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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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A 35-year-old Tibetan nun named Palden Choetso set herself on fire on a street corner in southwest China last November. The final moments of her life were captured by an amateur video camera. As bright orange flames engulfed her body, Choetso stood impossibly still until finally she dropped to her knees and toppled over.
Choetso is one of 49 Tibetans, ages 17 to 44, who have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest repression in Tibet by Chinese authorities. The latest was on Monday, when two young men in their early 20s—one a monk—did so in a Tibetan region of China's Sichuan province. This spate of self-immolations among Tibetans is unprecedented.
With China not changing its policies denying true religious freedom and civil liberties to Tibetans, the self-immolations are likely to continue. This presents an uneasy quandary for Buddhists, who consider the taking of life, including suicide, taboo.
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Munching on pizza. Posting on Facebook. Hanging out with friends on weekends.
Some of the newest students at Emory University's student body may act like typical college kids, but there's a key difference: They're Tibetan monks sent by the Dalai Lama to the United States to learn science.
Wearing the traditional crimson robes and closely shorn heads of Tibetan monastics, the six men — most in their 30s — are taking physics, biology and chemistry classes with hopes of returning to Tibetan monasteries in India to teach science to other monks and nuns.
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The Dalai Lama lashed out at China on Wednesday, accusing it of trying to "annihilate Buddhism" in Tibet and rebuffing all his efforts to reach a compromise over the disputed Himalayan region.
China shot back, accusing the Tibetan spiritual leader of using deceptions and lies to distort its policy in the region. The passionate back-and-forth highlighted the distrust, anger and frustration that separates the two sides and leaves little hope for success in recently resumed talks.
Beijing has demonized the Dalai Lama and accused him of wanting independence for Tibet, which China says is part of its territory. The Dalai Lama says he only wants some form of autonomy for Tibet within China that would allow Tibetan culture, language and religion to thrive.
The Dalai Lama spoke Wednesday in an address marking the anniversaries of two failed uprisings against China, one 51 years ago that sent him into exile in India and the other two years ago that was quashed by a government crackdown that is still continuing.
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China's handpicked Panchen Lama, the teenage religious figure whose legitimacy is a matter of dispute among many Tibetan Buddhists, has been appointed to the country's top advisory body, the state media have announced.
Although membership in the advisory group, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is of nominal interest to ordinary Chinese, the Panchen Lama's appointment, made//announced? on Sunday, ratchets up the government's efforts to elevate his stature among Tibetans. Because he was appointed by Communist Party authorities rather than by Buddhist leaders, many Tibetans reject his religious authority as the ranking leader after the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959.
Born as Gyaltsen Norbu, he was anointed the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995, shortly after the Dalai Lama identified a different child as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama. A few weeks later, that boy and his family vanished. The government has said that they are in "protective custody," but their whereabouts have been an enduring mystery for 15 years.
According to Xinhua, the official news agency, the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, just shy of his 20th birthday, is the youngest person ever appointed to the consultative conference, which convenes later this week as part of the annual pageant that includes meetings of the National People's Congress, the country's main legislative forum.
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