Michael (Michal) Heller, a Polish Roman Catholic priest and cosmologist whose intellectual and religious life has been grounded in the insights of both science and religion, has won the 2008 Templeton Prize, believed to be the largest yearly monetary award given to a single individual.
Heller, 72, who teaches at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, was awarded the prize for his work in connecting the realms of physics, cosmology, theology and philosophy.
I don’t think what we call religion can be put into a box neatly labeled religion and relegated to one part of the academic curriculum or one area of journalism. It seems to me that one of the lessons of 9/11 is that the influence of religion is virtually limitless and ubiquitous, and the sooner we figure that out, the wiser we’ll be.
Perennialism rejects a modern world that has slipped off the rails. Yet it also embraces all variations of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith, as well as Asian religions and indigenous schools of thought. Perennialists believe that all religions are part of one great religion; that all wisdom makes up a great river of truth that all modern people should return to for what the Gospels call “living water.”
Faith Without Borders
What would Buddha do?
Every spring and fall, enlightenment-seekers from all over come here to find out, converging for arduous weeklong retreats at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in a red rock canyon among the thermal springs and Indian pueblos west of Santa Fe.
Dressed in black robes, they strive to live in the moment and awaken to the oneness of everything by rising at 3 a.m. for 18-hour sessions sitting lotus-style in the zenda, or meditation hall, eating communal vegan meals in silence, chanting and taking restorative dips in the hot pools.
But mostly they come to practice with an impish, smooth-faced Japanese monk, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a 100-year-old Rinzai Zen master, one of the oldest in the world, who tells followers, “Excuse me for not dying.”
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?
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
When different-minded people gather at Marnita’s Table, meaningful conversation is always the main dish
The dining room windows are foggy with conversation. Every seat, nearly every piece of floor space in Marnita Schroedl’s modest three-bedroom house in Minneapolis is occupied. Patio furniture has been pressed into February service. Guests perch on radiators and test the limits of the pet-weary sofa, juggling paper plates, plastic wine glasses, and animated discussions.
Although space is tight, the more than 50 people who have crunched through fresh snow to get here tonight don’t seem to care. They’ve come to meet six international doctors who specialize in HIV/AIDS and to meet each other. All of them have some connection to the disease. Over the next four hours, they swap stories about how it has changed their lives and their communities and grope for new strategies and answers.
A Feast of Ideas
Please remember that Saturday, December 1st is World AIDS Day. Do something.
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over,
their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight,
restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the
meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors
of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt……If the game
runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck
turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the
principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at
~ Thomas Jefferson
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
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
“…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. …”
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.
My friend Valerie has written something wonderful.
I was responding to a friend I made online yesterday, a few minutes ago. When I got done, I looked back over the email and thought to myself,
“I ought to stick this in a column.” Thus, here we are.
She was telling me about her family; how all of her brothers are on varying levels of the autistic spectrum, and how she’s the odd one because she’s not.
So, being that I’m the Odd One Out and all, I thought I’d respond. Oh, and the reason for the interest in the autistic spectrum is because I recently got diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. It sure makes things click a lot better than they did before.
Some of you may know some of what I’m going to write, but I don’t think I’ve ever written it completely out at one time.
Here’s my response: Odd One Out
Thupten Chosang will spend several hours next week creating an intricate pattern with colored grains of sand. Then he’ll help sweep it away.
“It shows the circle of life,” said Chosang, a 30-year-old Tibetan monk who will fashion a mandala with fellow monks at Millsaps College in Jackson. “Death is the beginning of life and birth is the beginning of death. When we finish mandalas, we dismantle them. It shows the impermanent nature of life.”
As part of a tour called “The Mystical Arts of Tibet,” Chosang and nine other Tibetan monks will visit Jackson to share the ancient ritual of sand painting. The tour aims to promote peace while raising awareness of the Tibetan refugee community in India.
Some folks may wonder why I so often link to the Christian Science Monitor. It’s simply one of the best deep-reporting newspapers in the world, is why, and those folks understand dharma, whether they know it or not. Witness this article…
Berkeley, Calif. – Patrons of Karma Kitchen don’t need to fight for the check at the end of a meal. There isn’t one. Instead, the “guests” of this restaurant are handed a gold envelope with a handwritten note on the outside that says, “Have a lovely evening.” Inside a bookmarker-sized card states: “In the spirit of generosity, someone who came before you made a gift of this meal. We hope you will continue the circle of giving in your own way!”