from Cancer in Context:

Does embracing religion make dying easier?

June 11, 2013

I’m not a religious person. But lately, having absorbed that I have Stage 4 lung cancer, I’ve wondered if it might make it easier to contemplate death if I were. Wouldn't faith make leaving this Earth less complicated for me? Would I be comforted if I thought there was a God waiting to welcome me in Heaven with Belgian chocolates?
Maybe not—according to some of the latest research. A study of more than 300 patients suffering advanced cancer found that people who received spiritual support from religious communities tended to want aggressive end-of-life care.
The research, published May 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that patients who wanted more aggressive care were more likely to die in a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and to get cardiopulmonary resuscitation or a ventilator before they died, than were people with no support from religion groups. The more devout patients in the study were the more likely to die in the ICU.
Religious patients also were less likely to receive hospice care, which is known to reduce stress associated with desperate end-of-life measures and improve quality of life for terminally ill patients.
The study, by Dr. Tracy Balboni, a radiation oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, also showed an intriguing counterweight: Religious medical teams. Among patients with strong religious ties, those who received spiritual support from their medical team had a higher rate of hospice use, fewer aggressive treatments, and fewer ICU deaths.
See Reuters story

from Photographers' Blog:

The man with the coconut and the GoPro

May 23, 2013

Lalitpur, Nepal

By Navesh Chitrakar

Rato Machhindranath is the god of rain, so huge crowds gather in Lalitpur around a 32-meter (104 foot) high tower mounted on a chariot during the chariot festival in an effort to ensure good rains and prevent drought.

from Photographers' Blog:

Reality of a grand Hasidic wedding

May 23, 2013

Jerusalem

By Ronen Zvulun

Coming back home at 5am sunrise, I was just beginning to digest the grand event I was lucky to witness and cover: the wedding of the grandson of one of the most influential spiritual leaders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.

from Full Focus:

Message of humility

May 22, 2013

A religious fraternity in Rio considers the election of Pope Francis, the first pontiff to take the name of St Francis of Assisi, a confirmation of their beliefs in poverty and simplicity.

from Reihan Salam:

Boston and the future of Islam in America

By Reihan Salam
April 22, 2013

One of the central questions surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings is whether they portend a larger wave of terror attacks by homegrown Islamic radicals. The culprits, two brothers of Chechen origin, one of whom was a naturalized U.S. citizen, had both lived in the country for more than a decade. While the older brother is reported to have been sullen, resentful and ill at ease in his adopted country, the younger brother was by all accounts a well-mannered kid, whose main vice was marijuana. Many fear that if these two men could turn viciously against the country that gave them refuge, the same might be true of at least some small number of their co-religionists.

from Photographers' Blog:

Voodoo alive and well

April 5, 2013

Souvenance, Haiti

By Marie Arago

There is much beauty in Haiti. There are mountains, the countryside, the sea and beaches, but what I find most beautiful is the culture of this country. There are many elements that contribute to Haiti's rich culture and Voodoo (also spelled Vodou and Voudou) is definitely one of them.

from The Human Impact:

New Pope praises women, Italian president ignores them

April 3, 2013

“Women are the witnesses of the Resurrection and they have a paramount role,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday in his address to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

from Edward Hadas:

Poverty and renunciation

By Edward Hadas
April 3, 2013

“Go into the street, and give one man a lecture on morality, and another a shilling, and see which will respect you most.” Samuel Johnson said that in the 18th century, but the general preference for money over preaching is sufficiently strong and timeless that his wry quip remains pertinent. Most economists take Johnson’s sentiment too seriously. They assume that people always want more shillings and always resist wealth-denying morality. That is a serious error.

from Photographers' Blog:

New Mexico’s Holy Week

April 1, 2013

New Mexico

By Brian Snyder

The high desert of northern New Mexico, with Taos as its unofficial capital, is a confluence of cultures and eras.  Native American, Spanish, Mexican and American cultures co-exist and show themselves in both modern and old ways. Holy Week in this area is celebrated in a very public manner within the safety of the region, beyond the notice of much of the rest of the United States. The rites and customs are very much of the place and cultures found there.

from Full Focus:

Images of March

April 1, 2013

Pope Francis was elected at the Papal conclave, tension rose on the Korean peninsula and President Obama made his first official trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.