ritual

ritual

Splashing water onto tombShia mourners splash water onto a tomb during a traditional burial ritual in Bahrain. (phoot: Al Jazeera English)

Iraqi Christian Girls Sing in AmmanIraqi Christian girls attend Christmas Mass at Chaldean Catholic Church in Amman, Jordan on December 25, 2011. (photo: Ali Jarekji/Reuters)

2nd night of HanukkahAlthough I was born on Christmas, I feel like I’m slightly part Hanukkah now. Each year since I remarried — an event which brought two Jewish stepchildren into my life — I have anticipated the Festival of Lights with almost as much excitement as my hybrid celebration of the Winter Solstice/Yule and Christmas.

We experience the religious thought and the spiritual vitality of two Muslims—male and female—both American and both with roots in ancient Islamic cultural, intellectual, and spiritual traditions. Their stories and ideas, music, and readings, evoke a sense of the richness of global Islamic spirituality and of some of its hidden nuances and beauty. They reveal how sound, music, and especially poetry offer a window onto the subtleties and humanity of Islamic religious experience.

As some Lakota make an annual pilgrimage on horseback to Wounded Knee in memory of Sitting Bull's death, we'll pull out some of the lesser known threads of the legacy of this complex leader and American icon. And we'll explore why his spiritual character has animated his own people in the last three decades more openly than at any time since his death in 1890.

A filmmaker and scholar gives us a parallel story to the ubiquitous news of China's economy and politics. Mayfair Yang discusses the ancient and reemerging traditions of reverence and ritual — revealing background to its approach to Tibet. And, she tells us how China gleaned some of its recent dismissive attitudes towards religion from the West.

Jenny Ward McDonald at Her Family Headstone

Last fall the idea to visit the family graveyard came to mind for the first time in ages. Día de Los Muertos seemed like the perfect excuse to make the journey. I allowed life and distance to keep me away, however, and I never went.

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