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Entries in religion in America (9)

Saturday
Aug312013

Lancaster, PA to Jalouse Paris Re 'Amish Grunge': Amish People Don't Pose For Photos & Hate Guns Except For Hunting

I was intrigued to see this fashion editorial ‘Amish Grunge’ featuring models Zippora Seven and Dolores Doll, lensed by Mathieu Cesar for Jalouse magazine’s September issue. When AOC friends read our tag line “from fashion to flogging, teeling women’s stories”, they smile at the irony.

The flogging reference is to my work on behalf of the 40,000 women a year flogged for inappropriate dress and other offences against modesty and Islam in Sudan — not the global fascination with women getting flogged in bed ‘50 Shades of Grey’ style.

Evaluating these images as both a fashion editor and former fashion director, who also has two GlamTribale shops at Building Character in Lancaster, PA — the heart of America’s Amish country, I wonder just how accurate ‘Amish Grunge’, styled by Jennifer Eymere is, in its stylish portrayal of the Amish people.

Amish People Do Not Pose For Photographs

For starters, writes National Geographic, the Amish do not have their picture taken because they believe that photographs are ‘graven images’. Although most Amish refuse to be photographed, most make a distinction between a photograph taken in their natural setting — perhaps by a tourist on an Amish farm tour near Lancaster, as an example. The critical issue for the Amish is that they are not posing for the camera, as fashionistas do from morning to midnight.

The Amish and Guns

As for lavish display of guns in this editorial, let’s not send the fashionable message that the Amish belong to the NRA. They don’t. The Amish are pacifists and their traditions dictate that they abstain from any acts of violence. Most Amish are conscientious objectors, avoiding any involvement with the military. The Amish do hunt deer and other animals because of its involvement with nature. They believe hunting allows them to enjoy God’s creations while ostensibly fulfilling a practical need for food.

 

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Sunday
Aug042013

The Religious Wisdom Of Retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong

This video transcript of John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop from Newark, N.J., is part of an interview by Keith Morrison for Dateline, NBC, Aug. 13, 2006, provides tremendous food for thought.

Spong: I don’t think Hell exists. I happen to believe in life after death, but I don’t think it’s got a thing to do with reward and punishment. Religion is always in the control business, and that’s something people don’t really understand. It’s in a guilt-producing control business. And if you have Heaven as a place where you’re rewarded for you goodness, and Hell is a place where you’re punished for your evil, then you sort of have control of the population. And so they create this fiery place which has quite literally scared the Hell out of a lot of people, throughout Christian history. And it’s part of a control tactic.

Morrison: But wait a minute. You’re saying that Hell, the idea of a place under the earth or somewhere you’re tormented for an eternity – is actually an invention of the church?

Spong: I think the church fired its furnaces hotter than anybody else. But I think there’s a sense in most religious life of reward and punishment in some form. The church doesn’t like for people to grow up, because you can’t control grown-ups. That’s why we talk about being born again. When you’re born again, you’re still a child. People don’t need to be born again. They need to grow up. They need to accept their responsibility for themselves and the world.

Morrison: What do you make of the theology which is pretty quite prominent these days in America, which is there is one guaranteed way not to go to hell; And that is to accept Jesus as your personal savior.

Spong: Yeah, I grew up in that tradition. Every church I know claims that ‘we are the true church’  – that they have some ultimate authority, ‘We have the infallible Pope,’ We have the Bible.’… The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, by any human creed, by any human book, is almost beyond imagination for me.

I mean, God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindi or Buddhist. All of those are human systems, which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition. I walk through my tradition. But I don’t think my tradition defines God. It only points me to God.

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Thursday
Jul112013

Senate Promises New Abortion Bill DOA | Immigration Reform & Taxes | PA's Kane Won't Defend Gay Marriage Ban

1. Republicans around America have made abortion the nation’s biggest political issue. Anticipating that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) will sponsor the Senate verson of the House-passed bill that limits abortions at 20 weeks, a key date when a woman first has reliable sonograms about the health of her fetus, Democratic Senators went on the offensive yesterday, portraying the proposed abortion limits as ‘political showboating’.

“I can tell you this: No matter who introduces it, it is not going anywhere in the Senate,” Sen. Patty Murray said. “We are not going to let it come up in the Senate. There is no reason for it. This is settled law. We are not going to be sidetracked by a debate on women’s health yet again.”

Rubio is in a tight spot with social conservatives, who are angry with his support of immigration reform. Sponsoring the bill in the Senate is one way of appeasing those same social conservatives.

2. Immigration reform would boost state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion annually, concludes a new study conducted by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan research organization. If allowed to work legally, undocumented immigrants would participate fully in all the federal, state and local tax systems. Presently undocumented immigrants contributed $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010.

- The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concludes the immigration reform bill would shrink the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade.
- Rather than lower wages for US workers, a study by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project that found an increase in immigrant workers may lead to a boost in wages for U.S-born workers.

75 percent of Americans agree that immigration reform will benefit the economy.

3. Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane (D) says she will not defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed this week by the ACLU that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, reports the Washington Post.

“Kane is named as a defendant in the suit, along with the state’s governor Tom Corbett (R-Penn.). Kane is the first woman and the first Democrat ever elected to the position of Pennsylvania state attorney general, which became an elected office in 1980.”

When a similar occurrence happened in Ca. with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and then attorney general Jerry Brown (D), a third party stepped in to defend the law.

A new survey focused on the re-election of Gov. Tom Corbett is in serious jeopardy, with only 24 percent of all voters and 43 percent of Republicans believing that he deserves a second term. AOC supports Rep. Allyson Schwartz in her bid for to become the first woman governor of Pa.

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4. Americans are split pretty evenly on whether the decline in religious affiliation in America is a good thing, bad one or generally irrelevant, reports Pew Research. The more religious persons polled in a nationwide survey of 4,006 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points felt the strongest about the trend being a bad one for society.

At a top level analysis, 48 percent of US adults surveyed say that America’s declining religiosity is a bad thing. Eleven percent say it’s a good thing, with 39 percent saying it doesn’t matter.

One segment worth noting is Hispanic Catholics, with only 36% saying the trend is bad for society and 48% saying the trend does not matter.

5. Despite the title of Brian Resnick’s ‘How Power Corrupts the Mind’ and it often does — one shouldn’t conclude that it always does, says Pamela Smith, a power researcher at the University of California San Diego.

“There is a tendency for people to assume power holders are uncaring, they’re cold, they don’t care about the little people,” says Smith. But it depends on who has the power.

“You put someone in an experiment, temporarily, in a high-powered role, and what you find is that people who say they have pro-social values, the more power they have, the more pro-social they are. The people who say they have more self-centered values tend to be more selfish the more power they have.”

Read Smith’s ‘You Focus on the Forest When You’re in Charge of the Trees’.