from Photographers' Blog:

An island of religion in a sea of secularism

February 19, 2013

Warsaw, Poland

By Kacper Pempel

When Pope Benedict XVI announced last week that he was stepping down, the mood in my country, Poland, was overwhelming. This is one of the most devoutly Catholic countries in Europe, which still proudly identifies itself as the birthplace of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II. On the day of the announcement my colleagues went to the church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw. The worshipers coming out of the church were in a state of shock. "It’s so sad. It’s such a shame. But what can we do? I can’t believe it,” said one woman as she left the Holy Cross church in the Polish capital, who gave her name as Maria. “I am very sorry because I really like the Pope. He is continuing the teachings of our Pope (John Paul II).” Janusz, another worshiper, said: “I don’t think it’s true. In my opinion it would not be a good solution. It would definitely be a huge pity for Poles and Catholics.”

from India Insight:

‘Nobody can stop you if you engage in art with dignity’: Zila Khan on singing and Islam

February 7, 2013

The members of Praagaash, an all-girl band in Kashmir, split up this week after an influential cleric deemed their music un-Islamic. Zila Khan, one of India’s most popular sufi singers and daughter of sitar maestro Vilayat Khan, spoke to Reuters about how singing is closest to worship and meditation and how children should be allowed to sing.

from John Lloyd:

A church divided against itself cannot stand

By John Lloyd
November 27, 2012

The Church of England voted not to ordain female bishops last week, a move widely seen as defying the modern world. Much justification was given for this view.

from Photographers' Blog:

A barrier to peace

November 15, 2012

Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Cathal McNaughton

“Sure, why would they want to pull down these walls?” asks William Boyd mildly as he offers me a cup of tea in his home at Cluan Place, a predominantly Loyalist area of east Belfast.

from Photographers' Blog:

Portraying polygamy

November 14, 2012

Rockland Ranch community outside Moab, Utah

By Jim Urquhart

If patience is a virtue I am damned to burn forever but I've made some friends in the process.

from Photographers' Blog:

Baby-kissing Popes

October 5, 2012

By Max Rossi

There's a man in this world that kisses more babies than any mother over the course of her life: the Pope.

from Edward Hadas:

Remembering the 1960s

By Edward Hadas
September 19, 2012

Revolution was not on the agenda when the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church opened on Oct. 11, 1962, almost exactly 50 years ago. However, the gathering marked the start of a new era, not only for the world’s largest centrally-run religion. During the following years, the hope for a better, freer world led to everything from the sexual revolution to the Prague Spring, from African independence to the hippie culture of Woodstock. A half-century on, it seems a good time for an economist to take stock.

from Photographers' Blog:

Exorcism in the Andes

September 10, 2012

By Jaime Saldarriaga

I first learned of exorcist Hermes Cifuentes, better known as “Brother Hermes,” through the local news media. His exorcisms fascinated me, so I decided to find out more. Many people are against what he does, but when I tracked down his phone number and called, he invited me to visit his retreat in La Cumbre, just north of Cali.

from Photographers' Blog:

At home with Israel’s ultra-Orthodox

July 6, 2012

By Ronen Zvulun

As a native of Jerusalem, an Orthodox Jews’ appearance is not alien to me. The thought which often comes to mind when thinking about the ultra-Orthodox community is “so close yet so far”.

from Edward Hadas:

Prosperity need not kill religion

By Edward Hadas
April 25, 2012

Thomas Carlyle’s fulminations against the spiritual damage wrought by factories are almost two centuries old, but the sentiment is current wherever industrialisation is rampant. “The huge demon of Mechanism,” he wrote, “smokes and thunders, panting at his great task, oversetting whole multitudes of workmen ... so that the wisest no longer knows his whereabout.”