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From The Jakarta Post:

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, the task force’s chairman, said Wednesday that the definition would be universally applied to all regions in the country, regardless of cultural background.

“We have yet to set a standard definition of pornography on which we will base our work. However, there must be a set of universal criteria to define something as pornographic, one of which will be when a woman wears a skirt above the knee,” Suryadharma told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with the House of Representatives’ Commission VIII overseeing religious and social affairs on Wednesday.

If the Religious Affairs Minister really considers showing knees to be “pornographic”, then perhaps we should at least be consistent and apply it in a gender-neutral fashion? Let’s ban shorts and swimming trunks for men as well. Even the Afghan Talibans were more even-handed in this regard when they punished a visiting Iranian (male) soccer team with lashings for showing their elbows and knees!

This culture of blaming the victims (of sexual objectification, harassment, and violence) for the indecent thoughts and actions of (mostly male) perpetrators is rather dubious.


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A thoughtful question asked by Rev. Ungar of the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship; I thought I’d share my answer here.

In joining a religious community you bring along your past religious experience. What are the significant elements of that past which you would like to retain? What elements would you prefer to drop?

I got started on religious diversity early on in life — I was born in France, a mostly-Catholic but highly secular country, and came back to Indonesia with my parents at the age of 5. Mom’s Roman Catholic, dad’s a lapsed (and sometimes Christmas-Easter) RC. Due to logistics my younger brother and I ended up at an evangelical mission school, while by the time my sister (the youngest sibling) is old enough for school, we’ve been there long enough for her to attend a good Catholic school.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

An informational video released by the Episcopal Church as part of its season of prayer in the run-up to next month’s referendum in Sudan

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For the first post on this blog, I’d like to say a few things about this group, and where we plan to take the blog.

We call ourselves Christians for Scientific Inquiry. Not to be confused with either Christian Scientists, nor with that popular TV show that shares our acronym (honestly, I was not consciously thinking about it when picking the name, it just rolled off the tongue). We are a non-denominational grouping — though not anti-denominational; for instance, I’m an Episcopalian. What brings us here is our common faith as Christians *and* our scientific background.

We believe that science and religion *can* be reconciled; indeed, given that a substantial proportion of the world population profess a faith in a Divinity, it is imperative for us, religious scientists, to make sure both camps understand each other. Our world is too fragile, and our development of exploitative technologies too advanced, that our Christian calling to be stewards of the earth — a calling shared with members of other faiths and with secular humanists — compel us to attempt to dispel certain misperceptions about science, especially as held by some Christians. Such as that congressman who cited the Bible as evidence that we do not need to act against climate change, because God has promised Noah not to send another flood…

We hope to run a regular “Science Friday” column, with the first installment due tomorrow. We will also publish special articles on dates of importance — name days of Christian saints who happen to have connections with science, or important dates in the lives of important scientists, especially those whose work affect or are affected by religious prejudices.

Tomorrow being the birthday of Stephen Hawking, your editor plans an article on cosmology. Do leave your comment for suggestions on further column topics, if you want to contribute, or if you have something to say.

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