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    Atheism, Vietnam, Sarkozy, and Holiday Stress Paid Member

     Why is atheism so hot right now? The Nation's Katha Pollitt: There's no question in my mind that horror at militant Islam and fear of Muslim immigration lie behind at least some of the current vogue for atheism--you don't make the bestseller list by excoriating the evils of Lutheranism or Buddhism. The problem is that the more scorn one feels for religious belief, the less able one is to appreciate "reformed" or "moderate" variants of the faith. After all, pro-gay Episcopalians and liberation theology Catholics still believe in Christ, the afterlife, sin; reformed Jews still find wisdom in the Old Testament. Strictly speaking, an atheist should have no truck with any of it. But if all you can offer people is reasons to quit their religion--which also often means their community, their family, their support system and their identity--you're not going to have many takers. More »
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    Blog Blowback Paid Member

    The New York Times blog commented on Clark Strand's WSJ piece a while back. (See this post as well if you like.) There are many interesting comments following the NYT post: You certainly can't argue that Mr. Strand doesn't know how to ruffle some feathers. Many people seemed to miss that this was an opinion piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, although it's true that a related article appeared earlier in Tricycle. It seems Brad Warner of Hardcore Zen wants a job, a good job! More »
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    Einstein and Buddha, together again Paid Member

    Steven Seagal is back on the Buddhist scene, visiting what is said to be Europe's largest Buddhist temple in the Russian Federation republic of Kalmykia. Most readers will remember that Seagal was recognized as a tulku by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche about ten years ago. Kalmykia itself is notable for being the only region in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion. Seagal is also visiting a boxing tournament in Elista, Kalmykia's capital. More »
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    Business as Usual in Burma Paid Member

    The cyclone that hit Bangladesh last week killed more than 3,000 people and may have left a million homeless. As sea levels rise, expect more problems like this in Bangladesh and other low-lying coastal areas (where most of the world's population lives.) A Hollywood movie has Jesus hanging out with Buddhists and fighting the caste system in India during his "missing years" between ages 13 and 30. ASEAN is coming under fire for their handling of the situation in Burma. U.S. Trade Representative and Bush appointee Susan Schwab said ASEAN has a "special responsibility" to make Burma comply with international calls for reform. And U.N. More »
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    Don't Forget Burma Paid Member

    The Worst Horse finds a big collection of graphics telling us all: "Don't forget Burma!" So, following that good advice: Burma is selling jewelry. (Burma produces 90% of the world's rubies.) Don't buy it! The junta keeps arresting people during Rapporteur Pinheiro's visit. The BBC says Burma's monks are not ready to forgive the wrongs done them by the junta. The painting "Monks with Traits of a Crow," is shaking up Thailand, which is estimated to be 94% Buddhist. You can see the painting after the link. More »
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    Rapporteurs, Happiness, and Torture Paid Member

    Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the U.N. special rapporteur (it's real, look it up) to Burma visited prisons and other sensitive places in the country, according to the Bangkok Post: The government claims that only 10 people died in the crackdown. Other sources claim the death toll was closer to 200. Up to 3,000 people were arrested during and after the crackdown, of whom an unknown number remain in jail. One of Pinheiro's tasks is to verify the number of deaths and detentions, in a country that is notorious for hiding the truth. Observers said Pinheiro, no stranger to Burma, had planned his itinerary well. He was allowed to plan his itinerary? The U.N. More »