”The possible questions are endless, but all that is typically asked is “Do you believe in God?” as if one person’s “yes” is pretty much the same as everyone else’s. This makes a mockery of the complexity and diversity of individual spiritual lives.”
A big thank you to Philip Goldberg for writing this post. However, I would have gone a step further, and asked why we might be hesitant to ask the more detailed, possibly intrusive questions.
"While some non-Sikhs wear turbans as cultural garb, Sikhs are the only community for whom the turban is religious and nearly every person who wears the turban in the U.S. is Sikh. For many of us, abandoning this visible identity is equivalent to abandoning our faith and core values, including the commitment to protect the right of all people to practice whatever faith they choose."
"Whatever our faith tradition, we all should take the dangers of interfaith misunderstanding seriously because all of us — Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, agnostics, everyone — are affected."
"Why at this particular moment is the mainstream media so interested in the story of strife within an ultra-orthodox branch that makes up a tiny, if growing, percentage of American Jews? The answer has a lot to do with the life span of the Internet. Because of it, more Hasidim are publicly exiting their communities than ever before.”
"One reason for our unpopularity is the widespread belief that you need God in order to be good. Going along with that misconception is further belief that atheists are less generous than religious people, less philanthropic, less likely to donate to charity. Even if that were the case it would, of course, have no bearing on the truth of religious beliefs."
"Buddhist vigilantes in western Myanmar attacked a passenger bus and killed nine Muslims, police said on Monday, the deadliest communal violence in the tense region since a reformist government took power a year ago."
"Raised Roman Catholic, Lady Gaga now makes plenty of spiritual statements in her lyrics, at her concerts and in public appearances. While she certainly espouses her own brand of religion, the strength of her spiritual sway comes not from her originality as much from her ability to give voice to the rising chorus of Millennial spirituality."
"The growth rate of Christians in Nepal has been rising sharply after Nepal became a republic and a secular state. There are unverified reports that in the recently conducted population census, the number of Christians is between 1.5 and 2 million which is more than 5% of the total population."
"The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon to which lip service is still paid in the Western world. Yet when the Bible is talked about in public by both believers and critics, it becomes clear that misconceptions abound…To me, three misconceptions stand out and serve to make the Bible hard to comprehend.”
"Rajiv Satyal, who is Hindu, will tour India with an Indian-American Muslim and one other performer on a Jan. 4-17 trip organized by the U.S. State Department. Their comedy show "Make Chai Not War" will include messages of diversity and religious harmony, with a measure of diplomacy."
"I came to realize that what they were experiencing was something I had access to every day, if I chose to. I saw very clearly how we were all pearls on the same thread of God’s mercy. I returned to my own community and practice with a sense of renewal that has stayed with me ever since."
"The message from Confucius on this season of love and giving is that which we can all strive for, the goal of the Noble Person. After all, even the Grinch and Scrooge come to recognize the goals of love and giving, transforming themselves toward the teaching of jen, goodness and humaneness, for all!”
"A journalist friend of mine emailed me at 1 am Friday morning to tell me that Christopher Hitchens had died…No doubt you are now finally resting in peace Christopher given that, wherever you are, you finally have the answer to that great question of G-d’s existence you always debated.”
“A Masorti (Conservative) rabbi has quit the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies inJerusalem in acrimony over the exclusion of openly gay students from its rabbinical studies program, The Jerusalem Post learned on Thursday.”
"Many thoughtful people feel a need to almost apologize or assume a somewhat ironic pose when warning of material excess, especially at Christmas time. This is not just understandable. It’s refreshing, given how the discussion of consumerism seems to perennially devolve into handwringing and dour pontification. The headmaster and the grad students realize that people are tuning out the crankier critiques of consumerism. And that’s partly because people are consumers, although that’s not all they are. Most of us hunt for values, in both the retail and moral senses of that word.”
Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment, translated as bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali. Bodhi Day is celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month. In 2011, Bodhi day is observed on Thursday, Dec. 8.
"A recent New York Times article profiled African Americans who don’t believe in God or who have eschewed the faith that many assume is central to the black experience. What does the apparent rise in atheism and agnosticism (pdf) among blacks tell us about the utility of religion for African Americans in today’s social and political climate?”
"And it would be a waste not to take advantage of what academic study of the Bible reveals about life, about the world and about God. For the Bible, the existence of the divine is not a question. But the Bible does pose questions about this existence: If God is all-powerful and benevolent, why is there evil in the world? If God is just, why do the wicked prosper? What is the relationship between divine omniscience and free will? Where is God in the presence of suffering? These are not questions designed to challenge belief in God; rather, they challenge whatever our beliefs might be. The very fact that the Bible raises these questions is an invitation to those who read the text to do the same."
"The Bible does not claim a unified, monolithic portrait of creation. Its descriptions vary from text to text, as do its literary styles. It expresses how the material and human world came into existence, but its real message is not those external details but its insights into the nature of divinity, humanity, and the world."
"When it comes to religion, the South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are equal-opportunities offenders, and it’s an approach that has made them heroes to many atheists in age of heightened sensitivity around matters of faith.”
"The Russian, Mexican, African, Arab, Israeli, American, European and Australian all found a commonality in their diversity: a belief that we are all bound together by our oneness. This ideal, I thought, would certainly be one way to start doing away with prejudice among nations."
"(Paganism) is one of the fastest growing religions in the world," says Michael York, a retired religious scholar from Bath Spa University in the UK. "True numbers are impossible to come by because many people are wary to admit they are pagan, and reliable statistics just don’t exist."
"You might assume that all of this zombie Jesus talk exists on the level of simplistic parody, barbs hurled at Christianity by its less-than-cultured despisers. You would be wrong. Zombie Jesus has provoked some serious spiritual and existential reflection. John Morehead’s blog Theofantastique has looked at Zombie Jesus as an image of spiritual reflection and even suggested that evangelical Christianity might learn a thing or two from the imagery. Matt Cardin has connected the zombie to Thomas Ligotti’s reflections on the ironic horrors of the human condition.”
"The fact is that the Western idea of religion did not reach Asia until very recently. When it did, the concept was so foreign that many Asian languages had to invent a new word for it (specifically for making diplomatic treaties with the Western powers who insisted on a clause protecting "religious freedom"). This puts Asia’s own traditions into a strange bind. Even now, we face the problem in deciding just what to call the ideas of Confucius or the Buddha. Calling them "religions" clearly doesn’t work, because Asian traditions look and behave so differently from what we know in the West."