Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tiger, apology, Buddhism

We make too much over sports heroes—we overpay and over-praise them, and put up with outrageous behavior—so it was good to see Tiger Woods’ apology last week. His main obligation is to his wife and his children, of course, not to us. Yet he *is* a role model, and sports is not merely entertainment, it is also how we demonstrate and teach values. It was appropriate for him to stand up and take responsibility, apologize to those he had wronged, and speak a little about how he planned to be different in the future. Many—many!—people have discussed the situation, in excruciating detail. It is clearly a sort of “Rorschach moment” onto which our individual and collective psyches have been projected.

Without wading further into many of those details, I will say that I am glad he spoke of his Buddhist heritage, and how we planned to find strength and guidance there. Obviously, I believe in the value of religious practice, so I am pleased to hear it affirmed in the public sphere. Moreover, I think it was good for the country to hear a positive example of a faith tradition other than our dominant Christian heritage.

I wish Mr. Woods, and his wife and family, the best as they work through this together.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

science of enlightenment

Shinzen Young combines the best of the East (the internal science of meditation practice) and the best of the West (empirical scientific method) in virtually everything he does, from his 14-CD set "The Science of Enlightenment" to his recent Google Tech Talk at Google Headquarters.

The Google abstract says “The purpose of this talk is threefold: (1) to describe how senior adepts use mindfulness to reduce suffering and gain insight into selfhood and emotions. (2) To point out how the method they use in many ways parallels what scientists do when confronted with a complex and inscrutable system in nature. (3) To discuss how this fundamental parallelism between the two endeavors can become the basis for a productive collaboration in the future.”

Shinzen Young teaches that “high concentration” or “high focus” is just another human skill set, which can be learned and practiced so that, as Sounds True describes it, we can “awaken to clear insight and a happiness independent of conditions: the state of enlightenment.”

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Boston second to Cleveland

Cleveland is ahead of Boston in a recent list--unfortunately, of cities with the worst winter weather. A Forbes magazine article rated the 50 largest U.S. cities, according to precipitation and annual temperatures over a 30-year period.

Because "Cleveland gets hit by lake-effect snow, averaging almost 60 inches every winter and its frigid winters help produce an average annual temperature of only 50 degrees, 10 degrees below the 50-city average," the Rock-n-Roll City took the top spot in this list. Boston was second and New York City third. The midwest continues the hit parade, with Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Columbus and Detroit listed. Baltimore rounds out the top ten. I've visited all of these places--often in the winter--and lived half of my life in them (and the other half in smaller cities nearby, with similar weather). If theology is biography, I wonder how this has affected me.

It should be noted that Buffalo was not populous enough to make the list, otherwise I suspect they'd have the crown. And other measures--worst summer temperatures, for example--would produce a different list.

Of course, the city that REALLY had the worst weather over the last 30 years has to be New Orleans. Geaux Saints!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

a choice in Super Bowl ads

The anti-abortion ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother is fine, wrote Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman--it just doesn't go far enough. It is absolutely a woman's choice whether or not to have an abortion--even when she chooses differently than we might.

Kissling and Michelman suggest a different ad, one that "focuses on one woman after another, posed in the situations of daily life: rushing out the door in the morning for work, flipping through a magazine, washing dishes, teaching a class of sixth-graders, wheeling a baby stroller. Each woman looks calmly into the camera and describes her different and successful choice: having a baby and giving it up for adoption, having an abortion, having a baby and raising it lovingly. Each one being clear that making choices isn't easy, but that life without tough choices doesn't exist."

Planned Parenthood did make a similar ad, a bit more parallel to the Tebow one, starring former college and pro Sean James and gold medalist Al Joyner, here

via Emily Bazelon

Monday, February 01, 2010

UUs & Finns - opposites?

"In Finland nearly everyone believes in God but most people don't go to church. UU's often don't believe in God but do want to go to church." So blogs the Rev. Ms. Jill Terwilliger, as she blogs her way through six months in Finland. She quickly adds nuance to that theolgical and ecclesiological understanding, just as she adds nuance to her careful and vivid descriptions of life as a foreigner in Finland. Check her out at Forest and Trees - Finland.