29 August 2011

Coming Out Twice: Sexuality and Gender in Islam

Coming Out Twice: Sexuality and Gender in Islam: A Conversation with Scott Kugle, by Susan Henking (Religion Dispatches, 24 August 2011)

Excerpts:
As scholar Scott Kugle knows well, to be both Muslim and gay means the possibility of having to “come out twice”—with the likely chance of encountering either homophobia or Islamophobia (or both), depending on the context.

But in recent years, a new discussion of Islam and sexuality has emerged, led in large part by professor Kugle, who teaches South Asian and Islamic Studies at Emory University. Having written many books on Islam, including Homosexuality in Islam: Islamic Reflection on Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Muslims (2010), he is currently working on a collection entitled Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Muslim Activists (forthcoming in 2012, NYU Press).
Link: Coming Out Twice: Sexuality and Gender in Islam: A Conversation with Scott Kugle


28 August 2011

Adapting a Ramadan tradition to the all-American diner

Adapting a Ramadan tradition to the all-American diner, by Raja Abdulrahim (Los Angeles Times, 20 August 2011)

Abstract:
Pre-dawn meals, or suhoor, during Ramadan are typically quiet family affairs, but Muslims who live away from home sometimes organize group outings to all-night diners such as Fred 62 in Los Feliz.
Excerpts:
In a country known for its all-night diners, it may have been just a matter of time before the all-American love for breakfast at any hour became wedded to an important Muslim observance. After all, fasting is just as valid when the pre-dawn meal comes with a side of home fries.

"We definitely are seeing young Muslims celebrate Ramadan in a way that is uniquely American," said Soha Yassine, youth coordinator at the Islamic Center of Southern California.

Large communal dinners are a signature part of Ramadan, a time of prayer and dawn-to-dusk fasting. But the pre-dawn meal known as suhoor is typically intimate, prepared at home and shared among members of a household.

For young Muslims in America — more likely than their counterparts elsewhere to live on their own, often far from relatives — suhoor meals with friends have become a way to replicate the family experience and make it their own.

Two years ago, Yassine and her friends ate suhoor at Denny's so often that she began following the restaurant chain on Twitter to get updates about the changing late-night menu. That year, she met her now-fiance at a suhoor party for Los Angeles natives and transplants at a friend's home.
Link: Adapting a Ramadan tradition to the all-American diner


23 August 2011

"God is Not a Christian": An Interview with R. Kirby Godsey

"God is Not a Christian": An Interview with R. Kirby Godsey. By Timothy Dalrymple, (Patheos.com, 15 August 2011)

Abstract:
R. Kirby Godsey is an accomplished scholar with separate doctorates in philosophy and theology, a university president with an extraordinary record, and no stranger to controversy. When he was president of Mercer University, he published a book that ruffled feathers in Baptist circles and beyond. His new book, Is God a Christian?, claims that "the stakes for mankind have grown too high for any of us to engage our faith as if our understanding of God represents the only way God's presence may be known in the world." It's already provoking heated debate. For our Book Club conversation, Godsey discussed the book with Timothy Dalrymple.
Link: "God is Not a Christian": An Interview with R. Kirby Godsey



Son of Evangelical Royalty Turns His Back, and Tells the Tale

Son of Evangelical Royalty Turns His Back, and Tells the Tale, by Mark Oppenheimer (New York Times, 19 August 2011)

Excerpts:
In every line of work, there are family businesses. But no business is more defined by dynasties and nepotism than evangelical preaching. Lyman Beecher, Bob Jones, Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Robert H. Schuller, Jim Bakker: all had sons who became ministers. It is never easy stepping into Dad’s shoes, of course. But when the family business is religion, it is especially perilous. That is one of the central laments, anyway, of “Sex, Mom, & God,” a new memoir by Frank Schaeffer. To secular Americans, the name Frank Schaeffer means nothing. But to millions of evangelical Christians, the Schaeffer name is royal, and Frank is the reluctant, wayward, traitorous prince. His crime is not financial profligacy, like some pastors’ sons, but turning his back on Christian conservatives.
Link: Son of Evangelical Royalty Turns His Back, and Tells the Tale


Read an Ancient Jewish Scroll

Read an Ancient Jewish Scroll, by Peter Tyson (NOVA, 23 November 2004)

Abstract:
One of the most spectacular finds in Israel’s Cave of Letters, as reported in NOVA’s “Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land,” was a packet of personal documents that belonged to a young Jewish woman named Babatha. Probably born around A.D. 104, Babatha became a woman of means who, by the time of her death around 132, owned valuable properties left to her by her father and her two husbands. In this interactive, have a close look at one of the 35 papyrus scrolls in the Babatha archive—a registration of land dating from the year 127—and get an inkling of what life was like for a well-to-do Jewish woman living under Roman rule in the second century. For more background on Babatha’s extraordinary life, see the article "Babatha's Life and Times" below.
Link: Read an Ancient Jewish Scroll


14 August 2011

Calligraphy Qalam

Calligraphy Qalam

Abstract:
Calligraphy Qalam provides a variety of interactive tools and information to help you learn more about calligraphy in the Arab, Ottoman and Persian traditions.
Link: Calligraphy Qalam


11 August 2011

All-Nighters for a Football Team During Ramadan

All-Nighters for a Football Team During Ramadan, by Jeré Longman (New York Times, 10 August 2011)

Excerpts:
The clock reached midnight as Sunday ticked into Monday, and someone yelled, “It’s go time!” Football season could officially begin. New balls appeared, and players at Fordson High School prepared to do what had long been done in this hometown of Henry Ford: build something with assembly-line precision and reliability.

They were boys like other boys in countless towns, taught that football was important, but not as important as family and faith. Fordson High School’s enrollment is more than 90 percent Muslim, and this week of two-a-day practices coincides with Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, when adherents refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.
Link: All-Nighters for a Football Team During Ramadan


Mixed Messages: Growing Up With Two Religions

Mixed Messages: Growing Up With Two Religions, by Elettra Fiumi and Lea Khayata (Tablet Magazine, 3 August 2011)

Excerpt:
When Samuel Oliver turned 12, he asked his parents why he wouldn’t have either a bar mitzvah or a confirmation. His Jewish mother, whose family includes Holocaust survivors, and his father, who grew up in a religious Christian home, at first brushed off his question. Then they decided it required further investigation.
Link: Mixed Messages: Growing Up With Two Religions

Mixed Messages: Growing Up With Two Religions

White collar workers push Hindu numbers ahead of the pack

White collar workers push Hindu numbers ahead of the pack, by Andrew West (Sydney Morning Herald, 11 August 2011)

Excerpts:
The 2011 census collectors began their work only last night but one result is already clear - the number of Australians who identify as Hindu is likely to have doubled since the last population survey in 2006. High immigration from the Indian subcontinent during the past five years, especially among white collar professionals and university students, has also made Hinduism a more visible faith, especially in parts of western Sydney, where new temples and worship houses are being built.

According to the 2006 census, 148,117 people identified as Hindus, representing a 55 per cent increase on the 2001 figure. Community leaders expect the number will leap to between 270,000 and 300,000. "I think the explanation is very simple if you look at the immigration data,'' the secretary of the Hindu Council of Australia, Sanjeev Bhakri, told the Herald. ''The regular immigrants, mainly professionals meeting a demand in workforce, and also students, are pushing the numbers right up." While some Indian immigrants are Christian, including Catholics from Goa, Mr Bhakri estimates 90 per cent are Hindu.
Link: White collar workers push Hindu numbers ahead of the pack


10 August 2011

When East Met West Under the Buddha’s Gaze

When East Met West Under the Buddha’s Gaze, by Holland Cotter (New York Times, 10 August 2011)

Excerpts:
After what seemed like an endless run of geopolitical roadblocks, “The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara” has finally come, six months late, from Pakistan to Asia Society. Is the show worth all the diplomatic headaches it caused? With its images of bruiser bodhisattvas, polycultural goddesses and occasional flights into stratosphere splendor, it is.

That all but a handful of the 75 sculptures are from museums in Lahore and Karachi is in itself remarkable. Any effort to borrow ancient art from South Asia is fraught, even in the best of times. For an entire show of loans to make the trip, and in a period when Pakistan and the United States are barely on speaking terms, is miraculous. (Without the persistent effort of Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, the exhibition would almost certainly never have happened.) So the show has a cliffhanger back story as an attraction, and some monumental work, like the fantastic relief called “Vision of a Buddha’s Paradise.” (Dated to the fourth century A.D., it’s a kind of flash-mob version of heaven.)
Link: When East Met West Under the Buddha’s Gaze


Ten Notable Apocalypses That (Obviously) Didn’t Happen

Ten Notable Apocalypses That (Obviously) Didn’t Happen, by Mark Strauss (Smithsonian.com, 12 November 2009)

Abstract:
Apocalyptic predictions are nothing new—they have been around for millennia. Here are ten notable predictions that did not occur.
Link: Ten Notable Apocalypses That (Obviously) Didn’t Happen


New Old-Time Religion: Catholicism in Evangelical Clothing

New Old-Time Religion: Catholicism in Evangelical Clothing, by Max Lindenman (Patheos.com, 8 August 2011)

Abstract:
Catholics in America's Bible Belt are learning the lingo of fundamentalism. Will it change fundamental Catholicism?
Link: New Old-Time Religion: Catholicism in Evangelical Clothing


08 August 2011

10 Ways Muslims Can Start A Food Revolution

10 Ways Muslims Can Start A Food Revolution, by Yvonne Maffei (Muslim Voices, 29 March 2010)

Excerpts:
Halal and healthy should be our focus. You don’t have to be a medical expert to notice that among the Muslim community living in the United States, there is a prevalence of high sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and heart attacks, even in young individuals. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of great home cooks or halal restaurants within the Muslim community. Many traditional recipes from immigrant Muslim home countries actually originate in healthy ingredients and cooking methods.
Link: 10 Ways Muslims Can Start A Food Revolution


Buddhist wonks? No, Buddhist Geeks

Buddhist wonks? No, Buddhist Geeks, by Mitchell Landsberg (Los Angeles Times, 8 August 2011)

Abstract:
Vincent Horn, 28, is representative of a new kind of American Buddhist: young, U.S.-born converts who have intertwined their religious practice with a certain 21st century techie sensibility.
Link: Buddhist wonks? No, Buddhist Geeks




04 August 2011

Latino and Latina Religious Landscape, Religion and Spirituality in the Latino and Latina Context, Relational Character

Religion and Spirituality: Latino and Latina Religious Landscape, Religion and Spirituality in the Latino and Latina Context, Relational Character, by Socorro Castañeda-Liles

Excerpts:
The belief that all U.S. Latinos and Latinas are Catholic is a popular misconception. Although the Spanish conquest of the Americas did produce a large Catholic population among Latino and Latina ethnic groups, a diverse and permeable religion and spirituality characterize life among those groups. That permeability is born of an integration (rather than a fragmentation) of beliefs that are then expressed in rituals and customs. In César Chávez and Dolores Huerta's decision to carry the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a banner into the streets during the United Farm Workers (UFW) strike against unjust grape growers in the 1960s, and in the custom of hanging rosaries from rear-view mirrors, we see examples of how religion and spirituality shape the ways in which Latinos and Latinas approach, perceive, and respond to life situations. This does not mean, of course, that all Latinos and Latinas are equally religious or spiritual. Rather, it indicates that Latinos and Latinas creatively weave religion and spirituality into the fabric of their daily lives.

Latino and Latina communities comprise Catholics, Protestants, Espiritistas, Espiritualistas, and Santeros, among other faith traditions, all of them living in a creative interaction with one another. It is not unusual for a Mexican Catholic to attend Mass on Sunday morning and later that same day consult with a Santera or Santero or with an Espiritista about a particular matter. It is not uncommon for a Protestant to possess an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is not out of the ordinary to meet a Puerto Rican Guadalupan (a devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe). Religion and spirituality among U.S. Latinos and Latinas form a colorful tapestry woven from diverse, yet related, cultural and ethnic ways of understanding and coming into a relationship with the sacred. Thus, to suppose that all Mexicans are Catholic, that Protestant Latinos and Latinas do not venerate symbols like Our Lady of Guadalupe, or that all Caribbean Latinos and Latinas practice only Santería or Espiritismo is inaccurate.
Link: Religion and Spirituality: Latino and Latina Religious Landscape, Religion and Spirituality in the Latino and Latina Context, Relational Character


Engaging the Latino Areopagite: How the Church is Engaging Hispanic Peoples in the U.S.


Abstract:
This paper was originally presented on Oct. 6, 2004 at the US Catholic Mission Association Symposium: God's Missionary People: A New way of Being Church (Louisville, KY).
Link: Engaging the Latino Areopagite: How the Church is Engaging Hispanic Peoples in the U.S.


"Clearly this is not a pacifist God we serve"

"Clearly this is not a pacifist God we serve" by Margaret M. Mitchell

Margaret M. Mitchell is Dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School and Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature.

Excerpts:
These words were posted by Joseph Farah on WorldNetDaily.com at 1:00 a.m. on November 26, 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11. The full column, “The Bible and self-defense,” presented a battery of biblical evidence, from Old and New Testaments, for why Christians should “buy firearms as a first step to fighting terrorism.”

This article—by the evangelical Christian editor of WorldNetDaily.com, author of The Tea Party Manifesto: A Vision for an American Rebirth, and famous “Birther,” who has in print aggressively questioned both the American citizenship and the Christian identity of President Barack Obama—was quoted in full by Anders Behring Breivik in his compendium, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” published online hours before the Oslo attacks on July 22. Copying over 85 percent of the column verbatim (which he credits on p. 1334, not by author but by URL), Breivik makes a few telling changes to this source, which he treats as authoritative guidance from the American evangelical on the correct Christian view of arms and self-defense.

While Breivik accepts Farah’s biblically-based arguments about God’s endorsement of armament (though deeming them in need of further amplification via “Battle Verses of the Bible,” from another American evangelical biblical interpreter, Michael Bradley of Bible-Knowledge.com, of St. Charles, MO), he corrects the antiquated English diction of the KJV on the one hand (in 1 Sam 25:13 and Neh 4:18, carefully replacing it with the NASB translation), and updates the context from 9/11 America to the war of “cultural conservative Europeans” against “the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites and the ongoing Islamic invasion through Islamic demographic warfare against Europe.”
Link: "Clearly this is not a pacifist God we serve"


Hispanic Latino/a Peoples, Cultures, Religiosity

Hispanic Latino/a Peoples, Cultures, Religiosity

Abstract:
This site, which is the project of Martín de Jesús Martínez at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, compiles links to online resources on Hispanic Latino/a Peoples, Cultures and Religiosity.
Link: Hispanic Latino/a Peoples, Cultures, Religiosity


01 August 2011

'Christian terrorist'? Norway case strikes debate

'Christian terrorist'? Norway case strikes debate, by Jesse Washington (Associated Press, 31 July 2011)

Excerpts:
When the "enemy" is different, an outsider, it's easier to draw quick conclusions, to develop stereotypes. It's simply human nature: There is "us," and there is "them." But what happens when the enemy looks like us — from the same tradition and belief system?

That is the conundrum in the case of Norway and Anders Behring Brevik, who is being called a "Christian extremist" or "Christian terrorist."

As westerners wrestle with such characterizations of the Oslo mass murder suspect, the question arises: Nearly a decade after 9/11 created a widespread suspicion of Muslims based on the actions of a fanatical few, is this what it's like to walk a mile in the shoes of stereotype?

"Absolutely," said Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. "It clearly puts us in a position where we can't simply say that extreme and violent behavior associated with a religious belief is somehow restricted to Muslim extremists."

"It speaks to cultural assumptions, how we are able to understand something when it (comes from) us," Tyler said. "When one of us does something terrible, we know that's not how we all think, yet we can't see that with other people."
Link: 'Christian terrorist'? Norway case strikes debate


Iranian Blinded by Acid Pardons Her Attacker

Iranian Blinded by Acid Pardons Her Attacker, by Nasser Karimi (Associated Press, 31 July 2011)

Excerpts:

An Iranian woman blinded and disfigured by a man who threw acid into her face stood above her attacker Sunday in a hospital operating room as a doctor was about to put several drops of acid in one of his eyes in court-ordered retribution.

The man waited on his knees and wept.

"What do you want to do now?" the doctor asked the 34-year-old woman, whose own face was severely disfigured in the 2004 attack.

"I forgave him, I forgave him," she responded, asking the doctor to spare him at the last minute in a dramatic scene broadcast on Iran's state television.

Ameneh Bahrami lost her sight and suffered horrific burns to her face, scalp and body in the attack, carried out by a man who was angered that she refused his marriage proposal.
Link: Iranian Blinded by Acid Pardons Her Attacker


Extremists Lure Young Minds

Extremists Lure Young Minds, by Justin Norrie (The Sun-Herald, 31 July 2011, p. 18)

Excerpts:
MANY Turkish-Australians were stunned to hear that one of their own was allegedly involved in an attack on a Muslim convert. Tolga Cifci, 20, was one of three men charged this month over the attack on Christian Martinez, who was allegedly lashed 40 times with an electric cable as a religious punishment under sharia for drinking alcohol. The Sun-Herald understands that Mr Cifci's father, a successful local businessman, became concerned last year when his son fell under the influence of hardliners who had recently arrived in the area.
Link: Extremists Lure Young Minds