29 October 2011

Averroes (BBC Podcast)

Averroes (Ibn-Rushd) (BBC Podcast [45 minutes])

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the philosopher Averroes who worked to reconcile the theology of Islam with the rationality of Aristotle achieving fame and infamy in equal measure In The Divine Comedy Dante subjected all the sinners in Christendom to a series of grisly punishments, from being buried alive to being frozen in ice. The deeper you go the more brutal and bizarre the punishments get, but the uppermost level of Hell is populated not with the mildest of Christian sinners, but with non-Christian writers and philosophers. It was the highest compliment Dante could pay to pagan thinkers in a Christian cosmos and in Canto Four he names them all. Aristotle is there with Socrates and Plato, Galen, Zeno and Seneca, but Dante ends the list with neither a Greek nor a Roman but 'with him who made that commentary vast, Averroes'.

Averroes was a 12th century Islamic scholar who devoted his life to defending philosophy against the precepts of faith. He was feted by Caliphs but also had his books burnt and suffered exile. Averroes is an intellectual titan, both in his own right and as a transmitter of ideas between ancient Greece and Modern Europe. His commentary on Aristotle was so influential that St Thomas Aquinas referred to him with profound respect as 'The Commentator'.
Link: Averroes (Ibn-Rushd) (BBC Podcast [45 minutes])

Islamic Philosophy Online

Islamic Philosophy Online

Welcome to the premier Islamic philosophy resource on the Web. We are dedicated to the study of the philosophical output of the Muslim world. Islamic philosophy is also sometimes referred to as Arabic philosophy or Muslim philosophy. This site contains hundreds of full-length books and articles on Islamic philosophy, ranging from the classical texts in the canon of Islamic philosophy to modern works of Muslim philosophy.
Link: Islamic Philosophy Online

27 October 2011

Baptism brings together Muslims and Christians in Drenka celebrations

Baptism brings together Muslims and Christians in Drenka celebrations, by Essam Fadle (Daily New Egypt, 1 September 2008)

Last month, 49-year-old Om Khaled was on her way to the Virgin Mary Monastery in Drenka, Assiut to baptize her three-month-old son. The Muslim woman, following an age-old tradition in her hometown, was fulfilling a vow to God (nadr) to baptize her son according to Christian rituals if she were to ever get pregnant.

During the monastery celebrations, held every year from Aug. 7 to 21, Muslims making similar vows flock to the monastery, where the Holy Family is believed to have taken refuge during their visit to Egypt. According to Father Yacoub Suleiman, spokesman of the Virgin Mary Monastery, about 40 Muslims seeking to baptize their newborns arrive every day. The number reaches 100 during the last three days of celebrations.
Link: Baptism brings together Muslims and Christians in Drenka celebrations

All about the Hajj

25 October 2011

Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority

Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority (issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)

Primary Text: Unofficial Preliminary English Translation

News Reports/Summaries:

Survey highlights struggles of young Hispanic Catholics

Survey highlights struggles of young Hispanic Catholics (National Catholic Report, 24 October 2011)

Currently, Hispanics make up 45 percent of the millennial generation of U.S. Catholics. Within the next generation, it is likely that Hispanics may become the majority among American Catholics. We begin this essay with a description of the demographics that distinguish this youngest generation of adult Catholics.

Hispanic millennials differ from non-Hispanic millennial Catholics in important ways: Only a minority of Hispanic millennials (39 percent) have never been married, while among non-Hispanics a majority (62 percent) have not been married; twice as many Hispanics (27 percent) as non-Hispanics (12 percent) are living with a partner. Nowhere is the gap between the Hispanic millennials and the descendents of the great waves from Europe more evident than in years of school completed. Twenty-nine percent of the Hispanic millennials but only 3 percent of non-Hispanics have not completed high school; 9 percent of Hispanics but 35 percent of non-Hispanics have a college degree or more.
Link: Survey highlights struggles of young Hispanic Catholics

Jesus at Occupy Wall Street: ‘I feel like I’ve been here before’

Jesus at Occupy Wall Street: ‘I feel like I’ve been here before’ by Lisa Miller (Washington Post On Faith Section, 20 October 2011)

What would Jesus think of the occupiers, who have been derided by their opponents as a ragtag group of tax evaders, interested only in sex, drugs and rock and roll? In the flesh, their unsavory appearance can make the heart of even the most convicted lefty hesitate before embracing their cause.

The Jesus of history would love them all. What Jesus really said, and what he meant, are the subjects of culture’s greatest controversies, but one thing is sure. Jesus gave preferential treatment to society’s outcasts. Lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes — all would attain heaven before the ordained elites. Jesus believed that God was about to right the world’s wrongs with a great upheaval — soon — and at that time, a radical reversal of the social order would occur. As he says in the gospels, the meek will inherit the earth.

Jesus would have sympathy, too, with the occupiers’ first complaint: that in America, the poorest have too little and the richest too much. In first-century Judea, a powerful ruling class held nearly all the wealth and most people lived at subsistence levels.
Link: Jesus at Occupy Wall Street: ‘I feel like I’ve been here before’

Battling for Gay Rights in Allah's Name

Battling for Gay Rights in Allah's Name by Kari Huus (MSNBC)

Like other aspiring reformers before her, Ani Zonneveld takes positions that make her unpopular with her religion's spiritual leaders, in this case America's Islamic elders. Not only does she lead prayers — a task normally reserved for men — but she is an outspoken advocate for gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims. Later this year, she plans to officiate at the Islamic wedding of a lesbian couple, which is perfectly acceptable by her reading of the Quran.

“The community we are building is very different from most of the mosques you would walk into,” said Zonneveld, a 49-year-old Malaysian-born singer-songwriter. “We are very inclusive of all Muslims, gay Muslims, mixed-faith couples. … We also don’t segregate (the genders) when we pray, and we allow women to lead prayer. Our values are very egalitarian and we really live those values out.”

Muslims for Progressive Values, which Zonneveld co-founded in 2007 with Pamela Taylor, a feminist American Muslim, is based on 10 principles. They include a commitment to equality of genders and for LGBTQ (or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) people, repudiation of militarism and violence and the need for “critical engagement with Islamic scripture.”
Link: Battling for Gay Rights in Allah's Name

The Jewish District in Medieval Vienna (German narration)

The Jewish district in medieval Vienna (Vimeo video with German narration)

In the Middle Ages Vienna was home to a thriving Jewish community, one of the largest and most important in Europe. Famous Rabbis taught and worked here and made Vienna into a center of Jewish knowledge. This lively and creative environment was forced to an abrupt end in 1420-21 with the expulsion and murder of the Viennese Jews. This virtual tour allows us to walk through the Vienna of the 14th Century and showcases the Jewish festivals and customs of that time, helping us understand how the life of this medieval Jewish community was organized.
Link: The Jewish district in medieval Vienna

23 October 2011

Anglicans and Old Catholics

On Anglicans and Old Catholics:
  • Part 1: The Origins of Old Catholicism
    This year is the 80th anniversary of the agreement between Anglicans and Old Catholics, best known as the ‘Bonn Agreement’. Originally, the relations between the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht were called an intercommunion, but since 1961 the term ‘full communion’ is being used. The anniversary that falls this year is a good opportunity to pay some attention again to Old Catholicism and its special bond with Anglicanism on our blog. The establishment of the Old Catholic churches – we wrote about it last year here - is usually being related to the aftermath of the First Vatican Council. The Old Catholic were those Catholics that refused to accept the doctrine of Papal Infallibility and the Universal Jurisdiction. One has to remember, however, that the origins of Old Catholicism lay much earlier. We shouldn’t forget, above all, that every church which really deserves to be called by that name has its roots in the church of the first centuries. For both Old Catholics and Anglicans this is especially important. The former bishop of Old Catholics in Germany, Joachim Vobbe, said once that “it applies to every church that it begun on the day of Pentecost”.

  • Part 2: There is no way towards unity, unity is a way
    Swiss Old Catholic theologian, Urs Küry (1901-1976), wrote: “if we want to determine more precisely the attitude of the Old Catholic Church to the Anglican Communion, we have to start with the agreement concluded in Bonn in 1931″. Since we are writing this post on its 80th anniversary, such attitude would seem logical, but, like in the case of the history of Old Catholicism, we would like to reach deeper into the problem. As we mentioned, the Dutch Roman Catholic Church of the Old Episcopal Order (which was the official name of the “Jansenistic” church in the Netherlands) perceived Anglicans as Protestants, and, likewise, Anglicans saw their sister church rather in the Dutch Reformed Church, even though the doctrine of that church resembled in so many points Puritan teachings. Significant is what happened in Utrecht during World War II, which was a decade (!) after the conclusion of the Bonn Agreement. When the Nazis interned priest-in-charge, the local Anglican Congregation asked the Reformed Church for pastoral care, even though there were then three Old Catholic parishes in Utrecht, including the cathedral parish.

Islam in China

Islam in China: A Website on All Things Chinese, Muslim and Islamic

Islam in China is a website on all things at the intersection Chinese, Islamic, Muslim and everything in between. The aim of this website is to explore the culture, history and traditions of Chinese Muslims regardless of their ethnic background.
Link: Islam in China: A Website on All Things Chinese, Muslim and Islamic

12 October 2011

Saudis Listen to Call for Green Hajj

Saudis Listen to Call for Green Hajj, by Joseph Mayton (Green Prophet, 20 June 2010)

For far too long, Osman explains, “we have believed that no matter what happens the world will always be there as if it is permanent like God, but the reality is that we are destroying it and if we don’t take action soon, it will be gone. Or at least we will be.” What better place to begin educating and imprinting a sense of environmentalism than a place where three million Muslims visit each year to carry out one of the five pillars, or obligations, of Islam?
Link: Saudis Listen to Call for Green Hajj

Occupy Wall Street protesters have a sukkah

Occupy Wall Street protesters have a sukkah (JTA, 12 October 2011)

A sukkah was erected in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. The sukkah, which was built Wednesday at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, was sponsored by Occupy Judaism NYC, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Kolot Chayeinu and CBST.
Link: Occupy Wall Street protesters have a sukkah


Anarca-Islam, by Mohamed Jean Veneuse (Anarchist Library)

NB: A thesis submitted to the Department of Sociology. Queen’s University Kingston, Ontario, Canada (August, 2009)

As an anarchist and a Muslim, I have witnessed troubled times as a result of extreme divisions that exist between these two identities and communities. To minimize these divisions, I argue for an anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian Islam, an ‘anarca-Islam’, that disrupts two commonly held beliefs: one, that Islam is necessarily authoritarian and capitalist; two, that anarchism is necessarily anti-religious. From this position I offer ‘anarca-Islam’ which I believe can help open-minded (non-essentialist/non-dogmatic) Muslims and anarchists to better understand each other, and therefore to more effectively collaborate in the context of what Richard JF Day has called the ’newest’ social movements.
Link: Anarca-Islam

Study: Teens leave churches seen as judgmental

Study: Teens leave churches seen as judgmental, by Adelle M. Banks (USA Today News, 7 October 2011) [RNS]

New research by the Barna Group finds they view churches as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly towards doubters. They also consider congregations antagonistic to science and say their Christian experience has been shallow.

The findings, the result of a five-year study, are featured in You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith, a new book by Barna president David Kinnaman. The project included a study of 1,296 young adults who were current or former churchgoers.

Researchers found that almost three out of five young Christians (59 percent) leave church life either permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15. One in four 18- to 29-year-olds said "Christians demonize everything outside of the church." One in three said "Church is boring."
Link: Study: Teens leave churches seen as judgmental

Eruv Tavshilin

Eruv Tavshilin (Chabad.org)

It is forbidden on a holiday to do any act in preparation for the following day,1 even if the following day is Shabbat. However, the sages created a halachic device, called an eruv tavshilin, which allows one to cook food on a holiday day for use on a Shabbat that immediately follows it.

If a holiday day -- whether the first or second day of a holiday -- falls on a Friday, an eruv tavshilin is set aside on the day preceding the holiday (Wednesday or Thursday afternoon), so that we will be permitted to prepare for Shabbat (cooking as well as any other necessary preparations) on the holiday. Only one eruv is required per household.
Link: Eruv Tavshilin

Cooking Defines Sephardic Jews at Sukkot

Cooking Defines Sephardic Jews at Sukkot, by Julia Moskin (New York Times, 11 October 2006)

LIKE its trees, Brooklyn’s sukkahs sprout in unlikely places. All over the borough, observant Jewish families spent the first week of October building sukkahs, outdoor rooms with open roofs, in preparation for the holiday of Sukkot, which began last Friday and ends this Friday. Perched on asphalt roofs and in concrete gardens, they will eat under the stars for a week to commemorate the Jews’ biblical wanderings in the desert.

For one food-loving community within Brooklyn’s sizable Jewish population, Sukkot has additional significance. “We always cook a lot, but for Sukkot, we do even more,” said Aida Hasson, who grew up in Beirut and is part of Brooklyn’s tight-knit community of Middle Eastern Jews.
Link: Cooking Defines Sephardic Jews at Sukkot

06 October 2011

Steve Jobs' Mantra Rooted in Buddhism: Focus and Simplicity

Steve Jobs' Mantra Rooted in Buddhism: Focus and Simplicity, by Susan Donaldson James (ABC World News, 6 October 2011)

Long before Steve Jobs became the CEO of Apple and one of the most recognizable figures on the planet, he took a unconventional route to find himself -- a spiritual journey that influenced every step of an unconventional career. Jobs, who died Wednesday at the age of 56 of pancreatic cancer, was the biological child of two unmarried academics who only consented to signing the papers if the adoptive parents sent him to college. His adoptive parents sent a young Jobs off to Reed College, an expensive liberal arts school in Oregon, but he dropped out and went to India in 1973 in search of enlightenment.

Jobs and his college friend Daniel Kottke, who later worked for him at Apple, visited Neem Karoli Baba at his Kainchi Ashram. He returned home to California a Buddhist, complete with a shaved head and traditional Indian clothing and a philosophy that may have shaped much of his corporate values.
Link: Steve Jobs' Mantra Rooted in Buddhism: Focus and Simplicity

05 October 2011

An Ethically-Challenged Apple?

An ethically-challenged Apple?
  • Apple admits child labour was used to build iPods and iPhones in Chinese factories (Daily Mail, 27 February 2010)

    Technology giant Apple has admitted that child labour has been employed at some of the factories that build its iPods, computers and mobile phones. An audit found that at least eleven 15-year-old children were found to be working in three factories that supply Apple in the last year. It said that child workers were now no longer being used at the sites, or were no longer underage.

  • Steve Jobs Ignored Poisoned Workers' Plea for Help at Apple Factory, by Ray Downs (The Christian Post, 1 September 2011)

    Two years ago, workers at a factory in Suzhou, China, were poisoned when Taiwanese electronics supplier Wintek, which was working under contract with Apple to make the touchscreens, replaced alcohol with N-hexane in the manufacturing process to speed up production. Prolonged exposure to N-hexane has been known to cause damage to the central nervous system, and when workers affected by the chemical wrote to Jobs, asking him for help in medical treatment and compensation for lost wages, they allegedly never heard back from anybody at Apple, much less Jobs.

  • The Dark Side of Apple: One Man's Monologue of Misery, by Asher Moses (Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2011)

For the past 15 months or so Daisey been touring the world stunning audiences with his two-hour tale of the appalling conditions and underage labour that goes into making our iPhones, iPods and iPads. The show, the Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (review), has been running since Saturday at the Sydney Opera House and is due to conclude on Sunday.

Imperial History of the Middle East

Imperial History of the Middle East

Abstract: 5,000 years of Middle East history and empire building in 90 seconds.

Link: Imperial History of the Middle East

Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals

Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2006)

By all accounts, pentecostalism and related charismatic movements represent one of the fastest-growing segments of global Christianity. According to the World Christian Database, at least a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians are thought to be members of these lively, highly personal faiths, which emphasize such spiritually renewing "gifts of the Holy Spirit" as speaking in tongues, divine healing and prophesying. Even more than other Christians, pentecostals and other renewalists believe that God, acting through the Holy Spirit, continues to play a direct, active role in everyday life. Despite the rapid growth of the renewalist movement in the last few decades, there are few quantitative studies on the religious, political and civic views of individuals involved in these groups.

To address this shortcoming, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, with generous support from the Templeton Foundation, recently conducted surveys in 10 countries with sizeable renewalist populations: the United States; Brazil, Chile and Guatemala in Latin America; Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in Africa; and India, the Philippines and South Korea in Asia. In each country, surveys were conducted among a random sample of the public at large, as well as among oversamples of pentecostals and charismatics.
Link: Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals

02 October 2011

Preachers confront 'last taboo': Condemning greed amid Great Recession

Preachers confront 'last taboo': Condemning greed amid Great Recession, by John Blake (CNN Belief Blog, 1 October 2011)

The Great Recession is more than an economic crisis. It has become a spiritual dilemma for some of the nation’s pastors and their parishioners, religious leaders say. Three years after an implosion of the nation’s financial system helped push the country into its worst economic nosedive since the Great Depression, pastors are still trying to figure out how to address people’s fears from the pulpit.
Link: Preachers confront 'last taboo': Condemning greed amid Great Recession

Cross-Cultural Health Care: Case Studies

Cross-Cultural Health Care: Case Studies

These case studies investigate concepts of culture and their impact on health beliefs, discuss the impact of the patients' social and cultural factors on their ability to access health care, and explore how health care providers can work effectively with patients from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Link: Cross-Cultural Health Care: Case Studies