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The funeral of Tyre Nichols had all the hallmarks of what’s known as a homegoing service in Black American communities. But in addition to offering an outlet for the private mourning of Nichols’ family and friends, this ritual was also public and political.

Here are the bestsellers for the week that ended Saturday, Jan. 28, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by NPD BookScan © 2023 NPD Group. (Reprinted from Publishers Weekly, published by PWxyz LLC. © 2023, PWxyz LLC.) HARDCOVER FICTION 1. Lessons in Chemistry. Bonnie Garmus. Doubleday 2. The House of Wolves. ...

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Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca. Organizers and their legal advisers argue a 2006 Supreme Court ruling protects them from prosecution and participants say they are taking part in a religious service. Some experts raise concerns that the benefits of ayahuasca haven’t been well studied. Many who attend the ceremonies, which can last for days, argue their experience on the illegal substance brings them closer to God than they ever felt at traditional religious services. Surveys have also found many come away feeling better afterwards, with some saying it helped with depression and problems with risky substance use.

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Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a bitter psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca. Organizers and their legal advisers argue a 2006 Supreme Court ruling protects them from prosecution and participants say they are taking part in a religious service. Some experts raise concerns that the benefits of ayahuasca haven’t been well studied. Many who attend the ceremonies, which can last for days, argue their experience on the illegal substance brings them closer to God than they ever felt at traditional religious services. Surveys have also found many come away feeling better afterwards, with some saying it helped with depression and problems with risky substance use.

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Ayahuasca is a psychedelic tea whose roots go back hundreds of years to ceremonial use by Indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest. Ayahuasca supporters found a foothold in the United States in the 1980s and interest has intensified more recently as celebrities like NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Hollywood star Will Smith talked about attending ceremonies. Many people who take the tea claim that ayahuasca brings them closer to God and thus have formed churches to celebrate it. Many believe it helps treat a range of mental health problems but others caution there haven’t been large-scale studies to support those claims.

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Pope Francis is urging Congo’s young people to work for a peaceful and honest future. Francis received a raucous welcome on his last full day in Congo as he joined tens of thousands of young people at the Martyrs’ Stadium in the capital, Kinshasa. The crowd that pulsed in the stands on Thursday repeatedly interrupted the pope, cheering especially loudly when Francis denounced the “cancer of corruption.” The audience broke into a chant in the Lingala language directed at the country’s president, thundering that his mandate was over. The stadium event was aimed at encouraging a generation that has been particularly hard hit by Congo's chronic poverty, corruption and conflict.

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On his trip to Congo, Pope Francis has heard firsthand accounts of atrocities some people have endured during years of fighting in the eastern part of the country. A young woman told him she was “raped like an animal” for months. A young man watched as his father was decapitated. A former sex slave told Francis her captors forced her into cannibalism. Francis sat in silence as victim after victim come forward to tell their stories, and he urged them to use their pain to sow peace and reconciliation. It was a message he delivered earlier in the day at a Mass to an estimated 1 million people at Kinshasa’s Ndolo airport.

A study has revealed new details about what the ancient Egyptians used to mummify their dead. In 2016, archaeologists found an embalming workshop with a collection of old pottery. Many of the jars still had written instructions for the embalming process, like “to put on his head.” By matching the words on the outside with the chemical traces inside, researchers figured out what substances were used on various parts of the mummies. Some materials came from far-off locations — showing that Egyptians traded with global networks to get what they needed.

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Devotees in Ireland are marking the feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare. She's a medieval saint who is making a 21st century comeback. Brigid shares a name and many attributes with an ancient Irish goddess. She is seen as embodying women’s empowerment, environmental care and peacemaking in an Ireland that is increasingly casting off traditional forms of Catholicism. Some call her Ireland's “matron saint.” St. Brigid is being honored for the first time with an official holiday. That puts her in the company of St. Patrick. Keepers of her legacy are preparing to mark the 1,500th anniversary of her death in 2024.

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FICTION: The winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize takes readers on an exhilarating journey back in time. "Tomb of Sand" by Geetanjali Shree, translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell; HarperVia (624 pages, $29.99) ——— For the first 400 pages of Geetanjali Shree's epic novel "Tomb of Sand," winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize and translated by Daisy Rockwell from Hindi, our ...

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Gov. Tim Walz has enshrined the right to abortion and other reproductive health care into Minnesota statutes. He signed a bill Tuesday that Democratic leaders rushed, with their new control of both houses of the Legislature, in the first month of the 2023 legislative session. The White House has welcomed Walz’s signature on the bill, noting that Minnesota is the first state Legislature to codify protections into law this year. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says that voters have also turned out for ballot initiatives to defend access to abortion in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont.

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Indiana’s high court says it will not immediately consider a challenge to the state’s abortion ban that is based on the argument that the law violates some people’s religious freedoms, leaving that decision to an appeals court, at least for now. The state Supreme Court issued an order Monday saying the state Court of Appeals will first consider the case, after a lower court judge in December sided with residents who claim the state’s abortion ban infringes on their religious beliefs. The state attorney general’s office appealed that decision, asking the high court to take up the case. Enforcement of the ban remains blocked, so abortion remains legal in Indiana up to the 20th week post-fertilization.

A letter written by an enslaved person in Virginia 300 years ago seeking freedom is part of a new exhibition exploring the Church of England's historic links to slavery. It's part of efforts by the Anglican church to reckon with its historic complicity in slavery. Forensic accountants have found that some of the church's wealth comes from investments the South Sea Company, which shipped thousands of slaves from Africa to the Americas in the 18th century. The church has called the findings “shameful” and has set up a 100 million pound ($123 million) fund to support projects “focused on improving opportunities for communities adversely impacted by historic slavery.”

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In Mexico City, it is the busy season for the craftsman who can repair Catholic families' beloved but broken baby Jesus figurines. They need to be in good condition for their annual pilgrimage to church for a blessing for Candlemas, which marks the end of Christmas celebrations. The Catholic feast day falls on Feb. 2 and commemorates the Virgin Mary’s purification and Jesus’ presentation at the temple. At one Mexico City street market, rows of craftsman worked to repair the statues in time. At one booth, Maximinio Vertiz was meticulously touching up one of the sacred statue's eyes while more than 20 others lay on his worktable awaiting repairs.

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