Friday, September 21, 2007

In our hyperlinked world - to understand the reality of life and religion

In our hyperlinked world, we can know anything, anytime. And this mass enlightenment, says Buddhist scholar Bob Thurman, is our first step toward becoming Buddha. When we can know everything, we can see how everything is interconnected -- and we can begin to feel compassion for every living being.

Comedian and playwright Julia Sweeney performs the first 15 minutes of her 2006 solo show Letting Go of God. It begins on the morning of her seventh birthday, when Julia learns from her Catholic parents that she has reached the age of reason, capable of being judged by God. That morning she also learns another great truth, equally devastating. This sets the stage for Sweeney's freewheeling, conversational examination of her own faith. (Filmed at the TED Conference.)

It's a classic problem in theology: How can the existence of evil be reconciled with a God who is supposed to be all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful? Many Christian thinkers have attempted answers to this question. In the days following the thousands of personal tragedies recorded during the South Asian tsunami of 2004, Tom Honey pondered those answers and found them wanting. Instead, he penned his own, personal, and sometimes dramatic response to the tsunami. This is a courageous talk for a Church of England vicar to have given. It concludes that certain traditional concepts of God just won't do ... and calls for believers and nonbelievers alike to dig deeper in their quest for truth.

In this stunning slideshow, nature photographer Frans Lanting presents The LIFE Project, a collection that tells the story of our planet, from its eruptive beginnings to its present diversity. Hoping for a glimpse of the world the way it was in the age of photosynthesizing stromatolites, "back before the sky turned blue," Lanting journeyed to a remote lagoon in Australia, the only place in the world where stromatolites still exist. The story moves forward from there, via a lyrical collection of photographs set to a soundtrack from Philip Glass.

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