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"...said to be the messianic leader of an apocalyptic Islamic sex cult."

Step inside this surreal world where religious piety meets psychedelic softcore porn, led by the world’s foremost Islamic creationist. "Followers of Harun Yahya (1, 2, 3) wear drag make-up and practice a “sexed-up, Disney version of Islam” that helps promote conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vision of a modern, Muslim Turkey."
posted by artof.mulata on Apr 6, 2014 - 27 comments

 

Trusting God

Patrick Henry College has been called "God's Harvard." The tiny, elite school is considered a safe haven for fundamentalist evangelical Christians. It teaches a dominionist "Biblical Worldview" and has a uniquely religious campus culture (pdf) that emphasizes evangelical moral values. Which leaves female students in a particular bind: How do you report sexual assault at a place where authorities seem skeptical that such a thing even exists?
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2014 - 154 comments

Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here

Inspired by her father's struggle against fundamentalism in Algeria in the 1990s, Karima Bennoune interviewed hundreds of people of Muslim heritage from dozens of countries who also work for social reform. She hopes their stories will counterbalance oversimplified narratives about majority Muslim nations. Bennoune's website provides an excerpt from the book, and she is interviewed on Open Democracy (transcript).
posted by audi alteram partem on Sep 6, 2013 - 3 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

Her hair color ....varies from blond to brunet across the collection

"Fabiola has been a beloved subject for countless painters, most of them amateurs. The portrait’s format is almost always the same: Fabiola is seen in profile facing left, her head covered by a rich red veil. Mr. Alÿs, who was born in Belgium in 1959 and moved to Mexico City in 1990, began collecting Fabiola paintings — as the genre is called — about 15 years ago, buying them at thrift shops, flea markets and antiques stores primarily in Mexico and Europe. He has previously shown his collection three times, when it was much smaller; the current presentation includes more than 300 works. Photos of the exhibition
posted by The Whelk on May 30, 2013 - 18 comments

"There was no return from apostasy."

Leaving the Witness. "In one of the most restrictive, totalitarian countries in the world, for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to think." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 21, 2013 - 26 comments

Sweet Truths with Kristine Holmgren

I told them to take a hike. I can't work where feminism is not celebrated. I'm proud to call myself a feminist. - Pastor and playwright Kristine Holmgren responds to being asked not use the word feminism in the title of her blog on a faith based site.
posted by Artw on Feb 13, 2013 - 49 comments

On a path to liberation....

Over a thousand monks and laymen are revered in Tibetan Buddhism as the incarnations of past teachers who convey enlightenment to their followers from one lifetime to the next. Some of the most respected are known by the honorific "rinpoche." For eight centuries, rinpoches were traditionally identified by other monks and then locked inside monasteries ringed by mountains, far from worldly distractions. Their reincarnation lineages were easily tracked across successive lives. Then the Chinese Red Army invaded Tibet in 1950 and drove the religion's adherents into exile. Now, the younger rinpoches of the Tibetan diaspora are being exposed to all of the twenty-first century’s dazzling temptations. So, even as Tibetan Buddhism is gaining more followers around the world, an increasing number of rinpoches are abandoning their monastic vows. Reincarnation in Exile. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 5, 2013 - 16 comments

"I went from God loves everybody to God saves everybody to God is in everybody."

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader. Jerry DeWitt is a former Pentecostal pastor in the evangelical parish of DeRidder, Louisiana who slowly lost his religious faith. Last Fall, he went public with his atheism, committing what he calls "identity suicide," and instantly becoming "the most disliked person in town." Since then, Mr. DeWitt's lost his job, his wife, his community and may be losing his house, but is still persevering and working to help others who find themselves in similar circumstances. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 27, 2012 - 163 comments

Sat Sri Akal, Sardarji

The history of the Sikh Diaspora in USA and Canada goes back to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. Emerging as a casteless alternative to the ongoing Hindu Muslim wars in India, the Sikhs have always been known as a martial tribe, their prowess and courage respected by the British and others alike. Colloquially addressed respectfully as Sardarji, the men take Singh (lion) as their middle name while the women bear the name Kaur (princess). This custom further confirmed the equality of both genders as was the tradition set by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. The first Sikh Organization was The Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society organized in the spring of 1912. [more inside]
posted by infini on Aug 6, 2012 - 34 comments

Just a handshake.

"Confessions of an Ex-Mormon: A personal history of America’s most misunderstood religion." by Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air and Lost in the Meritocracy. (Via)
posted by zarq on Jul 17, 2012 - 45 comments

"It seems ironic saying that, seeing as I've left now, but I still love our culture."

19-year-old Kelly Hofer grew up in a Hutterite colony in Manitoba, and his photography captures his life as a Hutterite. Recently, Kelly left the community to start a new life in Calgary.
posted by Catseye on Jun 18, 2012 - 51 comments

"Jews and Christians should be allies; and allies are equals."

In October 1870, as American Jews were observing the High Holidays, The Atlantic Magazine published an article called "Our Israelitish Bretheren." 'At the time, it served as a sort of crash course about a tiny, mystifying minority. Today, it survives as something quite different: a snapshot of a transitional moment in Jewish history.' Written by American biographer, James Parton -- the founder of American Heritage magazine.
posted by zarq on Sep 29, 2011 - 13 comments

One Religion coming up. Would you like God with that?

Varieties of irreligious experience - modern believers "may not accept the idea of God as an actually existing entity, so arguments for atheism will not disturb them"
posted by Gyan on Sep 16, 2011 - 932 comments

30 Mosques. 30 States. 30 Days.

30 Mosques in 30 Days, 2011 [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 7, 2011 - 22 comments

When the King Saved God

"A culture that does not possess this common store of image and allegory will be a perilously thin one. To seek restlessly to update it or make it “relevant” is to miss the point, like yearning for a hip-hop Shakespeare." -Christopher Hitchens stands up for the King James Bible
posted by beisny on Jul 14, 2011 - 70 comments

The Victims

Going Straight: My Ex-Gay Friend Also: Living the Good Lie: Therapists Who Help People Stay in the Closet. (Both links NYT, via)
posted by zarq on Jun 17, 2011 - 90 comments

The Cartoon Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 6, 2011 - 29 comments

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Humanity

Everybody knows TVTropes is the best and most time-killing-est way to learn about the clichés and archetypes that permeate modern media. But dear reader, there is so much more. Enter Useful Notes. Originally created as a place for tropers to pool factual information as a writing aid, the subsite has quietly grown into a small wiki of its own -- a compendium of crowdsourced wisdom on a staggering array of topics, all written in the site's signature brand of lighthearted snark. Though it reads like an irreverent and informal Wikipedia, its articles act as genuinely useful primers to complex and obscure topics alike, all in service of the project's five goals: "To debunk common media stereotypes; to help you understand some media better; to educate, inform and sometimes entertain; to promote peace and understanding (maybe); and... to facilitate world domination." Sounds about right. Click inside for bountiful highlights... if you dare. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 26, 2010 - 43 comments

France denies citizenship to man who failed to assimilate into French society

A Moroccan man whose wife wears a veil has been denied citizenship on the basis that he has failed to assimilate into French society. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Jul 10, 2010 - 91 comments

Religion and America's Academic Scientists

Science vs. Religion: a new book, Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, discusses the results of her detailed study of 1,646 scientists at top American research universities. Among her findings: ~36% of those surveyed not only believe in God but also practice a form of closeted, often non-traditional faith. They worry about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. Interview with the author from the Center for Inquiry's Point of Inquiry podcast. Also, here's a webcast from an author discussion forum held at Rice University on April 7th. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 30, 2010 - 89 comments

"No matter what ideas the human mind generates, they must never be quashed."

New Scientist Special Report: Living in Denial. Includes articles by Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 28, 2010 - 37 comments

Whence Altruism?

A new study suggests that humanity's sense of fair play and kindness towards strangers is determined by culture, not genetics. Speculation: the finding may be directly related to the rise of religion in human history, as well as more complex economies. (Via). [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 22, 2010 - 49 comments

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes - A preacher's daughter marries another preacher's son and offers an insider's perspective about youth leaders, tips and hawks, sexual jewelry, hot wives, drama teams, video games, Jumbotrons, coffee, graphic design, typography and more.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 31, 2009 - 197 comments

"Greetings from Idiot America"

Charles Pierce, author of the 2005 essay "Greetings from Idiot America" decrying the rise of faith-based anti-intellectualism, has expanded his rant into a full length book: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. (via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 12, 2009 - 65 comments

The Adaptive Value of Human Institutions:* Building a Better (Secular) 'Religion'

Keynes & Marx thought "that productivity would grow sufficiently to allow our needs to be met with very little labour," and that humankind's biggest preoccupation in the future would be leading lives of comfortable (or comparative) leisure. Obviously, that has not yet come to pass. But why?** Yochai Benkler (previously), for one, is working on it... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 25, 2009 - 37 comments

Culture & Barbarism

Metaphysics in a Time of Terrorism. (via)
posted by Dumsnill on Apr 17, 2009 - 39 comments

The Depraved of India

India--the country of the Taj Mehal--known for it's love. But wait, there's more sadly, a lot more.
posted by hadjiboy on Jan 16, 2009 - 22 comments

"An already difficult journey has become dangerous."

Long before people called themselves Muslims or Hindus, long before they fought and died over these or any labels... water dripped and froze inside the Amarnath Cave at the heart of Kashmir. Amarnath Cave official site. Amarnath Cave pilgrimage. Amarnath virtual tour. Wikipedia's page on the Amarnath land transfer.
posted by amyms on Aug 16, 2008 - 14 comments

Persia

Persia: Ancient Soul of Iran. "A glorious past inspires a conflicted nation."
posted by homunculus on Aug 4, 2008 - 35 comments

Nick Cave, the Black Crow King, is fifty today

NickCaveFilter: Fifty years ago this very day, Nicholas Edward Cave [previously] crawled from the womb and started to plot.  At 16 he formed his first band which evolved quickly into the Boys Next Door [Shivers].  This in turn mutated into the Birthday Party (1980) who terrorised the post-punk soundscape in Australia and the UK [Release the Bats | Nick the Stripper].  The Birthday Party relocated to England and in 1984 the band imploded in an orgy of drugs and booze.  Shortly after Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were born [The Ship Song - video & solo live | The Mercy Seat - video & live | Where the Wild Roses Grow], and 23 years and 11 studio albums later (not to mention a best selling book, a great screenplay, some acting and several soundtrack projects) he is still going strong.  But, instead of sitting on his musical laurels he decided to get back to basics and, in 2006, grew a huge moustache and formed Grinderman – a four piece with a primeval hybrid Birthday Party/Bad Seeds sound [No Pussy Blues | Honey Bee].  Fellow Mefites, I ask you to raise a glass to Mr. Cave… And, especially if you are not familiar to his work, don’t forget to “look inside” for my primer on the enigma that is Nick Cave, one of the finest song-writers on the face of this miserable planet. [more inside]
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar on Sep 22, 2007 - 98 comments

The Astrological Origins of the Old and New Testaments

"The Naked Truth" This Google Video is a documentary (pack a lunch, it's nearly two hours long) that systematically eviscerates the purported origins of the Old and New Testaments. Turns out, it's really all about astrology. Who knew? The evidence is tremendously compelling, well documented, and sure to raise the ire of people whose minds are made up on the subject.
posted by wordswinker on Jul 4, 2006 - 45 comments

Write this one in your diary Anne!

When Iranian paper Hamshahri (in Persian) launched a contest for Holocaust cartoons, an Israeli group responded in turn with a contest of their own for cartoons that make fun of Jews. Too bad it closed yesterday, or the Dutch branch of the AEL could submit theirs. (WARNING: some of the linked content may be offensive to readers' ethnicities, cultures, religions, or tastes.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Mar 4, 2006 - 20 comments

Selections From The Journal of Religion And Popular Culture

And here is 'You Either Get It or You Don't:' Conversion Experiences and The Dr. Phil Show. Also on hand, are They Refused Jesus Too: A Biblical Paradigm in the Writing of Bob Dylan and Popular Music on Christianity in the United States: Christianity's Failure to Love. Taste, perhaps, A Potion too Strong?: Challenges in Translating the Religious Significance of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings to Film. Or consider Curses and Catharsis in Red Sox Nation: Baseball and Ritual Violence in American Culture.
All are selections from The Journal Of Religion And Popular Culture.
posted by y2karl on Nov 27, 2005 - 34 comments

Einstein strikes back!

Einstein Speaks from Beyond the Grave... To issue a vigorous challenge to the muddled claims coming from all sides about the inherent incompatibility of science and religion. (No secondary links to go with this, but in my opinion, this link is interesting enough to stand on its own.)
posted by all-seeing eye dog on Oct 28, 2005 - 69 comments

Soldiers of Christ

Soldiers of Christ : "Have you ever switched your toothpaste brand, just for the fun of it?" Pastor Ted asks. Admit it, he insists. All the way home, you felt a "secret little thrill," as excited questions ran through your mind: "Will it make my teeth whiter? My breath fresher?" In this sharp article from Harpers Magazine, Pastor Ted Haggard, head of New Life Church and the World Prayer Team, describes the delirious thrill of deciding upon which brand of worship is right for you. We also meet some of the members of his flock, including one lady with big, brown eyes, eyes with which she claims to have seen "gay sex demons." (A belief more common than you might think.)

Who is this Pastor Ted, who speaks with the White House weekly? He writes books about "free market theology," he oversees the World Prayer Center, and as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, he leads the most powerful religious lobbying group in the United States.
posted by JHarris on May 30, 2005 - 36 comments

Evangelicals in America

Earthly Empires: How evangelical churches are borrowing from the business playbook - "The triumph of evangelical Christianity is profoundly reshaping many aspects of American politics and society... This year, the 16.4 million-member Southern Baptist Convention plans to 'plant' 1,800 new churches using by-the-book niche-marketing tactics. 'We have cowboy churches for people working on ranches, country music churches, even several motorcycle churches aimed at bikers', says Martin King, a spokesman for the Southern Baptists' North American Mission Board... Many of today's evangelicals hope to expand their clout even further. They're also gaining by taking their views into Corporate America. Exhibit A: the recent clash at software giant Microsoft."
posted by kliuless on May 15, 2005 - 35 comments

Vagina Monologues promotes sin in Africa

The Vagina Monologues is, to the outrage of many, being staged at a cultural center in Kampala, Uganda, East Africa. For the past few weeks, the play has been a key topic of debate, with many radio stations even refusing to utter the name of the play out loud, and shaming call-in listeners that do. Today, the local media council announced that “to the extent that the play promotes illegal, unnatural sexual acts, homosexuality and prostitution, it should be and is hereby banned, citing the play as "a smokescreen for graphic lesbian pornography" and that the play's "graphic descriptions of masturbation, rape, and genital mutilation in a manner that is “abhorrent, outrageous and disgusting." Local NGOs are even refusing to accept funds generated by the sale of tickets.
posted by Kololo on Feb 17, 2005 - 32 comments

Gimme That Ol' Time Phallus Worship

The ancient concept of the sacred phallus in spirituality, art, and culture (that is, before moralistic taboos attempted to mute phallic representations with fig leaves for the geniality of civilization). Obviously NSFW.
posted by moonbird on Dec 13, 2004 - 6 comments

A View from the Eye of the Storm

A View from the Eye of the Storm. An Arab intellectual in Europe ponders on the Muslim world and comes to some interesting conclusions. Israel is a sideshow. Iran is the most dangerous country in the world.. in the long run the only way for us (the West) to win the war of terror is to force the problem nations to reform both politically and culturally.via Steven Den Beste weblog
posted by stbalbach on Jun 25, 2004 - 45 comments

Air-conditioned Islam

The new Islam. Husam Tammam and Patrick Haenni in Le Monde (English version) describe the new forms of Islamic culture taking shape in Egypt. I follow the Islamic world fairly closely, but this was news to me. Does it herald an Islam that can live with the rest of the world (and vice versa)?
This entry, both with the hijab [veil] and the nashid [religious chant], into consumerism and syncretism with non-Arab models, has led to an implicit questioning of the old puritanism of the 1970s and 1980s - and above all a questioning of the principle of the ideologisation of religion. The change is important: we could trace similar patterns in the Islamic economy, increasingly affected by the ups and downs of international finance; or in Islamic charity, which has been rethought, within a framework of neoliberalism, as a security net to replace the state's withdrawal from this area (a withdrawal the Islamists have widely supported).
(Via Path of the Paddle.)
posted by languagehat on Oct 9, 2003 - 9 comments

Beginnings

Beginnings at the Library of Congress. The origins of the Universe, humanity and society as viewed by different cultural and religious traditions; and their attempts to explain it all.
The Talk.Origins Archive presents a more scientific view of physical and biological beginnings.
posted by plep on May 3, 2003 - 6 comments

Cultural Entomology

Cultural Entomology. The role of insects in human cultures from every continent :- religion, art, literature, entertainment, and as pets.
Related :- insect drawings used as teaching aids; insects as food.
posted by plep on Apr 8, 2003 - 15 comments

100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans.

100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans. While researching the Middle East conflict, I happened upon this journalist's guide from the Detroit Free Press containing background on Arab-American culture, language, and religion. Many of the questions are simplistic (some might even say moronic) and the answers obvious, but I found I learned a thing or two.
posted by VelvetHellvis on Nov 12, 2002 - 21 comments

The veil:Female Form of Jihad???????

The veil:Female Form of Jihad???????
posted by bunnyfire on Feb 2, 2002 - 19 comments

Police Boycott "Harry Potter"

Police Boycott "Harry Potter" Police in Penryn, PA (near Harrisburg) have refused to direct traffic at a YMCA event. The police claim that because the YMCA reads "Harry Potter" to local children that they are promoting witchcraft. Fire Police Capt. Robert Fichthorn says "I don't feel right taking our children's minds and teaching them (witchcraft). As long as we don't stand up, it won't stop. It's unfortunate that this is the way it has to be."
posted by terrapin on Jan 24, 2002 - 47 comments

Do I make you h*rny, baby? [censored]

Do I make you h*rny, baby? [censored] This is far from new, but I just stumbled on this hilarious review of the Austin Powers sequel written by ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP). I don't post this to bash Christians or to inspire a bazillion comments about religion or censorship. I just thought CAP's outrage over an essentially harmless film was fun to read.
posted by Karl on Jun 27, 2001 - 18 comments

Ever wondered why the Buddha wears a toga?
Understanding the origins and symbolism behind images of the Buddha.
posted by lagado on Jun 2, 2001 - 12 comments

All your cultural treasures are belong to us!

All your cultural treasures are belong to us! At least in China it was the accidental kind of stupidity...
posted by rushmc on Mar 1, 2001 - 6 comments

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