The Real News Archive (Archive Home)

July, 2004

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Bill Cosby speaks out again.

"Christians I don't understand," Cosby said. "I understand Christianity. I understand God. Jesus I understand."

Cosby said Muslims have done a much better job than Christians, for example, in chasing out drug dealers.

"You embarrass God when you don't move," Cosby said. "Christians need to find out what the problem is" and address it, he said.

Now it is Christians—and not just black America—who are in the dock. And whether or not we agree with everything Cosby says about us, he is highlighting a key point. If the surveys are true that say African Americans are more religious and more Christian than many other groups, why is the social crisis among blacks so severe? More to the point, why is Christianity having so little impact among blacks at street level? -more-

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Steiner success

The Steiner school at Castlemaine has experienced strong growth as more parents seek alternative education for their children.

Steiner schools are based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who was born in 1861, in Austria.

Steiner devoted much of his life to furthering his knowledge of the spiritual world, and believed material objects caused people to become disconnected from spiritual issues.
...
At Steiner schools, the same teacher tutors students over eight years of education. The school itself is governed by a round table of teachers.

Steiner education continues until children reach age 14.

After this, students continue Year nine to 12 elsewhere.

Ms Wardle said parents were drawn to Steiner education because it met many needs of children in the modern world, and the curriculum matched children's development as they grew.

"It's not only educational. It's about the emotional and spiritual life of the children," she said -
more-

Friday, July 30, 2004

Check out the parking lot

Rebecca Solnit

Dante's Inferno by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders
Chronicle, 218 pp, £15.99

Many years ago, I was supposed to move to Los Angeles, but every time I went there, something about the light and space made me think that life was basically meaningless and you might as well surrender hope right away. I was still an art critic in those days, and I would drive from north-east of Los Angeles, where I was supposed to settle into my new suburban existence, over to the downtown museums, look at some art, and drive back. But when I got home I would find that the hours I'd spent negotiating freeway merge lanes and entrances and exits and parking garages was, in some mysterious way, more memorable than the museums. I was supposed to have a head full of paintings or installations, but instead, I was preoccupied with the anonymously ugly spaces that are not on the official register of what any place is supposed to be.

Every city has them. Thinking about Paris is more likely to bring to mind the Eiffel Tower, or graceful rows of mansard-roofed buildings on chestnut-lined boulevards, than the long cement passages of the Métro lit by bad fluorescence and smelling of piss, or the dank passageways descending from cafés into Turkish toilets. Even national parks steer their visitors into an asphalted world of public toilets, parking lots, and thou-shalt-not signage, stuff that almost everyone is good at fast-forwarding past to the waterfalls and forest glades and elk doing ungulate things in public. Certainly a waterfall is more striking than the parking lot near its foot, but I wonder how it is that visitors can be so sure they saw what they were supposed to and so oblivious of what they were not. -more-

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A trip to the rock caves of Ajanta and Ellora leaves one lost in admiration. The cave paintings tell a tale of profound beauty and creativity.
...
The paintings of the Ajanta caves, made by monks, celebrate the human form in all its beauty and grace and capture the spiritual excellence of the bodhisattva.

The technique employed by the painters is at once ingenious and original. The foundations of the murals were first inlaid in a plaster of clay, cow dung and rice husk. This layer was then coated with fine lime on which designs were outlined with the brush and the colour filled in. The pigments too speak of originality, involving the use of natural material such as yellow earth, red ochre, powdered green rock, lamp black and copper oxide. The brightness and richness of the colours used in the paintings, untarnished and untouched by time, retaining their beauty even in the face of adverse conditions, leaves one in awe of the artists' mastery. The central theme of the wall paintings falls into two main categories — narrative scenes from Buddha's life and illustrations of the jataka tales. Within the framework of spirituality, an entire pageant of contemporary life unfolds, depicting men and women from various walks of life and expressing a variety of emotions. The paintings on the ceiling comprise mainly geometric designs, floral and ornamental motifs, celestial beings in flight, animals, birds and plants. -more-

~ ~ ~

Joy is not just money
Bharat Savur

Obsessing over material luxuries causes depression and ill-health. But exercise and mental discipline teach you how to earn to live.

Why does money create so much turmoil? Vedic wisdom explains it beautifully. We have two kinds of desires:


One, the fundamental desires — to live happily and steadily gain the best experiential knowledge. These are fulfilled when we enhance our body-mind-spirit.

Two, the surface desires — to eat sweets, have more luxuries and status.
The passport to such desires is money. Unfortunately, while we strive strenuously to fulfil our surface desires we completely ignore our fundamental needs and the result is we become frustrated, fretful and withdrawn. To put the surface value of money in proper perspective, we need to develop our fundamental values that automatically draw lines of containment, care and contentment.

Dr H.C. Modlin, senior psychiatrist, Menninger Clinic, Topeka, says, "Each person already has his or her own style of dealing with money. It's a blueprint etched in the mind." But, if it creates conflicts, illnesses, unhappiness, he advises to "develop a new blueprint". Broaden your narrow thinking, tighten your belts and belly and give other ways of being a chance. -more-

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

It's easy to read "The Way to Banganga", from percussionist Trilok Gurtu's new Broken Rhythms CD, as a literal travelogue.
...
"Banganga is a very special place for me," Gurtu explains, calling from London's art-deco Strand Palace Hotel. "It is the place where my spiritual guru, Ranjit Maharaj, has a shrine, and his guru also has a shrine, and it is a very, very powerful place. Not everybody knows about it, but if you're lucky enough you get a spark inside and you go there. And I was one of those lucky ones who got that. It's in a cemetery: a burning ghat, where bodies are burned. So virtually you're seeing reality in front of you--that's what's going to happen to the body, so you better be prepared--and that means you're always aware. 'This is the way to Banganga' means 'Really value what you've got at this moment.' "
...
"I think the best thing is to have nothing in your mind to put a disc together, but just your underlying message. With all that's going on in the record business--and all that's going on in the world--the music is treated as a side dish, you see. Music has become like a commodity. I don't know how to put it: it's time to give something new to the people rather than just the clichés that have been heard every time. So one has to be adventurous. But ambitious? My ambition is only that the music will speak for itself and that I will learn something. My expectations are not that I'll have a hit; that's the wrong ambition for me."

Nonetheless, he notes that Broken Rhythms has already attracted the attention of several movie companies and that he hopes to land some film-scoring jobs as a result. "So it shows it's best not to have anything on your mind," he contends, "except the right stuff." -more-

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Bloomington woman’s play lands at the fringe of the Fringe (Minnesota)

Holly Davis is not a typical business executive or insurance agency type. After all, how many of them have written a book titled “Somebody Moved My Chi: A Midlife Crisis in Asia.”

But then, no one aptly described as typical would write a stage production called “Going to Second Base with God: A Stormy Romance.”

That’s what Davis has done. It might reasonably be expected to cause a stir when it debuts at 7 p.m. Friday, July 30, at the Center for Independent Artists at the Instituto de Cultura y Education in Minneapolis.

“Second Base” is part of the annual Fringe Festival underway in the Twin Cities this week. In fact, it’s part of the “Frinj of the Frinj.”

A press release describes the work thusly: “Second Base with God laughs and cries at a lifelong search for the good life, a place inside the white picket fence. Groping her way through 20 years of seeking, Davis confronts Christian healers, romance addiction, tenacious Hindus, raging veterinarians, soothing Buddhists and a maze of muddled opinions. Can she find the one true voice?” -more-

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Religion, Spirituality May Curb Hospital Time

In this study, researchers found religiousness and spirituality seemed to have a particularly beneficial effect on women and blacks. Among these groups, the study showed that recently hospitalized people who participated in organized or private religious activities, such as reading the Bible and prayer, were less likely to be in a nursing home or use one in the future.
...
Researchers also found that many forms of religious activity and spiritual experiences were associated with less use of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Greater social support partially explained these effects, but the effects of religion and spirituality remained significant, especially among women and blacks.
...
Researchers say many factors may help explain the robust effects of religion found among blacks. For example, the church plays a central role in many black communities and provides a valuable source of social support. -more-

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Football star leaves game for spiritual search

A young man leaving behind wealth and adulation to search for truth and worldly experience is a story as old as the Buddha.

Now it's the story of Ricky Williams, a 27-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner whose journey to the East or West or wherever his heart and whimsy take him has left the Dolphins feeling puzzled and betrayed. He might not choose the path of an ascetic, but in the money-grubbing world of sports he's surely taking the road less traveled.

"Why do people have to be judgmental about this," Williams told Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard by phone from Asia late Sunday night. "I'm going in search of the truth. Everything I'm doing in my life is about finding the truth. Football isn't part of the truth for me anymore."

Many fans couldn't understand why Williams abandoned the team a week before training camp or why he gave up more than $5 million a year, $3.6 million in salary this season plus $1.5 million in incentives, at the peak of his career. He already has enough money, he said, and making millions more wasn't a priority for him.

"I've been poor before," he said. -more-

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

She credits nature with giving her that will to live.

"One night, after I moved to Halifax, I was gazing out my window at this huge tree."

She speaks poetically, with imagery and colour.

"I wove its roots with mine. My hands were its branches. Its breathing was mine. We drank the same water. I looked at it and waited for an answer and it was 'love.' That was my turning point, my miracle. From that moment, I knew my life would only be better."
...
Despite the recurrence of Joan's cancer, this positive woman says she's "the happiest I've ever been. I'm not afraid today, even though I was terrified three years ago (at the first occurrence). I think I did the fear thing and now realize my life is unfolding as it should. I just hope I can pass on to others what I have learned about life." -more-

~ ~ ~

Aikido in Florida

(Peter) Bernath, 53, of Hollywood, is one of the highest-ranking aikido instructors in the United States and can knock men twice his size off their feet, he prefers more passive means of domination.

''When you get really good, you don't need strength at all. People just sense something about you,'' Bernath said.

It's just one of many lessons Bernath imparts through his travels around the globe as a top martial-arts teacher.
...
``It's really about enlightenment. You have to make your body and mind work together till it becomes like an instinct. Once you become sensitized to that, the more you are in tune with nature.''

Since turning to zikido, Bernath aims for what he calls an Asian-inspired ``simplistic life.'' -more-

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New Hindu Temple Dedicated in Texas

Kedar Thakkar took a two-month vacation from his desk job so he could get to work — carting stone, sweeping away construction debris and slogging through heat and rain.

The 30-year-old software developer made the trade to help build a monument to his Hindu faith in Fort Bend County.

"This is the one thing that is going to give me the chance to show my complete dedication," Thakkar said, taking a break last week from work on the Brand Lane temple just outside Stafford. "When we build a temple outside — the more effort, the more dedication and the more work you put in — you are trying to build a temple inside your heart. With the effort you put in for God, God tries to make you pure."

Thakkar is one of about 175 volunteers who came from as near as Sugar Land and as far as India to help construct the limestone and marble BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple built by the Swaminarayan sect.
...
The 73-foot-tall temple was constructed according to requirements from ancient Hindu scriptures, (Jayesh) Shelat said. About 3,000 craftsmen across India carved the temple out of Turkish limestone and Italian marble. The 11,500-square-foot covered open-air temple and its surrounding 25,620-square-foot deck was then shipped in pieces to Texas and assembled.

Though at first it seems constructed of textured stone, a close look at the temple's facade and columns reveals a dizzying interplay of countless carvings of deities, dancers, musicians, elephants, horses, flowers and geometric designs.

Construction began in March 2002, and finishing touches were made up to the last minute.

Leaders of the organization said it cost about $7 million so far to build the temple, and that most of the labor was donated.

"If it is God's house, it has to be beyond compare," Shelat said. "When (devotees) come in and have (prayers) they can be totally absorbed and focused on spirituality." -more-

~ ~ ~

You're happy, aren't you?

She won the right to raise their child by demonstrating to a dumbstruck judge what she could manage: she changed the baby's diaper with her teeth.

While ruthlessly cleaning off my desk one morning, determined to make a clearing amidst the clutter before a 10:30 appointment, I came across some saved newspaper clippings in a folder labeled, "Happiness, etc." Crumpling them up with nary a glance, one by one, I was just about to toss out something from The New York Times when a dazzling smile caught my eye.

"Celestine Tate Harrington, 42," read the headline. The paper itself was wrinkled and a little torn, but the hefty black woman in the picture was precisely as she'd been three years before, looking out jovially from her obituary.

"Celestine Tate Harrington, a quadriplegic street musician whose buoyant personality and unremitting chutzpah brought astounded smiles to everyone who watched her play the keyboard with her lips and tongue, died on February 25th at age 42 of complications resulting from a traffic accident. At 4-feet, 10 inches and 190-pounds, and performing daily on an electric synthesizer, she cut a remarkable figure as she lay on her stomach, head up, moving swiftly through the city streets on a motorized gurney that she guided through a steering device worked by her chin."

I looked again at the photograph. Celestine Harrington appeared to be chuckling in response to somebody or something outside our view, and you could almost hear the deep and easy laughter, full-throated and hearty.

The obituary continued: "Born with a congenital joint condition that eroded the connective tissue in her arms and legs, leaving them immobile stubs, she never seemed to consider herself disabled. In 1974, she was courted and wed by a nursing home aide at the rehabilitation clinic where she lived at the time, and they had one child, a daughter. Her husband's death a year later led the courts to seek custody, but she won the right to raise their child by demonstrating to a dumbstruck judge what she could manage: she changed the baby's diaper with her teeth.

"Mrs. Harrington was a beloved presence to people on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. One of the many friends with whom she formed close relationships was Camille LeClair, owner of the fast food restaurant for which Mrs. Harrington made deliveries. After getting word of the death, Mrs. LeClair recalled last week that on one occasion when Mrs. Harrington was in her house, 'I said to Celestine, "Why does God allow me to [walk all around] but you have to struggle so much?" Celestine said, "That's why I'm here. To remind you to count your blessings, every day."'"
- stories about other people-

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

 

"She's kind of saving my life as we go along." --Jeannine

Saturdays with Sadie
They are fast friends, if only for a while. Weekly visits brighten the twilight for one, light the path away from grief for the other.

Jeannine Thompson, a hospice volunteer, visits 101-year-old Sadie Sharpe nearly every Saturday at her nursing home in Tampa. Her most important job? To listen.
...
Around Sadie, Jeannine never speaks of her father. She's not supposed to share her troubles with a patient. Sometimes it's a struggle.

"I can't talk about myself," she says. "I have to listen."

She has learned so much from listening, including how hard it is, and how important.

"When I go there, I'm not thinking about other things."

It doesn't fill the void her father left, or curb her anger, or distract her from grief, but it transforms the energy that would be negative into something good.

"These moments with Sadie don't always make up for all the other bad things in the world," Jeannine says. "But they're something."

She says listening to Sadie talk about God has helped restore her own limping faith.

"She's kind of saving my life as we go along." -more-

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Japanese gardens: planting poetry

Like haiku poetry, the Japanese garden is a marvel of structure and simplicity

Leaves

The winds that blow –

ask them, which leaf of the tree

will be the next to go.

Soseki (1865-1915)

Translated by

Harold G. Henderson


...

But the bones of the garden – and Mr. Powell's heart – are the 25 tons of boulders used to create a symbolic mountainscape. He ponders each of his sandstone boulders as one would consider a great art purchase. Moving them around in the garden is painstaking work requiring a small forklift. He sets one down, steps back, considers and moves it around the way other designers shuffle begonias.

"I spend hours thinking about rocks, and I'm faster than most," he says.

...

The Zen of a garden is more about the daily care (originally sand, gravel is the accepted interpretation). As focal points they lull, they calm. The gardens' low maintenance has become identified with a lifestyle that is more contemplative, introspective.

It is the garden's symbolic offering of harmony –among people and nature and heaven – that appeals to Mr. Davis and Ms. Barksdale. A garden, they believe, encourages the observer to look inward to find peace and tranquility. And then there is the simplest conceit of all: beauty. "We offer both curb appeal and personal well-being," says Ms. Barksdale.


Coolness in Summer

In all this cool

Is the moon also sleeping?

There, in the pool?

Ryusui (1691-1758)

Translated by Harold G.

Henderson

-
more-

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Glittering showcase for spiritual art

Stalled in a cab one evening in 1998, the businessman Donald Rubin leaned out his window, stunned by a thought. Next to him loomed the dark, vacant Barney's building at 150 West 17th Street in Chelsea. In a flash, Mr. Rubin decided to buy the building, gut it and make a new museum in Manhattan, a glittering showcase for a reclusive spiritual art from the other end of the earth.

The Rubin Museum of Art opens on Oct. 2 with kite flying on the West Side piers, a Himalayan dog parade and some 100 fluttering prayer flags by contemporary artists. An infusion of $60 million has transformed a decommissioned temple of haute consumerism into an elegant, multihued jewel of a museum, designed by the architect Richard Blinder of Beyer Blinder Belle. Its 70,000 square feet, decked out in bright red, green, gold and blue, comprise America's largest, boldest and most significant museum devoted entirely to Tibetan and other Himalayan art.
...
India, Kashmir and China — the great triangle of the Silk Road — are this art's sources. Despite the vast distances and centuries that separate us from them, the artist-monks who made these exquisitely figured images intended the stories to resonate on a deep level. These pictures represent way stations on the spiritual path. Though they may seem impossibly exotic, they speak to eternal questions, like the struggle for self-mastery. Their urgency is both psychological and spiritual. -more-

Monday, July 26, 2004

Dancing With Elder Bob

''Elder Bob, how do you have so much hope?'' Ander asked. Bob nodded slowly, as if he'd known the question was coming. ''I was not a happy man,'' he confessed. ''I drank and I smoked. There were days when I lay in bed and wished I was dead.'' Just then a raven emerged from the canyon behind him, and he turned to watch it. The raven cawed. Elder Bob removed his sunglasses. My students leaned in close over the yellow perimeter of rocks about to topple.

''We fill our heads with nonsense,'' he began. ''And we spend the rest of our days unlearning it all. Finally we realize what we knew at the instant of our birth: that every moment, every drop of water, every single breath we take is precious.'' Elder Bob had gotten through a place more frightening and real to my students than any canyon I led them through -- he'd survived his own despair. I heard what sounded like gasps. The man in the Velcro sneakers had succeeded where I had failed, and for that moment, their chests swelled with the strange rush of inspiration. -more-

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Will Smith's wife is the centre of his world!
 
Hollywood actor Will Smith may have made a successful movie career but he has no false airs about himself.
In an interview to the 'Star' magazine Smith revealed that he is just a down to earth guy with a strong notion of family ties and he credits his wife for being the centre of his family.

"First and foremost, in my house when I was little, I knew my mother was the center. Mommy has to be taken care of first. If mommy's straight, then everyone else will be straight," Will was quoted as saying.

"I'm very clear that Jada's physical, mental, spiritual health and comfort come first and foremost, and then everything else comes," he added. (ANI) This has been the entire article.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The children shall lead

ORLANDO - Luz Gonzalez and Raul Acetty had little religion in their lives, either in their native Puerto Rico or in their first four years in Orlando. But about six months ago, when their two children were attracted to the Catholic faith, the couple did not object.

"I wanted to learn more about God," recalls daughter Lusmary, now 12. "It came from inside of me."
...
Surveys suggest that only a minority of young people will choose a deeper religious commitment than their parents. Indeed, according to the National Study of Youth and Religion, conducted by the University of North Carolina, only 17 percent of teens say their faith is stronger than their parents' faith.

But these young people feel strongly that their faith shouldn't automatically be determined by their families, says Pearl Gaskins, author of "I Believe In ... : Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Young People Speak About Their Faith."

"Young people are searching for answers, trying to define their identity as individuals, beyond their family," Gaskins says. "It takes a lot of courage. It's difficult to choose a path where you're not supported by your parents."
...
Marc Blatt of Orlando has had a smoother spiritual journey. His dramatic turn toward observant Judaism resulted from a trip to Israel three years ago, while he was a student at the University of North Florida.

"When I was in Israel, I prayed every morning and studied the Bible and practical Judaism," he recalls. -more-

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Jalaladdin al - Rumi
By M. Fethullah GULEN

Jalaladdin al-Rumi was nourished by the fruit of numerous sources of ideas, including religious seminaries, Sufi lodges, and Sufi hermitages associated with strict Sufi asceticism. Rumi attained an understanding of the Ultimate Reality. He cultivated the heavenly through his own methods. Eventually, he became a central star, the North Star, in the sky which houses sainthood. He was like a bright moon that rotates on its own axis. He was a hero who reached the places where he should have reached and stopped where he should have stopped. He read carefully what he saw and evaluated well what he felt. He never displayed or participated in any improper behavior during his journey to God. Even though the numbers were vast, Rumi never lost any of thebountiful gifts he received from the world of the unseen, not even to the weight of an atom. Like many of his predecessors, he voiced these divine bounties through his poetry in an impressive manner. He often voiced his love and excitement in seemingly magic words which resembled the finest of precious gems. Within the vagueness of the poetry, he mastered the art of explaining his ambiguous statements in ways that opened their meaning to friends, but remained obscured to outsiders. -more-

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US tribes dance to shame energy giant

Edinburgh (Scotland), July 24. (Guardian News Service): The tribes of the Klamath river in northern California welcomed the return of the spring salmon with an ancient ritual.

The first salmon would be trapped before the medicine man came to every village and told them food was coming. Then they would dance and chant. But that was when the salmon still came.

On Thursday the four tribes were dancing and chanting again. This time, though, on a pavement in Edinburgh, far from their California home.

As shareholders piled into energy utility giant ScottishPower's annual meeting, the four tribes of the Klamath river, in traditional dress, sang and danced before them.

It was the latest round in a battle to shame one of Britain's most successful companies into being more environmentally responsible.

The Klamath tribes have already lodged a $1 billion lawsuit in the US courts against PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of ScottishPower, alleging that the company's dams have destroyed the Klamath's fish population and wiped out some species. But yesterday they opted to embarrass the parent company.

"I have travelled all this way because the dams mean that I have never been able to see a salmon in my part of my river. They have denied me my birthright," said Gail Hatcher, from the Klamath tribe.
...
For more than seven millennia, native Americans have used the Klamath for worship, healing and food. But since the first dam was built in 1916, the river's ability to provide food and spirituality has dwindled. Now its tribes are fighting back.

"We evolved around the river, so everything around us - our religion, our philosophy our food - is connected to that place," said Leaf Hillman, vice-chairman of the Karuk tribe. -more-

Friday, July 23, 2004

Linen Life Gallery offers mix of artistic mediums

Emeryville venue blends poetry, art and classic cars

By Brenda Payton, STAFF WRITER

You might hear a poet reading her work or a musician performing. You could take in an exhibit of paintings, attend a fund-raiser for a nonprofit organization or admire refurbished classic automobiles on display.

The seemingly disparate activities all come together in a stunning space that's known as The Linen Life Gallery in Emeryville.

"Linen Life stands for relaxed living, from a relaxed fabric that is used around frames of artwork. It is for a relaxed way of sharing, doing things with no pressure," said owner Darrell Robinson. -more-

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Zen priest teaches preserving a young heart

Book review
Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up

(Harper San Francisco, $13.95) by Norman Fischer

Some people never find true maturity, but those who do spend a lifetime cultivating it. Fischer, Zen priest and founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation, explores how true maturity is a way of keeping life's big questions alive during our lifetime.

Rather than expound on the virtues of maturity in adulthood, this slim volume follows Fischer and his meetings over two years with four adolescent boys as they discuss and discover what it means to grow up.

Fischer begins by recalling his own Peter Pan vow to never grow up because he viewed adults in his life as resigned, timid, reluctant and fearful. "They seemed to have given up on life's dynamic challenges long ago," he writes.

But as he and the boys discovered, true maturity lies in the transformational power of simple human communication. -more-

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Chopra to offer advice on the importance of consciousness

Ask Chopra whether he thinks he's needed in a place like Aspen, literally miles above the trapped desperation of urban living, and he'll offer a typically enigmatic response.

"I think I'm not in need anywhere," he said. "I probably don't fit in anywhere. That's what makes it interesting. Anything based on need ends up being boring. And anything that fits is too conformist."

Chopra, whose philosophies are based on a belief in the eternal consciousness of man, a consciousness that determines (rather than is determined by) the workings of the body and brain, has had a tough time of it recently. Cognitive scientists, who claim consciousness to be no more than the synaptic firings of neurotransmitters in the brain, are gaining increasing acceptance.

"My beliefs are not compatible with the reductionist model," he said. "My beliefs are more consistent with holistic models that say consciousness is responsible for synaptic firings and not the other way round."

Chopra said the work of scientists, just like the teaching of dogmatic religions, proves incomplete in helping modern men and women live their lives. He said recent violence indicates a species in spiritual disarray, thirsting for enlightenment.

"I think the Western world is more spiritually hungry than it's ever been, but whether it's more spiritually aware I don't know. Certainly events in last few years do not reflect that. But we are more intellectually curious than before. The questions of our childhood never go away. Do we have soul? Does God exist? These are the real existential dilemmas."

Chopra cringes if you refer to his teaching as "self-help" instruction, insisting he works instead for "self-enlightenment." His lecture in Snowmass will address issues of creativity and intuition. -more-

~ ~ ~

The Mermen

Since 1989, the Mermen have been considered as leaders in the field of surf music, outgrowing its innocent 1950s roots to stand for a sophisticated sound of their own.

"If you're looking for bikini-clad babes and cocktails at five, you've come to the wrong beach," wrote the Los Angeles Reader. "Gorgeously complex, dreamy and oblivious to time, supremely unrushed divine textures seduce us like the melancholy bleatings of Arctic whales."

The result is part ode, part rhapsody, part trippy jam and part synthesis of surf and spirituality.
...
The Mermen have garnered "Best of Year" listings in Guitar Player and Rolling Stone magazines, BAMMIE awards in 1996-1997, been featured in a Mercedes Benz commercial and in the 2003 feature film "Local Boys," and named most-played album of the year on KUSF for 1994 and 1995.

Their music was featured on television's "Nash Bridges," "MTV's Real World," "Comedy Central," "ABC Sports" and others.

Riding the crest of the Mermen is Thomas, a passionate surfer who has said that "art is art but nature has no artifice" to explain why he prefers surfing to making music. -more-

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One man needed to live in a monastery as part of a BBC2 documentary

Tiger Aspect Productions are looking for volunteers who would relish the opportunity to spend time living alongside a UK monastic community, and conduct their own personal search for greater understanding and peace. The process will be filmed for a BBC2 documentary series about what monastic life can offer the contemporary world.

You would stay in a monastery for six weeks from Sunday 8th August. You would need to be free and available to live with little or no contact with the outside world until 17th September. We would cover unavoidable financial commitments during this time. You don’t have to be a committed Christian, just someone who is willing to embark on a genuine search for meaning in your life.

We have one place left, and time is short, so if you are interested, please call us today. Sorry, it’s only available to men.

Call us on 020 7544 1687
Or email: [email protected]
This has been the entire article

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Life's rhythms quietly revealed in a snowstorm of floating paper

NORTH ADAMS (Massachusetts) -- The other artists who have tackled the largest gallery at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art -- Robert Rauschenberg, Tim Hawkinson, and Robert Wilson -- have filled it with objects large enough to command the space, which is the size of a football field.

Ann Hamilton empties the space instead. Or so it seems at first. She's concerned not so much with how many feet long and wide it is, but with its volume, which she brings alive with sound, light -- and millions of pieces of translucent white onionskin paper that float down from the rafters, buoyed by air currents. It's like the snow scene in "The Nutcracker," only the "flakes" are 100 times larger. And instead of ballet dancers, it's the public who enter this "stage."

Children adore it instantly, diving into the white piles or scooping them up and tossing them into the air. Adults seem initially more hesitant about interacting with the work, which Hamilton calls "corpus," Latin for the body of a person or a body of writing. The piece is ultimately irresistible, though, and eventually beguiles visitors into participating, whether by wading through the heaps of paper, by writing poems on individual sheets, or by folding them into paper cranes.

There's another, subtler reference to the body. Forty pneumatic mechanisms in the rafters subtly scoop and release the papers at the pace of a human breathing deeply: The lift is the inhaling part; the release, the exhaling. Whether or not you're conscious of the rhythm, there is something comforting and cleansing about it. -
more-

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Sister Joan's arc of activism travels true
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY For Sister Joan Chittister, defiance is a form of obedience.

And silence in the face of injustice is a sin.

The powerhouse sister may come packaged like a powder puff — a powder-blue suit matching her powder-blue eyes. But her outspoken ways challenge any tired stereotypes of women religious, as Catholic sisters and nuns are known.
...
Why is she still Catholic?

"I can't not be Catholic!" she exclaims, calling her church a "treasure house" of culture, history, tradition and discipline that "develops the soul."

Yet she also was shaped by "three great streams of change: Vatican II, Vietnam and the women's movement. No one can stand in the midst of all these deluges and not know you are being carried to a new place."

So why, half a century after her first vows, is she still a sister?

"It's the way I can model Jesus. He was always walking, giving, doing, challenging, questioning, raising people up, always fearless." -more-

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Cultural Diversity for human development
Parsuram Tamang

Throughout the history, the cultural identities have been suppressed, sometimes brutally – as state policy – through religious persecutions and ethnic cleansings to everyday exclusion, to economic – social – cultural and political discrimination. The victims are the indigenous peoples, minorities, and the migrants.

Cultural diversity is as necessary for human kind as biodiversity is for nature. Cultural diversity flourishes where there is cultural liberty and respect and recognition for different cultures. Cultural liberty is a human right and an important aspect of human development – thus worthy of state action and attention.
...
Cultural and linguistic diversity is the reality of the world. More than 5000 different ethnic groups live in approximately 200 countries of the world today. In two out of every three countries there are indigenous peoples and minority groups that make up more than 10 percent of the global population. Of the estimated 6,000 cultures in the world, between 4,000 and 5,000 are indigenous peoples.

Of the estimated 10,000 languages that have existed over time, only about 6,000 languages are spoken today. Approximately, three-quarters of the world’s 6,000 languages are spoken by indigenous peoples. In the last century, the world has lost about 600 languages. And the number is projected to drop by 50-90 percent over the next 100 years. Most of them are indigenous peoples and traditional communities' languages. This is an alarming situation, and around the world, Indigenous Peoples and cultural communities are therefore more assertive in demanding respect for their cultures and identities. There is an urgent need to draw the attention of the national and international communities to reverse the trend. -more-

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Lawyers who heal?

"People would call me the pit bull," recalls Ms. Holland of her life in the courtroom up until a few years ago. "But then I had a transformation."

Holland's transformation has led her to join a small but growing group of lawyers, judges, and educators who practice law holistically - working to empower and heal themselves and their clients and to spread civility and good will. In the world of holistic law, the minds and bodies of the clients are as important as their pocketbooks; losing sometimes means winning in the long run; and words like blame, right, and wrong have no home. It is not, in any case, 54 lawyers around a light bulb.

While each holistic lawyer works in a different way, they draw common inspiration from Eastern traditions, New Age writers, and native American spirituality. Much like holistic doctors who seek to treat the whole patient instead of the symptoms, explains Holland, holistic lawyers think of their clients as complex people in need of counseling, not entities with narrow legal problems.

"Before, even as I was winning lots of money for clients, I was finding they were still not happy," recalls Holland. "My clients were getting compensation - but the anger remained," she says. "So, had I helped?"

Slowly, Holland also began loathing the tough examinations - filled with "provoking, humiliating, and embarrassing the witnesses" - that she was so good at. "I realized, as many of us do, that practicing law that way is horrible and harsh." -more-

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Elegba Folklore Society performs in Richmond, VA.

If “culture” can be defined as a bridge between a people’s past and their future, then the Elegba Folklore Society is a true embodiment of African tradition and folklore.
...
According to Founder and Artistic Director Janine Bell, the 14-year old Elegba Folklore Society seeks not simply to demonstrate original African culture, but to relate it through song, rhythm and story to African culture in the U.S. “It is important that the audience recognizes cultural relationships,” she says. “Most of us have a propagandized view of African culture, and we [Elegba] have the job of bringing clarity out of confusion.”
...
Children, elders and adults will all take part in this celebratory performance. Bell stresses the importance of “incorporating every part of a community” into the holistic exploration of culture that the audience sees on the stage: not just the movement of dancers and drummers, but “a generational movement in terms of passing on tradition.” -more-

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Fitting In

I had an experience last month that gave me a new view of fitting in. I attended a five-day music improvisation workshop led by Bobby McFerrin. At one session someone suggested that we sing for a woman who had become ill and had left the workshop early in the week. So at the end of that morning's session, we sang for her. She wasn't able to be there, but we sang with her in mind.

One hundred and fifty-strong, we united in the musical phrase that Bobby gave us. As with many of the exercises in group improvisation that we'd done, the music took on a shape of its own, evolving into different melodies and rhythms. At one point he directed us to sing one note, and some singers began to harmonize on that note. Some beautiful chords emerged. Then one beautiful chord grew louder and louder until I was sure it could be no louder. The sound enveloped us, and I was part of a whole that was bigger than sound, bigger than the group. The unity I felt moved me to tears.
...
The harmony of that chord has also become for me a microcosm of the harmony of the universe - of diversity in unity, of unity in a shared mission. The various colors of the sound produced something beautifully dissonant at times, but not discordant.

This experience has helped me feel more deeply that I truly am unified with others; my brotherhood and sisterhood with people I encounter in various aspects of my life feel more real. The deep bond that exists between us because we are indeed brothers and sisters is becoming more tangible. -more-

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ADD awareness fuels cyclist's 5,000-mile trip Subscription

But 40 days and nearly 5,000 miles since he set off - alone - from Portland, Ore., Sandler is alive, well and has almost finished the cross-country bicycle trek to raise awareness of attention deficit disorder.
...
Sandler's journey is as much about ADD as it is overcoming the neurological disorder that, according to the National Institutes of Health, affects 3 percent to 5 percent of Americans. He says its major symptoms - distractibility, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, poor attention span and impulsiveness - can be treated, offering his trip as part of the proof.

Sandler, 33 - whose ADD was diagnosed when he was a child - has learned to live with the disorder as an adult, earning two master's degrees from Colorado State University, in business and computers. "ADD is not a disorder so much as a gift. We're brilliant, creative people," he says.

"I want to send the message to not throw up your hands and give up."
...
He also thrives on the encouragement of supporters, who have almost completely funded his trip. "I get by on a combination of eBay-ing my life away and donations," he says. Sandler sold his motorcycle, for example, when he ran out of money halfway through his trip. Facing such struggles has helped Sandler appreciate the kindness of strangers. "People are people wherever you go," he says.

His faith also has been a factor. "There have been so many coincidences that I can no longer call them coincidences," says Sandler, who attributes his triumph over ADD in part to spirituality. "It's given me so much faith that everything will work out." -more-

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New Books Rewire Our Thinking on High Tech
By dave watson

It's rare that books about technology go much beyond describing the past, even though they usually purport to tell the future. Common subjects are the design of a computer or the evolution of a company, the origins of the Net or of research into virtual reality. Simple documentary stuff. It's a much riskier proposition to attempt to write with a bigger-picture view; you need a bold theory and the means to support your argument.

American academic and media theorist Siva Vaidhyanathan has that dramatic thesis: current technologies such as peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing and systems that sidestep copyright are just the latest incarnation of the age-old ideological battle between anarchy and oligarchy, resistance against authority versus attempts to establish autocratic control. In his new book, The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System (Basic Books, $40), Vaidhyanathan analyzes the ways in which the individual power granted by information technology has led to confrontations with the ruling elite.
...
How Images Think (MIT Press, $34.95), written by Ron Burnett, president of Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, is an analysis of images, particularly digital ones, and their power to communicate. But once again, the ordinary stuff you'd expect to find has been replaced with an insightful exploration of many bigger issues. Bravo.

For starters, How Images Think has a very open interpretation of what constitutes an image. Sure, photos and movies and TV shows are in there, but so are Web pages, software interfaces, games, animation, P2P networks, commonly used gadgets, and virtual environments. And Burnett goes a lot further than that: he talks about visualizing on-line communities, human consciousness, the physiological reactions of the brain to imagery as revealed through modern medical technology, even the ways that computer metaphors have infected our concepts of how our minds work. (Nobody used to think of their eyes as data-input devices in the old days.)

The problem in discussing this book is that it doesn't reduce well to a few simple descriptions. It's a detailed, personally narrated exploration that constantly surprises you. The chapter titles imply a series of superficially linked essays, but the words within immerse you in a journey that, well, "means that the newer technologies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries are no longer just extensions of human abilities and needs; they are enlarging cultural and social preconceptions of the relationships between body and mind." The book is devoted to the implications of that concept and of the ways it is becoming built into our culture. Think of the role calculators now play, part of the human thinking process outsourced to a machine. -more-

Monday, July 19, 2004

Hmong journey Subscription

WAT THAM KRABOK, Thailand - Teng Yang and his family live on the other side of the earth from the home they will soon make in California. But in many ways, they inhabit another universe.

If they get sick, they slaughter a pig and two chickens as offerings to the spirits. A 13-year-old bride, a man with two wives -- these are accepted social arrangements in the dusty squatters' colony where they have spent the past 11 years of their drifters' lives.

Teng and his family -- a Hmong clan of 27 people from the jungles of Laos -- are moving to Fresno, a middle-class, Central Valley town whose social mores will be as baffling to them as the drive-through line at McDonald's.

Over the next several months, 15,000 other Laotian Hmong who live at this makeshift refugee camp will follow them, most settling in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the three U.S. states with the largest established Hmong populations. -more-

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Spiritual wills surge as way to pass on values

WASHINGTON – For years, Monroe Singer’s “New Year Greetings To My Family” has graced the suburban home of Sally Singer Horwatt. A scant eight paragraphs, it was written in the chill of a 1945 Chicago winter as war ravaged the world.

To daughter Sally, then 4, Singer wrote: “Happiness should come easy for you because you give so much joy to all of us. My wish for you in this New Year is my wish for all your life – Happiness, Health and a gracious spirit that you may continue to give to all those around you the joy you have given to me.”

Horwatt’s father, a salesman, died in 1966 at 64. Today, she treasures what he wrote to his wife and three children more than anything else he left behind because “it’s contact with my father, with his humanity. It expresses his values.”

What Horwatt, 63, has always called “Dad’s letter” is an example of what is now commonly called an ethical will, a document that bequeaths to loved ones a spiritual, rather than material, legacy. -more-

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Canadian Jesuit embodied bracing power of joy

In the late 1960s, (John) English, along with many like-minded Jesuits, spearheaded some remarkable developments in the whole area of Ignatian spiritual direction. The results of this kind of leadership are with us still, fermenting, generating and inspiring. English liked to remind people that the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola are not an arcane collection of unworldly maxims, nor a manual for the gnostic or spiritually elite.

For English, they're like "a Shakespearean play which is always being interpreted and then reinterpreted, changing and adjusting to different cultures and times. The key to the exercises, it seems to me, can be found in its internal dynamic of experience, reflection, articulation and interpretation."

The spirituality of Ignatius as crystallized in the exercises is a spirituality for everyone. It is egalitarian, accessible, and non-esoteric. It is there for the taking, or perhaps more precisely, for the doing. No Jesuit in Canada laboured more assiduously, creatively, and energetically for the "doing" than English.

The deep appreciation for his labours in this field of spirituality, for his persistence and integrity, was amply provided by the large crowd that attended the memorial service in Guelph. The ceremony spoke beautifully and appositely to his predominant passions: his love of nature, his great good humour, his openness to others, his ecumenical sensitivities, and his spiritual resilience.

As I watched the gathered remember him with tears, anecdotes, and laughter, I recalled my own brief encounters with him: research interviews, casual conversation, shared concerns. Although he was never my spiritual director, I read his work, probed his thinking, and shared his jokes. Most important, I tasted the joy of his life. And that's my point.

Catholics are not a bunkered people, and such a posture should be foreign to our very nature. The demands of discipleship, the liberating power of joy, and intelligent discernment are the components that make for an active and informed Christian witness.

English reminded us in his writing, in his life, and through his evolving legacy that the spirituality in which he had been schooled — the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola — is, in the end, a spirituality of right-knowing and of making things just. It doesn't so much proscribe experience, which sometimes other spiritualities tend to do, as much as it invites one to sift and gauge its true measure. He spent his life trying to sift and gauge the true measure of the spirituality he had made his own, but he didn't hoard his insights. He harvested them.

English is one stellar reminder that a meaningful and integrated spirituality is the foundation for reform, the raison d'être of Roman Catholic structures of governance and institutions of evangelization. We need to get that right. We need to get it as right as English did for, in the end, atrophying structures will only give way to the luminous credibility provided by the likes of Fr. John J. English, S.J. -more-

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Beautiful Plain deacon recalled as 'gentle man'

BY RION A. SCOTT
Press & Sun-Bulletin

At five minutes to 5 p.m., almost as dependable as the sunrise, Luther R. "Rudy" Cole would stroll into the Binghamton YMCA for his job in the athletic center, much to the delight of members and co-workers.

He was always on hand for friendly, soft-spoken conversation that added to member's enjoyment of the facility. His voice is stilled now. Mr. Cole died Saturday. He was 87.

Cole, a deeply religious man, was a leader at the Beautiful Plain Baptist Church. He served as chairman of the board of trustees there for many years. He was an auxiliary policeman for the Binghamton Police Bureau and worked for Kason Hardware for 42 years.

Services for Mr. Cole will be held at noon Friday at the Beautiful Plain Baptist Church on Riverside Drive in Binghamton.

"Rudy had the disposition that I wish I had," said Roy Cager, Cole's supervisor at the YMCA. "He was a gentleman and a gentle man."

For member Braidy Brown, seeing Mr. Cole at the YMCA was a normal routine. Mr. Cole was out of town on one of Brown's recent visits. It almost seemed as if something was out of place. "You like to see Rudy because that's the way the day goes," Brown said.

Cager worked with him for about seven years, and Mr. Cole was like a surrogate father to him. Cager went to Mr. Cole with his problems and used him as a sounding board. Mr. Cole always took time to listen.

"He put things into perspective. He helped you realize that this is a job, and it could be daunting, disconcerting, even, I guess, irritating at times, but there are more important things to worry about."

Cager remembers that Mr. Cole was a deeply spiritual man. Every time he had a break he would crack open his Bible. Mr. Cole served as deacon at the Beautiful Plain Baptist Church. He could find a biblical reference in any situation. The two often discussed spirituality, but Mr. Cole never tried to force his views on anybody else, Cager said.

Mr. Cole wouldn't work Sunday; his religion wouldn't allow it. But he often worked eight-hour days when he didn't have to, Cager said.

Cager remains in awe of Mr. Cole's life. "It's not easy getting to be an 87-year-old black man," Cager said. "That impresses me." This has been the entire article.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Hawking changes his mind about black holes
Mark Peplow
Physicist plans to pay up on long-standing bet.
Stephen Hawking has admitted he was wrong.

The eminent physicist Stephen Hawking has conceded that information can escape from black holes after all. The idea has been gaining popularity with physicists for some time, but the fact that Hawking, a pioneer of black-hole theory in the 1970s, has finally accepted it is something of a watershed.

"This will come as a surprise to physicists," says Hawking's Cambridge University colleague Gary Gibbons. "His style of doing science is quite dramatic: he will propose a thesis and defend it to the last, until it is overthrown by better reasoning."

It also means that Hawking loses a long-standing bet with John Preskill, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Hawking had believed that anything swallowed by a black hole was forever hidden from the outside universe. Preskill bet that the information carried by an object was not destroyed when it plummeted into a collapsed star, and could actually be recovered.

"Stephen has changed his position, and I am expecting him to concede the bet," Preskill says. His prize is to be an encyclopaedia, "from which information can be recovered at will". Hawking says that he will indeed honour the wager. -
more-

Friday, July 16, 2004

'Risen' takes spiritual look at culture
By: GARY WARTH - Staff Writer

With edgy artwork and articles about surfers, skaters, artists and movie stars, Risen fits right in with other pop-culture magazines aimed at young audience. Within those celebrity interviews, however, is something more than hype about a new album, trivia about careers and gossip about relationships. Each subject likely will be faced with a question about God.

"We're just trying to get to the core of a person," editor Chris Ahrens said about the Sorrento Valley-based magazine. "If the core of a person is Christianity, we're going to go with that. But if he's Buddhist, that's fine, too."

In the two years since the magazine was first published, the Cardiff resident has interviewed actors Billy Bob Thornton and Gary Busey, musicians Alice Cooper, Ziggy Marley, Jack Johnson, the Black Eyed Peas and Angie Stone, former jewel thief Jack "Murph the Surf" Murphy, skateboarders Christian Hosoi and Tony Hawk, and surfers Daize Shayne and Rob Machado, among others.

He's also turned down interviews with top action-sports stars and celebrities such as James Caviezel, star of "The Passion of the Christ," because the subjects wouldn't give enough time or agree to an in-person interview.

Ahrens said the little-known magazine is able to get such high-profile subjects by offering something different: a look at their subjects' faith. -
more-

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Reconciliation: Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

My adult son recently came to my home. We had gourmet homemade pizza. We chatted about a range of topics, and he was happy to reminisce about his younger years. He stroked my big white cat and put my small dog on his lap. He stayed for a number of hours, and we enjoyed each other's company. As he left, he gave me a long, warm hug and told me that he loved me.

Nothing remarkable? Actually it was one of the most momentous days of my life.

He and I had been totally estranged for over five years. His hostility toward me had been so severe that he would not allow my other children to tell me his phone number or address. If I did happen to meet him at a function, he would barely make eye contact with me. Letters that I sent to him ended up in the rubbish bin.

At first, the grief I felt over this loss was intense. Tears would come to my eyes whenever I saw other children who resembled him. As he grew taller and filled out, he seemed like a stranger to me.

I knew the best solution was prayer. I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, and she shared many ideas and was very confident that this situation could be resolved. -
more-

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The gay community is coming out of the closet again – spiritually

"The movement is in its infancy, but it's just starting to gel," says Steve Kammon, editor of Circuitnoize.com, a website devoted to circuit parties. Kammon attended the first ever gay spiritual summit, held in upstate New York in May – an event that serves as testament to the community's burgeoning shift from cruising to consecration. "New connections are being forged. We're trying to make way for a kind of communal energy that supports and uplifts," he says.
...
In Coming out Spiritually, Christian de la Huerta traces how gays have been spiritual teachers, shamans and healers, often playing the role of "consciousness scouts," or those who map out what lies ahead in order to report back and inform the tribe. "In that sense, we've always been in the vanguard," he says, "whether it's setting trends in fashion, music, or the arts. Even with AIDS, we were the guinea pigs, there to provide a service for the rest of humanity."

That particular role – being on the cutting edge of consciousness – is being revved up, according to many gay spiritual practitioners, due to a wider societal awakening. -more-

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1-woman play examines human experience

Nearly 10 years after graduating from IU (Indiana University), former theatre and drama major Amy Fortoul returns to Bloomington with a unique show she created to discuss the rather difficult subjects of image, sexuality, eating disorders and the human experience. The play is titled "This IS my BODY," and much of Fortoul's body and soul have gone into its creation. For this performance, Fortoul is working as the writer, director and sole actor.
...
"To me, it's been a process of taking whatever kind of self-hatred lives inside you and turning that over into something light and into something beautiful and into something empowering, kind of tapping into your own courage," Fortoul said. -more-

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The artist, Sedona’s John Spannagel, was nominated for a 2004 Governor’s Arts Award in the Individual Artist category. The mural, entitled “Art, the Golden Thread of Life,” ambitiously connects history, various cultures, current events, and even gives us a glimpse into the future.

Spannagel worked for a year and a half to complete the 90-foot long mural, alongside Arizona 179. Commissioned by Marc and Angela Ringel, owners of The Sedona Trading Post in Bell Rock Plaza, it fuses Sedona’s beautiful rock formations, Native American cultures, scenes from the old west, music and movies with various symbolic elements of knowledge, spirituality and discovery, exemplified by a lotus flower and white rose.

Moved by the events of 9/11, the artist incorporated the twin towers of the World Trade Center and such familiar patriotic icons as the Statue of Liberty, the American eagle and American flag. Finally, looking into the future, Spannagel included a magnificent rendering of the universe, based on photos captured by the Hubble telescope. -more-

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Tales of the Masters
By Jay Michaelson
July 16, 2004

God in All Moments: Mystical & Practical Spiritual Wisdom From Hasidic Masters
Edited & Translated by Or Rose with Ebn D. Leader
Jewish Lights, 163 pages, $16.95.

Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained
Translation and Annotation By Rabbi Rami Shapiro
SkyLight Paths, 193 pages, $16.95.

If you've seen "The Chosen," or just tried to buy a digital camera on 47th Street in New York City, you know who Hasidim are: the black hats, the Yiddish accents, the "ultra-Orthodox" religious practice. Few, however, know that Hasidism was a radical movement originally, provoking outrage, bans, even book burnings because of its revolutionary teachings.

Founded in the late 18th century by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (literally, "Master of the Good Name," a twist on the traditional title of a magical folk healer), Hasidism popularized and psychologized kabbalistic and other Jewish mystical wisdom. It taught that God can be experienced here, now, in our bodies and souls; that God is everywhere; and that the purpose of human life is to cleave to God in holy, joyous love.

Eventually, Hasidism became much more conservative, primarily in response to the threats of assimilation and reform. Although there remain important differences, Hasidim appear to outsiders as scarcely distinguishable from their once-bitter opponents. Now, they are the right wing.

Enter "neo-Hasidism," a decentralized movement that has emerged from Jewish Renewal, the chavurah movement and other spiritual streams of Judaism that arose in the wake of the 1960s. If traditional Hasidim now stress strict Torah observance and separation from modern society, neo-Hasidim are the opposite: their Halachic observance varies widely ,and they embrace not just the technological but also the ideological innovations of modern and postmodern society, from feminism to the academic interpretations of sacred texts. Neo-Hasidim put on tefillin and vote pro-choice; we daven and we meditate (I learn and teach in various neo-Hasidic communities). While lineage is central to traditional Hasidim, neo-Hasidim do not pretend to be continuing an uninterrupted tradition; we wouldn't want to do that anyway, and we know that much of what we do would terrify or infuriate many early Hasidic masters. So we willfully pick and choose among the tradition. The revival is about spiritual search, not historical re-creation.

To some critics, neo-Hasidism is nothing more than an appropriation of Hasidic literature and language atop a 'spiritual' lifestyle that has more in common with self-help and the 1960s than with traditional Judaism. In my own experience, however, the literary explorations pioneered by Martin Buber and the Orientalizing Romanticism of films like "The Chosen" have very little to do with how contemporary neo-Hasidim regard themselves and their religious practice. It's not about, in the words of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a founder of Jewish Renewal and perhaps the first neo-Hasidic rebbe, "meditating in a Tallis." Rather, for Reb Zalman (as he is known by his followers), neo-Hasidism is a translation of the ethos of another time into the religious vocabulary and social mores of this one. "If you can understand what feminist Hasidism would really entail, in terms of ritual, community, and god-language," he said at last year's neo-Hasidic conference in New York, "that's neo-Hasidism."

Rabbi Arthur Green, one of the founders of the movement, has long called for the creation of a "neo-Hasidic bookshelf" that would translate, package and interpret the teachings of the Hasidic masters for a new generation. The bookshelf would have to recognize that many come to neo-Hasidism without the formal Jewish background essential for reading and understanding Hasidic texts. It would have to sort, distill, translate and explain.

Recently, two major steps have been taken toward fulfilling Green's vision: Rabbi Rami Shapiro's translation of "Hasidic Tales," and Or Rose's translation, with Ebn Leader, of Hasidic hanhagot, or spiritual practices, published as "God in All Moments: Mystical & Practical Spiritual Wisdom From Hasidic Masters." The books, capably translated and thoughtfully presented, reflect both the strengths and the weaknesses in this emerging trend of Jewish spirituality. -more-

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Prince Charles may have overstepped the mark, cancer expert says
09 Jul 2004

'You may have overstepped the mark' cancer expert warns Prince of Wales. An open letter to the Prince of Wales: with respect, your highness, you’ve got it wrong BMJ Volume 328, p 118 In this week's BMJ, a leading breast cancer expert warns the Prince of Wales that he may have overstepped the mark with his public support for alternative medicine.

"Over the past 20 years I have treated thousands of patients with cancer," writes Michael Baum, Professor emeritus of surgery at University College London. "The power of my authority comes with a knowledge built on 40 years of study and 25 years of active involvement in cancer research."

"Your power and authority rest on an accident of birth. I don't begrudge you that authority, but I do beg you to exercise your power with extreme caution when advising patients with life threatening diseases to embrace unproven therapies."

He adds: "It is in the nature of your world to be surrounded by sycophants who constantly reinforce what they assume are your prejudices. Sir, they patronise you! Allow me this chastisement."

"I have much time for complementary therapy that offers improvements in quality of life or spiritual solace, providing that it is truly integrated with modern medicine. But I have no time at all for "alternative" therapy that places itself above the laws of evidence and practices in a metaphysical domain that harks back to the dark days of Galen."

"With respect your Highness, you've got it wrong."
(This has been the entire article.)

 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

When parents and kids exercise together, everyone wins

Sure, parents can and do enroll their children in all kinds of team sports and sit on the sidelines. But some parents are finding ways for the whole family to stay fit together, and they say that's more fun and healthy for everybody. "Kids are very perceptive," says Tom Ryan, president of Dallas Athletes Athletic Club, which recently started a triathlon program for kids and families that lets parents run with their kids. "They'll hear what Mom and Dad have to say, but are they listening?

"When you show them and get out there and get in the pool with them or go for a run and ask them to get on the bike and ride next to you, that sends a different message. They remember that."

"In our family, we have pizza night on Thursdays, and on Wednesdays we go to the pool," says Mr. Ryan.

Here, four area families share their exercise stories and advice for getting active and staying that way: -
more-

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Dazed & Confused Magazine visited Archbishop Desmond Tutu during his recent tenure as visiting lecturer at King's College, London.

D&C: As chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you've had to read some horrific accounts of brutality. What drives humans to commit such acts?

DT: I don't know. But we all know that we have inside us a little beast. When we look at people who have committed awful crimes, none of us can afford to be superior.

None of us can say, 'had I been brought up in and exposed to the same conditions and circumstances as this person, I wouldn't have done it'.

The people who perpetrate these things are ordinary human beings, just like you and me.

Most importantly, there is the other side. You should ask, what drives people to be compassionate and altruistic?

Young people who go and work in poverty-stricken places, looking for no reward, not even publicity.

So yes, we have in each one of us the possibility of being monstrous.

But we also have within us the possibility of being saints. -more-

Tuesday, July 12, 2004

Some Turning to Hindu Breathing Technique

NEW DELHI - It seemed odd to me that one would need lessons in how to breathe. Yet people worldwide
are turning to the intensive Art of Living course on lowering stress and finding renewed vigor and
clarity through age-old Hindu breathing techniques. "
...

The premise of the program is to perform "sudarshan kriya" every morning for 25 minutes. If that sounds like the approach of Transcendental Meditation, it's because Shankar was a disciple and associate of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Sudarshan kriya, which Shankar says came to him during 10 days of silent meditation in 1982, involves rhythmic breathing to infuse the body with oxygen and help rid it of toxins and stress. India's ancient yogis considered fresh oxygen and calmness key to physical stamina, so breathing in tune with the rhythms of nature has always been an integral part of yoga.
...
The breathing, combined with several minutes of meditation and some simple yoga stretches, does induce a sense of innocence and gratitude.
...
There has been criticism that the $1.5 billion Art of Living Foundation has not done enough to spread its wealth, but Shankar is generally regarded as honest and modest. Most experts on cults say his group's practitioners have never been accused of abuse or excessive behavior.

Shankar insists his only goal is to help people reduce stress, thus become better people: "Masters don't need any favor from you. They just take off that anguish and garbage which you cannot lift off yourself. All enlightened masters on this planet are garbage collectors." -
more-

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Finding Meaning in Your Job Speaker Offers Advice on Reducing Stress and Increasing Energy

People need to connect with the meaning — the spirit — of themselves and their work to make it stress-and-burnout-free,
Pat McHenry Sullivan told a crowd of about 30 people at Winchester Medical Center’s Conference Center on Thursday.
...
People need to recognize the spirit guiding them, talk about it, and make it part of their work to keep it meaningful, she said.

But the whole process isn’t something that can be defined by anyone other than the individual. Sullivan recalled her grandmother, whose work was in the home, and who infused her creations — particularly of food and crafts — with her spirit and love.

“Holy is as holy does,” Sullivan said. And the process of reaching that place “needs to be as simple, as integrated, as whole, as the making of bread,” she said. -
more-

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Is motherhood a universal bond?

By Jennifer Niesslein

I lie there and I think very hard about what that common denominator might be, that universal thing that all mothers share. It's usually quarter past midnight when I get to this point.

Then I wish very much that I had had a few drinks before padding into the bedroom.

In the past year, motherhood has gotten some big, thought-provoking attention in the mainstream media. But it's not really motherhood that's getting the press. It's a certain kind of mother. In The New York Times, Lisa Belkin wrote "The Opt-Out Revolution"--about mothers with Ivy League educations and high-powered jobs who then decide to stay home with their kids. In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan wrote "How Serfdom Saved the Women's Movement"--about rich mothers who hire nannies to care for their children (a group of mothers that, curiously, she insists on calling "feminists").

Certainly, these are rarified segments of the mothering population. I suppose the argument could be made that well-educated mothers with high-paying and prestigious jobs are a good litmus test of how well women in general combine professional success and family. You know, the canaries in the career mines deserve the most press. I wouldn't make that argument, though.

I think that every subset of mothers has its own issues, its own ranking of what's important. I'm sure that my railing against being called a housewife after my son was born felt pretty abstract to my mother and grandmother, who saw being able to stay at home with their children as a great economic luxury. I'd bet that mothers of profoundly disabled children would prefer that mothers of normal children save the oh-the-kids-are-killing-me schtick for someone else. And I have a terrible nagging suspicion that there are entire groups of mothers out there who don't have an articulate spokesperson to bring their issues to public light. How much overlap is there among the subsets of mothers? And can anybody speak for all mothers? -more-

Monday, July 11, 2004

"Johnny Appleseed Historical Drama"

Along with apple seeds, John Chapman spread his own stout spiritual beliefs as he traveled through the Midwestern wilderness in the early 1800s. The man who became known as Johnny Appleseed was drawn to a set of beliefs known as Swedenborgianism, a religion that continues today.

Based on writings of a Swedish scientist and Lutheran reformer named Emanuel Swedenborg, the Christian doctrine believes the Bible is the inspired, layered word of God. According to the Web site www.swedenborg.org, the Swedish theologian believed the Bible had two parallel stories: the historical account of people, places and events, and within that account a deeper, spiritual reflection of our individual journeys.

Those in the audience for the June 26 inaugural performance of the "Johnny Appleseed Historical Drama" near Mifflin heard the tongue-twisting name Swedenborgianism mentioned during the show.

Bill Jones, president and founder of Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center, has studied Appleseed for many years. He said Swedenborg, who died several years before Appleseed was born, had no intentions of founding a new faith but one developed thanks to Swedenborg's "prolific and profound" writings.

"He probably had the most agile and sophisticated mind of his time," Jones said. "He's been compared to DaVinci."

Swedenborgianism holds that "all life should be respected -- the lowest to the most sophisticated," Jones noted. -more-

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"If the Buddha Came to Dinner" by Hale Sofia Schatz (Hyperion, $14.95)

Imagine that you've been asked to be the personal chef to Jesus, the Buddha, Allah or God, Schatz writes. What would you prepare? She contends that most people would not serve the foods they put in their bodies on a daily basis, from french fries to KFC.

She argues that true spiritual nourishment includes diet as well as meditation, prayer and exercise. "We are hungry for the nourishing foods and activities that feed our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits as one integrated being," she writes.

This book is mostly about eating, from what to eat to how to eat mindfully. She argues that organic produce is best and nonprocessed foods are the choice of spiritually enlightened eaters.

She pleads for Americans to take greater responsibility for their food choices and become more engaged in the food chain.

The back of the book is full of recipes -- French lentils, tofu salad, black-eyed peas. For dessert, she suggests poached figs or cranberry-stuffed pears. (Who says she doesn't know how to live?)

This is one of a number of new books that argues from a common sense perspective that diet is a gauge of spiritual heath.
(This has been the entire article.)

~ ~ ~

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Art

XU BING, a Chinese-born artist who lives in New York, has recently learned a lot about the physical properties of dust. Mr. Xu brushed up a pound or two of it from Chinatown streets in New York just after Sept. 11, 2001. Until a few months ago, he had it stashed in a zipper-sealed plastic bag. But then the dust undertook a journey, both literal and figurative.

Mr. Xu is a conceptual artist whose work deals with hybrid cultures and hybrid language. He is known for elaborate installations of live creatures, like silkworms, birds, sheep and pigs, that double as sly conceptual and cultural comments. On a more personal level, Mr. Xu, a scholar of Zen Buddhism, says he often tries, futilely, to reconcile opposing attitudes of West and East in his work.
...
Mr. Xu said: "My scientist friends say dust is one of the most stable of materials. It's very peaceful, it never changes. Sodust is a very Zen idea."
...
Artist Xu Bing molded dust he collected on Sept. 11, 2001, into a doll in order to carry it to Wales, then used it in his installation "Where Does the Dust Collect Itself?" which won the first Artes Mundi prize. -more-

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Spirituality rules India's summit with Asia-Pacific

SINGAPORE: The 'India Calling 2004 Asia Pacific Business Summit' kicked off on Friday at Singapore with a call to NRIs and the business community in the region to look at India as a major investment destination.

What made the underlying message of investment at the summit — being hosted by the Indian Merchant Chamber and Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry — more interesting was the theme of spirituality that ran through it.

Renowned spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living Foundation, who blessed the 430-strong gathering at the inaugural session, and the Times Group chairman and chairperson of the inaugural meet, Ms Indu Jain, highlighted the importance of the holistic sciences in the corporate environment.

Giving a new dimension to popular corporate buzz words like M&A, BPO and IT, Ms Jain talked about Meditation and Accomplishment (M&A), Bring Peace and Oneness (BPO) and India Transforms, India Transcends and India Timeless (IT). -
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On their way to Panama: Dozens of Native Americans pass through SLO County on a journey to reconnect with their roots

SAN LUIS OBISPO - Dozens of American Indians from throughout the West Coast made stops in San Luis Obispo County on Thursday as they continued a spiritual run that began in Alaska and will end in Panama City, Panama.

Participants in the fourth Peace and Dignity Run, an indigenous spiritual journey that takes place every four years, made stops in Templeton and at Cuesta College Thursday in their second month of running.

They slept in Templeton on Wednesday night and ran through the county to Guadalupe, where they will leave this morning to continue their journey.

While running, many of the 35 or so participants pray and reflect on personal issues, and many have found new insight into dealing with obstacles.

"This run is not about politics," said Vidal Barragan, 21, a student from Santa Ana who began his journey at the Hupa Reservation in Northern California. "Running is a sacred instrument. We are literally giving our bodies to the earth by being out there in the elements everyday. It's really about sacrificing yourself." -more-

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Parliament of the World's Religions debates, celebrates faith (Subscription)

The assembly is attended by representatives of the major faiths and other spiritual movements, some of which have emerged only in the last 30 years.

The parliament--where bearded Sikhs hand out free lunches of curried chickpeas and rice, and hand-holding is plentiful among Buddhists, Muslims and Christians--appears to be in perfect harmony.

But underlying the touchy-feely atmosphere is a search to define a true faith. From sunup to sundown, mullahs, cardinals, gurus and cult followers are asking: What is religion? For the free-spirited, represented in great numbers, the answer is a matter of semantics.

No matter what the term--"faith," "movement" or "path"--everyone has the right to call their beliefs "religion," some of the participants say. And for many, that can produce a wide range of definitions.
,,,
Dadi Janki became known as the "cookie guru" for handing out sweets at the parliament.
...
Each evening at a posh apartment in downtown Barcelona, far from the official parliament along the seafront, self-styled American guru Andrew Cohen is holding what he calls a salon.
...
Deepak Chopra, the author of 29 books who has made the transformation from a holistic health expert to an Eastern guru, drew a packed audience. -more-

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The Hermit of Gully Lake may have lived alone, but he was remembered yesterday by many friends

EARLTOWN, N.S. -- The Hermit of Gully Lake would have been deeply touched but also a little embarrassed by the fuss.

Yesterday, in a small, airy white clapboard church in this village about 130 kilometres northwest of Halifax, some 100 men and women, residents of Earltown and Mt. Thom and Salt Springs, filled the pews and some extra chairs to pay their respects to Willard Kitchener MacDonald, the 87-year-old recluse whose remains were found late last month in the remote woods he had called home for most of his life.

Although, over the years, some outsiders made attempts to convert Mr. MacDonald to their own standards of living, he was loved by many who respected his desire for seclusion and the simple life.

"Some people felt he was out there by himself and that he died alone, but that is not true," Pastor Neil Stirling said. "He had a need for solitude and the chorus of the birds, for the sunrises and sunsets over Gully Lake, for the blanket of autumn leaves outside his home, for . . . the wind through the trees and the crunch of snow beneath his feet."

Mr. MacDonald disappeared in November after some visitors to his camp went to get medical help for him. Though his health was deteriorating, he wanted no part of it. More than 100 volunteers who went searching for him on June 27 found his body.

"He was quite a fellow," said Ralph Hislop, a friend of his for 20 years. "He was smart, and he got to like having visitors. At first he was shy and disappeared when we'd show up on our snowmobiles. But he could get talking, and he loved to recite poetry."
...
"I came away many times thinking he was much smarter than the rest of us," long-time friend Bill Scott said. "All the rest of us running and working and fretting. He never did that." -more-

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Rice Creek Gardens: Saving a spiritual legacy

Neither her husband’s death nor a fire has deterred her. Nor will a road proposed to run through part of her property drive her out of business.

She will still have her peony fields – and for that Betty Ann Addison is thankful.

"When the horse is bucking, you stay on. You don’t give up,” she said. “And we’re staying our dream as long as we can.”

Addison, owner of Rice Creek Gardens, which some refer to as the jewel of Blaine, is here for the long run.

Despite setbacks, she is determined to stay the course and work the land. She is a planting pioneer of sorts, bent on leaving a legacy of natural beauty alongside a bustling highway. She is here – one way or another – for what she hopes is eternity.

Strolling through the gardens, Addison points out a lush variety of foliage and flowers.

“Plants give back to you,” she says slowly in hushed tones. “It’s a relationship. It’s not work. They respond to the relationship.”

She lives a content life fortified by a strong will, nurtured by long days spent planting, weeding, pruning and loving her nursery. It is her sanctuary that she shares with others.

Last year when a fire destroyed one of her greenhouses on a cold and bleak January morning after a soil sterilizer overheated, Addison remained unshaken. Instead, she rebuilt. Eighteen months later, with a lot of hard work and replanting, not a trace of that ill-fated morning remains.

“We will endure and prevail,” says Addison, a woman of slight stature that betrays her spunky attitude. -more-

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Filmmaker documents spiritual movements

Australian filmmaker Michelle Mahrer has traveled across continents to meet with Turkish whirling dervishes, Namibian shamans and Yoruban priestesses.

The impetus for her wide-ranging voyage was to document people using dance for spiritual purposes. ``I wanted to take people on a journey and show how dance, rhythm and trance are used to access other states of consciousness,'' she says.

The result is the one-hour documentary film ``Dances of Ecstasy,'' which is included on a new two-DVD set of the same title that also features five video journals on the making of the documentary, as well as music and video tracks for those who want to dance at home. The $29.95 set is sold at retailers, Amazon.com and www.dancesofecstasy.com.

Meanwhile, Mahrer and producer Nicole Ma are launching the film in the Bay Area with a dance party tonight at StudioZ.tv in San Francisco. The screening is at 8:30 p.m., and the party with DJs Dragonfly and Cheb i Sabbah follows at 9:30 p.m. -more-

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Pablo Neruda: a Life Consumed by Poetry and Politics

Neruda would have turned 100 on July 12. Today he is the emblem of the engaged poet, an artist whose heart was consumed by passion -- for people and politics. García Márquez called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century, in any language." While the homage might have been overinflated, there is little doubt that Neruda is among the most enduring voices of the last, tumultuous (in his own words, "the saddest") century.
...
Even before his death in Santiago on September 23, 1973, at the age of 69, Neruda had become an icon of the young: at once eternally idealistic and impossibly hyperkinetic. Among his own idols was Walt Whitman, whom he called an "essential brother."
...
Students everywhere embrace Neruda because he sought fairness and didn't shy away from resistance. The Communism he so fervently embraced has lost its gravitas but another larger-than-life conflict has taken hold. How would he have reacted to the current threat to civil liberties in our country? To the contradictions of the war on terror? His poems offer us an answer, with their indictment of careless corporate globalism and anger at limitations on freedom of the press.

Neruda's Buddhist-like concentration on the mundane, insignificant objects surrounding us also speaks to us today: a stamp album, an artichoke, a watermelon, a bee, a village movie theater. My personal favorite is his "Ode to the Dictionary": "you are not a/tomb, sepulcher, grave/tumulus, mausoleum,/but guard and keeper,/hidden fire." -more-

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Science as Metaphor: Where does Brian Greene stand in the pantheon of physicists?
By Amanda Schaffer

With his 1999 best seller The Elegant Universe, a NOVA special, and the recent release of a second book, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Columbia professor Brian Greene has become the closest thing that physics has to a pop star. A Harvard grad and former Rhodes scholar, lured in 1996 from a professorship at Cornell to a tenured position at Columbia, he has emerged as the chief ambassador of string theory, bringing cutting-edge work to the public in a series of TV appearances and lectures around the globe. His celebrity can be attributed to a widespread popular appetite for avant-garde science dressed in neat metaphorical packages: The universe is elegant; the cosmos is like a string symphony. Yet there is plenty to be suspicious of in Greene's unself-conscious romanticism—his unnuanced use of terms like elegance and beauty—and his teleological approach to the history of physics. Where, exactly, does he stand in the pantheon of physicists? -more-

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Reporting on Spirituality in America
July 20, Washington, D.C.

Featured Experts
Dr. Robert C. Fuller, Caterpillar Professor of Religious Studies, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois

Neale Donald Walsch, Author and Founder, Conversations With God Foundation, Medford, Oregon

Presented in association with the Religion Newswriters Foundation

Seminar Focus
The relationship between spirituality, religious beliefs and public issues is an often under-explored issue. Experts at this program will discuss the influences of spirituality and religion on public life, and the potential impact of the growth of spirituality on public debate and issues.

The Local Angle
This program is designed to help journalists respond with compelling stories drawn from a deeper base of knowledge, information and context when issues of religion, faith and spirituality are part of the story.
This program is for reporters from all beats and editors working in print, broadcast and online media. -more-

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

5,000 years of Korean culture set to ravishing choreography

Over 1,000 guests were treated to an exceptional display of traditional Korean music and dance from the famed troupe, organized by the Republic of Korea to bring the Lebanese and Korean peoples closer.

"Culture transcends the barriers of geographic distance, touching the heart and soul of the people without the need of a common language," said Korean ambassador Young-sun Kim at the opening of the performance.

Indeed, the show captured the audience with its evocations of a distant past, with a flute playing to the rhythm of three white-hooded women playing stones with large, wooden percussion sticks. -more-

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Transcultural Psychiatry for Clinical Practice

by Daniel Moldavsky, M.D.

Psychiatric Times June 2004 Vol. XXI Issue 7

During the last decades, along with advances in the understanding and treatment of mental illness, transcultural psychiatry has undergone a conceptual reformulation. The purpose of this review is to scan some of transcultural psychiatry's contributions to the epidemiology and clinical facts of mental disorders. I will also outline some of the main theoretical constructs of the discipline. Finally, I will deal with the place of transcultural psychiatry within the DSM.

Broadly speaking, transcultural psychiatry deals with how social and cultural factors create, determine or influence mental illness. In doing so, new and innovative treatment strategies are created. Despite influences of human and social sciences, transcultural psychiatry is rooted in medicine, especially in the biopsychosocial model. Contemporary developments such as globalization, massive migrations and the uprooting of populations (Kirmayer and Minas, 2000) put into focus questions of mental health of minorities. This has become a major focus of concern in the United States as well in other Western countries. -more-

Monday, July 5, 2004

Hospice leader describes slices of life, death in book, 'Letters to Rose'
By Ellen Robinson, Sidney (Montana) Herald

Katie Pust, who is a leader and educator in hospice care, as well as a provider of services to families in eastern Montana, has a new locally produced book, "Letters to Rose," which hit local bookstores earlier this month.
...
Pust, who helped establish hospice in eastern Montana 18 years ago, describes "Letters to Rose" as an expression of her spiritual journey in finding peace and hope in the dying process. In her book, she reveals her perspective on the experiences and emotions surrounding her work with the terminally ill.
...
Pust said, care, love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries because without them we would not survive.

"The greatest challenge of being a nurse on the road in rural eastern Montana is being alone and having to rely on one's own decisions and common sense," Pust said. "I have survived dog bites, cold weather, flat tires and broken windshields, all while relishing the days of seasonal changes and the beauty of the prairie." -more-

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Homeless need spiritual sustenance first

You cannot take a homeless person directly from the streets and place him into independent housing and expect anything but failure. People living independently and successfully in private housing have spent quality time in a primary-care facility. They have had disciplined study and counseling, attended group support meetings and, most important, concentrated on their spiritual, physical and psychological well-being.
...
I have rarely seen anyone fully recover and become truly successful without dealing with his or her spiritual being first. Despair, loneliness, isolation and anger quickly envelop anyone who has been homeless for as little as a month. The human spirit is crushed; only a loving God can fix that. The person heals from the inside out. -more-

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Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

God must at least be a baseball fan, or else we wouldn't have had such a glorious game.

It's easy to go on and on about the beauty of baseball, the spirituality of the game, the rich history and tradition of the sport.

Blah, blah, blah.

If you want that drivel, rent "Field of Dreams" or fast-forward to the end of "The Natural" to get that giddy, I'm-A-Kid-Again feeling.

That isn't why baseball is a glorious game.

It's a great game because on a Friday night, a lonely sportswriter can head to J.P. Riddle Stadium armed with only a scorebook and a pencil, sit up in the stands, watch college kids look overpowered swinging a wooden bat for the first time in their lives and have the time of my life for under $20. -more-

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American Indians mourn Brando's death, recall his support

LOS ANGELES -- To American Indians, Marlon Brando was a hero who began fighting for their rights decades ago.

In the late 1960s, the actor went to Washington state to call for tribes' fishing rights, appearing in ads with tribal leaders.

In the 1970s, he spoke out and donated money for the defense of Indians involved in a deadly standoff with federal agents at Wounded Knee, S.D., over alleged abuse and treaty violations.

"Marlon Brando's celebrity status gave him the world's stage to proclaim some of our most critical issues socially, environmentally and politically at a time when not many were paying any attention to our situation," said Ernest L. Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association.
...
Brando's most public appeal for Indian rights came in 1973, when he won the Academy Award for best actor in "The Godfather."

Instead of appearing himself at the awards, he sent Sasheen Littlefeather to reject the Oscar and voice his anger over Hollywood's portrayal of Indians in films.

"I think that was a pretty powerful statement by sending Sasheen to decline the Oscar. He was a contributor to the change of the image of Indians," said Michael Smith, founder of the American Indian Film Institute in San Francisco. -more-

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Software for the Soul, the Deepak Chopra way

Managers at India Inc must harness consciousness-based leadership skills that are embedded in Indian genes, given our 5000-year old socio-cultural heritage, according to New Age healing and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra.

"The wisdom contained in our Vedas, Upanishads, Gita and mythology can be a guide to our businesses leaders for actualizing the full potential of those that they serve and lead," said Chopra, speaking at the Indiatimes Stategy Summit, at New Delhi, which was attended by over 300 senior executives from leading companies.

For Chopra, the starting point for being a successful leader is to know his or her soul profile. "Soul of any individual is a living, dynamic and evolving system in consciousness.

A leader is a symbolic soul of a group consciousness," says the author of over 45 books on the art of healing, spiritualism and leadership practices. And the way to recognize one's soul profile as against ego profile - which is based on social and economic status - is through reflective self-enquiry or "tapping the awareness of the heart," is how Chopra puts it. -
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Pygmies Now Have Their Own Spiritual Center

KOLE, Congo, JULY 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A center for spiritual, intellectual and human assistance was opened for Pygmies in the Diocese of Kole, in the Pelenge region, in the heart of Congo.

Dedicated to St. Seraphim, the center is the work of the local prelate, Bishop Stanislas Lukumwena Lumbala, and two Agnus Dei missionaries.

The solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 13, was the date chosen for the inauguration of the center, which will assist some 3,000 Pygmies of the diocese, Vatican Radio reported.

On the occasion, Bishop Lukumwena administered the sacrament of confirmation, in the Sacred Heart Parish of Loto, to some 100 pygmies and Bantus, and inaugurated a course in civic education in view of the forthcoming elections.

The Pygmies, who often face marginalization, were urged to be autonomous and not to feel inferior to the Bantus. (This has been the entire story.)

~ ~ ~

Friday, July 2, 2004

Exhibit aims to change perceptions of African art

NEW YORK -- On one side of the room, a painting depicts former Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba's arrest in his fight for justice. On another, a pristine white shrine pays quiet homage to Yoruba gods.

The two items _ one a modern political statement and the other a craft commonplace in West African villages for centuries _ are juxtaposed in "African Art Is ... ," an exhibit which aims to introduce African art to the public.
...
"Artists were affected by Apartheid, so my work represents the voicelessness of people in South Africa," said Thabiso Phokompe, 34, whose "Spiritual Journey II" is part of the exhibit.

Phokompe said the piece, made of two crossing sticks on a soil background, represents his soul.

"Spirituality was not allowed for us, so I'm trying to open channels for other artists to follow suit," Phokompe said. -more-

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Music teacher hopes to kindle love for spiritual songs, true heritage

She can sing in German, French and Hungarian, but she prefers singing spirituals, like the ones she remembers her grandmother humming and singing. “That’s my passion,” said Rosephanye Dunn Powell, an associate professor of music at Auburn University.

Powell said she grew up thinking everyone sang spirituals, like the ones she remembers from her childhood, such as “Steal Away to Jesus” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

Seeing that spirituals have faded from society, Powell said she hopes to gain a revival of spirituals, and she’s doing her part to make it happen.
...
Spirituals are deeply rooted in slavery. Slaves had to sing while they labored so their masters would know they hadn’t run off and because they were more productive when they worked in time, Powell said. They sang as they suffered, passing the time and sometimes surreptitiously communicating.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, blacks lifted up their voices against discrimination.

The words to the songs gave them hope, reminding them to “endure and serve a God who would help them to do what they wanted to achieve,” Powell said.

After the movement, spirituals became less popular when blacks started singing more openly joyful songs. Secular jazz, R&B and pop grew from the happier church music people were singing, Powell said.

In recent decades music has become derogatory, as blacks “express anger at not being connected to the generations that precede,” Powell said.

While she doesn’t claim spirituals are an automatic behavioral cure-all, Powell said she believes the rebelliousness of today’s youth is linked to an ignorance of their history.  -more-

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An Alcoholic's Spiritual Experience

By Jerry D. Stribling
July 1, 2004

“God you s.o.b., you m_____ f_____. I called him every four-letter word I knew. I blamed him for my brother’s homosexuality and death from AIDs. I screamed at him and all the while a form stood behind that chair. Words came from that form.

“I’m not that way Jerry. I love you.”

I somehow knew if I could make that form mad I had won and could run to the bar, but I couldn’t. The only response I could get was the same thing over and over. “I’m not that way,” and “I love you.”

I have no idea how long this went on. When I woke it was dark outside. -more-

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Seeking spirituality in the house of java

BY DAVID CRUMM Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - Scholars of religion endlessly debate which spiritual movement is spreading most rapidly. Is it Islam? Or, should the title go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, perhaps to Hispanic Catholics as a group, or maybe to Pentecostal mega-churches?

Well, I'm convinced the experts are missing a hands-down winner: Starbucks Coffee shops.

I'm not kidding. Religious leaders have spent decades trying to market their churches to an increasingly demanding population, but Starbucks' marketing gurus are close to beating evangelists at their own game.

Avoiding any specific theology, Starbucks brilliantly assembles all of the other elements required for spiritual solace in the midst of urban life. In two decades, 4,000 company-owned shops have opened in 50 states. This is also a mission-minded group, having established 2,000 bases in 38 foreign lands. -
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Church welcomes women to join new order

Sister Teresa Irene wanted to devote her life to silent prayer, and when she couldn't find an Episcopal order that fit her spirituality, she founded one in New Market.

"Prayer is the answer to the pain of the world," Sister Teresa Irene said Sunday during a recent Grace Episcopal Church service, speaking about the order of nuns she founded that moved next door.
...
"Stillness with the intention to love is prayer to me," Deborah Streicker said, who is also visiting Carmel Episcopal. Like Macrina, at the end of the two-week visit, she will decide if she will come back for training in the fall.

Previously married, Virginia-native Streicker said she has been seriously contemplating becoming a nun for five years. But even if she was still married, she said she would probably become an Oblate ­ someone who lives the Carmelite tradition of contemplative prayer in the world. -more-

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William Chenoweth, 89, survived Bataan Death March

Mr. Chenoweth died last Thursday of pneumonia at Crista Nursing Center in Seattle. He was 89.
...
His experience as a prisoner of war inspired an interest in metaphysics, philosophy and Zen Buddhism, and he enjoyed reading books on those topics, said his son Charles, of San Antonio, Texas.

One of his favorite things to do was to read a philosophy book while sipping a martini, smoking a cigar and listening to classical music. He enjoyed playing tennis, as well as fishing with his family and Army friends. Despite a stern military demeanor, his children said, Mr. Chenoweth had a patient, gentle side. He attended their ballet recitals and on family trips taught them all how to fish.

"My father always caught fish, but when I was having problems with the hooks he was always patient," his daughter Ann Morrison said. "I'd catch just a minnow, and he'd say, 'That's great.' " -more-

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I love butter. In my salad days, I used margarine. But no more. A few years ago, I decided I would use less butter, but use the real thing. I think most of my dishes have tasted better ever since. So I felt a kindred spirit when I read this ode to butter, entitled “the zen of butter”:

“imagine on the crown of your head
a mound of golden butter
it gets warmer as it melts
it slowly envelops you in a soothing glow
first your neck
your shoulders
arms
and all the way
down to your toes
the heat of the butter melts
all tension in your body
releasing all stress as it bathes you in
soft warm light.”

Written by an organic butter company as a way to spread the word, the butter poem and its soothing words front a beautiful booklet, filled with interesting butter facts.

For instance, did you know that Tibetan monks spend six months carving intricate butter sculptures for butter festivals? French married women parade 200-pound carved butters to the church to be blessed. And in China, Buddhists around 600 A.D. compared the stages of enlightenment to the stages of butter making. -more-