30 March 2013

Post-Christian America

Post-Christian doesn't just apply to THOSE countries.

Is your church able to hold a conversation with outsiders?
Are you?

Read on:

Americans are not giving up on God (only about 3 percent are atheists). But a growing number are turning away from organized religion. According to a recent survey, 20 percent say they have no religious preference at all. In 1990 that figure was only 8 percent; in 1972 it was 5 percent. Sociologist Mike Hout at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues call this group the “unchurched.” And in some respects detailed analysis of the data from the General Social Survey conducted every two years by the National Opinion Research Center is predictable. They found, for instance, that 40 percent of liberals are unchurched, but only 9 percent of conservatives. More than a third of the 18-to-25 crowd is without a religion. One can speculate about the reasons for this overall trend, including public disappointment with repeated scandals that expose the hypocrisy, or worse, of moralizing evangelists, ministers, imams, rabbis, gurus, and, of course, priests. Although 35 percent of Americans were raised Catholic, only 25 percent say they still consider themselves Catholic. The next survey in 2014 may show us whether a new generation of religious leaders—and a new pope in Rome—have changed these trends.


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29 March 2013

Grounded questions. Rich stories. Deep change: Mark Strom at TEDx

Having benefited greatly from the thinking and teaching of Mark Strom, I recommend that you dip in.
Listen to his Tedx talk in Geneva.... then share with your networks if there's something of value for them.

Mark is theological, philosophical, artistic, friendly and fun... all of those may not come through in this talk, but I'm fond of him, and I share him with you.

Mark Strom Tedx Geneva, Switzerland. 2013

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27 March 2013

Eavesdropping again:

Dad, "The plane's full. "
Boy, "Ahh, so we can't get on?"
"No, we have a seat."
"But you said it was full."
"We've got tickets. It's ok."

Girl, "Where are our seats, mum, at the back?"
"Yes, Millie."
"Back-back or middle-back?"
"Ah, that's alright then."
Peeking over her shoulder, the boarding pass showed they were front of economy in preferred seats.

Just trying to make sense of things, ... and not getting much help.

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23 March 2013

Pattison's Inspector Shan series; more than just fiction

Ever thought you'd read a series of novels set in Tibet?

I've not yet had the opportunity to travel in Tibet, but I enjoy reading about places I may one day go.

I also try to read about a place while I'm there, bringing the words to,life or giving them context somehow by the sounds and smells.

Reading Eliot Pattison's series on Inspector Shan has been fascinating. The names of people and places are difficult to my English mind, but they become familiar with time, and pages turned.

Maybe this series would appeal to you, or challenge you, or facilitate arm-chair travel.

Publisher's summary:

In an earlier time, Shan Tao Yun was an Inspector stationed in Beijing. But he lost his position, his family and his freedom when he ran afoul of a powerful figure high in the Chinese government. Released unofficially from the work camp to which he'd been sentenced, Shan has been living in remote mountains of Tibet with a group of outlawed Buddhist monks.

In Eliot Pattison’s Shan series, the rich heritages of China and Tibet form a fascinating backdrop. The books capture the many dimensions of the Tibet/China struggle and touch upon the wonderfully complex world of Tibetan Buddhism -- not so much in its modern theological elements as in the way it has defined culture and human behavior. The Buddhists in Pattison’s crime fiction are rooted in the very old, unreformed sects of Tibet, not simply because their beliefs lend themselves to the mystery of the books, but because they reflect most vividly how remote and starkly different Tibetan culture was before the People's Liberation Army arrived. The stories are balanced with the perspectives of Shan, a Chinese protagonist who himself has been victimized by the government and is as shaken by what Beijing has done in Tibet as any Tibetan native. The books don’t ignore the gnawing, dehumanizing effect that Beijing's occupation of Tibet has had on the Chinese officials who administer it. Shan has a mystery to solve but, as he has learned from his Tibetan friends, his challenge isn't simply to find an answer but to find it with dignity and compassion.


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