The 175,000 festivalgoers setting up at Glastonbury are to be joined by an unexpected newbie – the Dalai Lama. The figurehead of global Buddhism will make his first appearance at the festival on Sunday
FAITH AND FAME
Sean Astin: I’m not afraid to make ‘Christian’ films
By Sasha Bogursky Published May 12, 2014 FoxNews.com
Known for his leading roles in “Lord of the Rings,” the “Goonies” and “Rudy,” actor Sean Astin’s approach to choosing his next movie role is similar to his take on religion; he doesn’t want to be confined to one group.
“I guess I never wanted to declare a team because I wouldn’t have wanted any of the other teams to invite me to their party,” Astin told FOX411. “I’m a wildcard, they can’t figure me out.”
Astin, who is “technically Lutheran” after he, his wife and three daughters were baptized in the same church, never thought about defining his faith until he was asked in a live interview to share his religious beliefs.
“I thought, ‘Huh, I guess I have to have an answer’,” he recalled. “I consider myself a Christian. I don’t know if I’m a very good one but I’m praying the forgiveness thing is legit.”
While Astin’s answer is confident now, his road to faith was a winding road. Raised by his mother, actress Patty Duke, and father, “The Addams Family’s” John Astin, in what he describes as a secular home, Astin was exposed to a variety of religions before coming to his own faith.
“My mother was a Catholic who had been kicked out of the church at one time and she put me in Catholic school in sixth to eighth grades and I wanted to become a Catholic then,” he said. “But my father, who was an atheist because his parents were a scientist and school teacher, later discovered Buddhism.”
In addition to his exposure to Catholicism and Buddhism, Astin’s oldest brother “went to India, shaved his head and lived on an ashram and became Hindi.”
In 2003, Astin decided to “embrace Christianity” and develop his own “relationship and understanding with God.”
“I figure since I went to Catholic school for three years and my mom did some really good Catholic type work, and since I starred in ‘Rudy’ and I was in ‘Lord of the Rings,’ I figure if I get to [heaven] and St. Peter is taking numbers, I might have to wait a little while, but I’ll probably get let through.”
Astin stands strong in his faith today and currently star alongside “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Sarah Drew in the faith-based “Moms Night Out.”
But Astin didn’t say yes to a role in his new film because of its Christian message; the actor chooses roles with artistic value.
“I don’t think my faith has had a conscious part in decisions in terms of what movies I make,” he said. “I won’t do something if I feel it has zero moral redemption. I answer to a truly higher power than I’m capable of understanding and I don’t go by what other people would determine as a legitimate Christian offering or not.”
After appearing in his second Christian-focused film, Astin laughs at the fact that he might now be labeled as a Christian filmmaker despite having been in many more mainstream movies.
“What’s funny is the idea that I might become a paragon of Christian filmmaking because I’ve done two Christian films,” he said. “I’m just not going to not make films because Christians are making them if they’re good films.”
“Hollywood is antagonistic to Christian films because of forces that are hard to describe, but Christians have made things difficult for themselves by the way they approach the outside community,” he continued.
Astin said people need to forget about those “who grab the microphones and yell the loudest.” The fact is, people are hungry for family-friendly, faith-based entertainment and studios are finally starting to listen.
“The Christian ground game is presently revolutionizing marketing in filmmaking,” he explained. “It’s not a subtle thing, and it’s a great thing and it’s not owned by the Christians. They are just getting there first because they’re tired of not being able to get their product into a wide marketplace.”
No matter your faith, Astin hopes his new movie will allow the audience to stop, breathe and reflect for a minute.
“This sweet premise of moms, whose evening has gone bad and dads who are struggling to kind of make things go right, this movie chooses to let it sink at certain moments and let us reflect for a minute.”
Discovery of earliest Buddhist shrine sheds new light on life of Buddha
Pilgrims meditate at the wall below the nativity scene within the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini, Nepal. The remains of the earliest temples at the site are in the background. (IRA BLOCK/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)
Archaeologists Robin Coningham (left) and Kosh Prasad Acharya direct excavations within the Maya Devi Temple, uncovering a series of ancient temples contemporary with the Buddha. Thai monks meditate. (IRA BLOCK/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)
Thai monks inside the Maya Devi Temple meditate over the remains of the oldest Buddhist shrine in the world at Lumbini, Nepal.(IRA BLOCK/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)
Archaeologists in Nepal have uncovered the earliest-known Buddhist shrine, physical evidence that puts a concrete date and location on the life of the man who founded Buddhism.
“For the first time we actually have scientific evidence leading to the establishment of one of the major Buddhists shrines,” professor Robin Coningham of Durham University, U.K., who co-led the investigation, said in a press conference Monday.
Coningham’s research indicates the temple found at Lumbini in Nepal dates back to the 6th century B.C. The discovery is the first archaeological evidence linking the life of Buddha and the beginnings of Buddhism to a specific century.
‘Very little is known about the life of the Buddha.’
– Professor Robin Coningham of Durham University, U.K.
“Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” Coningham said. “We thought ‘why not go back to archaeology to try to answer some of the questions about his birth?'”
According to Buddhist tradition, Buddha’s mother Queen Maya Devi gave birth to him while holding on to the branch of a tree within the Lumbini garden. Coningham and his team began their excavations at this site and discovered the remains of a previously unknown timber structure within the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini.
“What’s interesting is we identified a roof tile … all around the edges of the temple and not in the center,” Coningham said. “This indicated something that was very special about the center of the temple. When we started excavating we found another early temple below.”
Geoarchaeological research was conducted that confirmed the presence of ancient tree roots in the open space at the center of the newly-discovered timber structure which links to the nativity story of Buddha. Fragments of charcoal and grains of sand were tested to determine the date of the timber shrine and the early brick structure above it.
The evidence of the tree shrine at the site proves the “continuity of the site” as Buddhist according to Coningham.
“The sequence (of archaeological remains) at Lumbini is a microcosm for the development of Buddhism from a localized cult to a