Ramadan, commemorating the revelation of the Koran to Mohammed, is the most sacred celebration in the Muslim world. The observance begins on the eve of the ninth month of the lunar year. Since the lunar year is eleven or twelve days shorter than the solar year, the incidence of Ramadan moves through all the seasons of the year in cycles of approximately 33 years. (In 1987 Ramadan began on April 29; in 2000 on Nov. 27; in 2010 on Aug. 11; in 2015 on June 18, etc.)
Celebrated for 30 days, the observance affects a large portion of the Third World. According to Islamic law, fasting from sunup to sundown is required of every able-bodied Muslim.
The fasting is meant to 1) help keep the observance in mind, 2) encourage spiritual discipline, 3) create an identification with the poor and 4) remind people of their ultimate dependence on God.
Popular celebrations of Ramadan sometimes involve lavish feasts after the sun goes down, but this custom does not represent the holiday’s true spirit, to bring about inner strength through austerity.
Tabletalk for Ramadan
Learning About Our Neighbors
Because Islam is a religious tradition little understood by most Westerners, perhaps during this fast, non-Muslims can use this time to learn more. During dinner one evening, identify popular stereotypes of Muslims. Then do some reading. Search out not only nonfiction, but also poetry and fiction written by Muslims. Make the acquaintance of some Muslims in your community. Then, at another family meal one evening, try to go beyond the stereotypes to real people.
You may wish to invite Muslim people to a community gathering as guest speakers. Find out if your religious community has an interfaith council and learn about interfaith gatherings in your community.
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Why Are Danes So Happy? The Danes are considered to be the happiest people on Earth. Outwardly they don’t appear especially happy. That’s because their happiness is not a shallow veneer. It is an inner contentedness. And why? Largely because Denmark is a Socialist Democracy. They have little of the gross economic inequality that America has. They willingly pay high taxes and it really works. Copenhagen is on track to be the first carbon neutral capital by 2020! Why be concerned about happiness? One big reason would be that we Americans need to redefine happiness, away from consumerism toward contentedness. Why? Human civilization will go through immense trauma (some say extinction) by 2100. Let’s prepare ourselves, our children and grandchildren for the change now. Yes, we can mitigate some of the worst effects through simple, green living but we cannot reverse the inevitable through geo-engineering or magical, wishful thinking. (See my blog post Vision of the Future.)
Tony and Shane Uncut – Tony Campolo & Shane Claiborne’s complete dialog on simpler living and global justice, in eight parts. To LISTEN, click the player at the top or the bottom of the Show Notes, or visit the Episode Index. NOTE: You can listen to each episode as it is released the 1st and 15th of the month, May-Aug. Or listen to several or all episodes at Preview/Back-up. The topics are different for each episode.
Topics for Part 3: Urban farming / guerilla gardening; recovering from Tony’s stroke; our meat problem; integrity in farming; dangers of piety; In what way am I living economically a lifestyle as Jesus wants me to live? The lesson of Ananius and Sapphira – pretense; being close to the poor; First John 3:16; redistribution in love; free enterprise, not capitalism – meeting needs, not manufactured wants; manipulated by advertising; Who owns the pond? Stories from sweatshop kids; Where do we shop? Paul’s wrestling with ‘principalities and powers’ (forces of evil) in church (Ephesians 6:12)
Spring of Sustainability: Turning Crises into Creative Solutions // Summer of Peace: Transforming Conflict in Your Heart, Your Relationships and the World, a free online event, June 13 – September 21, both from The Shift Network and Sustainable World Coalition
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Episode Index: #1-3: Getting Acquainted | #4-5: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle | #6-11: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? | #12: Living More with Less UPDATED | #13: Let’s Get Ready for a Simpler Lent & Easter | #14: Simple Living 101 + Social Media BONUS | #15: author Cecile Andrews, Champion of Simplicity Circles and Community Conversation | #16: Rites of Passage, including Wedding Alternatives | #17: Vicki Robin, co-author of the best-seller Your Money or Your Life | #18: Not Ordinary Time: Eco-Justice Ministries | #19: Simply Delicious: Quantity Cooking for Churches / Hunger / Alternative Summer Festivals | #20-27: Tony and Shane Uncut
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Through social media, we extend the mission and resources of the non-profit organization Alternatives, 1973-2011. Simple Living Works! web site home page | Theme/Seasons Index To learn more about SLW! – our MISSION, for example — please listen to our getting-acquainted episodes, especially #1 and 2. We produce a half-hour podcast twice a month, hopefully educational and inspiring for you, your family and your congregation or group. We blog several times a week.