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A Political Vision

Andrew C. McCarthy: Bon Jovi Islam.

Our real challenge is that, violent or not, Islamic doctrine constitutes a political vision. That is, Islam is not a mere religion as we understand the concept in the West — a set of spiritual guidelines that are denied governing authority in what is a separate, secular realm. Mainstream Islam calls for a comprehensive political, economic, legal, and social theocracy. Its spiritual elements are only a small part of the system, and it rejects the concept of divisibility between mosque and state.

Read more here.

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China’s Muslims

Charles Horner & Eric Brown: Beijing’s Islamic Complex. See here.

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Spirituality and Well-Being

Spirituality and Well-Being: An Overview by K. Krishna Mohan.

The last two decades have provided evidence from a wide range of disciplines, that human potential for psychological growth and well-being is more than what had been previously estimated. Though spirituality is as much a part of human experience as any other normal form of thought and behaviour, until recently it has not been given due importance by researchers in psychology. This same opinion is echoed by researchers and therapists who report that the spiritual dimension of human experience has not been given the attention that it deserves in mental health (Adams, 1995; Canda, 1995; Ganje-Fling & McCarthy, 1996; Hall, 1995; Kane, Cheston & Green, 1993; King, Speck & Thomas, 1995; Lindgren & Coursy, 1995; Pargament, 1996; Sargent, 1989; Sinclair, 1993; Vesti & Kastrup, 1995; Weaver, Koeing & Ocherg, 1996; Wulff, 1996). Mental health professionals, in fact, have often viewed spiritual content as pathological (Larson et al., 1993; Post, 1992; Weaver et al., 1996).

Both religion and spirituality are universal and widespread phenomena, in that they are integral to numerous cultures, and influence people of all ages, socio-economic status, and educational levels. They continue to live because of, among other things, social influences and need satisfaction. Every aspect of life, particularly in the East, is more or less imbued with religious sentiments or perceived as part of religious life. It is estimated that 94% of the American population believe in God, 88% believe God loves them, 81% believe we will be called before God on Judgement Day, 71% believe in life after death. More people have confidence in organised religion than in any other social institution (Gallup & Castelli, 1989).

The aim of this paper is to show the close relationship between spirituality and well-being by presenting research based evidence that spirituality or a spiritual way of life has a bearing on well-being. In addition, it will show that ideas or concepts drawn from spirituality can be effectively applied to counselling and psychotherapy. But before presenting an overall view of the relationship between spiritual outlook and psychological well-being it will be appropriate first to define the basic concepts.

Read the rest here.

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Replace?

Derek Bickerton on Why Atheism Won’t Replace Religion. See here.

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Overpaid

Chris Edwards: Overpaid Federal Workers.

With projections of huge federal deficits for years to come, policymakers should scour the budget looking for places to cut spending. One area to find savings is the generous compensation paid to the federal government’s 2.1 million civilian workers.1 Total wages and benefits paid to executive branch civilians was $230 billion in 2010, indicating that compensation is a major federal expense that can be trimmed.2

During the last decade, compensation of federal employees rose much faster than compensation of private-sector employees. As a consequence, the average federal civilian worker now earns twice as much in wages and benefits as the average worker in the U.S. private sector.3 A recent job-to-job comparison found that federal workers earned higher wages than did private-sector workers in four-fifths of the occupations examined.4

The federal workforce has become an elite island of secure and high-paid workers, separated from the ocean of average American workers competing in the global economy. It is time for some restraint. Federal wages should be frozen or cut, overly generous federal benefits should be overhauled, and the federal workforce downsized through program terminations and privatization. It is unfair to ask taxpayers to foot an ever-increasing bill for federal workers, especially when private-sector compensation has not kept pace.

More.

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Iran

Bret Stephens: Iran Cannot Be Contained. See here.

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New Metaphysicals

The Immanent Frame reviews The New Metaphysicals.

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Doubt

Karzai doubts the West can defeat the Taliban.

“The president has lost his confidence in the capability of either the coalition or his own government to protect this country,” Mr. Saleh said in an interview at his home. “President Karzai has never announced that NATO will lose, but the way that he does not proudly own the campaign shows that he doesn’t trust it is working.”

People close to the president say he began to lose confidence in the Americans last summer, after national elections in which independent monitors determined that nearly one million ballots had been stolen on Mr. Karzai’s behalf. The rift worsened in December, when President Obama announced that he intended to begin reducing the number of American troops by the summer of 2011.

“Karzai told me that he can’t trust the Americans to fix the situation here,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He believes they stole his legitimacy during the elections last year. And then they said publicly that they were going to leave.”

Read the rest here.

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Saint Sarah

Newsweek on Saint Sarah.

Palin has her faults, but the left is partially to blame for her ascent. Its native mistrust of religion, of conservative believers in particular, left the gap that Palin now fills. “You hate to say it, but mainstream feminism has had an antireligious bias for a really long time,” says Griffith. When she’s talking about Trig, Palin is able—if just for a few minutes—to convince a lot of women that she’s just like them. She’s a hardworking mom with too much on her plate. Her momentary consideration of the alternatives makes her ultimate choice more sympathetic, not less. No matter what generations of activists on both sides say, there is gray area in the abortion debate, and Palin is claiming it for the Christian right.

More here.

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Are Denominations Dead?

June’s cover story from CT.

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Totally Unprepared

Peggy Noonan writes we are “totally unprepared” for WMD attacks.

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Strange Hostility

Mark Steyn defends Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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The Myth

The Myth of Iran’s ‘Isolation’ by Charles Krauthammer. See here.

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Free

John Stossel on Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose.

America’s current struggles notwithstanding, life here is pretty good. We have a standard of living that’s the envy of most of the world.

Why did that happen? Prosperity isn’t the norm. Throughout history and throughout the world, poverty has been the norm. Most of the world still lives in dire poverty. Of the 6 billion people on earth, perhaps 1 billion have something close to our standard of living. Why did America prosper when most of the people of the world are still poor?

Milton Friedman taught me the answer. More than any other American, Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, clearly warned the world about the unintended consequences of big government.

“We’ve become increasingly dependent on government,” said Friedman. “We’ve surrendered power to government; nobody has taken it from us. It’s our doing. The results—monumental government spending, much of it wasted, little of it going to the people whom we would like to see helped.”

More at Reason.

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Is God Irrelevant?

Davidson Loehr: Is God Irrelevant? See here.

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Ethanol

The ethanol boondoggle.

The most disgusting aspect of the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t the video images of oil-soaked birds or the incessant blather from pundits about what BP or the Obama administration should be doing to stem the flow of oil. Instead, it’s the ugly spectacle of the corn-ethanol scammers doing all they can to capitalize on the disaster so that they can justify an expansion of the longest-running robbery of taxpayers in U.S. history.

More at Slate.

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Resorting to Violence

“German study claims devout Islamic youth more violence-prone.”

The more devout a young Muslim male in Germany is, the more likely he is to resort to violence, according to a federally financed study seen Saturday by the German Press Agency dpa.

The study, based on interviews with 45,000 boys and girls aged 14 to 16, also concluded that male supremacist views and a preference for violent videos and computer games link closely with mosque attendance among the young. It compared Christians and Muslims.

It found that young people who were intensely Christian were less likely to be violent than the average.

More here.

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American Saint

First Things reviews American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists by John Wigger.

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Nervous

David Harsanyi explains why the Helen Thomas case makes him nervous.

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Not One

Killing the Buddha interviews Stephen Prothero about his new book, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter.