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Bewitched Children? A Problem Churches Should Tackle

Bewitched Children? A Problem Churches Should Tackle
The occasional horror story seeps out, but the fact that significant numbers of children are abused and die because people believe they are bewitched or possessed by evil spirits is not well-known or documented. But when and where this occurs, it's among the most horrific of the dark sides of human behavior. And, though the numbers are very elusive, it seems that the practice is increasing (there are likely many tens of thousands of children involved). And it seems that today many of those accused of being witches are children, while in the past older women were more likely to be the targets.

A Fes Aperitif: Searching for Balance

A Fes Aperitif: Searching for Balance
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music was born with an idealistic hypothesis: the diversity and wonder of music from different faiths and cultures can break through barriers of intolerance and misunderstanding and create harmony among very different people. Another core belief is that the world and especially the phenomena we call globalization are badly in need of spiritual succor.

Sin, Corruption and What Religions Can Do About It

Sin, Corruption and What Religions Can Do About It
There's plenty of sin in the air these days: sins of commission, sins of omission, all seven of the original deadly sins (to remind, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony). Actually Mahatma Gandhi's 1926 seven social sins are also very present:

1. Wealth without work
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Commerce without morality
5. Science without humanity
6. Religion without sacrifice, and
7. Politics without principle

Act Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly: Working for World Interfaith Harmony

Act Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly: Working for World Interfaith Harmony
From December 11-15, 2012, the Jesuit Service Cambodia hosted an interfaith workshop entitled “Act Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly.” This workshop provided an opportunity for people from various faith traditions to share their personal stories and experiences, learn about insights from different faith traditions, and decide on actions to take regarding key social and environmental issues facing Cambodia and the wider world.

Millennium Development Goals: 1,000 Days to Go

Millennium Development Goals: 1,000 Days to Go
Just 50 years ago, at the height of the civil rights struggle, Martin Luther King Jr. was in a Birmingham jail. A group of moderate clergymen published a letter arguing that King's tactics were "unwise and untimely" in trying to force change before the time was right. It was, they suggested, inevitable that African-Americans would "eventually" gain their rights. The implication was to stick to moderation and "due deliberate speed."

Confronting Tensions, Real and Imagined, and Realizing Potentials

Confronting Tensions, Real and Imagined, and Realizing Potentials
This post was originally published in the Women's Liberty Bell blog.

Over my lifetime (certainly not just my career) the causes of social justice and our responsibilities to act to serve them have taken on growing importance for me. More and more, I see relationships between women and men as vital. Now a visiting professor at Georgetown University and leader of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, a tiny but dynamic NGO, the bulk of my working life was spent at the World Bank, always in front line operations centered on on Africa, Latin America, and East Asia and pushing boundaries for women as a leader. For over a decade my focus has been faith and development: what does religion have to do with the challenges and what does that mean for action? At this intersection no issue is as important as relationships between women and men.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
Each March 7, a special pilgrimage takes place in Alabama, retracing the steps of the great 1961 civil rights march. It keeps alive the memory of the courageous people who stood up and stood together for what they believed, and for what they knew was right. Around my dinner table two weeks ago, Burns Strider, a veteran of the pilgrimage (and of Capitol Hill politics), and Rabbi David Saperstein, who went this year for the first time, entranced us with the story of a remarkable moment they had witnessed days earlier.

A Religious Take on International Women's Day

A Religious Take on International Women's Day
I sense a new tone of determination, sometimes an edge, in the annual outpourings of wishes and hopes that have come to mark March 8, International Women's Day. The occasion's socialist origins have rather receded in the mists of time and today this event is plainly about us, in the here and now. In the Facebook era, the day (and month, also, in theory dedicated to women's causes) offer both a chance to celebrate progress (with shades of Mother's Day) and to lament how far there is to go. There's an energy that's well reflected in the 2013 theme: "Gaining Momentum."

Phnom Pehn Prepares a Final Farewell: Part II

Phnom Pehn Prepares a Final Farewell: Part II
I concluded the last Dispatch from Cambodia post with questions of whether reconciliation would follow the death of former King Sihanouk, or if there would be increasing divides amongst the population. King Sihanouk was a significant figurehead in Cambodian history, leading the country to independence, war, and then relative stability. As a result, his death has brought about a mass outpouring of grief, extravagant nationalistic rallies, and numerous Buddhist ceremonies. However, his death also stirs an awakening and awareness to some of Cambodia’s core political and social issues, with some human rights violations criticized by American President Barack Obama during the ASEAN summit last November.

This follow-up blog post set out in search of voices to learn more about the impact of King Sihanouk’s death and the future for Cambodian leadership and unity. I conversed with several individuals over the weekend following the cremation ceremonies and selected a few of those interactions to share here.

Engaging Faith in the Global Water Challenge

Engaging Faith in the Global Water Challenge

This post was originally published in The Broker Online's Prioritizing Water blog.

Few would contest the bald assertion that water (and hopefully its less discussed companion sanitation) must come at the top of any priority list for post 2015 development goals. Life itself depends on water: health, food, power, and even something as seemingly distant as mining, need reliable water. And with growing populations and rising demand for water, the prospect of water-related conflicts looms ever larger if water is not better used and the roots of conflicts addressed. As always, poor families and communities, especially women, bear the brunt of erratic water supplies, high priced water, and community tension.