Intro to Buddhism: No war, eat what you like, and pain is inevitable.

Bill Melms offered an Intro to Buddhism at the regional gathering of American Mensa.

Bill Melms offered an Intro to Buddhism at the regional gathering of American Mensa.

CLEARWATER – Bill Melms was raised as a Protestant, but as a teen, he didn’t stick with the faith. He eventually got to the point where he started to question aspects of the church’s teachings.
“When I got old enough to think for myself, I had one of those ‘Now wait a minute ….’ moments, and became an agnostic,” he recalled.
But as it turns out, his lack of commitment to faith didn’t last, either. In the 1960s, Melms got drafted into the Vietnam War, and as an American soldier fighting in the jungles of that Southeast Asia country, he had yet another epiphany.
“They say there’s no atheists in foxholes,” he said. “We were suffering from rocket attacks then. There’s nothing like a rocket attacking you to put the fear of God in you.” Continue reading

Religion series puts the spotlight on Sikhism.

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland sponsors an ongoing Religion 101 Series. (Photo by Dave Raith).

MAITLAND — If Jasbir Bhatia knows one thing about his religion, it’s that Sikhism is very challenging for many — to pronounce.
“It is difficult to pronounce,” Bhatia said. “Some call it shiek, shake, sick, six.”
It’s also not very well known in the United States, he added, even though there are actually 23 million Sikhs practicing the faith today.
“We are the fifth largest religion in the world,” Bhatia said. “About 20 million live in India, and the rest are scattered around the world.”
It is a faith, he added, that believes in one God — and a loving one.
“He has no negativity like anger — he is all-loving,” Bhatia said. “In summary, Sikhism believes in one supreme being, and calls for a God-conscious, morally and socially responsible life.”
On Tuesday, Bhatia — a devout follower of the Sikh religion, member of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, and board member of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida — talked about his faith at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida.
The center in Maitland has been sponsoring a Religion 101 Series every month since September, putting the spotlight on religions like Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity so far.
On Tuesday, the spotlight turned to Sikhism. Continue reading

The nature of Christianity today.

Rev. Bryan Fulweider discusses the Christian faith, its history and where it stands today, during the Religion 101 series at the Holocaust Memorial and Resource Center in Maitland. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

MAITLAND – Rev. Bryan Fulweider is well aware that some people view Christians and the entire Christian faith as one solid, monolithic group, united in a clear concept of spirituality and the meaning of the Bible.
Nothing, he added, could be further from the truth.
Christianity has historically been about splits, he noted – people who could not agree on basic tenets of faith and splintered off into their own sect.
“What is most astonishing about Protestant Christianity to me,” he said, “is how many denominations of Protestant there are. At last estimation, there are somewhere between 35,000 and 38,000 strains. It’s very interesting in reality that in Protestant Christianity, there has been a propensity to split and split and split.”
Often times today, Christianity gets its clearest public image from those members of the faith who are most vocal, particularly on the subject of conversion.
“We often find it’s the most strident voices of Christianity that we hear,” he said. “Most often, that ‘I as a Christian am bound to convert you.’ It’s almost difficult sometimes to have a conversation about the Christian faith, because there is such a strong need to convert you to their concept of Christianity.” Continue reading

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