America's Most Sinful Cities

This is an interesting article from Forbes.com. (it comes with an interactive multimedia presentation)

read entire article

We have unveiled the American city that has fallen the farthest from grace in each of the seven deadly sins ( lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, wrath, envy and pride). For each sin we stretched our imagination to find a workable proxy--murder rates for wrath, per capita billionaires for avarice--then culled the available data sources to rank the cities. Some of the results were surprising: Salt Lake City as America's Vainest City. Some were not: Detroit as America's Most Murderous.

www.storyofstuff.com

Visit www.storyofstuff.com

Its about 20 mins. but a lot of concise information.

Art Exhibit - Krishna: Love and Devotion

Where: National Gallery of Victoria (180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne)
When: Until 16 March 2008
Admission free

Krishna is one of the most popular of the Hindu gods worshiped throughout Asia and in particular India. The exhibition Krishna: Love and Devotion will explore Krishna iconography, through approximately 70 works including paintings, sculpture, textiles, photography, and jewelery.

The scope of the exhibition includes both historical and contemporary interpretations of Krishna worship and devotion, and explores the narrative of Krisha’s life story in works from across India.

more info here

Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century

Gary Bouma
November 30, 2006

Australians are religiously laid back, more inclined to be spiritual than enthusiastically religious, likely to view God as rather distant, somewhat easy to get around and of particular interest in emergencies.

But there are challenges. Religion is a hot topic. Our politicians admit to being religious, although none claim to be born again, like politicians in the United States. What is happening? Where will this go?

Migration and conversion have changed Australia's religious profile. Migration has brought Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other groups in large enough numbers that there are now more Buddhists than Baptists, more Muslims than Lutherans, and more Hindus than Jews.

Conversion, or denomination switching, has brought a great increase in Pentecostals and other vigorously religious Christian evangelicals.

Religious difference has been both the cause of and associated with the resurgence in religious practice around the world and even in Australia.

When we were all Christians and basically Anglican, Catholic and Uniting, religion did not make much difference. Now there is much more diversity and the Australian "we" includes Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Scientologists. In this context religious identity is being declared in various ways from clothing choices to political choices; from entertainment choices to friendship choices. Increased religious diversity has revealed that religion does make a difference.

Overseas events have thrown religion into the spotlight as various groups claim religious legitimacy for their actions. Again the spectrum is broad, from religiously inspired acts of violence, including terrorist attacks, to attacks on abortion clinics; from declaring opposition to stem-cell legislation to insisting on respect for dietary observances.

Australians have not responded primarily in fear, but by creating a plethora of network-generating interfaith activities and community building associations at the local and state level.

Religious resurgence is not so much a retrogressive step into a past that did not exist as much as totally postmodern ways of taking religion seriously.

Just when many thought religion was a dying phenomenon that would not make it into the 21st century, mega-churches sprang up. Churches filled with youth, and energising forms of worship I refer to as spiritual aerobics. These cannot be dismissed as shallow calls to return to the past, but are active engagements with the world of today with forms of message delivery that are strictly postmodern and keyed into the receptors of young people.

Sit in a pew and listen to a sermon? Give it a rest. Be caught up in a surf of multimedia presentations, study groups and a well-resourced religious environment that cares. The multimedia systems of these churches would make most rock bands weep with envy.

But that is not all. There is also life in more traditional forms. Some seek more reflective, meditative and intellectually grounded forms of faith and spirituality. What does not sell is boring preaching, lazy sloppiness, lack of preparation and insincerity.

Spirituality takes many forms in 21st-century Australia.

Nearly 2 per cent of Australians, more than declared themselves to be Lutherans, Baptists or Muslims, took the time to write in a "spiritual" response to the 2001 census. Other major growth areas included pagans and witches, while the percentage saying they have no religion declined from 16.5 per cent to 15.5 per cent.

Australia's soul is alive and searching. Attendance at mosques, temples and other centres of religious and spiritual life is booming.

Australia competed for and won the bid to hold the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions because of our religious diversity and the way that diversity is peaceably and productively managed and celebrated.

Australians continue to seek explanations that are grounded in more than the material and transient world. Australians are open to the spiritual, but less willing to tolerate patriarchal and patronising religious leaders and oppressive religious structures.

As we seek to take charge of our own health and are less likely to take without question the recommendations of medical practitioners, we are also much less likely to agree that "Father knows best" in our religious and spiritual lives.

As increasingly educated Australians we are demanding that our questions be heard, that our own journeys be validated.

All of this raises serious questions of religion and public policy.

How is Australia to organise medical services when some religious groups oppose fertility control and abortion?

How are the conflicting demands of religious groups for recognition and participation in civic events to be negotiated?

How is the host of a dinner party, or corporate function, to cope with the dietary regulations of vegetarians, vegans, as well as those of other religious groups?

Australia leads the world in providing opportunities for funding for faith-based education in schools. There is support to train Christian clergy, but what about Muslim imams, Buddhist monks and nuns, or the clergy of other groups?

The near future promises to bring more, not less, religious life, greater diversity and increased challenges to policy makers. The core drivers remain strong: a search for meaning in the contingencies of life, dissatisfaction with bare materialism and cold reason, and the human responses of compassion. The resurgence of religion is not an American plot. It is a genuine movement in the life of the Australian soul.

Gary Bouma is UNESCO chairman in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations - Asia Pacific. His new book, Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century, published by Cambridge University Press, is to be released next week.

Krishna Is The Greatest Gentleman

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: Antya-līlā 1.108

bhṛtyasya paśyati gurūn api nāparādhān
sevāṁ manāg api kṛtāṁ bahudhābhyupaiti
āviṣkaroti piśuneṣv api nābhyasūyāṁ
śīlena nirmala-matiḥ puruṣottamo ‘yam

TRANSLATION

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Puruṣottama, the greatest of all persons, has a pure mind. He is so gentle that even if His servant is implicated in a great offense, He does not take it very seriously. Indeed, if His servant renders some small service, the Lord accepts it as being very great. Even if an envious person blasphemes the Lord, the Lord never manifests anger against him. Such are His great qualities.

PURPORT

This verse is from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (2.1.138), by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.

Does This Sound Like A Prophecy?

Sudāmā: Just like in New York, at one time the Empire State Building was the biggest; now they have built two buildings that are the biggest in the world now.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Now someday it will be lowest.

- Morning Walk on January 23, 1974 - Hawaii

Can A Jewish Man Join The Ku Klux Klan?

John Safran (from a Jewish family) meets with a 'grand dragon' from the Ku Klux Klan. This clip contains some low class language but I thought that the content was interesting enough to justify posting it here.

The Blame Game

Blame. It's a miserable state of consciousness when we blame someone else for our misfortune. We disempower ourselves by adapting a 'victim mentality'. What is blame going to do besides perpetuate a cycle of action and reaction?

I blame you. You blame me. I hurt you. You hurt me.

The cycle goes nowhere because it's based in ignorance. All it takes is for one party to accept the blame and the cycle ends.

Today the majority of Australians felt the relief of accepting the blame for the wrongs inflicted upon the indigenous people of this continent. Although an apology can be seen as mere words, it can also mean a lot. In one sense, it slows down the cycle of delusion that arises from the blame game.

Srila Prabhupada gave us this brilliant verse and purport from Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.22:

rājovāca
dharmaṁ bravīṣi dharma-jña
dharmo 'si vṛṣa-rūpa-dhṛk
yad adharma-kṛtaḥ sthānaṁ
sūcakasyāpi tad bhavet

TRANSLATION
The King said: O you, who are in the form of a bull! You know the truth of religion, and you are speaking according to the principle that the destination intended for the perpetrator of irreligious acts is also intended for one who identifies the perpetrator. You are no other than the personality of religion.

PURPORT
A devotee's conclusion is that no one is directly responsible for being a benefactor or mischief-monger without the sanction of the Lord; therefore he does not consider anyone to be directly responsible for such action. But in both the cases he takes it for granted that either benefit or loss is God-sent, and thus it is His grace. In case of benefit, no one will deny that it is God-sent, but in case of loss or reverses one becomes doubtful about how the Lord could be so unkind to His devotee as to put him in great difficulty. Jesus Christ was seemingly put into such great difficulty, being crucified by the ignorant, but he was never angry at the mischief-mongers. That is the way of accepting a thing, either favorable or unfavorable.

Thus for a devotee the identifier is equally a sinner, like the mischief-monger. By God's grace, the devotee tolerates all reverses. Mahārāja Parīkṣit observed this, and therefore he could understand that the bull was no other than the personality of religion himself. In other words, a devotee has no suffering at all because so-called suffering is also God's grace for a devotee who sees God in everything. The cow and bull never placed any complaint before the King for being tortured by the personality of Kali, although everyone lodges such complaints before the state authorities. The extraordinary behavior of the bull made the King conclude that the bull was certainly the personality of religion, for no one else could understand the finer intricacies of the codes of religion.

---------------------------

Here's a refreshing example of a contemporary political leader who today made an effort to stop the cycle of victimization and blame:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

or view the video in its entirety here: http://media.smh.com.au/?rid=35435

Knowing Someone by Their Nose?

 Full article here.

Physiognomy is the ancient art of face-reading, thought to have originated in China more than 2000 years ago. They call it Siang Mien.

Rather like acupuncture, it used to be derided in the West, but many claim that it has been proved to work.

It has plenty of things to say about the nose – all of which might cause you to honk with disbelief.

Bulbous tip: You have a preoccupation with saving.

Small tip: You do not consider money important.

Flared nostrils: You are a big spender and an adventurous risk-taker.

Long nose: Routine work is not your speciality.

Short nose: You have a talent for old-fashioned, hard work; but you crave emotional stability.

Broad nose: You have stability and a purposeful nature, and a powerful sex drive.

Long and narrow nose: You are intelligent, witty and engaging.

Long and broad nose: You have lots of staying power and concentration.

Fat nose: You are optimistic and are usually good in business.

Ski-jump nose: You are intuitive.

Arched: You are elegant and creative.

 

What Does it Mean to be Qualified?

Caitanya Mahaprabhu's movement is so nice that you don't require to acquire something artificial. No. Wherever you are, remain there. Simply hear. And preaching means to propagate or to vibrate what Krsna has said. So this is the position of the preacher, that you simply repeat, like a parrot, no qualification. You simply ... Whatever is said in the Bhagavad-gita, you repeat. And the others simply hear. Sravanam kirtanam [SB 7.5.23]. Then both of them become liberated.

There is no question of that, to become a qualified person. This is the only qualification, that a preacher should preach only what Krsna has said. That's all. No manufacturing, no concoction. And the audience? They will hear from such person who does not speak anything else except Krsna's teaching, that's all. These two things, if carried, then your both the life,(?) the sravanam kirtanam, the one who is speaking and one who is hearing, both of them are benefited.

Srila Prabhupada - Class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.43 -- Los Angeles, June 9, 1976

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