A Sense of the Sacred; ‘Prisoner of Hope, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Passes; Religious Scholars on Death and Faith; Alien Contact? NASA Asks Religious Scholars to Participate; Zoroastrians Facing Multiple Funeral Challenges; Giant Statue of Buddha Destroyed by Chinese Communists

‘Prisoner of Hope’ Archbishop Desmond Tutu Passes

Archbishop Desmund Tutu

Archbishop Desmund Tutu

The retired Anglican archbishop of Cape Town — who in 1984 won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to bring about a peaceful transition to a society with equal rights for all — died in Cape Town Dec. 26 at the age of 90. When he was asked at a meeting of young people why he was always so positive, Archbishop Tutu told them, “I’m a prisoner of hope,” A requiem mass was held New Year’s Day. His body will be cremated and the remains placed in a columbarium in St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town.

Religious Scholars on Death and Faith
cemetery pixabayPhilosopher George Yancy interviewed religious scholars on death and faith. While each articulated a different interpretation of what happens after death, it was not long before othe conversations turned to matters of life, on the importance of what we do on this side of the grave. Death is loss, each scholar seemed to say, but it also illuminates and transforms life, and serves as a guide for the living.

Alien Contact? NASA Asks Religious Scholars to Participate
Alien pixabayA priest, a rabbi and an imam are among theologians hired by NASA to examine how the world would react if life beyond earth was found on other planets. NASA has reportedly recruited at least 24 scholars so far to participate in a program at Princeton University’s Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) in New Jersey. The center, which received a $1.1 million NASA grant in 2014, describes its main objective as building “bridges of understanding” between academics of various disciplines, scientists, and policymakers on “global concerns.”

Zoroastrians Facing Multiple Funeral Challenges

Zoroastrian Fire Temple

Zoroastrian Fire Temple

Zoroastrians, members of the oldest continuously practiced organized faith, do not bury or cremate their dead, and in fact cremation is seen as a desecration of fire, which is sacred to them. Their preferred funeral is called dokhmenashini in which the body is placed atop a tower for vultures to consume. But not only have vultures been diminishing in many parts of the world because of poisoning and poaching, but the COVID pandemic has in some cases forced authorities to require cremation to avoid contamination from bodies.

Giant Statue of Buddha Destroyed by Chinese Communists
buddha-pixabayThe Chinese Communist Party continues to destroy megastatues of the Buddha, a visual reminder that people still believe in religion after decades of repression and atheistic propaganda. The last victim of this campaign was a 30-meter (99-feet) tall bronze statue of the Buddha in Drakgo (Ch. Luhuo). Drakgo is under the administration of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is part of Kham, one of the regions of historical Tibet, now incorporated into the province of Sichuan.

Quote: A Sense of the Sacred

Rabbi Sacks

Rabbi Sacks

“A sense of the sacred is what lifts us above instinct and protects us from our dysfunctional drives.” – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks