The Rev. R. L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.: According to the “Wordbook” dictionary, depression is “a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.” Everyone in this world has at one time or another experienced this human feeling. Some are temporary and some are long-lasting.
The Rev. Holly McKissick, pastor, Peace Christian Church, Kansas City and Overland Park, Kan.: No hats at the dinner table; call if you’re going to be late. Just as households have rules, so do cultures. Sometimes they are merely practical: Take off your shoes when you come in. Sometimes, though, they reflect power imbalances: Women do not speak until spoken to; slaves eat in the back room.
Rabbi Avi Weinstein, head of Jewish studies, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy: It is not wrong to believe that anyone who has striven to lead a life of equanimity, integrity and grace should be granted eternal life. The gatekeeper should pay more attention to what one has done, as opposed to how one has organized his belief system.
With the recent recession, houses of worship in Middle Tennessee are offering more career counseling.
Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: In Hinduism, the idea of communicating with supernatural beings such as ghosts, demons or the dead is considered inconsistent with the true spiritual practices defined by the wisdom of the scriptures. Such pursuits arise only from spiritual ignorance of the mind and do not help one attain liberation (moksha).
The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, pastor of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Kansas City, Mo.: I do not find science to be at odds with religion, perhaps, because I define religion, my faith, as the way I think about God and science as the way humans explore and search for explanations of the inner and outer universe around us. In my faith, God orders the universe and we humans spend our efforts trying to explain the order. The faith community in which I serve declares that God has not changed. My response to that statement is, “Indeed, God has not changed, but our human understanding of God has changed. As we grow spiritually and intellectually, our understanding of God grows also.” Isaiah 55:8-9 says it well, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We are forever in search of God’s thoughts and God’s ways.
Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: Nearly all religions consider killing to be wrong. So if killing is wrong, then all killing is wrong. The U.S. is the only Western democracy that still uses the death penalty.
The Rev. Holly McKissick, pastor, Peace Christian Church in Kansas City, Mo., and Overland Park, Kan.: “Go forward,” she kept saying. “Go forward. Then take a left at the light.”
The Rev. Justin Hoye, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo.: According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought,’ (Romans 8:26) are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.”
A.M. Bhattacharyya, an active member of the Hindu community: An intellectual, inquisitive, college-educated young man named Naren, driven by a passionate inner urge, was looking for someone who had seen God.
The Rev. R.L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Kansas: Religion is hard to define, and therein is the problem. Man sees religion in many different ways and cultures. As Christians we see the mandates of the Bible as the source of our practice and worship. It teaches that the right relationship with God is redemptive. It teaches that the right relationship with our fellow man is beneficial. It teaches that the right relationship with nature is rewarding. We spend a lifetime trying to make it balance. We should spend all of our time making those relationships work.
The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza: No matter what the issue or where it is occurring, there is always a percentage of the people plotted solidly in the ground of self-interest who come to every conclusion based on what is best for them individually.