- new'The Nuns Who Left Brooklyn' -- How many religious details did this Times story need?
The headline of this New York Times story was totally “religion story” — “The Nuns Who Left Brooklyn.”Thus, I heard from people who wanted to know what your GetReligionistas thought of this religion story.The content of this news feature was, quite frankly, totally “metro desk” (people who have worked in newsrooms will understand that term). This is, let me stress, not a complaint. The Times story is packed with relevant, even colorful local news details about a sad situation that developed in Brooklyn.Also, religion-beat pros will not that it is hard to do a story about the details in the lives of cloistered Catholic women religious, since they are not going to sit down for interviews and talk about the details of their lives and beliefs. The story has some crucial details provided by others that tell readers some of what they need to know.Would I have appreciated a few more details about this order and where it fits into the current drama of Catholic monastic life in America? Sure. Was that an essential part of this particular story? I’ll admit that the answer to that is: “Not really.” Hold that thought. Meanwhile, here is the overture: The 10 Carmelite nuns of Cypress Hills, cloistered in Brooklyn for almost 20 years, decided to leave New York City after much contemplation. As much as they tried, the sisters of the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Joseph, devotees of silence and prayer who rarely left the confines of the cloister, could no longer ignore what was going on outside. The loud celebrations in an adjacent park became a bit too much. And when a beloved lay volunteer was murdered, the sisters were shaken deeply. The last straw came in 2020, that first pandemic summer, with the explosion of late-night partying on their street involving cars with powerful speakers, said Mother Ana Maria, who spoke on behalf of the monastery, which used to be on Highland Boulevard. “Our walls shook and our windows shattered,” she said. The sisters wondered whether the blaring music well past midnight was aimed directly at them.Shattered windows? That’s some loud partying. That leads to a poignant detail, care of the mother superior who spoke for the nuns. Mother Ana Maria, who, along with her sisters, begins each day at 5 a.m. The nuns pushed their beds away from the walls of their cells — the small rooms where they slept — but still felt unsafe, she said.
- 24 mins ago 27 Mar 23, 3:59pm -
- newPlug-In: For two billion Muslims, the fasting season of Ramadan has begun
Good morning, Weekend Plug-in readers.I’m back home in Oklahoma after a fulfilling time at the Religion News Association annual meeting in the Washington, D.C., area.Who’s ready to check out the top headlines and best reads in the world of faith?What To Know: The Big StoryIslam’s holy month: The new crescent moon Thursday marked the start of Ramadan, as the Washington Post’s Morgan Coates and Adela Suliman report: Almost 2 billion Muslims around the world will observe a month of abstaining from food, drink, smoking, gossip and sexual relations during daylight hours — from dawn to dusk. Pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women are exempt from fasting, as are the sick, elderly or those traveling. Children are also not expected to fast.The Associated Press explains: For the next 30 days, Muslims will refrain from eating or drinking anything — even the tiniest sip of water — from sunrise to sunset. Many will strictly observe prayers, read the Quran and donate to charity as they seek to draw closer to God. Family and friends will gather for joyful nightly feasts.An important time: Ramadan began “as parts of the Middle East approached crucial junctures in high-stakes peace negotiations during the holy month, traditionally a time of reconciliation,” AP’s Jack Jeffery notes.Schools and sports: Across the U.S., Muslim students are pushing to designate Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, as a school holiday, Religion News Service’s Alejandra Molina reports.Meanwhile, two English sports leagues are helping Muslim athletes observe Ramadan this year, according to the Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas.Two more Ramadan reads: CNN’s Saeed Ahmed provides an etiquette guide for non-Muslims. The Deseret News’ Mya Jaradat asks, “Is corporate America ready for Ramadan?”
- 3 hours ago 27 Mar 23, 1:00pm -
- newDebates in England about free speech and religion veer into 'thoughtcrimes' zone
Wherever he goes, Father Sean Gough prays for the people he encounters -- sometimes out loud and often silently.This isn't unusual, since he is a priest in the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, England. Gough was praying silently when he was arrested near an abortion facility in a Public Spaces Protection Order protected zone, while holding a "Praying for free speech" sign. His car was parked nearby, with a small "unborn lives matter" bumper sticker.The priest was charged with "intimidating service users," although the facility was closed at the time. The charges were later dropped.Officers also raised questions about his clothing."When interrogated by police for silently praying in the censorship zone, they challenged me for wearing a cassock," said Gough, on Twitter. "When do I normally wear one? Don't I realize it'll be perceived as intimidating? These are not questions a person should be asked under caution in a democracy!"Clause 11 of a recent Public Order Bill -- waiting to be signed into law -- would criminalize all forms of "influence" inside a 15-meter "buffer zone" around every abortion facility in England and Wales. An amendment to permit silent prayer and consensual conversations failed by a 116-299 vote in Parliament.After years of debates about religious liberty and freedom of speech, recent events in England have veered into what activists and politicos have described as "thoughtcrimes," a term used in George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" to describe thoughts that violate ruling-party dogmas.In the U.S. House of Representatives, eight Republicans circulated a letter claiming it's "imperative that the U.S. speak boldly and clearly to its friend when the U.K. has failed to protect unalienable rights." The document condemned policies that "persecute Christians and other pro-life citizens for thoughtcrimes."
- 22 hours ago 26 Mar 23, 6:00pm -
- Religion in politics, again: What is Sikhism, candidate Nikki Haley’s one-time faith?
QUESTION:What is Sikhism, candidate Nikki Haley’s one-time religion?THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:Nikki Haley, who is challenging Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, was raised in the religion of Sikhism (“SEEK-ism”) by immigrant parents from India. But soon after both Sikh and Methodist weddings she converted to husband Michael’s Christianity.During Haley’s first run for South Carolina governor in 2010, National Public Radio posted a notably nasty piece by a fellow Indian-American who said “I’m not buying” Haley’s “Christian bit,” noting that “serious churchgoers” and political opponents suspected a “conversion of convenience” in a heavily Protestant state. However, Haley adopted Christianity at age 24 and only entered politics eight years later.Partners in mixed marriages do have to make religious choices. Haley has repeatedly professed that she is a Christian believer but respects her family and does not criticize its religious heritage. Though a Methodist churchgoer, she occasionally attends Sikh services and has visited the faith’s holiest sanctuary, the Temple of God in Amritsar, India (known as the Golden Temple because it’s covered in gold leaf).As a journalist, The Guy has no business examining Haley’s soul, but sees her candidacy as a good opportunity for Americans to learn more about her former faith. Sikhism claims to be the fifth-largest world religion after Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, though it does not evangelize and counts only a modest 30 million adherents. Still, that’s double the global number for Judaism.Sikhism is by far the youngest of the major world religions. Its homeland is the Punjab region of northern India and adjacent Pakistan. The founder, Guru Nanak (1469-1539), was a married accountant with two sons who had a dramatic encounter with God, whence he proclaimed “there is no Hindu; there is no Muslim” and gathered a following as a spiritual teacher.Western scholars often depict Sikhism as a classic example of syncretism (blending of different religions) or a reforming “offshoot” of Hinduism.
- 2 days ago 25 Mar 23, 6:00pm -
- Podcast: Painful fighting inside Ukrainian Orthodoxy? Schism began long before the war
Nearly 15 years ago, I traveled to Kiev to speak during a forum with Ukrainian journalists, and a few activists, focusing on religion coverage in that already tense nation. I was there as a representative of the Oxford Centre for Religion & Public Life.Obviously, this meant talking about the fractured state of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine, with bitter tensions between the historic (in many ways ancient) Ukrainian Orthodox Church and new rival churches — including leaders who had previously been excommunicated from canonical Orthodoxy.Again, let me stress that this was in 2009, during a time when the Ukrainian government was, basically, content to let global Orthodox leaders attempt work this out — oh so slowly — as an Orthodox canon-law issue.These conflicts were truly byzantine (small “b”) and Ukrainian journalists said it was obvious that most journalists from Europe and America knew next to nothing about the Orthodox splits and, frankly, didn’t care to learn the details.The Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra? That’s just a historic site. End of story.Things have changed, sort of, but for all the wrong reasons.With Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, journalists now care about the state of Orthodoxy in this war. The question discussed during this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to tune that in) is whether elite journalists have any interest in the centuries of facts behind the current Orthodox conflict. The church conflict is linked, of course, to the February 24, 2022, invasion — but also to earlier actions by leaders in the United States, the European Union, the current Ukrainian government and, last but not least, a strategic 2019 move by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.Note: All of these events took place before the Russian invasion. The Orthodox schism in Ukraine predates the war — by decades.Where to begin? Let’s start with some of what I learned, and described, 15 years ago, in a column with this title: “Religion ghosts in Ukraine.”
- 3 days ago 24 Mar 23, 3:59pm -