I have a few items of interest for you today, starting with a small bit of schadenfreude resulting from the current recession. It seems that conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family has fallen on some hard times.
“Focus on the Family announced Wednesday it is laying off 8 percent of its work force, casualties of the latest budget shortfall at the influential conservative Christian group … The cutbacks are necessary because projections show the group will fall 5 percent short of a $138 million budget for the fiscal year ending this month … The layoffs will leave Focus on the Family with about 860 employees, down from a peak 1,400.”
While I hesitate to cheer at anyone’s misfortune, I do find it hard to muster much in way of sympathy for an organization that has consistently fear-mongered the rise of Pagan faiths, and branded us as Satanic evil-doers. Perhaps now that they are slightly less affluent they will focus on their own families instead of ours.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel profiles John Bruno Hare, founder of Sacred-texts.com, a hugely popular online repository of rare, public domain, and out-of-print works about religion. Hare, who is battling cancer, is hoping to make Sacred-text’s parent company Evinity Publishing profitable so that his legacy can continue after his death.
“…his goal is to make Evinity Publishing, which he started this year as a parent company for his site and other products, continue to educate curious minds long after he passes on.”Essentially, this is my gift to the world,” he said. “I don’t want it to go away if I die. People consider it a world treasure.” … Today, Hare has two employees and four volunteers. As funding allows, he’d like to sign on more employees and volunteers to keep the site going and growing.”
In addition to more mainstream religious materials, Sacred-texts has also become an important online resource for Pagan, Heathen, and Wiccan materials, including the massive Internet Book of Shadows. Here’s hoping Sacred-texts not only survives, but thrives in the years to come. If you want to support the site, you can buy DVD and CD archives of the material found online (including bonus texts not posted).
In a final note, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) checks in with a former Nepali Kumari (living goddess) who has graduated from college, the first Kumari to do so, and is now working in the IT sector. For 29-year-old Rashmila Shakya going from being isolated and worshiped as a goddess to a life of computers, work, and a normal social interactions has been challenging.
“I was not prepared to live a normal life as I had grown up in a different environment,” she said. “Before, I was a goddess and everyone worshipped me and treated me with respect. “Living in society has been difficult, but I am getting used to it. My education and work experience have taught me how to deal with people.”
Despite her difficulties, Shakya doesn’t want the Kumari tradition to end, saying it unites Nepal’s Buddhists and Hindus, instead she wants the tradition to be reformed and programs set up to help former Kumaris adjust to normal life. This has already started, as the Nepalese Supreme Court has ordered that Kumari receive schooling, a major step forward in modernizing the tradition. The Kumari have received a lot of attention in the West recently in the wake of a recent documentary and the first-ever visit of a living goddess to America.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!