Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Ethics, Religion, and Father Greg Boyle, SJ

April 15, 2013

SolidarityBusiness ethics students often ask me what’s the connection between ethics and religion, and I stumble to answer, something like all religions share the Golden Rule, which is the heart of ethics. As Hillel said in the 1st century, “All else is commentary.”

And at the heart of the Golden Rule is the ability to see others as like you, not as “other.” Father Greg Boyle, SJ, must be the world champion at seeing others this way. And he does this in the unlikeliest of environments: the Latino gangland of South Los Angeles, where he ministers to/saves/employs/buries—and most of all, loves—gang members and ex-gang members, most of them covered in tattoos and recently released from incarceration. He created Homeboy Industries, which has given thousands on gang members a path to employment and responsibility.

I first heard Greg Boyle (“G-dog” to his “homies”) being interviewed by Krista Tippett on her “On Being” radio show. He’s such a compelling person that I immediately ordered and read his memoir, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. He’s (obviously) religious and I am not, but his steadfast belief that we are all the same before God is an attitude all of us, believers and not, could strive for. He calls his God “not the ‘one false move’ God but the ‘no matter what’ God.”

The book is heartwarming, funny, heartbreaking, and page-turning. Father Boyle is a man of unbelievable courage, love, compassion, and faith. And a heckuva storyteller.


The face of Great Britain’s Olympics: an observant Muslim named Mohamed Farah wins the 5,000 meters to the screams of 80,000

August 14, 2012

 

Mohamed Farah didn’t  win as many medals as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, but he was surely the great hero of the Olympics, at least to his British countrymen. He did what only four had done before him: win both the 10,000 meters and the 5,000, two races that along with the marathon, take the greatest toll on the human body.

It was thrilling to watch Farah move from the rear of the pack to the front, a third of the way through, then hold the lead as one challenger after another made a run at him.

But the most thrilling thing of all was to hear the crowd of 80,000, mostly Britons, screaming without letup, for the final ten minutes of the 13+ minute race. In a country whose reputation has been sullied by some vicious anti-Muslim sentiments and actions, here was the entire stadium yelling themselves hoarse for an observant Muslim who immigrated from Somalia when he was eight.

The roars didn’t let up when, just after crossing the finish line (more…)

America at our best: John McCain. America at our worst: Michele Bachmann and her four Congressional lap dogs

July 18, 2012

Americans welcome people who are different. They enrich our culture. They bring new energy to our society. They do us proud as a melting pot of cultures.

Americans shun people who are different. They debase our culture. They take our jobs. They seduce our children. They talk like foreigners.

So it was with Germans and Irish in the early 1800s. So it was with Jews and Chinese in the late 1800s. Italians in the early 1900s. Africans forever. And so it is with Muslims today.

At our best we befriend the stranger and his children, we treat them kindly, we hire them, and we defend them. At our worst we demean them, discriminate against them, exploit them, and attack them.

America at our worst is five House Republicans, led by Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who have accused countless American Muslims who work for the U.S. government of being secret agents (more…)

Ethicists practice jihad, along with Buddhists and Muslims

April 29, 2012

On Being is a public radio program and podcast hosted by Krista Tippett, and dedicated to conversations about religion, meaning, and ethics. Tippett often finds commonality and conjunctions among a variety of religions and philosophies, and recently she outdid herself with a conversation among:

  • ·        the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people
  • ·        Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, University Professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University,
  • ·        Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the British Commonwealth, and Most Reverend Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

During a wide ranging conversation about happiness, the Dalai Lama observed, “One of my Muslim friends explained to me one interpretation of Jihad, not only sort of attack on other, but real meaning is combative attack your own wrongdoing or negativities.”

 “The greater Jihad*, the bigger Jihad, is to combat your own negative forces within you. Yes, yes,” Dr. Nasr agreed enthusiastically.

The Dalai Lama made the connection: “So in that sense, the whole Buddhist practice is practice of Jihad.”

“Exactly, absolutely,” concluded Dr Nasr.

In the same way one could say our struggle to be ethical is the practice of jihad—an inner struggle to be the virtuous person that we know how to be, but sometimes fall short of. It’s easier (more…)

Hooray for Rick Warren for working to build bridges between America’s Christian and Muslim communities.

March 17, 2012

Rick Warren, one of America’s leading evangelical Christian leaders, last was large in the public eye when he gave the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration. That brought him a barrage of criticism from the right for consorting with Obama. Last week he came in for more criticism and hate mail when The Orange County Register reported on his years of effort to bring the Christian and Muslim communities together.

Warren’s work is especially welcome because many prominent evangelical pastors have been spreading a hateful view of Islam:

–Franklin Graham (son of legendary Billy Graham): “Islam is wicked and evil. I don’t believe Mohammad can lead anybody to God.”

–Jerry Falwell: “I think Mohammed was a terrorist.”

–Pat Robertson, “[Islam] is not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist. They want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then, if need be, destroy.”

–John Hagee: “Islam in general — those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”

Warren deserves praise and respect as he takes on what should be a Christian duty, love thy neighbor, in the face of harsh opposition from the merchants of hate who broadcast their message under the banner of Christianity.

My ten favorite posts of 2011

December 31, 2011

 

There were 112 Ethics Bob  posts in 2011, and 14,000 page views. Here are my ten favorites:

  • Ex-Auburn Prof Jim Gundlach gets a mythical Sam Goldwyn award* for speaking truth to power—to Auburn football http://goo.gl/x3ro4
  • Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid http://goo.gl/4UBW6
  • Drew Brees: ethics hero and football hero. He lives by “If not me, who? http://goo.gl/RMzsV
  • Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award. http://goo.gl/yBdXS
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) defends Muslim judge Sohail Mohammed, calls opponents “crazies.” Hooray for an ethics hero http://goo.gl/KtCCQ
  • Three cheers for Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Byron York of Fox News, and for Rachel Maddow of MSNBC http://goo.gl/gsXAx
  • Ethics: I’m giving it away http://goo.gl/Rl1jB
  • LSU Tigers Coach Les Miles gets a mythical Chip Kelly Award* for suspending three stars for the big game with Auburn http://goo.gl/rjns5
  • Report from Zuccotti Park, and what’s next for Occupy Wall Street http://goo.gl/Sk5sV
  • Rose Bowl, BCS Bowl, Ethics Bowl http://goo.gl/MxGYu
  • The lesson from Penn State http://goo.gl/Tnn03

 

Israeli religious fanatics assault a female soldier for not moving to the back of the bus

December 30, 2011

 

Israelis staged a massive rally Thursday to protest the assault by ultra-religious Haredim on eight-year-old Naama Margolese, and she was welcomed back to school after the Hanukah break by the Education Minister and several members of parliament. Good.

Meanwhile 15 miles away in Jerusalem more Haredim were practicing their religion, threatening and shouting “Prostitute!” at Doron Matalon, a female Israeli soldier who refused to move to the back of the bus.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted the soldier: “This isn’t the first time this has happened, I just asked for help this time,” Matalon said, adding that she had experienced “worse incidents on this line,” including one in which she was shoved off the bus when her stop arrived.”

 

Who would spit and curse at a second grader and call her a whore?

December 27, 2011

 

Who would spit and curse at a second grader and call her a whore? Haredim, that’s who. The Haredim are considered the extreme of orthodox Jews, although they reject the label: to them they are just “Jews,” everybody else is not. In the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, some Haredim spat and cursed at second grader Naama Margolese (pictured here with her mother), and called her a whore for dressing immodestly. Since the assault Naama.is afraid to walk to her religious school, even when her mother is with her, holding her hand.

“When I walk to school in the morning I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared … that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting. They were scary. They don’t want us to go to the school.”

But that’s okay, “Moshe,” a Haredi explained to Israeli TV:

“To spit on a girl who does not act according to the law of the Torah is okay. Even at a seven year old. There are rabbis who empower us to know how to walk in the street and how a woman should act.”

To the Haredim women and little girls are unclean, not to be touched or seen, except when they are covered up. Burqas would be fine. Women soldiers are an abomination, not to be heard. And Arabs? Even lower than women (more…)

The French and Israeli parliaments should govern their own countries, and leave it to people without sin to conclude whether Turks are guilty of genocide

December 26, 2011

 

It’s much more satisfying to point out somebody else’s sins than own up to our own. Thus a year ago the US House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a non-binding resolution calling on US policy and President Barack Obama to refer formally to the World War I mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as a “genocide.” No need to bother about American treatment of native Americans or of enslaved black Africans. The bill never went further, as sensible heads prevailed.

But Russia, France, and a dozen other nations have labeled the mass killing of Armenians a genocide. It’s more comfortable to fling the label at Turkey than to consider, for example France’s war on Algerians or Russia’s slaughter of Jews, Ukrainians, Chechnians, and even Russian serfs. And it plays well with ethnic Armenian voters in the Armenian diaspora, who outnumber actual Armenians by three to one.

Now the lower house of the French parliament has voted to make it a crime, punishable by one-year imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros ($60,000), to deny the so-called “Armenian genocide.” The French Senate is likely to take up the bill next year.

Israel too is getting into the act, now that its relations with Turkey have chilled. The Israeli Parliament just today held its first public debate on whether to declare Turkey guilty of genocide. (Actually the killings were perpetrated under the Ottoman Empire in 1915, prior to the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.) The Israeli National Security Council is trying to stop the Parliament from debating the issue in hopes that ties with Turkey can still be salvaged.

An ethicist who is also a Turkophile is conflicted. Was it genocide? (more…)

Don’t eat that sausage or you’ll be converted to Islam. And stay away from the Hebrew National hot dogs lest you unknowingly become Jewish

November 28, 2011

 

Sometimes intolerance can be so wildly nonsensical that you can only laugh. Thursday in the Australian parliament Luke Simpkins, Liberal MP from Western Australia, sounded a warning* about the sinister implications of unwittingly eating meat from animals that had been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.

“Mohammed, the prophet of Islam—as reported in the Hadith, the traditions of Islam, the book second only to the Koran—talked of how Islam would be furthered to those parts of the world that had not yet embraced it. He reportedly said, ‘The non-believers will become Muslims when, amongst other things, they eat the meat that we have slaughtered.’ This is one of the key aspects to converting nonbelievers to Islam.”

“By having Australians unwittingly eating halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and one that should not be imposed upon us without us knowing.”

If Mr. Simpkins is right, we probably should stay away from the Hebrew National hot dogs sold at Costco snack bars (more…)


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