Religion and Spirituality – Warriors For Christ Online Thu, 15 Jul 2021 09:01:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Religion and Spirituality – Warriors For Christ Online 32 32 Now see ‘Aarti’ in Ganga Ghats on cruise, Ro-Ro ships as PM Modi opens it in Varanasi Thu, 15 Jul 2021 04:37:59 +0000

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate development projects worth several crores to his parliamentary constituency, including health, education, clean water and traffic during his visit to the parliamentary constituency on Thursday. The PM will also inaugurate a cruise to promote tourism in Varanasi.

Tourists from all over the world come to Varanasi to get a glimpse of the glory and spirituality of the famous Ganga Aarti. The view of the 84 Kashi ghats, encompassing spirituality, religion and history, also fascinates people. Now tourists will be able to see it all while sitting on a state-of-the-art cruise.

Information on the spiritual and religious history of all the ghats seated in the cruise will also be obtained through audio-videos. Apart from this, two Ro-Ro tourist boats will also float on the Ganga River in Varanasi, which will be used for public transport and daytime tourism.

Not only domestic but foreign tourists also visit Kashi in large numbers every day. From now on, an ultramodern cruise and two Ro-Ro boats with a capacity of about 200 people will facilitate the tourists. From now on, two Ro-Ro boats will take tourists to the various ghats of Varanasi, these boats are named after Swami Vivekananda and Sam Manik Shah.

Varanasi Division Commissioner Dipak Aggarwal said: “Ro-ro ships will also be used for public transport, so there will be less traffic on the road. Ro-Ro ships and cruises will not only operate in the morning and evening at Ganga Ghats, they will also navigate the Ganga River during the day so that people can travel for their daily work. These boats will operate on the PPP model. If you want, you can book it as part of a special tour package and take it to places like Shool Tankeshwar, Kaithi Chunar, etc.

The interior of the cruise will contain religious and spiritual views of Kashi as well as the history and heritage of Kashi. Inside the cruise there is a large screen to give information to tourists. The audio video will also be played on the screen. With an aerial view of 84 Ghats from Assi Ghat to Adikeshav Ghat, information about the history, religious and spiritual significance of Ghats will be shown and told to tourists.

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My friend speaks with a dragon “spirit guide” in this week’s Dear Prudie supplement. Wed, 14 Jul 2021 10:00:00 +0000

Q. Religious or sick: A friend of mine who is now part of my step-family recently decided to explore different religious traditions. I support her to find her happiness the way she wants, but the things she talks about worry me. She claims to have a “spirit guide” who is a dragon who visibly manifests to her, interacts with the world around her, and speaks to her in her mind throughout the day. She also decided, on her own without a diagnosis from a therapist or psychiatrist, that she had “predominantly embedded dissociative identity disorder” and that many of her personalities are not human – l one is a harpy priestess of Zeus, for example, and another cat who communicates with the goddess Bastet.

Obviously, I’m not her boss, but I’m starting to worry. My question is, what is the line between religious experience and self-discovery, and real mental health issues? My first thought when she told me about the dragon was that she is hallucinating and needs to be evaluated, but if I had to talk about it I think she would feel offended because according to her it is part of his spiritual and religious experience. I only brought up the question of personality because it started after this religious exploration and it also has religious aspects.

Am I trying to talk to her and suggest that she might need help? Should I talk to the family member she is married to and see what they think? Do I go straight to the intervention level? Or am I totally irrelevant here and it is in the realm of normal spiritual experience for people?

A: I don’t think this is “normal”. While her belief in a dragon spirit guide is arguably no stranger than praying to God and waiting for an answer, it is new and strange to her and therefore something to watch out for. But I don’t think it requires urgent action on your part. From what I understand (and I’m not an expert, I hope someone corrects me if I’m wrong) is that people are generally allowed to have the delusions they want, without receiving treatment. , until the moment when delusions make them dangerous for themselves or for others. That’s not to say that you can’t gently encourage her to seek help on her own, after checking with her spouse and making sure you send the same message. The fact that she self-diagnosed might offer an opening – you could suggest that she see a professional just to make it official, or define it as “It’s a lot of stuff to deal with at the same time – maybe you should. you tell someone about it. “

But the important thing is that she’s safe, and it looks like she is. For now, I would focus on staying in touch and listening to her, paying attention to whether any of the new beliefs are getting disturbing or causing her to want to hurt herself. And in the meantime, just be a friend. Whether it’s spirituality, the mental illness she thinks she is suffering from, or some other mental illness, the big change in how she sees the world seems stressful and she could probably need your support.

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PM Modi, CM Yogi condolences on the death of Mahant Rameshwar Puri Sat, 10 Jul 2021 18:57:34 +0000

: Mahant Rameshwar Puri of Kashi Annapurna Temple died on Saturday while undergoing treatment at a private hospital here. He was 67 years old.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed sorrow over the death of Mahant Puri.

A veil of sadness descends on the community of saints and commoners following his death. His body was kept in the temple for the last darshan. His last rites will be performed on Sunday morning.

“Mahant was infected with the corona virus during Haridwar Kumbh. After receiving treatment in New Delhi, he came to Lucknow and later returned to Kashi temple. Meanwhile, on June 11, his health deteriorated and he was admitted to Medanta in Lucknow. His condition has remained critical for the past 10 days. After the doctors lost all hope of improvement, we transferred him to a private hospital in Varanasi where he breathed his last, ”said Shankar Puri, deputy mahant of the temple.

“Rameshwar Puri was appointed Mahant of Shri Annapurna Math temple after the death of Mahant Tribhuvan Puri in 2004. Under his leadership, the Kashi Annapurna Anna Kshetra Trust has continuously expanded its social service. At the time of his appointment, only one Trust project was operating in the form of Annakshetra, while at present the Trust works in the field of education, medicine and the welfare of the elderly. ”Puri said.

Prime Minister Modi tweeted: “Deeply saddened by the disappearance of Mahant Rameshwar Puri ji from Kashi Annapurna temple. His death is an irreparable loss to society. He has constantly inspired people for social work by linking religion and spirituality to social service. Om Shanti (peace)!

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted: “I am extremely saddened by the death of revered Rameshwar Puri ji, Mahant of Kashi Annapurna temple. Your death is an irreparable loss to the spiritual world. I pray to Prabhu Shri Ram to give place to the righteous dead soul at his feet and to give strength to the grieving disciples to endure this unfathomable sorrow. Om Shanti!

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Charlotte Black Pride returns Fri, 09 Jul 2021 21:15:00 +0000

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – After a year-long hiatus in hosting in-person pride events, which organizers say made the LGBTQ + community feel cut off and isolated, Charlotte Black Pride returns on Sunday.

The week-long event will celebrate the fun and inclusion of Charlotte’s LGBTQ + community.

What would you like to know

Charlotte Black Pride returns Sunday July 11 with a week of events

The Pride event runs through July 18 with a variety of events scheduled

Charlotte Black Pride marks the return of in-person pride events to Charlotte after COVID-19 caused delays and cancellations last year

Starting Sunday with the Ms. Charlotte Black Pride and Ms. Charlotte Black Pride Female competitions, the week will feature speakers, dancers, a workout and spirituality session and other events.

The week ends July 18 with The Sky Line Brunch, which requires a ticket.

For a full breakdown of the program, check out the Charlotte Black Pride website here.

Some of the people responsible for organizing the week-long event might be even more enthusiastic than the attendees.

For example, Veronica Daughety, Charlotte’s Black Pride chaplain, is especially happy to be back with friends and colleagues.

“Just to get together as a family and love each other, not to be afraid to hold your partner’s hand, not to be afraid to wear your colors, not to be afraid of being discriminated against or ostracized,” Daughety said.

When not helping at pride events, Daughety leads a physical and spiritual fitness ministry aimed at helping others find peace with religion and their bodies.

“One day I decided to get up and start working out at the gym. And I’ve lost over 120 pounds and right now we’re sitting outside the studio that I use to help other people, ”Daughety explained.

The same passion is reflected in her work for Charlotte Black Pride.

“Pride is extremely important to the community because we are a minority,” added Daughety.

As a lesbian, Daughety serves as a chaplain and promotes the health and wellness of the LGBTQ + community and her fellow Charlotte Black Pride board members.

But, after a long year and a half of isolation from COVID-19, she is happy that the days of not being able to train with them, in person, are over.

“It was really taxing for us, you know, to spend a moment of being able to see each other, the next moment without any contact,” Daughety reflected.

Across town, another board member is also excited.

Rell Lowery is set to celebrate his first in-person pride as a member of the Charlotte Black Pride Board of Directors. He serves as a transgender liaison, dealing with transgender relationships and programming.

“To make sure our ‘T’ isn’t silent. To make sure our needs are met, to make sure I bring what our community needs to the table, ”Lowery said of his role.

Lowery was born and raised here and stepped out into the LGBTQ community as a teenager. He then became transgender about seven years ago.

He remembers his first pride at the age of 18 and said these events can make a huge difference to people.

“Seeing a whole room of people who looked like me and embraced me and understood our life. It was a pivotal time, and it let me know that everything was fine, ”Lowery said, looking back.

Lowery will take on some hosting and organizing duties during the Charlotte Black Pride program week, hosting a Town Hall on Transgender Rights Protection.

It’s a busy week being the voice of the people he thinks need it.

“You can be who you are called to be, and you don’t have to be ashamed of it, and if you’ve never seen a transgender person before, now you are. Know that Charlotte Black Pride wishes you the best. welcome, Charlotte Pride welcomes you and Charlotte as a whole hugs you, ”Lowery said simply.

To view the full schedule of Charlotte Black Pride events, please visit their website.

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Breaking cultural norms through dance Thu, 08 Jul 2021 01:01:00 +0000

FOR most of his life, Datuk Ramli Ibrahim straddled two worlds, which did not fully accept him.

In his Malay-Muslim community, he is shunned by fundamentalist individuals and accused of being an apostate for his interest in Indian performing arts.

In the Indian community, whose art he wholeheartedly embraced, he is looked down upon by some traditionalists who accused him of sullying their culture. There are also those who think he should bow out and step out of the limelight.

But Ramli never danced to the rhythm of his critics. For example, a recent contact with a university left him only perplexed. He was supposed to give a talk, but it was later canceled.

“It’s just religion that interferes with academia,” he said the sun.

His accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. His 40-year career as a classic Odissi The dancer and trainer won him the Padma Shri, one of the highest Indian civilian honors, in recognition of his contribution to dance and for the establishment of the Sutra Dance Theater in Kuala Lumpur, of which he is the president.

Ramli was drawn to the arts from childhood, nurtured by his mother Kamariah Md Zin.

He recalled an incident at his family home in Petaling Jaya while he was teaching a dance class and his mother teaching the children the Quran.

“I told my mother that since students only paid her 20 RM a month, I could give her the money so that she could quit.

“But my mother told me that she would stop teaching the Quran if I stopped my dance lessons,” he said.

Ramli, who grew up in Kajang, had his first chance to pursue the performing arts in Australia where he studied engineering after leaving school.

“I ended up spending 14 years in Perth where I learned ballet.”

He then went to India to learn the Bharatantyam, a classical dance from Tamil Nadu. He was also interested in Odissi, another form of dance indigenous to Odisha State.

Despite all the glamor, Ramli said his journey had not been easy.

“It’s pure hard work. There is this idea that my life is made up of parties, which is incorrect. How can you play after a party night? “

But four decades later, Ramli said appreciation for culture in Malaysia has deteriorated.

He cited his contact with the university as a good indication of how culture has become less valued. He believes that there is divinity in the appreciation of art.

“It doesn’t mean that there is a Hindu god in you,” he explained.

“For example, if you do the Mak yong or Silat, that does not mean that you memuja (worship a deity).

“We must embrace universal spirituality. It is a concept distinct from religion. Spirituality in us is divine.

Ramli added that the appreciation of art can start at a young age, and the Ministry of Education can take the lead in such an effort.

“At the end of the day, there has to be motivation. To get young people to appreciate the beauty of tradition, they must be exposed to it. For example, how many of our young people know about rebab (a lute-shaped stringed instrument used in the Gamelan together)? They probably know Lady Gaga better, ”he said.

Ramli knows the importance of nurturing a child’s talent. Thanks to the awareness program of his foundation, children aged 6 to 15 are trained in classical dance.

To date, more than 200 children have benefited from it.

He always receives his share of criticism but Ramli is unfazed.

“When I was young I thought I would die if I didn’t dance,” he said. For him, dancing is his destiny.

“Call it karma,” he said as he parted.

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193rd Salem Campmeeting kicks off Friday Tue, 06 Jul 2021 13:25:26 +0000

COVINGTON, Georgia – One of the oldest camp meetings in the country will begin its services on Friday, July 9.

Camp Salem’s 193rd annual reunion this year is scheduled to take place July 9-16 and will resume in full swing after being limited to virtual services in 2020.

“We hated to miss last summer. We certainly did, “said Roland Vaughn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Salem,” but we had no choice under the circumstances. A group of people made sure that we had some kind of online service every night, to kind of keep our ministry going, but this year we will get back to normal as much as possible with in-person services, courses, hotel meals and the real Salem experience.

Despite a hopeful return to normal this year, Salem will be deprived of one of his biggest supporters and leaders after the passing of Sam Ramsey, former chairman of the board, in August.

“Ramsey, former mayor and businessman of Covington, has devoted a great deal of time and energy to ensuring that Salem thrives through the ages,” organizers said in a press release. “His physical presence will be sorely missed, but the members of the Board of Directors are determined to continue the legacy he left. “

Camp meetings held a special place in Ramsey’s life, and he loved being a part of them. In June 2020, Ramsey shared that he had attended every camp meeting since he was born in the 1930s.

In a 2013 staff report by The Covington News, Ramsey’s annual efforts to help organize the events were described: “… Sam personally assures that the camp reunion continues to carry on traditions that have stood the test. time.

In 2014, Ramsey spoke to The Covington News about the appeal of camp meetings and why they were so special to him: “’Most of the time I feel like it’s so close. of heaven on earth as possible. It’s quite an experience. You have to be there and experience it for yourself.

Camp meetings have been held at the facility on Salem Road in Covington every summer since 1828, except for two years during the Civil War. According to the Salem Campmeeting website, Salem was a Methodist institution for 100 years, although it was never officially part of the church. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Salvation Army played an active role in the program. Now interfaith, Salem has a Methodist preacher each year and alternates between Baptist and Presbyterian preachers.

The Salem Tabernacle is part of the National Building Survey of the Library of Congress and still has wood chips on the floor. The entire campsite was listed in the National Historic Register in 1998.

Each day during the eight-day event, worship services are held at the Tabernacle at the Historic Salem Campground, located at 3940 Salem Road in Covington, at 11 a.m. (Saturday excluded) and 7:30 p.m.

There are also classes and activities every day, starting with “Morning Watch” at 7:30 am each weekday which is a short devotional period to start the day off right, Bible classes for all ages at 9:30 am to Salem United Methodist Church, adjacent to the campsite, and afternoon activities for children.

Homemade meals will be served at noon and around 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the historic Salem Hotel. The public is welcome to make reservations for any meal by calling 770-786-6841. Individuals are welcome, as are groups, with advance notice, the press release said.

Camp directors said they were “excited” about some changes to the historic hotel and food service.

John Howington and Joshua Swaney, who had a successful business serving Hollywood film and TV production companies, contracted with Salem to provide meals for the camp reunion and other events held at Salem.

The leaders of this year’s camp meeting are Reverend Don Martin, Reverend Steven Barnes and Reverend Byron Thomas.

Martin served 44 years in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, several of those years at Covington First United Methodist, as well as Alpharetta First Methodist and in the churches of Clermont, Rome, and Augusta. Martin is a graduate of Emory University, Mercer University, and the University of Chicago.

Barnes has been Acting Pastor at Oconee Presbyterian Church in Watkinsville since late March 2020. Previously, he served as Acting Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Covington from September 2018 to February 2020.

Thomas is from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. A US Air Force veteran, he received a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, and an MA in Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

In 2016, Thomas graduated from the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) program with a doctorate in preaching ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary. Thomas has been senior pastor of Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta since June 2013 and was recently appointed district superintendent for the South Central District, which includes DeKalb, Henry, Newton and Rockdale counties effective July 1.

Thomas R. Roberts will serve as platform director and musical leader, a position he has held since 1989 for the camp meeting.

Sisters Becky Ramsey, who is the widow of Sam Ramsey, and Alice Walker are expected to continue playing their roles as double pianist for the event, as they have for over 40 years.

“The Salem family is excited about the resumption of the camp reunion and everyone in the community is encouraged to attend,” organizers said in a press release. “Those wishing to get a preview of the camp reunion for the campers who attend Salem annually and spend the week are invited to a ‘Salem Tent Tour’ from 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Saturday, July 10. “

“Tents” is the term used to describe the rustic cabins encircling the campground, which dates back to the 1800s, when the camp reunion began, when families arrived by wagon and erected temporary tents to serve as their homes during the camp. week. -a long community gathering and revival, organizers said. Over time, families built permanent structures, usually with floors covered with wood chips or hay. Although the dwellings no longer look like what people today think of as tents, the name stuck.

“This is no ordinary home tour,” said Joe Cook, a member of the Salem board of directors helping to organize the event. “It’s a window into the past that has played such an important role in the religious and cultural heritage of Rockdale and Newton counties.”

The tour, free and open to the public, is sponsored in cooperation with the Rockdale and Newton County Historical Societies.

Participants in the “Tower of the Tents” are encouraged to walk around the campground and visit the tents included in the tour, as well as the tabernacle. Refreshments can be provided in many tents.

The Ramsey-Cunningham tent, said to be the oldest on the estate, dates from the 1840s and looks a lot like it did in the 1800s. Although it has been updated with electric lights and interior plumbing, the tent still sports wooden shaving floors.

The Ramsey-Cunningham tent is one of many that spectators will be able to admire on Saturday, Cook said.

“Each tent is unique,” ​​Cook said. “These are the sites of a lot of laughter, tears and brotherhood over the 193 years of the camp. They’re hardy, but for the tents that come back every year, that’s sacred land.

No registration is required for the “Tour des Tentes”. For more information about the tour, contact Cook at 706-409-0128 or email

Additional information about the 193rd Salem Campmeeting is available at

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Inspirational quotes, speeches, famous thoughts of Swami Vivekananda, to read here Sun, 04 Jul 2021 04:40:20 +0000

Quotes from Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda was one of India’s greatest spiritual leaders. He inspired the youth of our nation to become better, leading lives of purity and setting an example for the world. Today, on the occasion of his death anniversary, we pay tribute to his wisdom, to the pillar of Indian spirituality that he was.

Swami Vivekananda Quotes / designed by Nishant Jha

He was born under the name Narendra Nath Datta in Calcutta in British India on January 12, 1863. From an early age he developed a keen taste for religion, spirituality and monasticism. He was cultivated in many fields such as philosophy, religion, spirituality, literature and history.

In his youth he met an Indian mystic by the name of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, whose teachings truly captivated the young Narendra, and he later became his disciple. In 1893, at the request of Maharaja Ajit Singh, it took the name “Vivekananda”.

Here are some of his biggest quotes:

swami vivekananda, swami vivekananda death anniversary, swami vivekananda quotes Swami Vivekananda Quotes / designed by Nishant Jha

      • “Worshiping God even for salvation or any other reward is also degenerate. Love knows no reward. Give your love to God, but do not ask for anything in return, even in prayer. “
      • “GOD is to be worshiped as the beloved, dearer than anything in this life and in the next. “
      • “There is nothing beyond God, and sensual pleasures are just something we go through now in the hopes of getting better things.”

swami vivekananda, swami vivekananda death anniversary, swami vivekananda quotes Swami Vivekananda Quotes / designed by Nishant Jha

    • “When I asked God for peace, he showed me how to help others.”
    • “Whatever you do, put your mind to it. If you are shooting, your mind should only be focused on the target. Then you will never run out. If you are learning your lessons, think only of the lesson. In India boys and girls are taught to do this.

swami vivekananda, swami vivekananda death anniversary, swami vivekananda quotes, swami vivekananda thoughts, swami vivekananda, swami vivekananda speech, swami vivekananda sms, greetings from swami vivekananda, inspirational quotes from swami vivekananda Swami Vivekananda Quotes / designed by Nishant Jha

  • “You know, maybe I have to be born again, you see, I fell in love with mankind.”
  • “In a nutshell, that ideal is that you are divine.”

swami vivekananda, swami vivekananda death anniversary, swami vivekananda quotes Swami Vivekananda Quotes / designed by Nishant Jha

  • “The goal of humanity is knowledge… But this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: everything is inside. What we say that a man “knows” should, in strict psychological language, be what he “discovers” or “reveals”; what man “learns” is in reality what he discovers by removing the veil over his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.
  • “It’s our own mental attitude that makes the world what it is to us. Our thinking makes things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in a good light. First, believe in this world… ”

swami vivekananda, swami vivekananda death anniversary, swami vivekananda quotes Swami Vivekananda Quotes / designed by Nishant Jha

  • “GOD is the ever-active providence, whereby power systems after systems are evolved from chaos, made to run for a time, and destroyed again. “
  • “We are responsible for who we are, and whatever we wish to be, we have the power to do it ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; it is therefore necessary to know how to act.

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Maps of religiosity to a specific brain circuit Fri, 02 Jul 2021 20:56:07 +0000

Maps of religiosity to a specific brain circuit

Interview with with:

Dr Ferguson

Michael Ferguson, PhD
Teacher in Neurology | Harvard Medical School
Speaker on neurospirituality | Harvard School of Theology
Brain Circuit Therapy Center
Brigham and Women’s Hospital What is the background of this study?

Reply: Over 80% of the world’s population consider themselves religious and identify themselves even more as spiritual, but the neural substrates of spirituality and religiosity remain unresolved. What are the main findings? Where is this circuit located in the brain? What other effects does this circuit control or influence?

Reply: We have found that the brain damage associated with self-reported spirituality corresponds to a human brain circuit centered on periaqueductal gray. What should readers take away from your report?

Reply: These findings suggest that spirituality and religiosity correspond to a common brain circuitry centered on periaqueductal gray, a region of the brainstem previously involved in fear conditioning, pain modulation, and altruistic behavior. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Reply: While this study focused on the commonalities between spirituality and religiosity, namely “spiritual acceptance” or more simply “faith,” future work could productively explore which brain circuits are associated with the differences between certain forms of spirituality (eg mysticism) and some forms of religiosity (eg fundamentalism). Would you like to add anything else?

Reply: At the level of science and technology, we are delighted that brain imaging methods are increasingly capable of probing aspects of human nature traditionally reserved for philosophers and theologians. We look forward to what we hope will be productive conversations between neuroscience, medicine, spirituality studies, and religion.


Michael A. Ferguson, Frederic LWVJ Schaper, Alexander Cohen, Shan Siddiqi, Sarah M. Merrill, Jared A. Nielsen, Jordan Grafman, Cosimo Urgesi, Franco Fabbro, Michael D. Fox. A neural circuit for spirituality and religiosity derived from patients with brain damage. Biological Psychiatry, 2021; DOI: 10.1016 / j.biopsych.2021.06.016

2 Jul 2021 @ 20:53

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Sight Magazine – Gun Violence: How Philadelphia DA Reform Teams Up With Clergy to Deal With Rising Tide of Shootings Fri, 02 Jul 2021 01:45:42 +0000


Reverend Gregory Holston knows that the rate of gun murders in Philadelphia does not come with an easy fix. Former executive director of a local interfaith social justice group, Holston can list the root causes of gun violence in his town: “400 years of systematic racism, 250 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow and 100 years of years of redlining and divestment in black and brown communities.

School closures, the war on drugs, and exits from manufacturing jobs have all contributed, as has, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down community resources such as after-school programs, daycares, school meetings. addiction recovery and pantries, said Holston.

PHOTO: Jon Tyson / Unsplash / Creative Commons

In tackling the wave of violence, the work of faith communities is vital, said Holston. “There is a spiritual dimension to all of this,” he said. “The power of prayer can clash with the spiritual forces of violence, destruction and racism. There is no one else equipped to do it.

No one, except possibly the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where Holston now works as a senior policy and advocacy adviser. Hired just as the pandemic began last year, he is one of many militant clergy who have teamed up with District Attorney Larry Krasner to fight the rising tide of gun deaths.

“There is a spiritual dimension to all of this. The power of prayer can clash with the spiritual forces of violence, destruction and racism. There is no one else equipped to do it.

Rev. Gregory Holston

Krasner, the defense lawyer-turned-reformist prosecutor who won a decisive victory in last month’s Democratic primaries in a city that votes widely for Democrats, said in a statement to Religion News Service that he considers the religious community as a key player. in the fight against armed violence.

Last week, the district attorney’s office hosted a forum on gun violence at the Church of Christian Compassion in the West End of Philadelphia. The next gathering will be in a mosque, and the next one in another church.

Krasner’s ties to the religious community date back more than a decade, to his defense of members of the Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence faith-based coalition, which works to curb the flow of illegal weapons. Several members had been arrested for an action of civil disobedience in which they had confronted the owner of a famous armory in Philadelphia.

The Rev. Myra Maxwell, a United Methodist minister, runs Philadelphia CARES, a program run by the prosecutor’s office that provides support to the victim’s family after a homicide. Maxwell said she helped develop the initiative “from scratch, because it has never been done in Philadelphia this way. And it certainly has never been done in a prosecutor’s office.

A third ordained minister, Baptist minister G Lamar Stewart, oversees the prosecutor’s community engagement unit, she said.

This spring, Philadelphia’s black clergy drew up a plan that called for increased funding for grassroots anti-violence groups and for the city’s schools and the appointment of a “czar” to find ways to curb the violence. .

By that time, in mid-March, more than 100 people had died from gunshot weapons. Now the number is over 250, a jump of more than 36% from the same period last year. Last year, according to The Philadelphia Investigator, the toll of gun violence was staggering, with nearly 500 people killed and more than 2,200 shot dead.

More money will be available to deal with the outbreak this year after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney reaches a budget deal with city council that will add $ 68 million for anti-violence efforts to a total $ 155 million, a plan applauded by clergy and lawmakers. .

Gun violence in the United States in Philadelphia Larry Krasner

In this March 6, 2019, file photo, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks at a press conference in Philadelphia. PHOTO: AP Photo / Matt Rourke, file photo.

Reverend Thomas Higgins, rector of Holy Innocents Catholic Church in Juniata Park in North Philadelphia, serves a large number of neighborhoods that are suffering from rust, vandalism, the scourge of drugs and violence.

“If we ever want to turn around,” Higgins said, “we must take the message of the scriptures seriously. We believe that God has a bigger plan and that the word of God is part of it. “

Maxwell, the director of CARES who also runs Trinity UMC in downtown Philadelphia, said any kind of violence raises deep spiritual questions. “Where is God in there?” Where is my health, where is my support? How could God allow this to happen?

But spirituality alone cannot advance gun violence figures. Clergy and activists such as Holston are seeking to address long-term issues they believe are causing the crisis, and they are urging religious leaders to mobilize their herds to address them.

“I preach against this in church, but until the country establishes rules that will alleviate gun ownership,” Higgins said, after recalling the multiple funerals he has served, “I don’t don’t know what we can do. change, “I’m afraid we just keep burying these children and family members.”

Higgins belongs to a neighborhood group dedicated to combating the rise in violence, chaired by Steven Robinson, minister and founder of the Inter-Faith Social Change Movement, which works with offenders on parole and has designed programs to career for children from primary school. age.

Robinson notes that religious communities have long been among the most effective agents of social change, but said tackling gun violence requires a multi-faith, coalition-centric approach.

Believers “have to start talking about these things,” said Maxwell, suggesting that the clergy use the pulpit as a way to tell Philadelphians, “You are safe here, we want to provide these resources, we want to support you in your process. healing.

Local militants against gun violence say religious leaders have not always been so engaged in the struggle.

Civic leader and victim rights advocate Dorothy Johnson-Speight founded Mothers in Charge in 2003 after her son Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson was killed in an argument over a parking space. At the time, “we were fighting to involve the churches,” she said. “But that’s changing now. You talk to the black clergy, and they are really making a difference. “

The faith community gained momentum on the issue in 2009 with the founding of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence. Executive director Bryan Miller said much of the group’s current work focuses on the suburbs of Philadelphia, where the organization sponsors traveling T-shirt memorials (“a colorful graveyard,” Miller calls them) , prayer vigils in places of worship and campaigns to promote legislative action.

“The faith community in Philadelphia has until recently not been sufficiently active against gun violence. There may be a lot of Sunday prayers and discussions, but in terms of grassroots actions in the neighborhoods and action to change the laws, there has not been enough. That is changing, however, ”Miller said.

Holston is optimistic that, once engaged, the power of faith and a God who stands by the side of the poor will turn the tide of gun violence. “These problems are going to come, and we are going to fight, we are going to fight with everything that we have,” he said. “I have confidence knowing that I am already on the winning side.”

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SCENES FROM AN EMPTY CHURCH opens in theaters and digital platforms everywhere Friday! Tue, 29 Jun 2021 15:15:08 +0000

I just had the privilege of projecting Scenes from an empty church at Chattanooga Film Festival last weekend and I couldn’t stop thinking about it! It’s the kind of movie that comes in from time to time and doesn’t fit perfectly in a box; that special kind of movie that will keep the conversations going long after the lights are out.

I can’t express in a few words how wonderful this genre-adjacent gem is! This film explores the endless thoughts of spirituality and the human condition against the backdrop of an empty New York cathedral during the pandemic. It explores the themes of love, loss, forgiveness and the attempt to understand the soul. All in an honest, open and skeptical approach to belief and spirituality.

In a locked New York City, two priests open the doors of their church to those seeking salvation during the most isolated times. From the mundane to the truly metaphysical, their visitors reflect the full spectrum of personal crises of spirituality. As they meet the sweetest, craziest, and weirdest people in town, the two priests learn the importance of connection, empathy, and open-mindedness. Sometimes a little faith is all you need to get through a bad time.

From writer / director Onur Tukel (Cat fight) and featuring outstanding performances by Kevin Corrigan (Ray Donovan from TV, Lost Girls), Max Casella (Applesauce, Inside Llewyn Davis) and Thomas Jay Ryan (Equals, Fay Grim), Scenes from an empty church is a unique and timeless spotlight on the search for the meaning of life, told with the spirit and wisdom of Tukel.

SCENES FROM AN EMPTY CHURCH TRAILOR 1024x1517 - SCENES FROM AN EMPTY CHURCH Opens in theaters and digital platforms everywhere Friday!

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough! It will likely open your heart and mind regardless of your thoughts on religion and spirituality. Ultimately, we are only human and will always depend on each other to deliver us from the darker places.

If you have any ideas and want to continue the conversation, you can leave a comment below or on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram. You can now find Dread Central on Google News or you can continue the vibe with me personally on Twitter @psychobillychef!

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