And to celebrate I want to introduce all of you to a project called “Beyond the Brogue: Covering Ireland’s Changing Religious Landscape.” This is a project of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, of which I am an alum (yeah, Class of 1994!) and is generated by its excellent Covering Religion class taught by my teacher, mentor and friend Ari Goldman. Every spring, Ari takes the 16 or so grad students who are interested in becoming religion reporters to some wonderfully diverse and challenging overseas location where they report on the local, national and international religion scene for about a week. In previous years, they have been to Israel, Russia, India, the American South (bummer for that class!) and now Ireland. You can read the stories from these classes in the site’s class archives. Alas, when I was his student, this experience was not in the offering. But through the miracle of the Internet we can all travel along with this class and experience the incredible religious diversity of Ireland almost first hand. I am addicted to the Daily Dispatches, which are a kind of journalist’s diary of each day written by a different student each day, and to the Feature Stories, which are intended for publication. I have never been to Ireland and had no idea it was as diverse as it is. To me, it seems a lot like NYC, with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews – and just about every flavor of each one – rubbing elbows on a daily basis. Cool! You can find these sections on the search bar at the top of the site.
In the most recent of the Daily Dispatches, a Buddhist nun tells how she starts each morning with the prayer, “Today, may my actions be of benefit to all sentient beings.” How about that for a prayer bead prayer or mantra?
And, as it is Saint Patrick‘s Day and he is my personal favorite saint, I can point you all to the prayer bead prayers I offered here on this day last year. So read the stories from this lucky, talented group of young(ish) reporters and remember the great Saint who was the champion of the downtrodden.