01: The Winter issue of the quarterly newsletter Science & Spirit is devoted to computers and spirituality. The articles focus on how computer technology poses new challenges to theology and spirituality. Philosopher and theologian Philip Clayton writes that the creation of computer-based intelligence systems, such as robots, will force theologians and believers to redefine concepts of “soul” and being created in the image of God.
As such technology increasingly takes on human attributes, Clayton ventures that the concept of the image of God may have to be viewed as “less anthropocentric and more generalized.”
For information on this issue write: Science & Spirit, 171 Rumford St., Concord, NH 03301-4579 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
02: The Buddhist magazine Tricycle (Winter) features an in-depth interview with psychologist Robert Jay Lifton on Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese terrorist religious group.
Lifton challenges the accepted interpretation that Aum leader Shoko Ashara was gradually transformed from a non-violent guru of a new religion into the abusive and insane plotter of destruction largely because of external pressure from Japanese society. Lifton says Ashara was paranoid, “visionary and megalomaniacal from the beginning.”
Lifton also speaks of Aum’s relation to Buddhism and about how Ashara had powerful religious charisma (he was no “fake”), while at the same time serving up an exploitative and destructive faith to his followers.
The issue costs $7.50 and is available from: Tricycle, 92 Vandam St., New York, NY 10003
03: The current issue of Whole Earth Review (Winter) is devoted to the relation of religion to environmentalism.
The issue covers the spectrum–including evangelical, mainline, Unitarian, Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, Pagan and something called “proto-religion” (stressing the human-animal spiritual link). As with the Whole Earth Catalog, the issue serves as a directory, listing a wide range of resources, periodicals and books. There are also thumbnail sketches of the environmental action carried out by these various groups.
An excerpt from the book “Environmental Values in American Culture” in this issue provides an interesting–and largely unreported– finding that undergirds much of the new environmentalist interest in religion. A poll found that those environmentalists who were not part of organized religion (69 percent), agreed with the view that “Because God created the natural world, it is wrong to abuse it.” Even 46 percent of those who did not believe there was a spiritual force in the universe agreed with that statement.
Why should so many nonbelievers argue on the basis of God’s creation? The researchers write that belief in God is still the best vehicle we have to express environmental concern, even for those who don’t believe in God.
This issue costs $6.95. Send to: Whole Earth Review, 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael, CA 94901.