COLUMBIA, Mo. — Richard Dujardin, former religion reporter for The Providence (R.I.) Journal, will be honored with the William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award at the 66th RNA Annual Conference awards banquet Aug. 29, 2015, in Philadelphia. Created in 2001, the award is presented to individuals who demonstrate exceptional long-term commitment and service to the Religion Newswriters Association and its members, and to the field of religion reporting. “Religion writing, as most of us in the field know, is a satisfying experience,” said Dujardin.
Peter Vanlaw had what many in Hollywood would consider an unremarkable upbringing. Raised in LA’s San Fernando Valley, Peter grew up to enjoy a successful career in television commercial production and documentary filmmaking. An only child of German immigrants, raised in a gentile household where religion was pretty much a non-issue, Peter had no idea of the family secrets he would discover decades later. Following his heart attack at age fifty, Vanlaw’s mother, who was affected by mental issues as far back as he could remember, visited him in the hospital. During what can only be described as a breakdown, she exclaimed repeatedly, “It’s all my fault!” The outburst was so sudden and disturbing that Vanlaw didn’t broach the subject with his mother for two years.
NEW YORK – Today marks the release of BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia, the major label debut from The Monks of Norcia. The stirring and spiritually moving music was recorded by a group of 18 men; half American citizens and half representing a variety of cultural backgrounds who collectively are heralded as one of the most authentic active singing communities of Gregorian Chant today. They are led by Fr. Cassian Folsom, Prior – an American who studied voice at the venerable Indiana University before joining the monastery. Watch the cinematic EPK for BENEDICTA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTQTFW1Gdbs
The story of The Monks of Norcia’s youthful (average age 33) members remains the stuff of legend: in 1998 they journeyed to the quaint Italian village of Norcia, and resurrected the historical holy ground of the birthplace of Saint Benedict.
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is pleased to announce a new initiative. The Hosanna Preaching Seminars, whose inaugural sessions will be Oct 27-28 2015, are designed to be a space where pastors can learn how to challenge and inspire their congregations to participate in God’s work for justice in the world, specifically in Israel / Palestine. Each year, five to ten pastors will meet under the direction of selected resource leaders to study and discuss passages taken from the upcoming year’s lectionary texts which refer to the profound theological concerns voiced directly by Palestinians and Jews. This year’s participants will be chosen by invitation. The sermons which will grow out of the Seminars will be posted on the IPMN website where discussion by people of faith will be encouraged.
Promoting Awareness, Gratitude and Unity:
National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial (NCAGC) to Mark 100th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide May 7-9 in Washington
Armenian President Sargsyan and other prominent officials to participate in events
WASHINGTON, D.C. – From May 7-9 in Washington, D.C., the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial (NCAGC) will host a series of events to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian genocide. Thousands will gather from across the country, and internationally, to join in remembering and honoring those lost in the Genocide 100 years ago. The Ecumenical Service will serve as an opportunity to thank the institutions and individuals who have helped Armenians to survive and thrive, and to promote unity and awareness as a means of preventing future genocides. Attendees will include Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, prominent Armenian and U.S. officials, diplomats, policymakers, religious leaders, and Armenian descendants from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. Armenian popes His Holiness Karekin II Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia will lead and be present throughout the events. Additional information can be found online at http://armeniangenocidecentennial.org/.
By Claudia Augelli
Brazil celebrated a first place finish this week. No, not in soccer, but in religious freedom. Surprised? If yes, you are in good company. This finding from a recent study by the Pew Research Center also surprised Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer, as religious, political and business leaders just learned in Sao Paulo.
Commemoration events for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will continue May 7-9 in Washington, DC as thousands will gather to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who perished and pay tribute to those who risked their own lives to save others. The President of Armenia, prominent religious leaders, policy makers, and members from Armenian American diaspora will use the occasion to express unity and gratitude to those who stood by the Armenian people 100 years ago. On a May 6 12:00pmET conference call, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, the Primate of the Eastern Diocese, will discuss the need for interfaith cooperation and the importance of uniting together to prevent future acts of genocide. They will say that now more than ever, members of all faiths must come together and call for an end to hate and violence. We must use milestones such as the Genocide centenary as a means to promote unity and peace for all—regardless of color, gender, heritage or faith.
New York, May 1, 2015: “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith tradition—the right of people to live in security and dignity; the commands of conscience and justice; the duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that will safeguard the planet for future generations. . .”
So reads a statement calling on faith groups to speak out against nuclear weapons that was presented on May 1 at the UN Headquarters in New York as part of the official Civil Society Presentation at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference under the name of Faith Communities Concerned about the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. The statement, which can be viewed in full at: http://www.peoplesdecade.org/pdf/faithcommunities/joint_statement.pdf, is the latest in a series of interfaith initiatives which builds on earlier joint statements by faith groups issued in April and December 2014 at conferences held in Washington DC and Vienna highlighting the devastating humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The statement has been endorsed so far by individuals from over 50 different religious groups and by prominent peace activists.
The Official World Youth Day Organizing Committee in Krakow, Poland has confirmed the official locations of the main World Youth Day events. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (July 27th-29th) the events will be held at Blonia Park. On Saturday and Sunday (July 30th-31st) the closing Vigil will be held 20 Km away, in Brzegi close to Wieliczka. For more information please visit: krakowwydnews.com
New York – The Benedictines of Mary return with their uplifting new recording Easter at Ephesus released March 3 on De Montfort Music/Decca/UMC. Marking the Sisters’ fourth consecutive #1 debut on Billboard’s Classical Traditional Chart, they also are #1 on Billboard’s Classical Overall Chart and #6 on the Top 10 Internet Chart. Demonstrating their ever-growing fan-base, Easter At Ephesus also reached #1 on both iTunes’ and Amazon’s Classical Charts in its first week of release, and sat in the Top 5 of Barnes & Noble.com’s best-sellers alongside pop releases such as Kelly Clarkson and Diana Krall. The 27-track album features an array of glorious chants and exhilarating hymns capturing the essence of Easter. The highly acclaimed voices of the nuns along with their inspiring story have resonated with audiences throughout the world.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Religion News Service is proud to announce a new addition to its lineup of commentators. Jeffrey K. Salkin, previously a blogger for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, will offer RNS readers a Jewish perspective on news and American culture under the banner “Martini Judaism: For those who want to be shaken and stirred.”
Salkin is the rabbi of Temple Beth Am of Bayonne, N.J., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society. Last week, Salkin won the 2014 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for a series of faith-based commentaries that appeared on religionnews.com and among RNS subscribers. Salkin adds a strong Jewish voice to RNS’ multi-faith commentaries. But his writings, which address American religious and cultural life, may be appreciated by non-Jews and non-religious readers, too.
Sex is often a taboo topic in many conservative religious cultures. However, researchers have found that the Internet breaks down normal social barriers and helps religious individuals, such as Muslims, engage more freely about sex. According to Roxanne D. Marcotte, associate professor in religious studies at University of Quebec-Montreal, websites like MuslimVillage.com provide Australian Muslims with a unique social space that enables them to more openly discuss sexuality-related issues than is typically possible in traditional communities. This is a follow-up to an earlier study about online gender and sexuality discussions in Australian Muslim forums, which found Muslims actively tackle, negotiate, condone and condemn controversial issues such as polygamy or polygyny and homosexuality, for which non-Muslims have so many preconceived ideas. In “Let’s Talk about Sex: Australian Muslim online discussions,” Marcotte looks at how MuslimVillage.com, an Australian-based Muslim community website started in 2001 with over 26,000 registered members, seeks to build a sense of community and provide an online space for Muslims to discuss a wide variety of topics, including queries about religion and sexuality.
A new online journal seeks to broaden and energize scholarly and popular discussions on video gaming, religion and culture. Motivated by evidence that suggests video games play an important role in cultural and religious socialization, especially for the young people, “gamevironments. games, religion, and stuff” is a groundbreaking journal highlighting important approaches to studying gaming and religion. The publication is spearheaded by Kerstin Radde-Antweiler, Associate Professor of Media of Religions from the University of Bremen in Germany, and Xenia Zeiler, Associate Professor of South Asian Studies, from the University of Helsinki in Finland. They represent a new movement of scholars that take seriously the ways digital and video games and game play reflect and shape popular notions about religion in contemporary culture.
On the heels of the long awaited release of the final report on the two-year long independent investigation of Bob Jones University’s response to sexual abuse disclosures, GRACE, (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) is pleased to announce the development of the National GRACE Center for the Protection of Children. This center will fundamentally change the way the Christian community understands and addresses the many difficult issues associated with child abuse. Taking this step will give GRACE a greater ability to bring awareness, provide training, and develop curriculum that will enable ministry organizations and their leaders to better protect the children under their care from sexual abuse. The in-depth independent investigation of Bob Jones University was done at the request of the school’s Board of Directors, in response to their growing awareness of problems at the university. Conducting such investigations is extremely difficult work, and while it is important, it is not the main focus of GRACE.
“When I was 4 years old in 1940, the idea was that all Protestants were going to hell. I was going down the street with my grandmother and there were two women from the Salvation Army on the other side of the street. I said, ‘Who are they? Monks, nuns?’ My grandmother said: ‘No, they are Protestants.