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Archive for June, 2009

Neda

This week, when it came time to pick something to pray for, I did not have to look very far. That is a sad statement. I think we’ve all seen the pictures coming out of Iran for the last week and half and none of them has made an impact like that of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young Iranian woman shot and bleeding to death in the street. In case you missed it – and shame on you, if you have – here’s an article from the LA Times by Borzou Daragahi, a classmate of mine at Columbia who has been doing excellent work from the Middle East for the last four or five years.

Neda’s story brings home the tragedy of what is happening in Iran in a way nothing else has to me. I have followed the story from afar, shaken my head at the audacity of the ruling party in Iran and worried for the protesters brave enough to stand up for their beliefs. But the death of this woman somehow made this story personal. She could have been any one of us.

So this week, as you use your prayer beads, I ask that you say a special prayer for Neda Agha-Soltan, who many see as a martyr to the cause of freedom.  And let us all pray for peace  so that young women who are guilty of nothing more than wanting their vote to count won’t have to lose their lives in the pursuit of it.

Here is a prayer, from Give Us Grace: An Anthology of Anglican Prayers, to get you started:

God our father

You are the source of all truth and peace:

Look with mercy on your children

Purify our hearts from hatred, falsehood and prejudice

And so guide us by your loving wisdom

That peace a righteousness may be established among all people.

Amen.

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I have been thinking for a few months that I’d like to start a new addition to this blog, a regular – perhaps weekly – segment where I tell you all about something going on out there in the world that I think would be worth directing prayer to. Something happened in this week’s news that prompted me to it – the murder of the security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by a white supremacist.

But why this particular event? I mean, in any given week – hell, in any given moment of the day – there is enough misery in the world that is worthy of our prayerful thoughts and intentions. Here’s a sample just from this week’s news: bombings and assassinations in Pakistan; people still living in FEMA trailers in New Orleans; possible election fraud in Iran; fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and let us not forget Darfur.  And that’s just what I can recall off the top of my head. So why single out the murder of one person by another?

The answer lies in this excellent commentary I heard this morning on National Public Radio given by one of my all-time favorite journalists, Scott Simon. Simon reminds us of all that this security guard, Stephen Tyrone Jones, placed on the line every day he went to work, and he alerts us to the fact that despite the election of Barack Obama our country’s hideous legacy of racial hatred is not extinguished.

So I suggest we use our prayer beads this week to pray for two things: to honor the sacrifice of Mr. Jones and to change the hearts of people who hate those who they perceive as less than themselves on the basis of race, nationality or religion. Here are two prayers to get you started, both collected by Maggie Oman Shannon in Prayers for Hope and Comfort:

Oh God, we seek your forgiveness for the numerous injustices around us, for our inability to create a world of equality.

We pray for a deepening of our commitment to justice, for the ability to reflect on the many ways in which we offend people of other creeds, of the opposite sec, of other nations.

Above all, we ask for the courage to stand up as witness-bearers for justice, though this may be against ourselves.

–Unitarian-Universalist prayer

Come Holy Spirit, whose justice outwits international conspiracy,

whose light outshines religious bigotry,

whose peace can halt our patriarchal hunger for dominance and control,

whose promise invigorates every new efort:

to create a new heaven and a new earth, now and forever. Amen.

–Diarmuid O’Murchu


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Check out this wonderful post from a Baltimore-based woman named Anne who makes Anglican rosaries. She has decided to start a series of posts about birthstone rosaries, and is beginning with June – pearls and alexandrites. Here is an excerpt:

“Everywhere, pearls represent purity, innocence, and integrity. In the book of Revelations, the Gates of Heaven are made of pearls. The pearl is the national gemstone of Saudi Arabia, France, the Philippines, and India. They are the traditional birthstone for June and are given as gifts for the thirtieth wedding anniversary as well as for First Communion.”

Anne also has an Etsy store where she sells her handmade Anglican rosaries and other jewelry. I learned something from Anne’s post on pearls and alexandrites and so I will link to her monthly birthstone rosary post. In the meantime, let’s all go out and get some faux pearls and some Swarovski alexandrite crystals and make a rosary or other form of prayer beads for someone with a June birthday – or perhaps a June bride?

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iPod Rosary App

Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about an iPod rosary app. Check it out for the pictures alone. Here’s an excerpt:

“The portable iPod MP3 player by Apple is one of the few objects in pop culture which has achieved an almost religious status. It is without doubt the most well-known and most popular representative, acts as a symbol for the concept of a portable audio player and has been clearly stylized to become the latest craze.

iRosary uses the advantages of the iPod to make the rosary more attractive and flexible for younger believers. At the same time, however, it reciprocally uses the significance of both objects as practical commodities on the one side and symbolic signs on the other and only changes the objects to a minimum extent.”

I  think this is only a concept for a product, not a real product. If you click the link at the bottom of the page, you go to a website for a Berlin university where it seem to be a student’s project. Anyone know for sure? If this is/were a real app, do you think you would notice any kind of different quality to your prayer time with NO BEADS???? Nothing in your hands but your iPod? Would you have any difficulty focusing your prayers? Notice that the app promises you can listen to your music and the prayers at the same time – and also add in the sound of beads clinking!

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So I believe in good news first. Here goes – if you scan down on the right hand side of this blog you will find a meter that counts the number of hits this blog has received. And you will see that while I was gone it hit over 100,000. For me, that is a major milestone! I am very happy. Thanks you to everyone and I hope this blog has been of some help to you.

More good news. I came home to find out that while I was gone, Beliefnet.com ran a “gallery” I wrote about how to make a basic Anglican rosary. The benefit the gallery has that the book does not is that it has step-by-step pictures and diagrams that the book did not have room for. So take a look, and if you find it useful, please send the link on to other folks.

And some more good news. My pal and co-worker David Gibson received the 2008 American Academy of Religion’s award for the best opinion writing for pieces he wrote for the New Jersey Star Ledger and the Wall Street Journal. YEAH, DAVE!

And the not good news. While I was gone, my excellent editor at Morehouse Publishing, Nancy Fitzgerald, was laid off. Nancy was my editor for Fabric of Faith and Bead One, Pray Too and was the driving force behind all of Morehouse’s rather successful line of craft-and-spirituality books. I an very sad for her and for what it will mean to Morehouse’s publishing program. Let us hope she lands a better job, soon.

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Back from Italy

We arrived home from our month in Italy Monday night, safe and sound. I feel for all the families and friends of those who did not make it home on a flight that night. Terrible.

So now we are digging out from under mail, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. I have much to blog about prayer beads and other spiritual things about Italy and will begin later this week. I want all my regular readers to know that I missed staying in touch with you while I was gone and worked hard to take pictures and remember things I could share with you here. It was just a wonderful, life-expanding trip. We are very lucky people.

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