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A Lancet Breakthrough: Publishing About Faith and Health

A Lancet Breakthrough: Publishing About Faith and Health
On July 7, the renowned medical publication the Lancet launched a series of articles on faith and health, led by Ed Mills. Lancet Senior Executive Editor Bill Summerskill, made clear that this was a significant departure, a first. Speaking at the World Bank in Washington D.C., he and his colleagues did not shy away from the fact that the path to publication had not been easy. But they saw the opportunities and issues raised as vital to achieving universal health care, which in turn is at the core of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are close to being finalized at the United Nations. [Disclosure: I was a member of the author team and contributed to two comments that are part of the series].

Portrait of a Peacebuilder: Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne

Portrait of a Peacebuilder: Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne
Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne leads one of the world's most admired development initiatives: the Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya movement. Inspired by Buddhist principles and founded (in Sri Lanka) by his father in 1958, Sarvodaya has pioneered village level development for 57 years. Many ideas that Sarvodaya advanced decades ago, like participatory engagement of communities, were looked at askance as revolutionary and impractical, but today are accepted as central premises of sound development work. Dr. Ariyaratne is in demand in many quarters - as a public health specialist, physician, strategic leader, advocate for children, and finance specialist. But when we spoke recently he was most passionate about his work to heal the wounds of Sri Lanka's bitter conflict.

Child Poverty: a View From Sarajevo

Child Poverty: a View From Sarajevo
The city of Sarajevo has vivid reminders of the horrors of war and the uncomfortable fact that violent conflict is not far away in time or space. The term "ethnic cleansing" was first used in this region. In a beautiful valley, surrounded by green hills, with many spires of minarets and churchtowers, many buildings are scarred by bullets, a main street is referred to as "sniper alley," and graves, red splashes marked on pavement and memorials keep memories of siege and suffering alive. Worse, ever present tensions that led to war still simmer. Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Jews share a history and a country but live largely apart with daily tensions even if largely subdued.

Paradoxes of Women's Equality in Bangladesh

Paradoxes of Women's Equality in Bangladesh
Perpetually snarled traffic in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, symbolizes the vibrant spirit of this nation of 160 million but also the host of difficult problems it confronts. Bangladesh is in the cross-hairs of changing climate (since most of the country is near sea level). The earthquakes in neighboring Nepal were felt in Bangladesh, a reminder of high disaster risks. A highly complex and acrimonious political scene dominates issues about state roles. The lively press points out a host of contradictions, between actively contested elections and political tension and stalemate, a rich cultural and ethical heritage and high levels of corruption, and enviable growth rates and still deep poverty.

Interreligious Dialogue in Southern California

Interreligious Dialogue in Southern California

Rev. Gwynne Guibord founded and directs the Guibord Center in Los Angeles. It draws on the inspiration of her twenty years of working with leaders of the many faith practices and traditions that live side by side in Southern California. The aim is “To bring people together to challenge assumptions, unleash the Holy, and affirm the faith that transforms the world.” Interreligious dialogue is thus a central challenge as the center addresses the issues facing the community and the nation. Domestic violence has emerged as a live topic, and the Guibord Center has organized several events to address the issue. This exchange with Katherine Marshall took place in Atlanta on February 9, 2015, on the margins of the Carter Center Human Rights Defenders Forum. The discussion served as an introduction to the short and powerful video on violence against women that was screened as part of the forum. Rev. Guibord stresses the vital importance of healing in the effort to combat domestic violence and of engaging men in a positive and truly spiritual way.

Faith at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Faith at the UN Commission on the Status of Women
This year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) held at the UN in New York focused on progress made toward women’s rights and empowerment in the past 20 years, referring back to the 1995 meeting in Beijing and its resulting declaration and platform for action. As I learned at CSW this past week, women from various faith traditions were present at the 1995 event and continue to be engaged in “gender justice” work today and at CSW59.

Improbable Allies: Faith and the World Bank

Improbable Allies: Faith and the World Bank
Religion is everywhere on the map these days, fiercely debated, cajoled, maligned, and blessed. But if you wanted to pick an institution that would forge new approaches in this sensitive field, the World Bank would scarcely come to mind. In friendly quarters it is seen as rather staid with a bent to statistics and economic jargon. Its critics portray it as inextricably allied with the one percent that represents world wealth and power. Spiritual scarcely comes to mind as an appropriate adjective and neither does openness to far-ranging partnerships.

Interfaith Conversations at the United Nations

Interfaith Conversations at the United Nations
It's interfaith harmony week. This is one of many special times that United Nations member states have agreed upon to focus on a problem or issue. Interfaith Harmony week began in 2010, a sort of middle path between more far-reaching efforts to focus on religious matters in a UN setting, and a not insignificant current of unease about even broaching the topic. The idea is that around the world groups use the platform to engage in different activities. This year, with horrendous religious tensions so much in evidence, the week takes on a special significance.