When a person has a religious experience, what happens within the brain? What kind of changes take place? In one experiment, brain scans examine the parts of the brain that are activated during prayer. In another, mystical and religious experiences are simulated by using bursts of electrical impulses. These experiments have created no small amount of controversy. More
As of early October 2005, 30,000 U.S. troops had been deployed to the Middle East and Central Asia, and among them were some of the country’s 2,800 military chaplains. How do chaplains help prepare U.S. forces for whatever lies ahead? In particular, how are they counseling American military personnel who are Muslim? More
“Rather than to try to change God, prayer should change us, should make us better human beings. That is the ultimate purpose of prayer,” says Cantor Abraham Lubin of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland. We spoke with him as he prepared for the high holidays. More
A new report from the Institute of Medicine, which advises the government on health policy, calls on the U.S. to do far more than is now being done to relieve the suffering of dying children and their families. Doctors and families face a dilemma in trying to choose between painful treatment that is unlikely to work and palliative care to make possible a so-called “good death.” More
One of the consequences of the Holocaust was its effect on the faith of observant Jews. How could a just God have permitted such a tragedy? Today, the personal story, in his words, of Menachem Daum, a New York television producer whose parents were both Holocaust survivors. More
Missionary work is something of a rite of passage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over the course of 18 months to two years, young men and women will work 16 hours a day, six days a week. On average, each one will convert ten persons during that period. But with 60,000 missionaries in the field, that is enough to produce 300,000 new converts a year. More
Deborah Rosenthal is a respected artist who is also an observant Jew. As a result, her work is often infused with her religious beliefs. Recently, she was asked by the conservative Jewish congregation to which she belongs to create two stained glass windows for its sanctuary. For the commission, she chose two objects drawn from Jewish faith and Jewish history. More
Wicca, as modern witchcraft is often called, and its symbol of the pentacle are becoming more visible in today’s society. It is a polytheistic, earth-based religion that emphasizes feminism and the environment and encourages diversity of beliefs. It has no theological system or creed, no central text, and no hierarchy.