Reuters blog archive
from John Lloyd:
Multiculturalism is a Western ideal, amounting to a secular faith. Every Western government at least mouths its mantras – that a mix of peoples in one nation is a social good, that it enriches what had been a tediously monolithic culture, that it improves (especially for the Anglo-Saxons) our cuisine, our dress sense and our love lives. Besides, we need these immigrants: In Europe at least, where demographic decline is still the order of the day in most states, where else will the labor come from? Who else replenishes the state pension fund? Even where leaders criticize multiculturalism’s tendency to shield communities from justified criticism – Angela Merkel of Germany and David Cameron of the UK have both spoken out on this – they touch only on its more obvious failings. As a process, they agree it is welcome.
Forgotten, or at least suppressed, in this narrative is religion and the animating force it still gives to many groups. Animating – and also divisive. To believe deeply in a religion had been, in the West as well as elsewhere, to believe deeply in the error of those not of the same faith, and to shun them. It has been one of the remarkable transformations of the past century that in the West, those of religious faith, or none, should accommodate the faiths of others. Indeed, they should even honor them. Those societies where that did not happen -- say, until very recently, Ireland -- the culture was seen as aberrant.
The reverse is true in many strongly Islamic societies. And that’s causing a problem for the Christians still living in them.
In Pakistan, the Christians number around 2.5 million. At 1.5 percent of the population, it is the largest minority in an otherwise wholly Muslim country, its origin as a community stemming entirely from the missionary activities of the British colonialists and the small number of Christians who stayed on after independence came in 1947. Promised complete equality, the progressive Islamization of the state has put increasing pressure on Christians, who face both official discrimination and periodic popular violence. The latter increased in the past decade: Last year claimed two prominent victims.
from Photographers' Blog:
By Mark Blinch
I’ve been to Detroit countless times over the years and though I’ve always known the city to struggle with poverty, I am usually sent to the city to cover another winning Detroit sports franchise, or the glitzy international auto show showcasing the years new cars from all the top auto makers.
As I drove down the highway from my hometown Toronto, I tuned into my favorite Detroit rock radio station 89x as I got close to the border crossing. The radio hosts began to plug an event where people with little means could go and get a free meal. It was just a few days until Christmas, and rockstar Kid Rock, a Detroit native, was putting up the funds to help support his hometown.
from Full Focus:
The brown brick building at 4860 15th Street is at the center of the next downsizing to hit this failing city: the restructuring of the Archdiocese of Detroit. St. Leo Catholic Church was built more than 120 years ago as Detroit was developing into a manufacturing powerhouse – first in shipbuilding and later in car making. Today its neighborhood is one of the most abandoned pockets in one of the nation's most desperate cities. Like many Catholic churches around urban America, it has been hit by a shortage of priests and a dwindling supply of parishioners. Read the full story here and photographer's blog here.
from John Lloyd:
The opinions expressed are his own.
There is a poem, written in 1955, by the English poet Philip Larkin, called Church Going. It tells of the poet’s solitary penchant for cycling about villages, visiting country churches, empty, sometimes ruined, each with a “tense, musty, unignorable silence.” In deft touches, he writes of taking off his bicycle clips in lieu of doffing a non-existent cap; of experiencing an inexplicable pleasure in standing in these “frowsty barns”; yet finishing his visit feeling “much at a loss.”
He ends with a reflection: that the church is “a serious house on serious earth,” and that
from The Great Debate:
By Amanda Marcotte
The views expressed are her own.
Listening to the national discourse, one could be forgiven for imagining that America is becoming an ever more religious place. The amount of God talk in the public square has dramatically increased in a generation. Prior to the 70s, the concept of “the religious right” had barely existed, but now it’s a powerful lobbying force with multiple groups from Focus on the Family to Concerned Women for America, all sitting on more money than most liberal special interest groups could ever hope to accumulate. Republicans, especially, claw over each other to demonstrate fealty to a very narrow, fundamentalist view of Christianity that forbids gay rights, reproductive rights, and requires you to believe that evolution never happened. A generation ago, most people outside of evangelical Christian circles had never heard of things like “megachurches” or “the Rapture”, but now even people living in the most secularist urban enclaves are familiar with these concepts, if still less than approving. Americans seem not just more religious, but more drawn to reactionary religion than ever before.
That is, until you start to dig into the actual facts. If you poll actual Americans, you’ll find that the trend is not towards more religiosity, but towards less. Much less, in fact. Recent research from the Pew Research Center on politics and generational differences shows that interest in religion is actually declining from one generation to the next, and not only that, but interest in mixing religion and politics is on the decline. When asked which factors are the key to America’s success, fewer than half of Millennials say they believe that religious faith and values are important. They are the first generation to respond in such a way, as a majority of all older generations cite religion as an important factor. Even the generation known for cynicism, Generation X, has 64% of respondents citing religion as an important factor in our nation’s success, a full 18 points over the Millennial generation. Despite myths that people become more religious or more conservative as they age, previous Pew research shows that Xers and Boomers held roughly the same opinions on religion in their youth as they do now.
Mitt Romney's Mormonism could hurt the Republican candidate with evangelical voters in his fight for the party's presidential nomination, but those voters would favor him over President Barack Obama in the general election, according to a newly released poll.
Some 15 percent of evangelical Christians, a key constituency in the Republican presidential nomination battle, say they are wary of Mormonism and will not vote for Mitt Romney, the Pew Research Center poll found.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, do you have a personal guiding philosophy of life? You know, three or four words that express your world view?
Regular attendance at religious services is associated with a more optimistic outlook and a lesser inclination to be depressed, compared to those who do not attend services at all, according to a recently published study.
The study's findings supports previous research that religious participation can promote psychological and physical health -- and reduce mortality risks -- possibly by calming people in stressful times, creating meaningful social interactions and helping curtail bad habits.
from Good, Bad, and Ugly:
Mitt Romney's French education
The small church in the Bordeaux suburb of Talence looks the same today as it did in the late 1960s, when Romney and fellow missionaries were photographed in front of it during a rare visit by then LDS church president, Howard Hunter.
In this article you mention that Mitt Romney was in a photograph in the late 1960's "during a rare visit by then LDS church president, Howard Hunter".
from Oddly Enough Blog:
It's been a few weeks since I've written about any new signs of that onrushing Apocalypse, so I foolishly thought things might be getting better.
Let's see here. Roman Catholic bishops in Wisconsin are urging their parishioners not to bring weapons TO CHURCH, now that a new law permits state residents to carry concealed firearms and electric weapons such as stun guns or tasers.