Mike, an interm Presbyterian pastor in Orlando, Florida, USA, is way too busy. He's been blogging about a book he is reading, The Contemplative Pastor, by Eugene Peterson. Peterson says of busy-ness:
The word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.
Anthony Kronman, in the September 16, 2007 edition of the Boston Globe, writes about the failure of colleges and universities to help students grapple with the search for meaning in their lives.
The students who have won this prize are about to enter an academic environment richer than any they have known. They will find courses devoted to every question under the sun. But there is one question for which most of them will search their catalogs in vain: The question of the meaning of life, of what one should care about and why, of what living is for.
Jenny Phillips, a cultural anthropologist, psychotherapist, and documentary filmmaker, interviewed the 36 prisoners (called “the dhamma
brothers”) for her documentary of their participation in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course held at the Donaldson Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison outside Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
As Buddhism inches toward the pop culture mainstream, practitioners are taking its tenets of mindfulness, acceptance and compassion to populations in need of spiritual guidance, namely prisons and centers for troubled youths.
Prisoners have been practicing meditation on their own through outreach programs for years. The Prison-Ashram Project began in 1973 and in 1989 the Prison Dharma Network was founded, an umbrella organization now encompassing over 100 prison volunteer groups from different Buddhist traditions.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has launched a multilingual Web site whose main purpose is to inform Muslims about Judaism through a forum that allows visitors to post live questions in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Bahasa and English.
The concept for the Web site was developed by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based organization that focuses on Holocaust remembrance and human rights.
"In an environment where the current perception of Jews is largely shaped by the most extreme elements," Cooper said in a statement Monday, "we have to reach out so that the truth about Jews and Judaism is readily available to Arab and Muslim societies."
Angel Kyodo Williams, is a spiritual teacher, activist, artist and founder of New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace. She is the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace. She serves as guiding teacher and spiritual director of the New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace in Oakland, California, USA, a training center for engaging individual, community, and social transformation as spiritual practice. In the clip below, she says society will be unwilling to bear separation as a way of doing things.
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Pastor Jeff Berg lists seven ways to have a great day at the office. Check out number 6.
6. Engage in personal development. Read a book, watch your sermon on video and see how you can improve, meet with a mentor or spiritual director...do something to better yourself. If you improve yourself as a part of your daily routine, you will feel better about the direction of your life and God's ability to use you.
Mother Teresa of Calcuta's privite journals and letters are about to be published under the title Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. Exerpts appeared in the the August 23 issue of Time from which we learned that Mother Teresa spent the last decades of her life in an agonizing feeling of separation from God. In a New York Times editorial, James Martin, SJ, comments about her struggle:
Mother Teresa’s “dark night” was of a different magnitude, lasting for decades. It is almost unparalleled in the lives of the saints.
A mid-30s GenX mom blogs about her retreat at Iona:
I can’t remember what my spiritual director—a jolly Dominican nun just a few years older than I—said in response to all this, though it was almost definitely a question rather than a declaration. But like a flash I realized: when a gate swings shut, it doesn’t just close off a path. It also creates a boundary. A safe space. A refuge.
The twilight of the idols has been postponed. For more than two centuries, from the American and French Revolutions to the collapse of Soviet Communism, world politics revolved around eminently political problems. War and revolution, class and social justice, race and national identity — these were the questions that divided us. Today, we have progressed to the point where our problems again resemble those of the 16th century, as we find ourselves entangled in conflicts over competing revelations, dogmatic purity and divine duty. We in the West are disturbed and confused. Though we have our own fundamentalists, we find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still stir up messianic passions, leaving societies in ruin. We had assumed this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that fanaticism was dead. We were wrong.