America’s Changing Religious Landscape: The Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life has published the results of a new study of the religious affiliations of Americans, and finds a precipitous drop in the share of Christians since the last such study in 2007, along with a massive increase in the share of "nones" (which includes atheists, agnostics, and believers with no religious affiliation) and a small increase in the share of non-Christian faiths. Highlights below the fold. [more inside]
The Rohingya have lived in Burma for generations, as a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country. The government does not recognize them as citizens. Burmese Buddhists have referred to them as "illegal Bengalis", "viruses", and terrorists. In 2012, over 100,000 Rohingya were forced out of their homes during a violent conflict with Buddhists of the Rakhine ethnic group. The displaced Rohingya now live in refugee camps that they're not allowed to leave. With insufficient food provided, refugees resort to scavenging for grass and plants to survive. [more inside]
Dare 2 Share Ministries offers profiles and tips on how to "share your faith" with fourteen different types of friends a teen Christian might have, such as Andy the Atheist, Marty the Mormon, Jenna the Jew, Sid the Satanist, Mo the Muslim and Willow the Wiccan. If none of those strategies work, they also offer articles on how to "use the buzz in current teen culture to initiate God-talk with your friends" by "sharing your faith" through Indiana Jones, Halo 3, Brokeback Mountain, Kung Fu Panda and The X Files.
This week NPR featured a five part series of stories entitled, "New Believers: A religious revolution in China" that explores the growth and status of religion in China today. [more inside]
The Dalai Lama blames the financial crisis on a decline in spirituality. Hindus blame it on greed. Saudi Grand Mufti, Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, blames the crisis on ignoring God's rules. Jewish scholars say we could have avoided a crisis by following Talmudic traditions. Pope Benedict sees the global financial system as "self-centred, short-sighted and lacking in concern for the destitute." Is it right to pray for the economy? (a Christian perspective). A Malaysian conference brings together Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, and Sikhs to discuss the crisis.
"Killing the Buddha is about finding a way to be religious when we're all so self-conscious and self-absorbed. Knowing more than ever about ourselves and the way the world works, we gain nothing through nostalgia for a time when belief was simple, and even less from insisting that now is such a time. Killing the Buddha will ask, How can we be religious without leaving part of ourselves at the church or temple door? How can we love God when we know it doesn't matter if we do? Call it God for the godless. Call it the search for a God we can believe in: A God that will not be an embarrassment in twelve-thousand years. A God we can talk about without qualifications." I particularly enjoyed The Temptation of Belief, by a Buddhist exploring evangelical Christianity, and My Holy Ghost People, by an unbelieving daughter in a praying-in-tongues family.
Reliquaries are containers built to hold objects of special religious significance, such as the foot of a saint, or the skull of a king. The art of European reliquary making reached it's zenith in the Middle Ages when craftsman created fantastic objets d'art for cathedrals and monasteries in the form of caskets, bodily appendages, and freestanding holders built to visually display occasionally gruesome bits of the venerated individual. The layperson had access to reliquaries as well, typically in the form of small lead crosses worn around the neck, containing pieces of bone or one of the ubiquitous fragments of the True Cross. Reliquaries are not unique to the Christianity, but can also be found in Buddhist and Islamic tradition.
All of the talk about Islam, got me thinking about how religions move evolve/devolve and move even more and even sometimes go away. Sure, we’ve all heard of Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism but how many recall this one? Speaking of which, aren’t we due for another Big Ole Religion? What’s the next big God thing in your opinion?
Understanding Fundamentalism An anthropology professor explores the common threads of fundamentalism ranging from Native American revivalism, Christian fundamentalism, the Islamic Movement, Jewish Orthodoxy and Shinto and how they give rise to vigilante groups such as Operation Rescue, American militias, Hamas and Gush Emunim.