Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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I was just thinking… by Bill

There’s a lot of stuff going around the Web, the conservative talk shows and blogs, and the Christian right-wing press about how Christianity and The Church are being badmouthed, demonized and otherwise mistreated by those terrible atheists and other unbelievers of whatever stripe. To hear them tell it, they’re beleaguered on every side, and unless all True Christians stand up and be counted — hopefully at the polls — the Will Of The Lord is in danger of being contravened, all that is Good toppled, and the Reign Of The Serpent will be upon us.

What’s that all about, anyway? Continue reading


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Joseph who?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
dropped a distinguished roster of names during his speech titled “Faith
in America” Thursday: Abraham Lincoln, Brigham Young, John Adams and,
of course, John F. Kennedy. But there was one name he did not invoke.
Where was Joseph Smith?

Just as John F. Kennedy was not the first Roman Catholic to run for
the White House, Romney is not the first Mormon to do so. Prophet
Joseph Smith Jr. announced his candidacy in January 1844. As mayor of
the Nauvoo City Council, Smith ran on a platform of the gradual
abolition of slavery, a reduction in the size of Congress, a national
bank, territorial expansion that included the annexation of Texas and
Oregon and radical prison reform that would have converted all prison
sentences into community service. …

[Be sure to read the comments at the site.]

The Seeker – A personal and professional quest for truth | Chicago Tribune | Blog

[Personal commentary:

The idea that we can learn what Mitt Romney believes by studying the Mormon faith is disingenuous to an incredible degree. That’s like saying that we can know what Hillary Clinton (a reputed Methodist) believes by studying the Bible and the teachings of John Wesley.

Romney believes whatever Romney believes, not what he has been told to believe by the teachings of his youth. If he were that simple, inflexible and — yes — gullible he would never have risen to national prominence. George W. Bush purports to follow the teachings of Jesus, yet he starts and prosecutes wars, and believes in torture.

Romney is Romney. We need to look at his record, his demonstrated positions on a wide variety of issues, and stop pretending that his religion is important. It’s what a man has done that’s important, not the label he chooses to wear — or that others choose for him. ]


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Reason, Religion and Fear

We live in a time in which people with strong opinions about the end of time can influence foreign policy. It’s fair to ask Romney the questions put to Kennedy: will your faith conflict with your duty? Will others, even non believers get a fair shake? Romney says separation of Church and state has gone too far. Inquiring minds want to know: What exactly does he find excessive?

Bill Curry: Reason, Religion and Fear – Politics on The Huffington Post


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Priests are happy without wives

I never have been able to understand lay folk who are obsessed with the abolition of celibacy. It may well be an appropriate modification of the church in a time when most American young men do not find the priesthood an attractive way to spend their life. However, a cursory reading of the research literature on the personal and professional satisfaction among the clergy and reports from the spouses and children of Protestant (and Greek Orthodox and rabbinic) clergy indicates that family relations are an enormous problem for many of them. In addition to the usual problems of spouse and children to which all humans must respond, married clergy are subjected to pressures from their parishioners (who often assume that the spouse is an unpaid member of the parish team) and ecclesiastical authority who often assume that ministerial families must be like Caesar’s wife — beyond reproach in every way.
Priests are happy without wives :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Andrew Greeley


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Seven Days in December? — Maureen Dowd

 He said that the breathtaking and embarrassing reversal in the National Intelligence Estimate about Iran’s nuclear capability — from “high confidence” in 2005 that the mullahs were developing a nuke to “high confidence” that they stopped the program in 2003 — somehow made it clear that he was right.

If W. can shape the intelligence to match his faith-based beliefs, as with Iraq, then he will believe the intelligence — no matter how incredible it is.

If he can’t shape it to match his beliefs, as with Iran, then he will disregard the intelligence — no matter how credible it is.

Seven Days in December? – New York Times


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Two Lessons

They took my Aunt Theresa off life support yesterday. She had a good time on her last day, with reason to be very proud of her granddaughter, and died in the arms of a loved one. It was time to let go of the shell, and her family made the right decision. She is no longer there. At some point today or tomorrow her body will stop breathing, and this part of her journey will officially be over. The details of her departure don’t matter.

What does matter are the lessons to be learned. Continue reading


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Buddhist Boomers — a meditation on how to stave off decline

OpinionJournal – Taste

A colleague recently took me to task for consulting Jews and Christians on how to keep American Buddhism alive. He didn’t agree with either premise–that Jews and Christians could offer advice to Buddhists, or that Buddhism was in any danger of decline. But he was wrong on both counts. American Buddhism, which swelled its ranks to accommodate the spiritual enthusiasms of baby boomers in the late 20th century, is now aging. One estimate puts the average age of Buddhist converts (about a third of the American Buddhist population) at upwards of 50. This means that the religion is almost certain to see its numbers reduced over the next generation as boomer Buddhists begin to die off without having passed their faith along to their children. And Jewish and Christian models offer the most logical solution for reversing that decline.

The basic problem is that non-Asian converts tend not to regard what they practice as a religion. …

…Having left the religion of their birth, often with good reason, American converts tend to be wary of anything approaching religious indoctrination, even if that means failing to offer their children the basics of a religious education. This has the advantage of giving Buddhist children great freedom of religious expression, with the disadvantage of not giving them any actual religion to express. The result is a generation of children with a Buddhist parent or two but no Buddhist culture to grow up in. …   OpinionJournal – Taste


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Outrage fatigue? Get over it

“…On the one hand, it is, you can argue, generally the way of the meaner-than-thou blogosphere, with all but the most professional and intelligent and positive-minded of outposts seeming to suffer an undue percentage of reactionary chyme in their comment areas, hordes of Net-drunk twentysomethings and extremists and shut-ins who have way too much free time and merely chime in to see their sneers “published” and to prove how much more jaded and apathetic they are than the next person, while adding zero to the conversation.

“But maybe it’s worse than that. Because this is where it can happen, where you can get sucked into the vortex of whining and bitterness and where you might feel part of yourself wanting to wallow too, desiring to avoid doing the actual moral and spiritual work of dissecting and researching and analysing something as politically messy and morally ugly as torture for yourself, opting instead for the easy path, for closing your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears and going, nyah nyah nyah shut up shut up SHUT UP! Hey, it sure beats thinking. …”

Outrage fatigue? Get over it / Are you sick of being sick? Suffering way too much Bush-induced nausea? Well, tough

I suppose he’s right, in principle, but he misses the point of his own column.  The whiners are the people who complain but offer no solutions — precisely what he’s done himself on many occasions, including this one.

Outrage predisposes us to not look for the compromises that will lead to solutions.  I prefer thinkers who look at the reality of the situation: that there are two sides, that there always will be, and that the answers will all be found someplace toward the middle, and not by painting the issues black and white.


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God-o-Meter Rates Candidates on God-talk

The God-o-Meter (pronounced Gah-DOM-meter) scientifically measures factors such as rate of God-talk, effectiveness—saying God wants a capital gains tax cut doesn’t guarantee a high rating—and other top-secret criteria. Click a candidate’s head to get his or her latest God-o-Meter reading and blog post. And check back often. With so much happening on the campaign trail, God-o-Meter is constantly recalibrating!

God-o-Meter – A scientific measure of God-talk in the elections


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Biofuels Are No Cure for Climate Change

We’re being battered left and right with ominous news about climate change, so the idea of filling our tanks and heating our homes with biofuels is naturally comforting. Biofuels sound green. They’re made from things that were once green—corn, palm oil, sugar cane and other agricultural products. And they’re being touted as green. A Department of Energy’s resource page for biofuels says, “Hey students! Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel can make a big difference in improving our environment.”

But don’t judge a climate cure by its color. Give it a rub, and you’ll find that the term ‘biofuels’ is actually obscuring an insidious reality. For that reason, many people, especially in the global South, have taken to calling them “agrofuels.”

Biofuels Are No Cure for Climate Change — In These Times