Why you should care
Because whether you pray five times a day, once a week or never, you ought to know what’s going on in the devout hearts of much of the world’s citizenry.
Amid growing religious tensions in Europe and extremists wreaking havoc in the Middle East and Africa, you’d be excused for thinking of religion only in terms of terrorism. Well, here’s your respite. From an unexpected destination for Indian spiritual gurus (hint: it’s communist) to a group of Jews struggling to maintain their identity in Israel, OZY has you covered on uncovered holy news around the world.
Since Israel’s founding in the mid-20th century, some 3 million Jews have flocked there from 90 countries, including Ethiopia, India, Venezuela and more, in a migration known as Aliyah. But a generation later, many of them are worried: They love their new home, but what’s going to happen to the roots they tugged out of their native soil? Ethiopians are especially concerned about their language, which is why there’s a movement afoot to keep Amharic, their native tongue, alive in their new nation. In an ever-globalizing world, their very identity is at stake. Read more here.
Scoff as you may, but OZY senior editor Sanjena Sathian is making a bold claim: Reading the Bible should be mandatory. You’ll thank her later, after you’ve become not just a better writer and skeptic, but also a better citizen. Sure there are concerns about how to teach it objectively, and whether studying the Bible means we should also cover the Quran, the Torah, the Gita and more, but a bit more diversity of curriculum is better than none, right? Read more here.
Communist China doesn’t seem like a very fertile breeding ground for Indian spiritualism, does it? Alas, the nation of 1.3 billion never ceases to amaze. Organizations led by Indian faith healers are now a staple of urban Chinese cities, but not without some government roughhousing. Credit increasing loneliness amid rapid affluence, which makes the nation an obvious market for spiritual movements that promise solace. For some it’s not just a mental release — most Westerners know yoga makes you fit (or at least plays a part). And, sure, it may be a passing trend, but it’s one worth paying attention to nonetheless. Read more here.
It’s the age of the tele imam in Senegal — and Imam Iran Ndao is among a handful of celebrity Koranic teachers taking over the airwaves. The tele imams perch on talk-show couches and yell through headsets during raucous communal radio debates. They weigh in on everything from modern dating to elections and droughts. Brash, charismatic and omnipresent, Ndao and his brethren compete for souls and ears. Imams have long played a prominent role in Senegal’s political life, but the growth of independent media has given them a much broader — and more glamorous — platform. For now, the conversation has stayed in line with the historically peaceful and tolerant Sufi strain of Islam that dominates this country, which is 94 percent Muslim. Read more here.