Monday, 29 September 2008

Belief in God 'really can relieve pain'

Research at Oxford University has found believers can draw on their religion to endure suffering with greater fortitude, suggesting Christian martyrs may have been able to reduce the agony of torture or slow death.

Academics at The Oxford Centre For Science Of The Mind gave electric shocks to 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists as they studied a painting of the Virgin Mary.

They found Catholics seemed able to block out much of the pain. Using brain-scanning techniques, they also discovered that the Catholics were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning the experience of pain.

The experiment is one of a series being conducted by the academics, a group of scientists, philosophers and theologians from different departments at the university.

A sparking device was strapped to the back of the participants' left hands to deliver an electric shock.

The scientists then asked them to contemplate two paintings, Sassoferrato's 17th Century Virgin Mary and Leonardo da Vinci's 15th Century Lady With An Ermine.

The researchers hoped that the face of the Virgin Mary would induce a religious state of mind in the believers, while da Vinci's secular painting was chosen because it did not look dissimilar and would be calming.

They spent half an hour inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four separate sessions while looking at either the religious or non-religious picture.

The Catholics said that looking at the painting of the Virgin Mary made them feel 'safe', 'taken care of' and 'calmed down and peaceful'.

More significantly, they reported feeling 12 per cent less pain after viewing the religious image than after looking at the Leonardo.

The front right-hand side of their brains lit up on the scanner, indicating that the neural mechanisms of pain modulation had been engaged.

There was no such brain activity among the atheists, whose pain and anxiety levels stayed roughly the same throughout the experiment.

Writing in the scientific journal Pain, the researchers concluded that at least some religious believers can moderate their pain by thinking about it more positively.

Psychologist Miguel Farias, one of the team, admitted that a similar effect may be produced by non-believers if a sufficiently powerful image was used.

He said: "We would need to find a picture of someone they feel very positive towards, such as a mother or father."

The Anglican Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, welcomed the findings. He said: "The practice of faith should, and in many cases does, alter the person you are.

"It can affect the patterns of your brain and your emotions. So it comes as no surprise to me that this experiment has reached such conclusions."

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Comment from an Indian

The Situation in Mangalore continues to be Tense, with Churches being damaged and innocent people being injured by the attackof the Civil Forces. Fear is spread across the whole city, with the Bells of all the Churches tolling and the people crying out for Vengence and mercy at the Same time.
A few Questions that arise.

Why was this crime perpetuated in the first place?
Why is the Government acting as a mute spectator?
Why are churches still Damaged?
Why are women and Children hit by the police?
What right does the police have to enter a private Church compound and Cane the people involved in Prayer?

The Government however, continues to support the Bajrang Dal. In statement earlier, Mr. V S Acharya the Home Minister of the Government of Karnataka “Condemned the Attacks” and mentioned that Bajrang Dal was not involved in. I smell a foul game here, When Bajrang Dal themselves claimed responsibility How did the Home Minister know it was not them? It was our mistake of getting the BJP government into Power and now if they cant protect the people of the land they must GO! and there are no two things about it.

I urge upon all my fellow Indian brothers to continue to put in your feedback and comments and make and prayers too. At the end of it all….Even if the Courts and the Governments do not listen to us, the Lord will and his love will never fail…. Lets get together in prayer for our people and for those people who are hurting us. Lets pray that God bless their families and them.

However, for all that has happened I say this again and I say this boldly, This day I am ashamed of being an Indian. But on the other side I will continue to pray for the peace of this Land.

Attack on Churches: Mangalore under Seige

Mangalore September 14, 2008: The Sangh Parivar has struck again in Mangalore! Initial reports say that this morning on Sunday, September 14th 2008, they entered the Monastery of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at Milagres, Mangalore in the heart of the city and desecrated the Blessed Sacrament.

The reports that came in later said that they had entered and desecrated many of the churches in and around Mangalore.

In the past few days the Sangh Parivar has been distributing booklets at the gates of schools to the school children and in public places. These booklets have contained inflammatory contents which would be a great cause for disturbance of communal harmony in Mangalore and in Dakshina Kannada.

Update: 8.00 pm 14/9/2008
First Person Account - Sr Joy BS

There was a big gathering on the road in front of the Milagres hall, Mangalore. We were all sitting in protest against the incident mentioned above. Most of the political leaders, sisters and fathers, and a big number of lay people both men and women were present. At about 5:30 pm there was some verbal altercation between the youth in the protest group and the police who had gathered in very large numbers and Fr. Francis Serrao SJ was addressing the protesters, when the police charged at the peacefully sitting protesters with lathis and began to cane them left and right. They also fired tear gas shells without any warning and forced the protesters to take shelter in the Milagres Hall.

This is the way the government machinery was used to fulfill their aim and it certainly gave the impression that the perpetrators of the crime will be let loose even this time.

On the other hand, a TV news channel reported that there was stone pelting on the police. When the police force was ready with everything to beat us with, including their bullet proof shields, lathis and tear gas shells, the news channel reported only that there was stone pelting by the crowd. Luckily for us, another channel showed a very good picture of police men pelting stones and tear gas shells.

Many youth were hurt by the heavy lathi blows. One of the sisters, Sr Pramila of Sisters of Charity of Mangalore was hit with a stone from the police while she was right inside the gate of the Milagres Church Hall. She was injured very badly and taken to Fr. Mullers Hospital and it is not yet known about the state of her eye.

We ask you all to pray for us and for peace in our region. We need your prayers and perhaps some united action; a glimpse of which we experienced today.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Christians in Crises in India

I am attaching the news from Orissa for your fervent prayers.
I am sure you will mobilize prayers, pray that peace will return to Orissa.
Please pray that the Government will have wisdom and to deal with issues and the families and churches that suffered will be re-habilitated.

1) NUN BURNT ALIVE: A nun was burnt to death on 25th, Monday, after an orphanage was torched in at Phutpali in Bargarh district in Orissa during a bandh called by Hindu nationalist parties. Twenty children, who were at the orphanage, managed to escape but a priest suffered serious burn injuries in the attack.

2) RASANANDA PRADHAN TORCHED ALIVE: Another person, Rasananda Pradhan, was burnt to death when his house was set ablaze at Rupa village in Kandhamal district.

3) INFLAMMATORY SPEECHES TARGET CHRISTIANS: During the bandh inflammatory speeches spreading hatred against the Christian workers and the community were given by the VHP leaders. To gain the mass support,the activists have also carried the body of Swamiji throughout the town.

4) CHURCHES BURNT ALL ACROSS ORISSA STATE: Churches were attacked in Khurda, Bargarh, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Koraput, Boudh, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Kandhamal districts as also in the state capital, police sources said, adding 40 houses were set ablaze in Phulbani town.

5) BUSES AND VEHICLES TORCHED: Mr. Mishra Digal was beaten up, while the motorcycles of Mr. R. K. Digal and Jitendra were burnt. Several buses at Gee Udaigiri in Baliguda were burnt.

6) PULBANI CHURCH RANSACKED: The Church at Phulbani,and several other churches at Phiringia were attacked and ransacked. Pastor D. Tatson's house was vandalized and his property burnt.

7) KAKRIGUMA CHURCHES VANDALISED: Churches in Kakriguma have been targeted by the mob that reportedly damaged the Assembly Of God Church and the Philadelphia Church.

8) WORLD VISION STAFF FLED FOR SAFETY: World Vision India office ransacked and the Staff has also fled to jungle for protection.

9) CHRISTIANS TAKE SHELTER IN FOREST FOR PROTECTION: A police camp at Barakhama was also attacked by the Hindu fundamentalists. With several houses being burnt down and people being made homeless, many Christians,particularly from Nua Sahi, Munda Sahi and Suna Tonga have fled into forests for their lives.

10) NUN RAPED: A young Catholic Nun of the Cuttack Bhubaneswar diocese working Jan Vikas Kendra, the Social Service Centre at Nuagaon in Kandhamal was reportedly gang raped on 24th August 2008 by groups of Hindutva extremists before the building itself was destroyed.

11) SENIOR PRIEST AND NUN INJURED: Fr Thomas, director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Kanjimendi, less than a kilometer away from the Social Service Centre, and another Nun were injured when the centre was attacked. They were taken to the police station in a disheveled state as the armed mob bayed for their blood. The Pastoral centre was then set afire.

12) BALLIGUDA CHURCH BUILDINGS DESTROYED AGAIN: On 24th August 2008 evening lynch mobs at the block headquarters of Balliguda, in the very heart of Kandhamal district, which had seen much violence between 24th and 26th December 2007, attacked and destroyed a Presbytery, convent and hostel damaging the properties.

13) CHRISTIAN BOYS HEADS TONSURED: The mobs in Balliguda caught hold of two boys of the Catholic hostel and tonsured their heads.

14) PHULBANI CHURCH DAMAGED: On 25th august 2008 morning followers of the late Lakshmanananda Saraswati damaged the Catholic Church in Phulbani, the district headquarter town.

15) MOTHER TERESA BROTHERS ASHRAM ATTACKED: Mobs attacked the Mother Teresa Brothers' residence and hospital in Srasanada, destroyed once before and rebuilt two months ago, and beat up the patients.

16) BHUBANESWAR BISHOP'S HOUSE ATTACKED: On the morning of 25th August 2008, violent mobs made several attempts to enter the compounds of Catholic Church and Archbishop's house in the heart of the Capital of the State of Orissa. They could not enter because of the police presence. They threw stones at the guesthouse of Archbishop's House, damaging windows.

17) DUBURI PARISH: Another group of fundamentalists entered presbytery in Duburi parish, managed by the SVDs and destroyed and damaged property. Two priests of the parish are missing.

18) Mr. Jamaj Pariccha, Director of Gramya Pragati, is attacked and his property damaged, vehicle looted and burnt.

19) A Baptist Church in Akamra Jila in Bhubaneswar is also damaged.

20) Christian institutions like St. Arnold's School (Kalinga Bihar) and NISWASS report some damage.

21) BOUDH DISTRICT [Adjoining Kandhamal]: Fundamentalists enter the Catholic parish church and destroy property. People are fleeing to safer places. But nothing seems safe.

22) MUNIGUDA: Muniguda Catholic Fathers and Nuns' residence have been damaged.

23) SAMBALPUR: HM Sister's residence (Ainthapalli) has suffered damage.

24) PADANPUR: One priest is attacked and admitted to a hospital. Hostel boys and the in charge have moved away from the place.

25) MADHUPUR: Madhupur Catholic Church currently under attack.

26) SMALL CHURCHES: Attempted violence on small churches in various districts, including Padampur, Sambalpur near GM College, Talsera, Dangsoroda, Narayanipatara, Muniguda, Tummiibandh, Tangrapada, Phulbani, Balliguda, Kalingia, Chakapad, Srasanranda.

27) VILLAGE CHRISTIAN HOUSES ATTACKED: Houses attacked on forest hamlets of Balliguda, Kanjamandi Nuaguam (K.Nuaguam), Tiangia (G.Udayagiri), Padangiri, Tikabali.

28) KALAHANDI DISTRICT: Houses burnt even though the district is more than 300 kilometers from the place where Swami Lakshmanananda was killed.

29) PASTORS' HOUSE BURNT: Pastor Sikandar Singh of the Pentecostal Mission beaten up and his house burnt in Bhawanipatna.

30) KHARIHAR: 3 Christian shops were looted and burnt. Pastor Alok Das and Pastor I M Senapati beaten up.

31) AAMPANI: Pastor David Diamond Pahar, Pastor Pravin Ship, Pastor Pradhan and Pastor Barik beaten up and chased away with their families.

32) NAKTIKANI: Mob surrounds village to attack Christians.

Sunday, August 31, 2008
Pregnant Lady Cut to Pieces in Orissa
7 Month's Pregnant, Kamalini Naik Cut into Pieces for Her Faith
As narrated by an independent writer:
Mrs. Kamalini Naik's husband was asked to become a Hindu for which the fanatics threatened to kill his mother. Seeing his mother under their grip Mr. Naik denounced his faith.
Then they called his wife Kamalini Naik who was 7 months pregnant. She strongly stood for her faith in Christ and immediately the fanatics cut her into pieces and her one and half year son in front of her husband and other Christians
Sunday, August 31, 2008

The government has sent forces, it is reported. A delegation of Christian leaders under the leadership of Archbishop Vincent Concessao, the President of National United Christian Forum of CBCI, NCCI and EFI, met the Home Minister Shri Shiv Raj Patil and submitted a memorandum. The Home Minister assured the delegation all necessary steps have been taken to maintain peace and harmony and protect the innocent. He also expressed his helplessness by stating that police protection cannot be given in all villages.