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Archive for the ‘The Huffington Post’ tag

Protecting the Earth Through Interfaith Education and Activism

Photography credit to the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development.

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development’s Interfaith Climate Change Forum.

by Yonatan Neril
from The Huffington Post

The Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison tells the following story: A young girl with a bird in her hands went to a wise person. The child asked the wise person, “Is the bird in my hands alive or dead?” If the answer was “dead,” she would open her hands. If the answer was “alive,” she would close her hand and kill the bird. The wise person, sensing her intention, responded, “I cannot say whether the bird is alive or dead, but I can say that the fate of the bird is in your hands.”

Today we have in our hands not one bird, and not just all birds, but all living beings on our planet, including 7 billion human beings.

I grew up on an acre of land in California with a large orchard and organic garden. In my BA and MA studies with a focus on global environmental issues, I conducted research in India on renewable energy and in Mexico on genetically modified corn. I came to see first-hand global environmental changes that humanity is effecting on this planet. Following these studies and research, I studied for a number of years in a rabbinic program. Because of my environmental background, I encountered traditional Jewish texts from a particular lens, and realized that my own tradition offers profound teachings that relate to environmental sustainability. I also came to realize that other faith traditions — Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others — also speak deeply about the roots of and solutions to our environmental challenges. Based on this understanding, I founded The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development to access the collective wisdom of the world’s religions to promote co-existence and environmental sustainability through education and action.

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Spirituality in Mental Health Care: It’s Past Time to Make Room

by Christopher Gordon, M.D. and Ben Herzig

from The Huffington Post

National surveys have consistently found that the vast majority of Americans identify as religious and/or spiritual in one way or another. But is there any room for spirituality or religious practice in psychiatric treatment? Is there a place at all for faith in an era that so privileges the brain over the mind and posits neurochemical explanations — and pharmaceutical treatments — for most ailments?

Nowadays, slick television commercials and glossy magazine ads market antidepressants directly to sufferers and their treatment providers, promising extraordinary relief and happiness. In the real world, life is not so simple. It is actually a rare case when a person’s problems are satisfactorily resolved by a prescription alone. Much more commonly, anxiety or depression or other symptoms are part of a larger picture, requiring a more complex solution. So how do we figure out what is the matter, and what might be helpful, beyond a symptom-targeted medication?

It is useful to think about human problems from four perspectives, and then to bring these perspectives together to get a sense of the whole person. The first useful perspective is a social one, which looks at what is going on in someone’s life, particularly their important relationships, to assess whether something important is occurring there. Examples might include domestic violence, or, less drastically, marital unhappiness, or being bullied in school, or some other important life circumstance. Clearly, we don’t want to offer medication when the problem requires addressing some real problem in living — for which counseling can be very helpful. The second perspective, however, is a biological one. In fact, many times depression and other mood disorders and anxiety disorders do reflect “chemical imbalances,” which have a biological component and are amenable to medical treatment if that is what the person prefers.

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Faith Inspires: Hindu American Seva Charities

Photo Credit to Myra Iqbal, AOL

Niki A. Shah teaches yoga to a group of kids as a part of the Hindu American Seva Charities.

by Jahnabi Barooah
from The Huffington Post

This week’s Faith Inspires highlights the work of Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC), an organization whose mission is to engage in “seva, interfaith collaboration, pluralism, social justice and sustainable civic engagement to ignite grassroots social change and build healthy communities.” Seva, which means “service” in Sanskrit, is an important aspect of the Dharmic traditions, which include Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

In 2009, when President Barack Obama issued a “call to serve,” Anju Bhargava, a Hindu American resident of Livingston, NJ, was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. HASC is a result of that collaboration, and was designed to strengthen and put a spotlight on civic engagement and community service efforts in the Dharmic community.

Despite the White House’s support and guidance, HASC did not have the easiest start, and their success over the past two years can be attributed as much to creative theological thinking, as to the Dharmic community’s desire to be fully accepted in the American community.

“The Hindu community didn’t have a faith-based infrastructure [to perform community service],” Anju Bhargava, the founder of the HASC told The Huffington Post. Even though many Hindus were engaging in community service through informal means, Hindus did not have access to sustainable community service programs that were faith-based. If the goal was to bring seva to the forefront and make it relevant in the American context, the challenge was that the Hindu-American community was so fragmented because of its varied religious and philosophical beliefs, Bhargava told The Huffington Post.

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Nine FAQs About Ramadan

Photo Credit to Alamy

Peckham Mosque women praying Ramadan prayers.

from The Huffington Post

What is the history of Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Arabian calendar. The term Ramadan literally means scorching in Arabic. It was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, frequently translated as “the Night of Power.

What is the ‘goal’ of Ramadan?

In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed.

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The Real Environmental Crisis: Lessons From the Green Patriarch

Photo Credit to Trent Gilliss

His All Holiness Bartholomew, Patriarch of Eastern Orthodox Christians

by Krista Tippett
from The Huffington Post

Earlier this month, His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Patriarch of 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, convened a two-day conversation on “environment, ethics and innovation.” We gathered on the tiny, ancient island of Heybeliada off Istanbul, which was once the Patriarch’s Constantinople and before that New Rome.

There were scientists there, and activists, and religious thinkers. Greenpeace was represented, and so was Dow Chemical. We did not solve any problem or draft a white paper or conceive a plan of action. There were no expectations of these things, and so it was not, like the recent Rio conference, roundly condemned as a failure. But our discussion did yield some fresh examination of the often-unnamed obstacle to all the good solutions and plans already out there: the human condition.

The gathering convened in a former seminary, which Ataturk’s successors closed as they secularized Turkey and which the present Islamic government seems poised to re-open. It was poignant, in this space, to hear James Hansen — the NASA scientist who seminally defined the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and civilization as we know it — profess that scientists need the help of the religious in an urgent struggle for public understanding.

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Global Spirit: An Interview with Robert Thurman and Karen Armstrong on Religion and Compassion

Photo Credit Global Spirit

Karen Armstrong and Robert Thurman being interviewed together in New York.

from The Huffington Post

We call Global Spirit the first “internal travel” series, because the topics and the discussions so often lead to a kind of inner exploration. Unlike programming on Animal Planet or National Geographic, Global Spirit is not about discovering anything that is outside of yourself. The opening program in our series, “The Spiritual Quest,” was one of our more exciting and challenging to produce

For Karen and Bob, it was one of those “first-time meetings” that we try to achieve on Global Spirit — to bring two people together for the first time, in this case, two highly articulate teachers and authors from distinct religious traditions, who have always wanted to meet each other. You can sense a kind of magic in the air, as they both experience the sheer delight of discovering things about each other they’ve always wanted to know. Yes, it was an uplifting show, with a good amount of spontaneous humor.

Click here to read the full article and watch a clip of the interview

Can Religion Be Funny?

From The Huffington Post

A lot of people ask me what it’s like to be a Muslim comedian and if it’s possible to be religious and funny. I believe laughter and prayer helps people heal. Islam is not just something I practice, like working out or something. It’s how I aim to live my life. It makes me a peaceful person, easy-going, positive by nature, loving, caring, forgiving, firm and confident. It has taught me that we are all connected — we are all people, we all want peace, love and respect, we are all one and believe in a common message. We must love each other like we love ourselves. Just as Jesus said, “We even have to love the ones who don’t love us for if we only love the ones who love us, what reward is there in that?”

Comedy is a bonding experience through which better relationships can be built.

Click here to read the entire article.

April 11th, 2011 at 10:46 am

10 Teachings on Judaism and the Environment

From The Huffington Post

1. God created the universe.

This is the most fundamental concept of Judaism. Its implications are that only God has absolute ownership over Creation (Gen. 1-2, Psalm 24:1, I Chron. 29:10-16). Thus, Judaism’s worldview is theocentric not anthropocentric. The environmental implications are that humans must realize that they do not have unrestricted freedom to misuse Creation, as it does not belong to them. Everything we own, everything we use ultimately belongs to God. Even our own selves belong to God. As a prayer in the High Holiday liturgy proclaims, “The soul is Yours and the body is your handiwork.” As we are “sojourners with You, mere transients like our ancestors; our days on earth are like a shadow…” (I Chronicles 29:15), we must always consider our use of Creation with a view to the larger good in both time (responsibility to future generations) and space (others on this world). We must also think beyond our own species to that of all Creation.

Click here to read the entire article.

The Promise of a New Era in Our Conversation About Faith

From The Huffington Post

In 1953, Professor C.D. Broad of Cambridge University published a paper titled “The Argument From Religious Experience.” Broad, who was not a religious man, responded to Bertrand Russell’s challenge to philosophically prove the existence of God, and in his paper he evaluated beliefs from different world religions and cultures, concluding, “The claim by any particular religion or sect to have complete or final truth seems to me to be too ridiculous to be worth a moment’s consideration. But the opposite extreme of holding that the whole religious experience of mankind is a gigantic system of pure delusion seems to me to be almost (though not as quite) farfetched.”

After 58 years and numerous other attempts, Broad’s conclusion seems to me to be the most mature and reasonable assessment that I have come across.

Click here to read entire article.

Can Religion Make Us More Civil?

From The Huffington Post

I was glad to see civility make headlines last month, in the wake of the Tucson tragedy. If only the discussion had gone deeper.

The torrent of calls for civil speech and behavior, while admirable, barely touched on the questions that could turn those calls into action. Like most issues that suddenly burst into public awareness, civility may quickly fade back into obscurity without our addressing it.

So let’s look at two of the questions. What makes us so uncivil? And what can we do to change?

Click here to read the entire article.

February 13th, 2011 at 8:26 am