Marking the U.K.’s “Dying Matters Awareness Week,” Matthew Engelke, an anthropologist writing for The Guardian, remarks how “ritual, even in this postmodern age, is flourishing,” even if religion is not. Engelke notes churches have less hold on the ritual of funerals now. He studied the British Humanist Association (BHA) and found that within a year, it had “300 humanist celebrants … conduct more than 8,000 funerals.” He concludes that, “in our rituals of death, we get a particularly good glimpse of the post-religious, post-secular condition.”
Tony Blair, writing at The Huffington Post, appeals to readers to consider the importance of understanding other faiths. When a variety of religious organizations “do great work and show selfless sacrifice in some of the poorest and most forgotten parts of the world,” Blair argues, “the existence of such respect and mutual understanding becomes essential.” But the task of understanding “can’t be left only to politics.” Those of faith must provide “the platform for interfaith understanding and respect” on which public discourse is held.
Responding to articles exploring “why Mormons make good business leaders,” Clayton Christensen, a Mormon and Harvard Business School (HBS) professor writes, at The Washington Post, how “values that underpin Mormon leadership … are the same ones espoused by Harvard Business School.” Comparing the HBS case method with Mormonism, Christensen draws parallels between being asked “what great question yielded that answer” at Harvard and how the founder of the LDS church organizing the church “around answers to questions that he asked of God.” It is much more about “how we learned at HBS” for Christensen, something he also sees as central to the LDS church.
A new study by Queen’s University in Ontario found that “people are better able to resist their desire when thinking about God.” Jonah Lehrer, writing at The Wall Street Journal, explores the phenomena, one in which “the effect … does not require religious belief.” The researchers “think that faith-based thoughts may increase ‘self-monitoring’ by evoking the idea of an all-knowing, omnipresent God.” So for those keeping Kosher, Lehrer quips, “we better not misbehave – God knows about the pepperoni.”
Writing for Real Clear Religion, Jeffrey Weiss looks at Paul Ryan, “a political official who has straightforwardly explained how his understanding of his faith has informed his governance.” But to Weiss, Ryan “got his theology wrong.” Ryan’s view of his budget plan as guided by his faith is challenged by the fact that the “United States Conference of Catholic Bishops … released a critique of parts of his namesake budget plan.” Weiss claims Ryan has wandered into “the theological weeds,” a place welcoming to challenge from outsiders and even the faith to which he belongs.
Visiting the orphanage Tim Tebow’s father, Bob Tebow, established, Seth Mydans writes for The New York Times about the impact his father’s missionary work had on the NFL quarterback. Tebow’s father “set a rigorous standard for his son’s evangelical work, ready to go anywhere and meet anyone.” Mydans also notes Tim Tebow’s “difficult birth,” when his family says “his mother rejected a doctor’s suggestion that she terminate the complicated pregnancy.” One of his father’s partners in ministry, remarks, “We never thought Timmy would go that high in sports … God trained him to be a preacher.”
Reviewing geneticist Harry Ostrer’s new book Legacy, The Tablet’s Ivan Oransky discusses the possibility “that there is, in fact, a biological basis for Jewishness.” Ostrer published a study “showing that Jews in three different geographical areas had certain collections of genes” indicating that they are “biologically similar to one another.” “‘The stakes in genetical analysis are high,’ he writes, noting that they touch ‘on the heart of Zionist claims for a Jewish homeland in Israel.’” With his studies, Ostrer tries to settle the debate “over whether Jewishness is biological or cultural,” a dispute that “has been almost Talmudic.”
Writing for The New Republic, John McWhorter explores the potential benefits of Obama’s stance on gay marriage for the African-American community, where “65 percent … reported thinking of homosexuality as wrong.” McWhorter argues that “Obama is now serving as a useful cultural model.” His new position comes with the burden of trying to correct a view that is “backwards” in the African American community; “throughout its history, black America has pleaded and fought … to overcome the primal tendencies of bigotry” only to “harbor a simple revulsion at the notion of homosexuality.”
The Dalai Lama, Arianna Huffington Interview: His Holiness Discusses Compassion, Science, Religion and Sleepposted on May 16, 2012
Sitting down with Arianna Huffington, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expounds upon the role of science in religion. With “up to date scientific research,” we can find “more awareness” and bring “more awareness to public” even without “touching religion.” Because “education is universal,” the Dalai Lama endorses the idea of using education to “makes awareness [of] these good things, the values, inner values.”
Writing for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher interviewed Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska. Catholic and “crunchy,” Fortenberry recognizes the current tax system as one that is “weighted toward the ultra-wealthy and ultra-wealthy corporations” at the expense of “hardworking Americans.” He criticizes the five largest banks by calling them “anti-free market” and causing a “regulatory capture of an entire industry.” Challenging the Republican status quo, Fortenberry advocates a return to “main street” conservatism.