A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘religion

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the exocomets of Beta Pictoris.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper on the luminosity of cold brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to one paper suggesting that Polynesian migration up to the 14th century depended on a pleasant global climate and links to another describing the discovery of a Polynesian canoe from 1400 CE in New Zealand.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that coal is facing serious pressure in central Europe, even in Poland.
  • Far Outliers notes how the Chinese northeast is once again a promised land for North Koreans.
  • Inkfish notes that at least one species of fish plays.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that Jewish sects see such fierce leadership because they have become so consolidated.
  • Language Log reports that apparently it is harder to learn to read Arabic than it is to read Hebrew.
  • Language Log comments on the decent nature of Mark Zuckerberg’s Chinese.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes China’s test of a moon mission.
  • pollotenchegg maps the divisions of Luhansk in the east of Ukraine.
  • Spacing Toronto’s John Lorinc suggests we Torontonians can learn much from Calgary and its mayor Naheed Nenshi.

[LINK] “A lesson for the Dalai Lama”

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Johannes Nugroho’s Open Democracy article examining the increasingly negative reaction to the suppression, by the Tibetan government-in-exile under the Dalai Lama, of the Shugden sect outlines interesting things. My skepticism about freedom of religion (and other freedoms) of an independent Tibet under the current leadership seems justified, for instance, while Nugroho’s argument that this reveals a serious clash between Tibetan adepts and Western converts also seems sound.

More significantly, it is the western Shugden devotees who spearheaded the campaign to pressure the Dalai Lama to stop discouraging Tibetan Buddhists from worshipping Shugden. The official discouragement against the deity took place in the 1970s. In 1996, the Tibetan Parliament in exile went further and passed a resolution against the employment of Shugden practitioners in government departments.

Western Shugden activists claim that within the Tibetan community in India, Shugden devotees are discriminated against, and prevented by ordinary people from entering shops and denied hospital services. However, the Central Tibetan Administration counters that the ill-treatment of Shugden practitioners is a spontaneous act by the people, not an official government policy.

Tibetologist Thierry Dodin, while agreeing that Tibetan Shugden followers are “shunned by the community”, said in an interview in May that the shunning takes place “for no other reason than the fact that they themselves choose to live in groups largely cut off from the rest of the community.”

Judging from various interviews with the media, the ostracized Tibetan Shugden followers living under the jurisdiction of the CTA, while bemoaning their fate, have so far failed to organize themselves into an activist group in their own defence.

The opposite is the case, however, with their western counterparts. There is undeniably a great difference in cultural values between Tibetan Buddhists who grew up within their community in India and the western converts who were raised with liberal western values.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 18, 2014 at 2:34 am

[LINK] “How the Russian Orthodox Church answers Putin’s prayers in Ukraine”

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Gabriela Baczynska and Tom Heneghan’s Reuters article explores the awkward position of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, at once a quiet actor for the Russian state while trying to avoid alienating its parishoners in Ukraine.

When Russia sent its troops to Crimea, one of the justifications it used was an alleged threat to parishes there linked to Kirill’s Moscow Patriarchate. Kirill’s full title is “Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus,” a reference to a medieval state in Kiev to which modern Russia traces its roots.

In Ukraine, Kirill oversees the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. It competes against a smaller church of the Kiev Patriarchate that split from Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Winning applause from those Ukrainians who seek Western integration and scorn Moscow’s efforts to undermine it, the Kiev Patriarchate has strongly backed Ukraine’s national cause in the current conflict. Its head, Patriarch Filaret, blamed Putin squarely for the violence and said he was possessed by Satan.

The conflict in Ukraine has put strains on the ties between the ROC and the state in Russia; and Kirill, wary of alienating worshippers in Ukraine by being too closely associated with the Kremlin, has increasingly hedged his bets.

He was conspicuously absent from a March ceremony where Putin sealed the annexation of Crimea, and he has not taken over two dioceses from the Ukrainian church in the peninsula even though they sit on territory now controlled by Russia.

Late last month, Kirill told a meeting with Orthodox media that it was “fundamentally wrong” to view the ROC as a vehicle of Russian state policy. But to many in Ukraine that sounded unconvincing, and controversy over the ROC’s role in the OSCE monitors’ case adds to that scepticism.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 11, 2014 at 12:07 am

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera notes the rivalry between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, observes claims of persecution by evangelical Christians of followers of traditional African religions in Brazil, notes that separatism is unpopular in Scotland’s border regions, considers the problems of a beetle theme park in the penumbra of Japan’s Fukushima, looks at a Palestinian-American model, and considers rap music in Iran.
  • The Atlantic notes how events have vindicated the American Congress’ Barbara Lee, the only person not to vote in favour of granting unlimited war-making powers to the American presiden after 9/11, looks at the existential problems of Yiddish outside of ultra-Orthodox communities, and examines Stephen King’s thinking on how to teach writing.
  • Bloomberg notes the water problems of Detroit, looks at proposals to give Scotland home rule and Euroskepticism among the English, considers claims that Scotland might need huge reserves to back up its currency, notes ways sanctions threaten oil deals with Russian companies, examines Poland’s natural gas issues and those of the rest of central and southeastern Europe, notes Ukraine’s exclusion of Russian companies from a 3G cellular auction, notes the reluctance of Scottish banks to support an independent Scotland, and observes how domestic protectionism in Argentina is boosting Uruguay’s beef exports to Europe.
  • The Bloomberg View argues that it should be possible to cleanly break up even established nation-states, is critical of what Colombia is doing to Venezuelan refugees, argues that the achievements of social insects like acts are irrelevant to more complex beings like us, and suggests Britain has no place to criticize China over Hong Kong.
  • CBC notes the strength of Inuit oral history following the discovery of one of the Franklin Expedition’s ships, notes that the type of cancer that killed Terry Fox is now highly curable, and notes NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s proposal of a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.
  • The Inter Press Service notes Uzbekistan’s fear of Russia motivating a look for eastern allies and suggests that an anti-discrimination law can worsen the plight of sexual minorities in Georgia.
  • MacLean’s notes that Mexican economic development is good for Canada, looks at Catalonian secessionism, and suggests that a new EI tax credit won’t help Canadian business boost employment.
  • Open Democracy looked at the likely outcome of Crimean elections under Russian rule.
  • The Toronto Star revisited the unsettled state of affairs in the Central African Republic.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO identifies the ten most important buildings in Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence for plate tectonics in Europa’s ice crust.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia in the atmospheres of some brown dwarfs and looks at implications of variability in brown dwarf atmospheres.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes China’s plans to launch a second space station into orbit.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ notes how Germany’s Left Party is continuing its strong support from Russia.
  • Joe. My. God. observes how Ted Cruz’ support for Israel was unpopular at an event for Middle Eastern Christians, including many Palestinian Christians.
  • Language Hat notes some signs of cultural cosmopolitanism in the Stalinist Soviet literacy scene.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that global warming will devastate forests in the western United States.
  • Otto Pohl notes the arbitrariness of race and geography in bounding Africa.
  • Discover‘s Out There and the Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla both note Rosetta’s views of its target comet.
  • The Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle chronicles with photos the story of the vole he found eating his potatoes.
  • Towleroad notes a mother in Alabama who is trying to cut her dead son’s husband out of his estate.
  • Why I Love Toronto celebrates Queen Street West.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that diasporas of Russian minorities should also be recognized as Russian, argues that Putin is cornered, and notes the significant differences between Estonians and Russophones in Estonia in beliefs about religious and the supernatural.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World notes controversy over whether Ukraine should try to cut a deal with Russia.

[LINK} “With US youth losing religion, evangelicals struggle to spread ‘good news’”

I linked to Ben Piven’s Al Jazeera America article about the issues of American evangelical Christianity in last night’s roundup, but it’s sufficiently interesting to me that I wanted to give this article a particular link. Whereto American evangelical Christianity in a changing America?

“I have been given the task of sharing the gospel,” said Brandon McCauley, an 18-year-old who just finished his senior year at Lebanon High School in Ohio, where he ran a lunchtime Bible study program. “I am offering you the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ,” McCauley exhorted fellow students, as he debated whether to pursue the ministry instead of higher education.

“I like being different,” said McCauley, explaining his motivation to tell classmates that they will end up in hell if they aren’t saved. “If you sin, you deserve death,” McCauley yelled, before getting choked up and concluding, “I’m the reason that He had to die … I am accepting that You died on the cross for me.”

American adults under 30 increasingly identify with no religion whatsoever, but some teenagers on the edge of this demographic are enthusiastically embracing faith. As the fraction of unaffiliated, agnostic, and atheist surpasses one-third of young people, proselytizing denominations are trying to win over the so-called “nones.”

[. . .]

If economic development leads to secularization, then stagnant growth and chronic unemployment in certain parts of the country would seem to drive religious resurgence. But at the same time, the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown even among the non-college-educated. This suggests the trend is not just spurred on by the skeptical collegiate atmosphere. Many Americans born after 1980 appear not to be seeking new answers, leading to decreased or flatlining interest in evangelical branches such as the Southern Baptist Convention.

“With respect to evangelical Protestants in particular, their share of the population is holding steady,” said Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life. He said the conservative group’s numbers are “pretty stable … 28 percent of adults describe themselves as ‘evangelical’.”

Smith attributed the declining white evangelical Protestant share of the U.S. population to a larger racial and ethnic shift. While just one-fifth of millennial adults identify as evangelical, the Hispanic population is increasingly moving from Catholicism towards evangelical churches.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm

[LINK] “Mother of dead Canadian jihadi launches de-radicalization effort”

CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault reports on the efforts of a mother of a Canadian who died fighting with the Islamic State to set up a deradicalization effort for returnees. Christianne Boudreau, mother of Damian Clairmont who I noted this January was one of several Canadians killed waging Islamist terrorist campaigns at that time.

I might understand where she’s coming from in wishing CSIS told her about her son, but the police and security agencies had no way of knowing what her sympathies were.

Also: Is it wrong for me to think, still, that the world is best rid of her son if he wanted to travel around the world to murder?

The mother of Damian Clairmont, a Calgary man who in January died fighting with ISIS in Syria, says she’s tired of waiting for Canada to take action on de-radicalization. She is starting her own program for families of Canadian jihadis so other mothers don’t lose their sons to the clutches of extremism.

“It’s a lot to take on, but I don’t know what else to do,” Christianne Boudreau said.

“I have no choice at this point, because I can’t just let Damian die in vain and that’s the end of it, and just walk away from it and let it happen to another family … I can’t.”

In her Calgary basement office, Boudreau’s computer fights for space on her small desk with copies of letters that were sent over the past year and rarely answered; to the Prime Minister, to the chief of the Calgary police, to the head of CSIS.

Her questions were broad and pained; How is it that even though CSIS was apparently watching and worrying about her son’s growing extremism, no one informed her until it was too late and he was already in Syria?

In one letter she asks, “If my son was under surveillance for two years in respect to the suspicion of his participation in a potential terrorist organization, how was he able to obtain a passport two months prior to his leaving Canada?”

She has also been desperate for emotional support for both herself and her other children, who are still trying to fathom how their big brother Damian could transform so profoundly and become a fighter with ISIS.</blockquote?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm

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