"I'm not sure whether it mattered. One young man very kindly said to me, 'You don’t understand, women are holier than men.'
I said, 'That’s rubbish and it doesn't excuse the insult,' and then I added that I spent 13 years in yeshiva and there's nothing he could tell me that I haven't already heard. Then the original man, the one who refused to sit next to me, muttered to another man as he was walking away, 'She doesn't understand.' I said, 'I understand everything, and don't talk to me as if I'm not here.' He ignored me, and all the other men turned their backs and did not respond or even look at me." [Similar version
The Online Legacy of a Suicide Cult and the Webmasters Who Stayed Behind
. A short history of the Heaven's Gate Millenarian Cult
and the (ex?) members who still keep the page running seventeen years after their last contact
with the leader and members.
Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel. [more inside]
Marilynne Robinson discusses her novels, fiction, and religion
at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University in 2009.
Dr. Robinson talks about writing and the Middle West
at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Last month, a video of a teenager coming out to his family went viral,
(trigger warning), now viewed almost 6 million times. The young man who is disowned and abused in that video, Daniel Pierce, after receiving more than $90,000 in donations to live on his own, has now asked
that donations be re-directed to Lost-N-Found Youth
, a shelter in Georgia for LGBT Homeless Youth. Rolling Stone profiles The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families
: "Young called his creed 'the religion of nature' and 'the religion of nature’s God.' And he made abundantly clear that, in his own mind, this radical philosophical religion was the axis on which the Revolution turned. For him, the project to free the American people from the yoke of King George III was part of a grander project to liberate the world from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion." [more inside]
(A theoretical physicist explains why) Science Is Not About Certainty [more inside]
“A bomb with a long fuse has been lit,”
said Sylvie Guillaume, a French MEP supportive of abortion rights and LGBT rights, who recently stepped down as vice chair of the largest center-left bloc in the European Union’s parliament. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.” [more inside]
The images vary widely, but they tend to be very strange and even disturbing—overt sexual acts, defecation, monsters, human-monster hybrids, animals acting like humans. There’s also examples of clergy behaving very badly, the sort of thing you would not expect to see in the margins of a sacred book.
Kaitlin Manning of B & L Rootenberg Rare Books and Manuscripts talks
to Collector's Weekly (previously
) about the exquisitely detailed religious texts surrounded by all manner of illustrated commentary, known today as marginalia
A Church Divided Over Marriage Equality
The Church’s rules against homosexuality have divided Methodists for forty years. Attempts to abolish or even soften these rules have failed at every General Conference, the quadrennial meeting of the denomination, since they were first added, in 1972, to the Book of Discipline, which contains the Church’s laws and doctrine.
"And They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love
"Methodists should call meeting on gay divide, pastor says
"Ranks of defiant United Methodist clergy rise
"Defrocking of Minister Widens Split Over Gays
An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist [more inside]
How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’
He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.
Tucked beneath the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge, beyond the serviceberry trees and hedgerows of the Bridge Park Greenway, across the blacktop of Furman Street, the House of God awaits. Nearly 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world call the collection of buildings Bethel, transliterated from the Hebrew, Beth El, "House of God." Its tall red sign, a city landmark for decades, looms over the skyline: WATCHTOWER. The building is also home to thousands of volunteers who live on the premises, all in the service, among other things, of printing the most widely circulated magazine on the planet: 46 million every month. I was supposed to live there, too. God Lives on Lemon Street: An ex–Jehovah’s Witness visits Watchtower headquarters
On the same day that a Colorado judge
struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage (pdf
), the Utah Attorney General’s Office announced it will take the issue of same-sex couples’ marriage rights back to the Supreme Court, bypassing a 10th Circuit en banc review
. All of this news comes just one day after several prominent LGBT groups announced they will no longer support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,
as written, due to the religious exemptions therein
. President Obama is facing
pressure from religious groups to write a religious exemption into his promised executive order to protect LGBT federal contractors and workers from discrimination.
Atheist bashing or tough love?
A thought-provoking review by Michael Robbins
of Nick Spencer's new book
on the history of atheism in Slate magazine. It reads like an autopsy of the recently murdered religious/atheist dialogue, with the "intellectually lazy" new atheism atop the list of suspects. [more inside]
“Those who are awake live in a state of constant amazement.”
-Fake Buddha Quotes
is your one-stop shopping for all quotes misattributed to The Buddha.
A federal judge
in New York has ruled against a group of parents who had filed a lawsuit, asserting
that the New York City policy
that allows schools to ban unvaccinated kids from attending classes when another child has come down with a vaccine preventable illness infringed on their practice of religion. The decision cites Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)
, where the SCOTUS upheld Cambridge, Mass, Board of Health’s authority to require vaccination against smallpox during a smallpox epidemic.
the High Court of Australia ruled
(Williams v Commonwealth of Australia  HCA 23
) for the second time
that Commonwealth funding of school chaplains was unconstitutional. This is in direct contradiction of the Abbott government's recent budget moves to totally defund
secular counsellors in favour of a $244M school chaplaincy program[me]
. [more inside]
The second-largest religion in each state
Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about 2 percent as Mormon. But what about the rest of us?
“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation
.” [more inside]
Joanna Piacenza tackles difficulties she sees in the American conception of Buddhism. She was spurred out of writing silence several months ago by Time Magazine choosing for the second time in a decade to sell their magazine with a consumerist representation of Buddhism depicted on their cover with an pretty and ethereal looking white woman
. Today, she published an article in First Things
on why she believes Buddhism can't be just "an add-on: an energy boost in your spiritual smoothie," but is a religion and the American attitudes that she sees as enabling this misconception.
Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating:
Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan
religious sect, has been residing in a freezer
in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead
and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges
that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking
"A modern pope gets old school on the Devil
" by Anthony Faiola
"Witness to an Exorcism
" -An interview with Anthony Faiola
"The Exorcists Next Door
In their tidy suburban home, Marion and Larry Pollard have dug deep into the recesses of the Scriptures to save tortured souls—and command demons to get out. Get out now!
The Supreme Court ruled
(PDF) this morning that the town of Greece, New York did not violate the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month." [more inside]
"We’ve run off at the mouth, said things we shouldn’t have said. We’ve run around like a peacock all over the platform. We have said things because we were playing to the home team, and they all liked our act. On this issue, nobody likes our act, except the redneck factor." That was Pastor Greg Belser
speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention's first ever conference on human sexuality
currently being held in Nashville. As promising as those remarks are, however, Slate notes that the SBC still has a long way to go
"America is in the midst of two major changes to its population: We are becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Explore these shifts in our new interactive data essay
The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown
is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn
to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf)
by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog
. [more inside]
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
) 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."
The Sunni Islamic monarchy/theocracy's restrictive laws on political expression have become even stricter
this year. This is in response to potentially dangerous dissidents returning to Saudi Arabia from the Syrian civil war. But the categories of offenses are so broad as to define virtually any non-Muslim
as a terrorist, and to ban all independent political expression. [more inside]
NPR reporter John Burnett and investigator Samantha Sunne examine the finances
of Christian TV network Daystar
At NPR's request, the Trinity Foundation, a watchdog group in Dallas that monitors Christian broadcasters, compiled a list of the nation's 30 leading evangelist broadcasters. Twenty-two of them are designated churches, meaning they don't have to report anything to anybody. Of those, two-thirds have churches, while a third of them — including Daystar — hold no regular services.
"The Church of All Worlds, registered as a religion in the United Statesin 1968 and now a significant presence in the contemporary Pagan revival,takes its name from the fictional church in Heinlein’s novel. Tim Zell, now Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, is one of the most influential of contemporary Paganleaders, and his church has developed a revolutionary programme for thetransformation of Western society. CAW core doctrines (‘Thou art God’), rituals (water-sharing), and church organizations (nests) are based on those of Heinlein’s fictional church." -- Carole M. Cusack examines how Heinlein's most famous novel gave rise to a pagan religion
that still exists today. (Warning: you may get a pdf download popup, depending on your browser's settings.)
This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius
, two cases where private corporations have challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate.
, and previously [more inside]
A tale of a young woman in Lebanon, related in a manner that should resonate with many Americans.
"This story is an analogy to what the Shia, most of whom belong to Hezbollah culture, are like in Lebanon. I tell it because it presents things in familiar terms to many Western readers. When people ask me what it was like, to grow up in the lands where Hezbollah structured the predominant culture, I hesitate to answer, because I want them to understand."
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?
More than 12,000 Catholics from five continents answered questions in a massive survey commissioned by Univision
and conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International
. Topics covered included all the issues most likely to generate lively discussion among Catholics all over the world. Here's how they responded
. [more inside]
For years, Fred "Slacktivist
" Clark has been dissecting, page by page
, the Left Behind
series of Evangelical Christian potboilers. Clark, a Christian himself, goes far beyond merely mocking them but also analyzes the theology, philosophy, and politics underlying them. As an aside, he's looked at other Rapture narratives and is asking, "Why are Rapture stories always so dull?"
To this end he examines The Missing Christians
, a 50-minute 1952 movie about the Rapture, which is available to watch on YouTube
. Clark warns: "This is far, far worse than you’re expecting even if you take into account that it will be far, far worse than you’re expecting."
As usual, Clark goes beyond (but certainly by way of) just mocking the film to get at the core of what he argues the Rapture idea is really about, and why, despite the Apocalyptic material, these stories always end up so dull.
Part of the problem here, as in Left Behind, is that the “storytellers” of Evangel Films aren't nearly as interested in telling their story as they are in settling the score with their perceived enemies. These are the same enemies that haunt the sleep of Tim LaHaye — those sophisticated “liberal” Christians who refuse to concede the expertise of “Bible prophecy” experts. Just like Left Behind, The Missing Christians is a revenge fantasy in which those evil sophisticates are “proved” wrong and the righteous are proved right.
If Jesus and company were around today, the Bible may look like a art & fandom Tumblr project
, complete with meta essays
, and playlists
. Their writers aim to "follow in the Judeo-Christian tradition of questioning, evolving, and shaking up the status quo in order to update scripture for a secular audience, offering it up as a volatile mix of narrative, social commentary, spirituality, and punk rock."
In this version Jesus is a cat-loving activist
, Mary Madgalene is a hijabi punk
, and the mystics are spoken word artists, musicians, and bloggers
The extended setting of the Harry Potter
series is fertile soil for fans interested in worldbuilding, especially since the release of Pottermore (previously)
, a companion site to the books that includes back-story and adjunt information direct from J.K. Rowling. Some of these worldbuilding projects include explorations on wizarding fashion
, magical education
(including other magical schools
), fantastic beasts (and perhaps where to find them)
, Muslims at Hogwarts
, and the next generation of Hogwarts students
. [more inside]
To shave or not to shave?
That is the question which has divided the Christian Church for 2000 years.
As part of a settlement between the Archdiocese of Chicago and the victims of 30 pedophile priests, a cache of 6000 documents
has been made public, detailing the Catholic Church's efforts over many years to cover up sexual abuse and protect accused priests.
with world-renowned Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi on Lovecraft, atheism, weird tales, and cosmicism.