World WReligion Wednesday: Learning Peaceful Prayer from Buddhists

Buddhists are often marked by their peace or, at least, serenity. Moreover, they typically enjoy meditative lives. It seems many Christians have forgotten the joys and powers of meditation. In that vein, I appreciate this article about how Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, (who I once met at the House of Lords in London), has learned from Buddhism.

If you want to lean into the peaceful practices of increased awareness of God’s presence, I recommend “Practicing His Presence” by Brother Lawrence. There’s also the kids’ version, which I haven’t read.

Blessings of increased peace to you today.

 

“I have abandoned all particular forms of devotion, all prayer techniques.
My only prayer practice is attention.
I carry on a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God that fills me with overwhelming joy.”
– Brother Lawrence

 

 

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World WReligion Wednesday: Is this guru dead or meditating?

This might simply seem bizarre, but it could also be good food for thought in considering what it means to be dead or alive. Still, it’s a quite curious happening.

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Middle East Monday: “Our gift to the Middle East.”

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There comes a point when the media’s approach to reporting is slander.

The dictionary defines “slander” as “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.”

I would add “or a nation’s reputation.”

When giving information turns negative, pessimistic, condemning, unkind, insensitive, and fatalistic – when it broadcasts a sense of hopelessness about a people or nation, it is often slander. No one and no nation is without hope. Moreover, fueling vacuous theories, objectifying people on the altar of “news,” and staring heartlessly at the suffering of others, strips life and truth from the borders of souls. It wears on you, and on the listener, and greater than all that, IT WEARS ON THE SOUL OF THE NATION AND ITS PEOPLE.

This is unjust, unkind, and unacceptable. We assert our own priorities of knowing statistics above the day-to-day wellbeing and even LIFE of humans around the world. We could easily invest our efforts elsewhere. We could think together about solutions, real solutions. We could speak well of those people, highlight their strengths, celebrate their successes. We could look with love.

How would you feel if it seemed like the entire world had condemned your nation to a future of war, death, and misery? How would you feel if every night on the news there was another report about one of your personal failings?

~~ Today, Sam really blew it on his latest deal at the office. This creates a 7/10 failure likelihood for Sam. Will he ever get it together? (More at 10pm) ~~

Imagine you are Sam.

Well, we do that very thing about people and nations continuously! For example, we speak about Iraq cloistered in dire straits and endless factions of fighting. We broadcast these images. We drag the name of this nation through the mud. We don’t look harder for the successes. We don’t even bother to really look at the underlying issues (cycles of fear etc). This is not okay. It’s not loving. It’s not helpful. It’s not humane.

Yet, we can change this cultural trend. It starts with you. Learn some positive facts about places mentioned on the news. Share those with others. Don’t spread fear and hopelessness. Look for the pocket of light. Share that.

The article, “Religion Builds Bridges in Ethnically Split Cyprus” has a marvelous example of modeling possibility for the Middle East.

“We have to give a good example to the Middle East,” Atalay told The Associated Press. “This is our gift to the Middle East.”

What is YOUR gift to the Middle East?

It can be as simple as learning a positive fact and sharing it, or turning off the news when it begins to pour out negative reports, or asking a Middle Eastern friend about his/her experience, or praying for the leaders in the Middle East, or giving toward an organization that is directly loving the Middle East, or joining a group like Hope Iraq that purposefully shares good stories. Whatever it is, your choice toward kindness matters.

We can bring healing to the world. Much of that begins with how we talk about it.

Instead of bad reports, share the goodness of a place!

Turn slander into grandeur.

 

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World WReligion Wednesday: Misconceptions about Hinduism

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“Are Hindus polytheistic or monotheistic?” 

This is a question I am often asked, particularly by my students. Typically, Hinduism is popularly perceived as being polytheistic (that is, worshipping more than one god). However, I think that is somewhat inaccurate. In fact, Hindus worship various expressions of the same god. Granted, many Hindus may not perceive this, but I think theologically it is accurate. There is almost always variance between core theology and the way people live out their theology. Some Hindus may align themselves as worshippers of Lord Krishna to such a measure they are not thinking of Brahma, the ultimate creator. This is where the disconnect is. At the top of Hinduism is the Trimurti, a trinity of sorts, consisting of Brahma (creator), Shiva (destroyer), and Vishnu (preserver). Thus, it comes down to one god. 

For more understanding of Hinduism, check out this helpful CNN article:

 

 

 

World WReligion Wednesday: Jews: religious group, people, or race?

My students in both Introduction to the Bible and Christianity and World Religions often feel confused about what makes someone Jewish. They understand there is an ethnic identity, but they also see there is a religious component. Not all people who identify themselves as “Jewish” practice Judaism. This is much of where the confusion comes from.

A great article on this can be found HERE.

World WReligion Wednesdays: 5k Years of Religious History in 90 Seconds

I’ve shared this video in the World Religions class I teach. I think it’s great for putting the religious and cultural evolution in perspective. We live now. However, the global schema has not always been as we experience it. It’s good to remind oneself that the current experience is only part of history. There is much more. Enjoy!

 

 

What surprised you about this video? What was particularly enlightening?