of the Groundswell Movement, and a Sikh–has been reporting on the shootings since they occurred on August 5th. She posted her thoughts regarding the hearing on her blog. Senator Durbin, the Chairman of the subcommitte, opened the hearing with the following words:
While Pagans rarely see the same level of violence as was visited upon Sikhs in Wisconsin, it is important for us to begin looking inward as a country to understand our own divisions and to seek ways to overcome them. This hearing begins that process at the federal level but I hope that the grassroots can also find ways to get involved.
Eboo Patel popped up twice last week to offer his thoughts on religious diversity and interfaith. First, he can be found talking about religious diversity on college campuses and later in the week he discussed the violence in the Middle East. In this latter article, he said, “We find ourselves in a terrible situation. The evening news in America is full of Muslims burning American flags and trying to breach embassies. The evening news in Arab countries is full of stories of Americans defiling the Prophet Muhammad. And the actions of a thuggish few are increasingly viewed as representing the sentiments of entire nations and religions.” He goes on to offer his heartfelt words regarding how these thuggish few are “[standing] in violation of their own traditions.”
As I mentioned in last week’s forum, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made some news about regarding spirituality and ethics and divorcing those topics from the concept of religion in one of his books. In light of Eboo Patel’s “thuggish few,” this concept is perhaps even more timely and necessary.
A blogger at HuffPo Religion shared with the world his thoughts on these words this week including this gem: “[...] the Dalai Lama identifies the core values he believes are essential to the meaning-making conversation, namely: love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness. These values are not absent from religious communities but are also not exclusive to them either.”
Google isn’t usually an organization that one turns to to discuss matters religious, but this week they posted to their official blog that they’re going to turn their Hangout technology toward interfaith dialog hosting a series of conversation between Israeli Arab and Jewish students called “Hanging out for Peace.”
While we’re on the subject of the Internet, last week was the week of the #MuslimRage twitter hashtag and associated Newsweek cover story. In response, senior editor Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches spoke with Linda Sarsour, Advocacy and Civic Engagement Coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities, about the hashtag, the article, and the therapeutic nature of laughter. A clip of their conversation can be found at Religion Dispatches where they discuss the satirical “push back” seen on Twitter.
Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, told the world about a words written in Coptic on a papyrus scroll that translates to, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife.’” The Harvard Divinity School has a great article describing exactly what was translated and what it all means.
Finally, there were a few major religious holidays last week. It’ll be hard for me to catch all of the holidays that might occur during any time frame, but I’m going to do my best. Last week, Jews celebrated Rosh Hashana and to the religion of my childhood and Jews everywhere, I’d would like to say “L’shanah tovah!” (for a good year). Jains began Paryushan Parva, an eight day festival of daily meditation and prayer to find the path of salvation and seek forgiveness for their sins. The Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, the 10-day celebration of the birthday of Ganesh, began on September 19.
And, of course, it was our own holiday of Mabon, aka the Autumnal Equinox, this past weekend. To all those who observed the holiday, I hope your celebrations were joyous and that you have much to be thankful for in your lives!