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Is Witchcraft Too Mainstream?

April 6, 2020

 

In the East Village of New York City, filed away in a row of neat storefronts, a neon sign reads “CRYSTALS, MINERALS.” Packed full of sparkling gems and cut stones, Rock Star Crystals is the type of place you might expect to see a geologist or gem collector.

But stepping inside is a different story. Signs point customers toward chakra stones for energy healing, boxes of brightly-colored agate for creativity and strength, and even bundles of sage for purification. The store is one of many businesses that aims to appeal to a rising demographic: witches.

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With Passover, Easter and Ramadan looming, clergy scramble to create holidays at a distance

April 6, 2020

 

The Rev. Richard Mosson Weinberg canceled the Boston ferns and the yellow daffodils for the Easter service ordered for his Episcopal church in Washington’s affluent Kalorama neighborhood. Rabbi Levi Shemtov scrapped plans for the 200-person Seder dinner for Passover in his Chabad synagogue nearby. And Imam Yahya Luqman called off the Ramadan dinners at his mosque down the street.

These three faith leaders, who normally lead worship within walking distance from each other in Northwest Washington, are all scrambling to find...

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Hospital chaplains find creative ways to offer compassion, despite coronavirus restrictions, so no one has to die alone

April 6, 2020

As a man lay dying of COVID-19 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, hospital chaplains Marie Coglianese and Bob Andorka stood just outside his room, praying and singing.

They held up a phone so his mother and sister could hear. The man’s mother asked to talk to her son, so the chaplains allowed her voice to flood through the room’s intercom system. They did the same for his sister.

In a time when hospitals must enforce strict no-visitor policies due to the...

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Synagogues adapt to online prayer and community building

April 3, 2020

 

In Temple Emanuel’s Gann Chapel, Friday evening’s “Shabbat Alive!” service proceeds as it has every week since its inception in 2007. Every member of the clergy is dressed in some variation of tallit and kippah and the bimah features its typical cast of characters. However, the pews are desolate, only occupied by various Hebrew prayer books.

These texts will not be touched for the foreseeable future as Emanuel, as well as religious institutions around Newton and the country, respond to the outbreak of COVID-...

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Virus lockdown changes how Hindus celebrate holy period

April 3, 2020

 

Rukmani Sharma fears the virus that has turned the world upside down. But as a devout Hindu, she also fears for her soul.

COVID-19 restrictions mean that the 71-year-old woman won’t be allowed to go to temple Thursday to celebrate the birthday of the Hindu god Ram, and she says she’s “feeling guilty.”

Hindus around the world are in the midst of a nine-day period called Chaitra Navaratri that began with what for many is considered the Hindu New Year and will culminate with the festival of Ramanavami. Normally there is fasting, masses worshipping...

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As coronavirus death toll mounts, faith leaders the world over grapple with funerals

April 3, 2020

For Menaka Kannan, it was bad enough when she heard that a fellow member of New York City’s Baha’i community had contracted the novel coronavirus. But she was not emotionally prepared for the news that came roughly a week later: He had succumbed to the infection and died.

“The news of his passing, of course, is very shocking,” she said.

As the community grappled with the grief, a lingering question arose: How do you conduct a funeral in the midst of a global pandemic, when a healing hug is now seen as a potential death sentence?

It’s a conundrum facing...

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Together Alone: Online Sanghas in the Age of Social Distancing

April 1, 2020

 

The coronavirus pandemic has the world wondering what it means to live in connected isolation and the Buddhist community is no exception. Meditation centers, yoga studios and religious and cultural institutions quickly improvised their way to a new normal with cameras and high-speed internet connections. Living in a technological age means with a myriad of tools and applications at our fingertips, we never need to leave the comfort of our homes for a sense of community, even if it is a...

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Young Jews away from home are trying to figure out how to have Passover by themselves

April 1, 2020

Randi Bergman isn’t sure of her Passover plans yet, but there’s a good chance she’ll be spending the holiday alone. 

Bergman, a 34-year-old freelance fashion writer, lives alone in what she calls a junior one-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto. The setup — desk, bed, couch, TV, kitchenette but no dining table — fits her usual busy lifestyle, which doesn’t involve a ton of cooking and eating meals on her couch or at her desk.

But it’s not ideal for conducting a Passover seder, the festive meal that is...

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How religious leaders are keeping faith during coronavirus, even from a social distance

April 1, 2020

REV. THOMAS CONWAY 

Executive Director of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston; interviewed on Sunday, March 15.

"I got a call yesterday from a woman saying, “I’m sitting outside the [church] building,” and she was crying. Her brother was in ICU, and because of the coronavirus crisis, she wasn’t able to go visit him. And he was dying. She had a very reasonable request: “Can we just pray for him for a minute?” And I said, “Sure, we can do that.” So we stood outside, and we prayed on the...

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MSU researcher merges science with Native American tradition

March 30, 2020

When Michigan State University graduate student Jared Gregorini studies in the forest, he often leaves a tobacco plant in it before he starts.

This is because Gregorini, also known as Leading Crow, is a Native American.

Before becoming a biological conservation researcher, he worked with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians as an assistant biologist.  He is from Ontario, but his research focuses on Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula, an environment similar to Ontario’s.

The plant Gregorini gives to the forest is usually tobacco, which is...

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