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New Journal Highlights the Unique Relationship Between Video Gaming, Religion and Culture

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.


National GRACE Center for the Protection of Children Announced

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.

Quote of the Day: Pope Francis

“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.

Black LGBT Religious Leaders United

LGBT Black Christians and faith leaders join tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/denominations and allies to wear black to church on Sunday, December 14 in response to police brutality: “Black LGBT bodies must matter, too!”

– Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM)
– Rev. Elder Darlene Garner,Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC)

Black America faces an unspoken agenda of terror and racism. In response, tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/denominations and allies across the country will be wearing black on December 14, 2014, to protest the criminalization, disproportionate incarceration, and killing of black and brown people by law enforcement. As Black lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) religious leaders, we are all too familiar with oppressive systems that discriminate and kill. Over the last six years, fair minded Americans have moved the country to elect our first Black president, opened the doors of marriage to same gender loving people in over 35 states and Washington D.C., began a national conversation on the inclusion of transgender brothers and sisters, and confronted the need to finally address immigration reform. This decided shift toward progressive social values has been met with an escalating conservative backlash most abhorrently embodied in the aggressive policing of Black and Brown bodies.


GRACE Releases Final Report of the Investigatory Review of Sexual Abuse Disclosures and Institutional Responses at Bob Jones University

Lynchburg, VA – This morning GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) published its final report of its two-year independent investigation of Bob Jones University’s responses to sexual abuse disclosures.   This 300- page report is a culmination of an investigation that included the receipt and review of over 900 confidential surveys, 20 written statements, and hundreds of documents provided by Bob Jones University and participating witnesses. At the heart of this report is the information collected from interviews with 116 individuals, 50 of whom self-identified as victims of sexual abuse. The investigation findings demonstrate that Bob Jones University responded poorly to many students who disclosed being sexually victimized. As a result of the school’s flawed responses, many of these students were deeply hurt and experienced further trauma. The report outlines these painful experiences, as well as identifies and analyzes certain systemic institutional behaviors that contributed to the pain suffered by abused victims. The report concludes with 26 recommendations that “will assist BJU in continuing the journey of repentance that demonstrates Godward sorrow, invites God to transform the institution, and brings healing to the hurting.”

“Though much in this report will understandably cause readers to grieve, GRACE is encouraged by the willingness of Bob Jones University to take the unprecedented step to voluntarily request this independent investigation and to make these difficult findings public,” explains Boz Tchividjian, Executive Director of GRACE.

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New Book Explores Impact of Digital Media on Buddhism

Buddhism has been uniquely affected by the digital revolution and integration of new media into its spiritual practices. Buddhism, the Internet and Digital Media: The Pixel in the Lotus offers a collective interdisciplinary exploration of the existence and nature of Buddhism in the digital and highly networked era we live in. This is the first book in the new Routledge Studies in Religion and Digital Culture series. Editors Gregory Price Grieve, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and Daniel Veidlinger, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at California State University-Chico, have compiled a collection of significant discussions that surfaced from a 2011 symposium on Buddhism and digital media. This collection provides the first collaborative and multi-disciplinary investigation of how Buddhism intersects with digital and online worlds.

Quote of the Day: Pope Francis

“Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a torment!”

— Pope Francis, in an appeal from “the bottom of my heart” to Israelis and Palestinians to “put an end to the spiral of hatred and violence.”


New book offers vital overview on media, religion, and culture studies, highlights importance of Digital Religion studies

While media, religion and culture studies has emerged as an important area of research, few publications exist that provide a thorough comprehensive overview in the key questions and approaches taken. Jeffery Mahan, Ralph E. and Norma E. Peck Chair in Religion and Public Communication at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, new book Media, Religion and Culture: an Introduction provides a unique overview of the multidisciplinary perspectives taken in the emerging study of religion, media, and culture with his new publication. Media, Religion and Culture addresses a fundamental question that resides within the study of media and religion, that is the extent to which media, religion and culture are inseparably dependent and they ways the influence perceptions of religion in popular culture. Mahan argues “people’s experience of the sacred and religion is thoroughly mediated” and so media spaces and cultures becomes important space to understand religious meaning-making. An important contribution of the book is his work highlight that studying religious intersection with digital media provides a fruitful way to explore broader question of religious community and identity in media culture.

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East Issues a Plea for the Peace of Jerusalem

(New York, NY, October 27, 2014) Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East (“Fair Witness”) is deeply concerned about the recent outbreaks of violence in Jerusalem. East Jerusalem Palestinians have been attacking Jews, Jewish homes, the light rail system and even kindergartens with rocks, slabs of concrete and molotov cocktails.   Last week an infant was killed when an East Jerusalem resident rammed his car into a crowd of Israeli commuters. The death toll in that attack rose to two this past Sunday when a twenty two year old woman died after being critically wounded in that same attack. “At the same time, recent behavior by the Israelis has been highly provocative,” says Msgr. Dennis L. Mikulanis, STD, pastor of San Rafael Parish in San Diego, California, and Fair Witness Executive Committee member.


Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly Listings – October 24

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Visit pbs.org for additional information. Show #1808 will be fed over PBS at 5:00 p.m. EST on October 24 (check local listings). Migrant Children and the Judicial Process – After the unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. from Central America earlier this year, tens of thousands of children now await court action on their fate. Kim Lawton reports that faith-based advocates are trying to help the children through the complex legal process amid an intense national debate over whether they should be sent home. China, Buddhism and the Environment – The government of China, long hostile to religion, may be permitting a return to Buddhism and other traditional religions in an effort to protect the environment.  Fred de Sam Lazaro reports that environmentalists in China – and some government officials – see in Buddhism values of simplicity and respect for nature they say are necessary if the Chinese people are ever to overcome their country’s massive pollution and create an ecologically sustainable civilization.


‘LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON’ – New Trailer Released for Acclaimed Documentary

“This documentary is well worth watching.”
– Ted Baehr, Movieguide

“…begs the question, ‘Are we truly the hands and feet of Christ?’ And if so, ‘How well are we doing?'”
– Melinda Ledman, Christian Cinema

TYLER, Texas – Oct. 23, 2014 – LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON—which drew standing-room-only crowds at film festivals—unveiled its trailer and key art today. Distribution company, The Orchard, and production companies theCollaborate and Goodnight Smoke, will debut the film—part detective story, part faith film—November 21 in New York, and November 23, in the heart of East Texas where the story unfolded. Click here to view the trailer.


Meet the enemy of big government: J.R.R. Tolkien

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 22, 2014 – Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once famously said: “I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” J.R.R. Tolkien, one of the world’s most beloved authors, likely would have agreed with President Reagan, much to the surprise of many literary critics. In THE HOBBIT PARTY: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and The West Forgot, coauthors Dr. Jay Richards, a Catholic, and Dr. Jonathan Witt, an Evangelical Christian, show how Tolkien’s Middle-Earth novels championed liberty, trade and limited government, key issues in the upcoming midterm elections. They believe Tolkien’s novels of Middle-Earth draw us a map to freedom and liberty.


Pontiff and Prophet: Pope Paul VI predictions in On Human Life ring true throughout the world

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 21, 2014 – ON HUMAN LIFE, also known as Humanae Vitae, written by Pope Paul VI, who was beatified Sunday by Pope Francis, is perhaps the most controversial Church document ever written. It also might be the Church’s most prophetic document. Pope Paul VI explained in ON HUMAN LIFE why the Catholic Church rejects contraception and warned of the consequences if contraception became widely practiced — greater infidelity in marriage, confusion regarding the nature of human sexuality and its role in society, the objectification of women for sexual pleasure, compulsive “family planning” and contraceptive policies by government, and the reduction of the human body as an instrument of human manipulation, all of which have resulted in the implosion of our culture. Ignatius Press has rereleased ON HUMAN LIFE, with a foreword by Mary Eberstadt, afterword by Dr. James Hitchcock and postscript by Jennifer Fulwiler, to coincide with the beatification of Pope Paul VI.

Quote of the Day: Actor Joshua Jackson

“I can tell you why we’re not married: We’re not religious. I don’t feel any more or less committed to Diane for not having stood in front of a priest and had a giant party.”

— Actor Joshua Jackson explaining to Glamour magazine why he and actress Diane Kruger have not yet tied the knot.