October 25, 2015

In a fascinating story for Religion and Politics, Amina Steinfels, a scholar at Mount Holyoke College, argues that most Westerners believe Islam to be “monolithic and explanatory of all aspects of the lives of Muslims in any time and place.” That’s why, she says, she gets invited to speak about the Islamic State (ISIS), Charlie Hebdo, the French cartoonist who was shot last year, and free speech. It does not matter that her expertise is in Sufism, not in ISIS... Read more

October 18, 2015

The Ramayana is one of India’s most popular epics. Versions appear in literature, plays, movies, and even television.  It’s the story of King Rama and how he tries to save his kidnapped wife, Sita. The Indian sage Valmiki wrote the epic about 200BCE in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language. Here are some great resources for teaching the epic. The Asia Society has an excellent summary of the story. The National Gallery of Australia has a terrific collection of Indian miniatures from New Delhi.... Read more

September 29, 2015

Does studying about another religion contradict your own faith? That’s what one Atlanta parent thinks. He told Fox News that “my daughter learning the Islamic faith kinda contradicts my faith in general.” He also complained about his 6th grade daughter’s homework assignment about Islam, arguing that the class spent more time learning about Islam than about Christianity. According to this story from Fox News in Atlanta, the principal agreed to let the parent’s child opt out of the lesson. Read more

September 26, 2015

Here’s a great animated  map that shows the spread of Christianity from its inception to today from the Western Conservatory.   And here’s another great animated map that shows the spread of the five major world religions. Read more

September 13, 2015

Here are three great short documentaries about Hinduism, Christianity and Islam from the point of view of young teenagers. BBC Two made a series of short documentaries about some of the major religious traditions called My Life, My Religion. Each documentary is about twenty-eight minutes long and is shown through the eyes of a young teenager. The Hindu teenager is 14 years old, and the Christian and Muslim teenagers are 11 years old. The religious traditions included in the series are... Read more

September 12, 2015

Can religious freedom justify refusing to follow the law? Kim Davis, a Kentucky state official charged with granting marriage licenses, believed it could when she refused to grant marriage licenses to same sex couples last week.  A Federal judge in Kentucky ordered her jailed for refusing to grant those licenses. The clip above from the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly clearly explains the two sides. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argues that Davis broke the law... Read more

September 10, 2015

Do clothes like the Indian sari or the Afghan burqa justify empire? British missionaries in the centuries after the East India Company took over India tried to change the sari because they thought Indian women wore it in a scandalous way. Feminists, like Jay Leno’s wife, want to ban the burqa in Afghanistan. They see it as a symbol of subjugation. In a fascinating essay  for the digital magazine Aeon, Rafia Zakaria, a writer and political philosopher, suggests that these “moral... Read more

September 6, 2015

What similarities do Muslims and Christians share? Amer Aziz, an officer of The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America, writes about five of them in a column for Faith Street. Among the similarities are Abraham, the patriarch of both Muslims and Christians. In addition, Christians can find Muhammad in the Bible and Muslims can find Jesus in their holy book, the Quran. Another similarity is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appears in... Read more

August 30, 2015

BBC IWONDER GUIDES BBC developed IWonder interactive guides in 2014. The guides “explore a range of factual and education topics from Science and Natural History, Arts, History, Religion and Ethics, Food and more.” They are colorful, interactive, and easy to read and often include short video and audio clips, infographics, and excellent written summaries. The IWonder guides that deal with religion are terrific. For example, the guide, “Why do Buddhist meditate” includes a terrific video clip with host, Betttany Hughes, the... Read more

August 24, 2015

An Indian High Court recently ruled that elderly Jains could not commit ritual suicide called Sallekhana. An activist in Rajasthan argued that “Jains were being encouraged to take the vow to free families of the burden of taking care of them,” according to NDTV. Jains deny the charge and see ritual suicide as voluntary occurring only “when both householders and ascetics foresee that the end of the life is very near either due to the old age, incurable disease, severe... Read more

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