Spirituality in the News

September 30, 2020
Jeremy David Engels for The Conversation
Hands over the heart in prayer pose. A little bow of the head. A gesture of respect. An acknowledgment of our shared humanity. And no touching.

As people the world over are choosing to ditch the handshakes and hugs for fear of contracting the coronavirus, namaste is becoming the perfect pandemic greeting.

As a scholar whose research focuses on the ethics of communication and as a yoga teacher, I’m interested in how people use rituals and rhetoric to affirm their interconnectedness with one another – and with the world.

Namaste is one such ritual.

I bow to you
Originally a Sanskrit word, namaste is composed of two parts – “namas” means “bend to,” “bow to” or “honor to,” and “te” means “to you.” So namaste means “I bow to you.” This meaning is often reinforced by a small bow of the head.

Read more    
September 24, 2020
David Brooks for The New York Times

Not as much as you’d think.
Over the past few decades, whenever a Republican president puts up an important judicial nominee — especially a Catholic one — we go through the same routine. Some Democrat accuses the nominee of imposing her religious views on the law.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Senator Dianne Feinstein notoriously told Amy Coney Barrett in a 2017 confirmation hearing. Then Republicans accuse Democrats of being religious bigots. Then the nominee testifies that her personal opinions or religious faith will have absolutely no bearing on her legal judgments.

This unconvincing routine gets us no closer to understanding two important questions: How does faith influence a person’s political views? How should we look at religiously devout people in public life?

Read more    
August 14, 2020
By Ronald F. Inglehart for Foreign Affairs Magazine
Photo by Christopher Gregory for The New York Times
Empty seats at a Catholic church in New York City, June 2014
Christopher Gregory / The New York Times
In the early years of the twenty-first century, religion seemed to be on the rise. The collapse of both communism and the Soviet Union had left an ideological vacuum that was being filled by Orthodox Christianity in Russia and other post-Soviet states. The election in the United States of President George W. Bush, an evangelical Christian who made no secret of his piety, suggested that evangelical Christianity was rising as a political force in the country. And the 9/11 attacks directed international attention to the power of political Islam in the Muslim world.

Read more    
May 12, 2020
Margaret Besheer for Voice of America (VOA) US News

COVID-19 Pandemic
UN Chief Calls on Religious Leaders to Help Lead Faithful Through COVID-19

NEW YORK - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on religious leaders Tuesday to play a key role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic and the recovery from it.

UN SG Message (AP)
FILE - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference Feb. 8, 2020.

“We know from previous public health crises — from HIV/AIDS to Ebola — that the actions of faith leaders influence people’s values, attitudes, behaviors and actions,” Guterres said at an online gathering of religious leaders and diplomats. “And with this influence comes responsibility to work together, putting aside differences, and to translate our common values into action.”

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4.2 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 287,000 have died.

Read more    
May 17, 2020
Elizabeth Bernstein for The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Jillian Richardson has a new routine when she takes a walk. She puts on a mask, pops in her earbuds and heads out the door. Then she starts talking out loud.

“Dear Lord,” she began recently. “Help me to stay grounded and grateful in stressful times. Show me how I can be of most service to you and others.”
To passersby, Ms. Richardson appears to be talking on the phone. But she’s actually praying—something she’s been doing a lot more of since the pandemic started.
“There’s so much uncertainty right now and so little in my power,” says the 26-year-old event producer in New York. “When I bust out a quick prayer, especially out loud, I feel a shift inside myself from tension and distrust to a more trusting, hopeful feeling.”

Read more    
May 15, 2020
Elana Schor & Hannah Fingerhut for Associated Press

President Donald Trump listens as Sister Eneyda Martinez, with Poor Sisters of St. Joseph, at left podium, speaks during a White House National Day of Prayer Service (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump listens as Sister Eneyda Martinez, with Poor Sisters of St. Joseph, at left podium, speaks during a White House National Day of Prayer Service n the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEW YORK (AP) — The coronavirus has prompted almost two-thirds of American believers to feel that God is telling humanity to change how it lives, a new poll finds.

While the virus rattles the globe, causing economic hardship for millions and killing more than 80,000 Americans, the findings of the poll by the University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicate that people may also be searching for deeper meaning in the devastating outbreak.

Even some who don’t affiliate with organized religion, such as Lance Dejesus of Dallastown, Pa., saw a possible bigger message in the virus.
Read more    
April 5, 2020
Tish Harrison Warren, for The New York Times

The coronavirus crisis reminds us that we are bodies, not simply souls trapped in a mortal prison.

By Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
I miss things I did not know I would.

I miss people’s smells. Isn’t that funny? I didn’t know that I even noticed people’s smells, unless they smelled very good or very bad, but now that I have to talk to friends, family and co-workers only through screens, I notice the staleness in the air that comes from sitting alone.

I miss walks with friends, how I could look in a friend’s eyes and see light in them, not flattened into two dimensions. I miss the sadness or laughter those eyes reveal up close, the hard days, the mirth. I miss how we could note the weather together, complain about it, talk casually as we walked together, notice a new for-sale sign on a house or (yet another) new macaron place opening soon.

Read more    
September 26, 2019
Derek Thompson for The Atlantic

                                                                                                          Photo: JAMES STRACHAN / GETTY
The idea of American exceptionalism has become so dubious that much of its modern usage is merely sarcastic. But when it comes to religion, Americans really are exceptional. No rich country prays nearly as much as the U.S, and no country that prays as much as the U.S. is nearly as rich.

Read more    
October 29, 2019
Ross Douthat for The New York Times
Three reasons the narrative of rapid secularization is incomplete.

Ryan Dorgan for The New York Times

Fifty years ago, many observers of American religion assumed that secularization would gradually wash traditional Christianity away. Twenty years ago, Christianity looked surprisingly resilient, and so the smart thinking changed: Maybe there was an American exception to secularizing trends, or maybe a secularized Europe was the exception and the modernity-equals-secularization thesis was altogether wrong.

Read more    
October 17, 2019
Pew Research Center

An update on America's changing religious landscape

                                                                                                               Sungjin Ahn photography/Getty Images

Read more