Stories I’ve Found, 1/18/2013

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

We always need more messengers of peace in this world, and it’s heartening to find one in the Grand Mufti of Egypt.  May his vision of Egypt as a land of peace and compassion come true.

Hollywood almost never gets the story right, and its presentation of torture in the movie Zero Dark Thirty seems to be more than problematic.  It’s bad enough we as a country have approve and practice torture in the first place: it surely doesn’t need to be lionized through false information and out and out lies.  You can always trust information gained through torture, right?  We found Osama bin Laden by torturing people, right? And when did Jesus torture someone, or condone his disciples doing it?

There’s no shortage of stories about clergy abuse, however GetReligion points out one that’s far superior than most, giving us a glimpse of real faith.  The victim was reading his abuser’s spiritual autobiography, and at a key point realized: “God is not there at all.” This is the great truth of every abuse case, not matter the circumstances or the people involved.

There are a multitude of urban legeds about religion out there: I know because I’ve heard a lot of them about my Church. Between gossip sites and rumors circulated on the Internet, it’s a wonder we get any real news about any religion anywhere. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a wealth of disinformation about Islam, especially coming from anonymous, anti-Islamic websites, and news services almost never check their facts on any religious story before going to press.  Don’t you fall for the crazy fatwa any more than you’d fall for a story claiming the Donation of Constantine or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true documents.

A coalition of religious leaders is taking on the NRA. It’s about time, and Jim Wallis’ comments are particularly good: there are no good people/bad people, but people with good and bad sides, and weaopns make the bad side worse. I don’t think banning assault weapons constitutes an violation of the 2nd Amendment, I don’t think we need to be our own policeman/soldier, and sometimes I think NRA stands for No Responsibility Accepted (I didn’t come up with that).  No one should purchase a weapon other than a hunting rifle without examining their conscience to see if they’re ready to shoot to kill (buying a weapon without intending to use it is foolish).  We should do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people just as we do everything we can to keep drunks from getting behind the wheel of a car.  I’d also love to have someone explain to me coherently how protecting yourself against our government by acquiring semi-automatic weapons and armor piercing ammo isn’t treason.  Maybe the South will rise again.

Leah Libresco uncovers the value of role playing in exploring personal values in Cultivating Curiosity.  Having played fantasy role playing games many times, I find them potentially helpful in exploring other value systems, since it gives me the chance to use another mindset in a controlled climate with other people (so to speak) without having to make a permanent change of alignment.  It’s one thing to imagine yourself a Champion of Good, and another to try it out against opposition and indifference, seeing the results right away. Yes, there are dangers in these games for weak minds and they’re not for everyone, but it’s better than trying to road test ideas in the imaginary world of your own mind.

Carl Cranney makes a guest appearance in Leah Libresco’s blog to present God and Moral Law in Mormonism. This is territory I’m unfamiliar with, and I’m glad to understand it a little better. It helps explain a lot about Mormon perspectives on society.

For those of you who want to know which prelates are on the cover of Vanity Fair, here’s a picture of Gorgeous Georg.  I expect the posters and Fatheads will be ready for the wall of your dwelling soon.

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