Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, has a fix for incivility within Congress: Meditation.
Baltimore Public Schools instituted a yoga/meditation program for elementary students ten years. Teachers feel it has lessened fights as well as helped students academically.
Click here for more on both stories.
For an uplifting experience, check out this segment from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
The kind of Christ-like love evidenced in the lives of the Catholic couple who founded this homeless shelter in Helena, Montana boggles my mind. I can be nice to the unfortunate, but I don’t love them. Is this kind of love a gift from God? Or is that my excuse for not trying harder to cultivate that virtue?
Dr. Brenda Williams, an MD in Sumter, SC and her husband, Dr. Joe Williams, an internist, operate a clinic in their city from which no one is turned away. Besides the clinic, they run a program which helps released prison inmates find work and provides homes for needy members of their community. Using their own money, the Williams purchase distressed houses and pay for repair work. Applicants for a free house must agree to do four hours of community service each week, attend church weekly, and get their high school diplomas.
Both Williams are religious—their philosophy of helping the less fortunate is similar to what is taught in most churches—they just do more of it. Dr. Joe Williams offers this comment on their commitment:
I for one believe that this is the best country in the world. I believe that we all have to figure out a way to make it better.
Few people have the energy and means to relieve suffering and improve the community to the extent the Williams do. For most of us, supporting people who are actively engaged in a good cause is our role rather than starting our own program. But I really like the thought that we all need to work to make our country, to make the world, better. Engaging in positive action to improve bad situations makes more sense than spewing rhetoric against whomever or whatever we think is to blame for current problems.
Click herefor a link to a PBS segment on the Williams and their work.
Religion and Ethics, my favorite PBS program, aired a segment on Catholic priest and author, Father Richard Rohr, this week. In his interview, Father Rohr mentioned parents who insist their children attend Mass each Sunday, but sit there themselves, “bored to death . . . hat[ing] every minute of it and walk[ing] out early . . . the kids know by three, ‘This is not a good thing to go to Mass.’”
Somehow I find it comforting to learn that Mormons aren’t the only ones who find church meetings tedious. Check out the program here to find an honest discussion of the difference between religion and spiritual awareness.
My favorite way to recharge my spiritual batteries is to watch the PBS program, Religion and Ethics on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, my Utah station, KUED, chooses to air it at 6:30 AM, so it requires early rising to catch the show. KBYU no longer carries the program—they forfeited my minuscule donation when they cancelled it a few years ago. Since I lack the technology and skill to access a podcast at a later hour, I pull myself from bed early on Sunday mornings to watch people of various denominations living the values of their religion—something I find more uplifting than theology.
Yesterday the program featured a segment on the Washington Jesuit Academy, a Catholic middle school for low-income, African-American or Hispanic boys. Students attend free of charge 12 hours a day, 11 months a year. Classes are small and academic standards are high. About 80% of the boys who graduate go on to high school and then college—an astonishing number considering the fact that three-fourths of them are from single-parent families and one in five has a parent in prison. Most of the boys are not Roman Catholic.
Religion is part of the curriculum with the emphasis on values rather than theology. “We do this not to create Catholics, but because we are Catholics. It’s the social-justice teachings of the church that drive us,” a counselor said. What a great motto for any religion.
The second segment of yesterday’s program featured Buddhist hospital chaplains. Most large hospitals have Christian and Jewish chaplains on their staff. Buddhist chaplains are less common, and their method of helping the sick differs from those of the more common American denominations. Rather than discussing theology and moral issues or administering religious sacraments or rites, Buddhist chaplains focus on alleviating suffering by helping the patient deal with the present moment. They don’t tell patients that things will be better soon. They focus on this moment—accepting pain instead of fighting it, breathing, slowing down the breathing, allowing the body to relax.
I’m never comfortable visiting with a seriously ill persons—I try to avoid the topic of their illness—pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe I need to adopt the Buddhist philosophy when visiting—accepting the person’s pain and focusing on their present situation.
Thank you, R&E for these insights.