Funeral officiantis ‘Buddhist’ robot
Adding a high-tech twist to eternal rest, robotic Buddhist priests are now offering up their services for funerals in Japan.
A new code update to Softbank’s humanoid robot Pepper allows the cute, big-eyed ‘bot to chant sutras (in a computerized voice) while beating a drum, The Guardian reports. The robot was unveiled recently at the Life Ending Industry Expo, a trade show for funeral services, in Tokyo.
Funeral arrangers can dress Pepper in a Buddhist monk’s robe, and can livestream the proceedings for friends and family who can’t attend the event in person.
Using Pepper instead of a live monk could be a major cost-saver — the average cost of a funeral in Japan can top $25,000, with human priests costing $2,175, The Guardian reports, citing 2008 data from Japan’s Consumer Association. Nissei Eco, the company showing off the funeral ‘bot hopes to rent Pepper out for just $450 per funeral.
That price difference also could make robot priests an attractive alternative in the United States, where the median cost of a funeral, with a viewing and burial, hit $7,181 in 2014, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
–The Mercury News
Cathedral renamedfor Mother Teresa
PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Roman Catholic cathedral in Kosovo’s capital has been consecrated to the saint formerly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and religious leaders from Kosovo and Albania were among the hundreds of people in Pristina who attended a consecration ceremony on Tuesday for the landmark, now named St. Teresa Cathedral.
The Italian-style cathedral with two 230-foot towers opened in 2010. Local Catholics had long hoped it would bear the name of the nun who dedicated her life to society’s outcasts.
It will now house a new office for the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Kosovo, which has a population that is more than 90 percent Muslim and a small Catholic community.
Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. Pope Francis canonized her last year.
“That great saint is in heaven, Mother Teresa, that simple woman who with her example told millions and millions of people in the world to love each other, to help each other,” said Cardinal Ernest Simoni, the pope’s representative at the consecration ceremony.
Born Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on Aug. 26, 1910, to Albanian parents, Teresa went to India in 1929 as a sister of the Loreto order. In 1946, she received what she described as a “call within a call” to found a new order dedicated to caring for the most unloved and unwanted, the “poorest of the poor” in the slums of her adopted city, Calcutta.
The Missionaries of Charity order went on to become one of the most well-known in the world, with more than 4,000 sisters in their trademark blue-trimmed white saris doing as Teresa instructed: “Small things with great love.”
She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
— The Associated Press
NAN Religion on 09/09/2017