31 July 2010

Catholic Social Teaching Documents

Catholic Social Teaching Documents (Office for Social Justice, Saint Paul and Minneapolis)

Modern Catholic social teaching is the body of social principles and moral teaching that is articulated in the papal, conciliar, and other official documents issued since the late nineteenth century and dealing with the economic, political, and social order. This teaching is rooted in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as well as in traditional philosophical and theological teachings of the Church. The following list includes not only the encyclical and conciliar documents that are typically considered to be the core texts, but also some key teaching documents issued by national bishops conferences and Vatican congregations, documents which contribute to the ongoing development of Catholic social teaching.
Link: Catholic Social Teaching Documents

28 July 2010

"Something's Going On": The Future Denominational Church

Bruce Reyes-Chow, pastor of Mission Bay Community Church and outgoing Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) shares his thoughts on the future of mainline denominational churches.

"Something's Going On:" The Future Denominational Church, by Deborah Arca Mooney (Patheos.com)

Reyes-Chow has become one of the leading voices of postmodern culture and its impact on the Christian church. As part of our series on the Future of Mainline Protestantism at Patheos, we talked with Bruce recently about some of his Moderator "gleanings," the challenges and opportunities facing the PC(USA) and denominations generally, and the future of the mainline church.
Link: "Something's Going On:" The Future Denominational Church

See also Bruce Reyes-Chow's Blog.

Deep unity lurks in Confucian embrace

One commentator's perspective on Guy Alitto's Has Man a Future? Dialogues with the Last Confucian (Foreign Language Teaching Research Press, 2010) and its implications of the resurgence of Confucian moral-ethical thought in China:

Deep unity lurks in Confucian embrace, by Francesco Sisci (Asia Times)

Liang Shuming, who died in 1988, insisted that Western distinctions didn't make sense, and Guy Alitto, an American, used his Western sensibility to bring up this issue for ears in both the East and West that had grown deaf to this old knowledge. Thirty years after being written in Chinese, the conversations between Liang, the old man from the Yellow River basin, and Alitto, the young man from Southern Italy via the US, have just been published in English (Guy Alitto, Has Man a Future? Dialogues with the Last Confucian, Foreign Language Teaching Research Press, 2010).
Link: Deep unity lurks in Confucian embrace

27 July 2010

Is your iPhone or Pad poisoning Chinese children?

Question: what is the ethics or morality of buying and using an extremely popular, must-have product that is produced under questionable circumstances that cause harm to others?

Is your iPhone or Pad poisoning Chinese children? (SFGate.com, 1 July 2010)

When you buy the iPhone 4, you're buying not just from Apple but from the Taiwanese company Foxconn, at whose mainland China factories the phones (and pods and pads) are made. The company's labor practices are dubious at best, and now Chinese environmental groups are questioning whether it also violates China's lax environmental laws.
Link: Is your iPhone or Pad poisoning Chinese children?

Guilty Pleasures: Religion and Sex Among American University Students

Roger Friedland, Guilty Pleasures: Religion and Sex Among American University Students (Huffington Post, 20 July 2010)

In 2008 and 2009 we asked close to a thousand students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to tell us about their sex lives. In this anonymous web-based survey we also asked them to which religious denomination they belonged. Almost everybody who claims to belong to a religion also believes in God. A lot of students -- just shy of a third -- don't identify with any religion. But just because somebody doesn't belong does not mean they don't believe. About a quarter of those unaffiliated nonetheless believe in God. Most commonly, they believe in a higher, ordering power or cosmic force, but not God, not the big Who. True atheists are a tiny minority in the sample -- about eight percent. With all these God-believers, it is striking that most students -- nearly 60 percent -- don't think sexual intercourse before marriage is wrong, at all.
Link: Guilty Pleasures: Religion and Sex Among American University Students

26 July 2010

Adventures in Very Recent Evolution (New York Times)

A very interesting article on human evolution that would surely add to the evolution-creationism debate: Adventures in Very Recent Evolution (New York Times, 19 July 2010)


East Asians have several genetic variants that are rare or absent in Europeans and Africans. Their hair has a thicker shaft. A version of a gene called EDAR is a major determinant of thicker hair, which may have evolved as protection against cold, say a team of geneticists led by Ryosuke Kimura of Tokai University School of Medicine in Japan. Most East Asians also have a special form of a gene known as ABCC11, which makes the cells of the ear produce dry earwax. Most Africans and Europeans, on the other hand, possess the ancestral form of the gene, which makes wet earwax. It is hard to see why dry earwax would confer a big survival advantage, so the Asian version of the gene may have been selected for some other property, like making people sweat less, says a team led by Koh-ichiro Yoshiura of Nagasaki University.

Beijing Finds Common Cause With Chinese Buddhists (NPR)

From NPR's All Things Considered: Beijing Finds Common Cause With Chinese Buddhists (22 July 2010)


Academics such as Laliberte believe Beijing is also supporting Buddhism for another reason: to counterbalance the explosion of Christianity in China."I have reason to believe the Chinese government might be encouraging Buddhist institutions, simply because they're worried about the rapid spread of Christianity and Protestantism in particular," he says. The government can't prevent demand for spiritual succor, Laliberte says, but adds: "They can try to channel it and Buddhism is a good candidate. The infrastructure is there and Buddhist monks are willing to accept that role."China's communist leaders are mobilizing all resources — including Buddhists — to build a "harmonious society," their latest watchword. ...

China's Leaders Harness Folk Religion For Their Aims (NPR)

From NPR's All Things Considered: China's Leaders Harness Folk Religion For Their Aims

In China, folk religion has undergone a remarkable rebirth since the days of the Cultural Revolution four decades ago, when all religious worship was banned. One example of a folk goddess that has gained an enormous following is Mazu, a sea deity believed to protect sailors and fishermen. Though she started as a local folk goddess, she has entered the Daoist and Buddhist pantheon, and is also known as Tianhou or Tinhau in Hong Kong. Scholars say she has an estimated 160 million followers and 4,000 temples devoted solely to her in China. The explosion of interest in this folk god reflects the results of a 2006 survey in China, which found that two-thirds of those who described themselves as religious were Buddhists, Daoists or worshippers of folk gods.
Link: China's Leaders Harness Folk Religion For Their Aims

China's Divided Catholics Seek Reconciliation (NPR)

From NPR's All Things Considered: China's Divided Catholics Seek Reconciliation (20 July 2010)


For decades, China's Catholics — estimated at more than 12 million — have been bitterly divided. Some worship in China's government-sanctioned Catholic churches, others in "underground" churches loyal to the Vatican. But three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Chinese Catholics — the first from a pope in more than a half-century — urging reconciliation. Yet China's Catholics have struggled to follow these instructions.

Resources for Comparative Theology

Useful resources for Comparative Theology:

25 July 2010

James Cone on Interreligious Dialogue

James H. Cone, “Black Theology and Solidarity” in Lorine M. Getz and Ruy O. Costa, eds. Struggles for Solidarity: Liberation Theologies in Tension, Minneapolis, M.N.: Fortress Press, 1992, at p. 47:
Although I am a Christian theologian, I contend that a just social order must be accountable to not one but many religious communities. If we are going to create a society that is responsive to the humanity of all, then we must not view one religious faith as absolute. Ultimate reality, to which all things are subject, is too mysterious to be exclusively limited to one people’s view of God. Any creation of a just social order must take into account that God has been known and experienced in many different ways. Because we have an imperfect grasp of divine reality, we must not regard our limited vision as absolute. Solidarity among all human communities is antithetical to religious exclusivism. God’s truth comes in many colors and is revealed in many cultures, histories, and unexpected places.
Cited in: Black Theology & Interreligious Dialogue

The Buddha: A Film by David Grubin

From PBS.org, a new documentary on Buddha Sakyamuni:

The Buddha: A Film By David Grubin

This documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.
Link: The Buddha: A Film By David Grubin

Transmodernity, border thinking, and global coloniality (Grosfoguel)

A helpful essay on postcolonial thought that is useful in any discussion of postcolonial religion:

Rámon Grosfoguel, Transmodernity, border thinking, and global coloniality: Decolonizing political economy and postcolonial studies (Eurozine)

Can we produce a radical anti-capitalist politics beyond identity politics? Is it possible to articulate a critical cosmopolitanism beyond nationalism and colonialism? Can we produce knowledges beyond Third World and Eurocentric fundamentalisms? Can we overcome the traditional dichotomy between political-economy and cultural studies? Can we move beyond economic reductionism and culturalism? How can we overcome Eurocentric modernity without throwing away the best of modernity as many Third World fundamentalists do? In this paper, I propose that an epistemic perspective from the subaltern side of the colonial difference has a lot to contribute to this debate. It can contribute to a critical perspective beyond the outlined dichotomies and to a redefinition of capitalism as a world-system.

Singing with the Faithful of Every Time and Place

An interesting essay on liturgical music from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music:

C. Michael Hawn, Singing with the Faithful of Every Time and Place: Thoughts on Liturgical Inculturation and Cross-Cultural Liturgy

The United Methodist bishop Joel Martínez noted at a conference in 1996 that "each generation must add its stanza to the great hymn of the church." I have found this a viable metaphor for understanding the range of congregational song available to us today. If we think of all Christian congregational song as comprising a grand hymn of the church throughout the ages, two thoughts come to mind immediately: (1) when singing a hymn, one does not begin on the final stanza but usually sings all of the stanzas, and furthermore, one does not usually stop on stanza three of a four- or five-stanza hymn; (2) the second point that this metaphor raises is a question: What does the stanza being shaped by Christians in this generation look and sound like? Looking at worship in general and congregational singing specifically through the lens of culture may open up some insight into this question.

Secularism and Secularity: Contemporary International Perspectives

Unsure about the definitions and fine distinctions between "secular," "secularism," "secularity," and "secularization"?

You might be interested in Secularism and Secularity: Contemporary International Perspectives, eds. Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar. Hosted on Scribd.com, this downloadable e-book is a collection of essays that highlight the ongoing debates on the ambit and implications of these concepts.

Link: Secularism and Secularity: Contemporary International Perspectives

24 July 2010

Female Imams in China (NPR)

From NPR's All Things Considered (21 July 2010): Female Imams Blaze Trail Amid China's Muslims

"China has an estimated 21 million Muslims, who have developed their own set of Islamic practices with Chinese characteristics. The biggest difference is the development of independent women's mosques with female imams, something scholars who have researched the issue say is unique to China."
Link: Female Imams Blaze Trail Amid China's Muslims