Reuters blog archive
British astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees, whose research delves deep into the mysteries of the cosmos, has won the 2011 Templeton Prize for career achievements affirming life's spiritual dimension. The one million sterling ($1.6 million) award, the world's largest to an individual, was announced on Wednesday in London. Rees, master of Trinity College at Cambridge University, is former head of the Royal Society and a life peer.
Announcing the award, the United States-based Templeton Foundation said Rees's insights into the mysteries of the Big Bang and so-called black holes in space have "provoked vital questions that address mankind's deepest hopes and fears... Lord Rees has widened the boundaries of understanding about the physical processes that define the cosmos, including speculations on the concept of 'multiverses' or infinite universes... The 'big questions' Lord Rees raises -- such as 'how large is physical reality?' -- are reshaping the philosophical and theological considerations that strike at the core of life."
Rees, 68, says he has no religious beliefs but was brought up in the Church of England and values its culture and ethics. Theology cannot explain scientific mysteries, he told Reuters, but added: "I'm not allergic to religion or religious believers." Previous winners of the prize, which seeks to promote better understanding between science and religion, include Catholic nun Mother Teresa, U.S. preacher Billy Graham and Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn as well as many leading scientists.
Apple's iPad 2 shortage has spread to the afterlife as Chinese families in Malaysia rush to buy paper replicas of the popular new gadget to burn for their dead as part of a centuries-old rite. During the Qingming festival, also known as the tomb sweeping festival, Chinese communities in Asia honour their ancestors by burning fake money or replicas of luxury items such as flashy cars and designer bags.
Tears flowed at one of Beijing's biggest "house" churches when some 300 Chinese Christians prayed on the last Sunday before they face eviction from their makeshift place of worship, pressed by officials wary about religion outside of their grip. The Shouwang Church, with about 1,000 members, is one of the biggest Protestant congregations in Beijing that has expanded beyond the confines of churches registered and overseen by the ruling Communist Party's religious affairs authorities.
The leaders of France's six main religions warned the government on Wednesday against a planned debate on Islam they say could stigmatise Muslims and fuel prejudice as the country nears national elections next year. Weighing in on an issue that is tearing apart President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, the Conference of French Religious Leaders said the discussion about respect for France's secular system could only spread confusion at a turbulent time.
The United States and NGO campaign groups say diplomatic shifts on highly-charged issues like religion and Iran in the long-polarised U.N. Human Rights Council could turn it into a more effective body.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
(The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK)
SHAHBAZ BHATTI: A TRIBUTE TO A BRAVE HEART
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Shahbaz Bhatti’s memorial meeting at the Pakistan High Commission (March 16) was a profoundly sad occasion for all to remember a person who laid down his life for a united and strong Pakistan.
A Tibetan Buddhist monk burnt himself to death in western China Wednesday, triggering a street protest against government controls on the restive region, a group campaigning for Tibetan self-rule said. The self-immolation appeared to be a small repeat of protests that gripped Tibetan areas of China in March 2008, when Buddhist monks and other Tibetan people loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama, their traditional religious leader, confronted police and troops.
The 21-year-old, named Phuntsog, was a monk in Aba, a mainly ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province that erupted in defiance against Chinese control three years ago. The monk "immolated himself today in protest against the crackdown," said Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet, a London-based organisation.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
After two assassinations, Pakistani politicians are finally beginning to address tensions over the country's blasphemy laws.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in an interview politicians should be able to reach a cross-party consensus on preventing the misuse of the blasphemy laws, as proposed by Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, head of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) religious party. "Its misuse is being, of course, taken into account and the party leaders are going to sit together as proposed by Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman ... and I hope this matter can be thrashed out, whenever this meeting takes place."
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Check it out. A new edition of the Bible, available tomorrow, is replacing words such as "booty" and "holocaust" to "better reflect modern understanding."
I am not making this up.
"Holocaust" is being changed to "burnt offerings," so that readers who are easily confused won't think the Bible is talking about the 1940s Holocaust.