Buddhist Bhutan warns felling trees a threat to happiness

September 11, 2009

prayer-flags

Bhutan has warned its citizens over cutting down thousands of young trees every year to make prayer flags, a threat to the tiny kingdom’s lush scenery and the government’s duty to bring “Gross National Happiness”.

How God (or more precisely, meditation) changes your brain

August 17, 2009

how-god-changes-your-brainSome book titles are too good to pass up. “How God Changes Your Brain” is neuroscientist Andrew Newberg‘s fourth book on “neurotheology,” the study of the relationship between faith and the brain. All are pitched at a popular audience, with snappy titles like “Born to Believe” or “Why God Won’t Go Away.” Anyone reading the latest one, though, might wonder if the title shouldn’t be “How God Meditation Changes Your Brain.” As he explains in an interview with Reuters here, the benefits that Buddhist monks and contemplative Catholic nuns derive from meditation and intense prayer are also available to atheists and agnostics. The key lies in the method these high performing believers use, not in the belief itself. But that would have made for a more awkward title.

God on the brain at Penn’s Neuroscience Boot Camp

August 5, 2009

bootcampheaderNeurotheology – the study of the link between belief and the brain – is a topic I’ve hesitated to write about for several years. There are all kinds of theories out there about how progress in neuroscience is changing our understanding of religion, spirituality and mystical experience. Some say the research proves religion is a natural product of the way the brain works, others that God made the brain that way to help us believe. I knew so little about the science behind these ideas that I felt I had to learn more about the brain first before I could comment.

Matchmaking gets divine touch at Japanese shrine

July 9, 2009

match-1

Rie Suzuki has exhausted most earthly means to find Mr. Right, so now she, and dozens of singles in Japan where marriage has recently gone out of fashion, are turning to the gods for help.

Funeral may show if Michael Jackson converted to Islam

June 29, 2009

jackson-niqab

One of the many rumours that swirled around Michael Jackson in the final years of his life was that he had secretly converted to Islam and taken the name Mikaeel. The “King of Pop” does not seem to have spoken about this publicly himself, and that scene in Bahrain when he went shopping badly disguised in an Arab woman’s abaya could be put down to his well-known penchant for dressing up. So unless there is some statement in his will or documentary evidence in his estate, his funeral expected this week may be the last time to test whether this rumour has any basis in fact.

Americans mark National Day of Prayer

May 7, 2009

Americans who are so inclined are marking their National Day of Prayer on Thursday — and, as with any event that evokes church and state in this country, it is not without controvesy.

No prayer against swine flu?

May 1, 2009

swine-flu-mass-1Jim Forsyth, our stringer in San Antonio, Texas, reports:

San Antonio has been hard hit by the swine flu, but if local Roman Catholics go to Mass to pray for deliverance from the disease, they may not get the relief they had hoped for. Archbishop Jose Gomez has issued a letter to priests in the archdiocese recommending they make changes in the Mass because of the swine flu outbreak.

Even statue masked at Mexican prayers against swine flu

April 28, 2009

Even the statue of Saint Jude, the patron said of desperate cases and lost causes, wore a mask at a service in Mexico City on Tuesday by Roman Catholics praying for help against the swine flu outbreak. Thanks to photographers Jorge Dan and Daniel Aguilar for these images:

GUESTVIEW: Amazing Grace — a rabbi’s view of the inaugural prayer service

By Reuters Staff
January 23, 2009

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The author, Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, is a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and author of the novel A Delightful Compendium of Consolation.

from Tales from the Trail:

Rhyming reverend gets last word at Obama inaugural

January 20, 2009

WASHINGTON - Rev. Joseph Lowery was back on stage with a president, but on Tuesday the civil-rights pioneer used his wry rhymes to welcome the U.S. leader, not skewer him as he did three years ago.  OBAMA