Facing death, inmates create art to reflect their spiritual outlook. A Jew talks about what the formation of his identity. And an explanation of some of the principles behind so-called Chinese "alchemy" (which is, in fact, quite different from Western alchemy). It's Faithful Friday, our segment on faiths and religious communities from around the world. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Death is a thing we all must face. But for most of us, its approach is seldom recognized until very close to its end. For people on death row, however, they may be aware of their approaching termination months, years, or even decades before it happens. This gives condemned inmates a great deal of time to reflect on the matter, some of whom have transformed those reflections into art. The Buddhist magazine Lion's Roar shares one inmate's work as well as his story.

Confucianism (also known as Ruism) has long connected itself with the practice of China's "fine arts" such as poetry and painting. Learning, scholarship, beauty, and dignity are all vital virtues to the religion, resulting in a high premium being placed on both artistry and art criticism. At The Huffington Post, Bin Song shares an example, examining the poem "Quatrain" by Du Fu through a Confucian perspective.

Jewish identity is a complex question for many. On the one hand, it is intrinsically religious, tied to the conception of Jews as the Abrahamic God's chosen people in the Jewish Bible (also known as the Tanakh or Old Testament) and people who were not born Jews have converted to the faith and become such. On the other hand, many Jews are atheistic or nonreligious and still identify as Jews because of its ethnic characteristics and the fact that the vast majority of Jews are part of a lineage stretching back to Iron Age West Asia. At Patheos, Gregory Eran Gronbacher, a "Jew by choice" discusses how he reconciles these two elements and has formed his own Jewish identity.

What is the key to religious activism? Is it faith? Is it following the correct ritual practices? For Dr. Susan Corso it is hope. At ProgressiveChristianity.org, Corso explains what hope means to her and why she believes "following your heartbreak" is essential to spiritual activism.

It has often been said that where Western alchemy has four elements, Chinese alchemy has five. But this obscures what are some important differences between how Chinese "alchemy" and Western alchemy look at the world and how their practices differ. At The Epoch Times, Jade Pearce explains what the five Chinese elements are and how they feature in Chinese culture and mystical practice.

Top image by Steerpike