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Incarceration or Redemption?

Today, over 2,000,000 Americans are in jail or in prison. We’ve got 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. More black men are under the control of the criminal justice system in America today than were enslaved before the Civil War began. Our prison-industrial complex has become the latest of a long series of forms of systematic oppression against people of color. Lawyer and activist Michelle Alexander rightly calls it “The New Jim Crow” in her recent book.

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Intimate Silence: the Spirituality of Desert Preservation

We come to the desert at least as much for what is not here as much as for what is. Monastics of every religion are drawn to it. Moses encountered God in a bush on a desert mountain. The first theologians of Christianity were known as the Desert Fathers. In wilderness they prayed, meditated, contemplated – uncluttering their hearts and minds in an uncluttered space. Mohammed went to a desert cave and there he waited until the Angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to him. Around the same time, Buddhist monks retreated to the mountainous deserts of Central Asia to meditate.

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Jesus Died With His Hands Up, Too

Michael Brown should not have been shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri. His hands were up. He was unarmed. It doesn’t make any difference whether or not he had stolen earlier something that day. If he had committed such a crime, he should have been given appropriate justice, not a volley of bullets. At the time he was shot, there was simply no excuse for what happened to him. Somebody else had his life stolen from him, too: a man named Jesus, killed for no good reason. Jesus also died with his hands up. He had been ethnically profiled by the Roman occupying army in Jerusalem, and was brutally murdered on a cross.

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How to End Poverty? A Spiritual Question

“Bread for me is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one,” wrote Nikolai Berdyaev, a 19th-20th c. Russian philosopher and theologian. Is there a more important spiritual question than this one? Today may be a particularly good time to ask it in America.

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Buckwheat Salvation: Native Plant Revival Coming to a Church Near You

To hold a bloom of California buckwheat in the palm of your hand is to admire an infinity of heavens. Each little round flower is a mass of tinier flowers, their delicate pink stamens pointing out in every direction of the universe. The tough stems of the plant, with their little spiky leaves, stay green even now during one of the worst droughts in memory. Hiking on the flanks of Boney Mountain in the Santa Monica range a week ago, in an area ravaged by wildfire, I stopped to gaze at a buckwheat bush and congratulate it on its survival.

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Blessing Taxes, Honoring Oaths

The form of the blessing differ, but the essential message is the same: we give thanks to the Love that is God for the good that comes through our taxes. They are a special form of our “offerings” in worship. Many blessings flow from them, and divine guidance is needed for us to have the wisdom to see to it they are spent for the best purposes.

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Faithful Action for Border Justice

In the afternoon we went to Tucson’s US Federal Court to witness Operation Streamline. About 70 migrant in chains, wearing the same sweaty clothes in which they were caught crossing, sat in the upper level of the courtroom, waiting to be tried for the crime of illegal entry into the United States. This proceeding happens in several border cities as a way to criminalize them in an attempt to deter them from entering the US immediately after being deported. “Culpable… culpable… culpable…” they said, pleading guilty, and then walking out in chains to be jailed and then deported. Students from around the country, also doing spring break border justice programs, were in the courtroom with us – many of them in tears as they witnessed the silent parade of misery before them.

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I Stand For Peace- Video

I Stand For Peace is a thought-provoking pre-promotional campaign for Project-Peace On Earth, a global concert event that will broadcast spiritually-inspired music from some of the earth’s most sacred sites.

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Karen Armstrong – Lets Revive The Golden Rule

Charter for Compassion

Ted Talks- Oxford. Weeks from the Charter for Compassion launch, Karen Armstrong looks at religion’s role in the 21st century: Will its dogmas divide us? Or will it unite us for common good? She reviews the catalysts that can drive the world’s faiths to rediscover the Golden Rule.

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Karen Armstrong’s TED Prize Talk- Charter for Compassion

As she accepts her 2008 TED Prize, author and scholar Karen Armstrong talks about how the Abrahamic religions — Islam, Judaism, Christianity — have been diverted from the moral purpose they share to foster compassion. But Armstrong has seen a yearning to change this fact. People want to be religious, she says; we should act to help make religion a force for harmony. She asks the TED community to help her build a Charter for Compassion — to help restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.

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Religious Freedom and Religious Privilege: a musing on the difference

The Supreme Court of the US is now considering a case from Greece, NY, in which
the town board started its meetings with sectarian Christian prayers.
 Lower courts disallowed them as violations of the clause in the Constitution …

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