Hip to be Square: Between Faith and Flannel

Ashley Baxstrom: Maybe Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman haven’t yet convinced you that Mormons are cool? Perhaps the recent stream of “I’m a Mormon” billboards, taxi-tops and television ads don’t do the trick, even though one includes a guy with a hawk and another has a surfer girl? But that’s ok. When it comes down to it, we all know there’s really only one thing that bestows and conveys social status and awesomeness – and that’s fashion.

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Of Artists, Expatriates, Faith and India

An excerpt from Vikram Kapur’s article “When Society Failed the Artist” today at The Hindu, on the recent death of exiled Indian artist M.F. Husain in London:

What is interesting in the case of Husain is that the furore over his nude depiction of Hindu deities did not erupt when the paintings were created in the 1970s. It happened in the 1990s during the golden age of Hindutva. It was in the heady days of the headline-gathering rath yatras and the demolition of the Babri Mosque that elements of the Hindu right woke up to the fact that a Muslim painter had depicted Hindu deities in the nude. They may also have taken their cue from the Muslim right’s success in getting the government to ban Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. In the years that followed they successfully utilised intimidation and the courts to hound Husain from the country and, ultimately, to Qatari citizenship.

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Religious Leadership and Violence Prevention after Tucson

by Joshua Stanton

This month, it became clear that Americans must do more to prevent violence. A congresswoman was shot in the head in what seems to have been a politically motivated assassination attempt – only surviving by luck or miracle. Six others have died and many more were wounded. our country is in a state of mourning.

Of significant note, American religious leaders from myriad groups have stepped up to comfort families, visit the wounded, pray for victims, and speak out against the event. Though beautiful and important, these efforts are not enough. Religious leaders – and future ones such as myself – must also work actively to prevent violence.  In fact, they are ideally situated to do so.

Some religious leaders have blamed the outbreak of violence on the fact that Jared Loughner – the assailant – was an atheist. Yet these rationalizations smack of deflection and a desire to avoid answering more essential questions about why violence takes place in our society – questions that religious leaders cannot in good conscience shirk. Continue Reading →