Thomas Jefferson so wanted to fix what he thought was wrong with religion that he rewrote the Bible. He went through and cut out the parts that he liked most and pasted it to a fifth volume. He cut out Miracles. He cut out the Christmas story. He cut out most of the Easter story. Resurrection is gone. Wikipedia. previously
Biblical Entheogens: a Speculative Hypothesis. Psychology Professor Benny Shannon speculates that Moses may have been tripping when he saw God on Mount Sinai. [Via Mind Hacks.]
God's Pottery is described on their website as "a Christian acoustic duo formed to spread the Word while addressing the issues facing today's Youth and the Spiritual Community at large." But actually, they're one of the funniest new up and coming musical comedy acts, already nominated for an ECNY award in Best Musical Comedy Act. They workshop with the audience to get to know them better and sing songs about Pre-Marital Sex (The Pants Come Off, When The Ring Goes On), Alcoholism (Jesus I Need a Drink!), and they're always playing for Team Jesus. They went to the "Eden-berg" Fringe Festival and even stayed in character when interviewed by ITV2, because they are that good.
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism is a book released last month by Tim Keller. Its faired reasonably well (NYT, login req'd), which is interesting, considering the wide success of books preaching the opposite message, as of late (Dawkins, et. al.). [more inside]
A church in Tampa, FL has issued a 30-day sex challenge: If you're married, have sex every day (PDF of daily workbook). If you're not married, don't have sex at all (PDF of daily workbook). There's a blog, there's a billboard, there's a lot of press. [more inside]
WWJD? Well, he definitely wouldn't let a woman tell him what to do. At least, that's the theological position one institution of Christian learning has taken. And this isn't the first time the perhaps ironically named St. Mary's Academy has taken a "positive stand" on principle. Another take on the story here. (Via Boing Boing.)
I think its time that we joined a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern pluralistic society. Obama on religion and politics. (SLnonYTP)
Well, it seems that some British scientists have succeeded in creating a human embryo from three parents. Oh, let the games begin... [more inside]
"Ratzinger is an Evolutionist, which by definition makes one an athiest", is one of the reasons that this website, in which the "true" catholic faith (different [?] from the other catholic faith) is promoted, gives as to claiming Benedict XVI isn't the true pope. And to make their point they have elected a "real" pope themselves: Pope Pius XIII His real name? Lucian Pulvermacher (wikipedia) (previously) [more inside]
Your mother told you never to discuss religion or politics in polite company. You'll probably start a fight. [more inside]
A recent poll (PDF) asked for reactions to the same model dressed in two different ways: in a plain shirt with her hair down, and in a blue head scarf of the style of some Islamic women. Perhaps understandably, the survey respondents felt the scarfed image was more traditional and more religious. But some of the other perceptions are less obviously predictable. (via crooked timber)
Would you vote for an articulate horizontal-thinking Canadian? Race and religion in America defined through obfuscation.
All the recent Tom Cruise or LOLXTIANS posts made you feel picked on? Get your game on playing Faith Fighter and have the final say! Pick your deity, you're matched with an opposing deity and the fight is on to the death, or whatever recursive afterlife an immortal would experience. (via) [more inside]
Blogging the Qur'an The Guardian's Madeleine Bunting and cultural critic Ziauddin Sardar will blog a different verse or theme of the Qur'an each week. Bunting says its one of the most difficult books she's ever read, which is what a lot of non-muslims tend to think. The idea has been mooted before by those of a very similar political hue. Others are already blogging the the Bible.
The late-fifteenth/early-sixteenth century French publisher Simon Vostre was renowned for his Books of Hours. [more inside]
Reading the January edition of Harper's, about Brasilia, I was struck by a bit about what is apparently one of many cults in around the capital city: the Valley of the Dawn. A Jewish UFO cult? The ultimate in syncretic religions? Book your flight now.They're a lot more open to foreigners than Macumba
American Fascists: A CBC interview with author Chris Hedges regarding the Christians Right's onward march toward political power.
Make me a Muslim. The recently aired three episodes show takes a glamour model who wants to experience being completely hidden under a dress ,a skin therapist looking for meaning of life, a taxi driver that strongly feels islam is threatening UK lifestyle, a school teacher who wants to learn, an interracial interreligion couple and a flaming gay hairdresser tired of shallow party life. Take this colourful bunch and have two imams, a preacher and a converted woman lead them through an "islamic lifestyle" experience. You can watch the results here , I guess at least for a while.
The Four Horsemen: Just in time for holidays, enjoy a pleasant chat between the world's most famous atheists - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett.
Armed guards in church? Colorado's New Life Church: "The church's undercover security force is made up of an undisclosed number of volunteers with military or law-enforcement backgrounds, who carry radios and concealed weapons when they attend services." One of these guards recently shot a deranged gunman. [more inside]
10 Things Christians and Atheists Can (And Must) Agree On. "Celebrating the death of somebody you disagreed with pretty much makes you a dick."
The Mills-Kronborg Collection of Danish Church Wall Paintings, courtesy of Princeton University's Index of Christian Art, includes descriptions and images of medieval and early modern church frescoes. There are more church frescoes at Painting and Sculpture in Medieval Hungary. (Another site features a fine panorama.) Anne Marshall has developed an extensive site devoted to similar paintings in England, many of which were whitewashed during the Reformation. The University of Leicester hosts a much more specialized database devoted to the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy (no images); La Mort Dans L'Art/Death in Art has some Continental examples of The Three Living and the Three Dead.
Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to seven introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University:Astronomy, English, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies: a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video, syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. [more inside]
Beyond Belief: Enlightment 2.0. Video of the five sessions of the 2007 Beyond Belief conference on science and religion has been posted at The Science Network's website. Each Google Video runs about four hours. (This year's speakers; this year's agenda; previously.)
Docu-Images of China and Tibet. Thomas H. Hahn is a Cornell professor and an excellent photographer. Themed collections include Chinese modern art, urbanisation and architecture, sacred mountains, religion, and historical photographs.
We've discussed Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ before. Now, the CBC is going to air a documentary exploring the questions raised in Harpur's book. [more inside]
A few months ago, a British Schoolteacher in Sudan allowed a class of hers to vote on a name for a teddy bear. The class of seven year olds decided - with a majority of 20:3 - to name the stuffed toy Mohammad. Last week, she was arrested for this 'crime' after several of the parents complained, and has been sentenced to 15 days in prison and will be deported. However, that isn't good enough for the thousands of people that marched on martyrs square today and demanded that she instead be killed for this crime. [more inside]
The Temples of Damanhur. Behold the Eighth Wonder of the World (according to the Italian government). [Via Boing Boing.] [more inside]
Traveling a lot this weekend? Long drive, plane or train ride? You can use that transit time to listen to the Dalai Lama talk for more than four hours with neuroscientists and Buddhist scholars on the topic of craving, suffering and choice. Part one. Part two. [iTunes links] If you're stuck at home, you can watch the video. The video link has the full list of participants.
The Inner Life of an Intelligently Designed Cell? Remember The Inner Life of a Cell animation (discussed here)? Apparently the Discovery Institute (recently discussed here) is showing it in presentations with a new title and narration, and without attribution.
Sex Ratio Theory, Ancient and Modern - An 18th Century Debate about Intelligent Design and the Development of Models in Evolutionary Biology [pdf file]. The design argument for the existence of God took a probabilistic turn in the 17th and 18th centuries. Earlier versions, such as Thomas Aquinas’ 5th way, usually embraced the premise that goal-directed systems (things that “act for an end” or have a function) must have been created by an intelligent designer. This idea – which we might express by the slogan “no design without a designer” – survived into the 17th and 18th centuries, and it is with us still in the writings of many creationists. The new version of the argument, inspired by the emerging mathematical theory of probability, removed the premise of necessity. It begins with the thought that goal-directed systems might have arisen by intelligent design or by chance; the problem is to discern which hypothesis is more plausible. From Professor Elliott Sober.
Keep calm and lie down on the floor The John Dillinger Died for You Society has been commemorating the death of Public Enemy #1 every July 22 (last July Pope Michael Flores spoke) Their major spiritual teaching comes from the eminently quotable St. John Dillinger the Martyr who said: “Lie down on the floor and keep calm” during his bank robberies. (Considering his other quotes, it’s ironic that he was canonized) You can join just for the hell of it. Maybe check out a scrapbook of his greatest (ahem) hits. If you’re in Indiana some time you can check out his grave . And of course there’s Dillinger’s women (and everyone’s got a myspace page) But was he a hero for burning mortgages or a villian for robbing banks? Really, does it matter?
The Turning of An Atheist. "The British philosopher Antony Flew was one of the West’s most influential nonbelievers. Then came news — from conservative Christians — that he had recanted. But his change of heart may not be what it seems."
Gerbert D'Aurillac: mathemetician and engineer, Pope, ghost, and meddler with dark forces. [more inside]
Project Pterosaur The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Although, sadly, it may not be real.
Christianity is not just a series of truths but Truth -- Truth about all of reality. And the holding to that Truth intellectually... brings forth not only certain personal results, but also governmental and legal results.When the Religious Right cruised onto the cultural scene in the late 1970s, the road map was drawn by oddball Pennsylvanian Francis Schaeffer. Generally regarded as the first (perhaps only) Evangelical philosopher, Schaeffer's views on the fundamental clash between Christian and secular belief systems became the talking points for a generation of American Christians. The movement's trajectory, though, left many of Schaeffer's more nuanced beliefs by the wayside. His son's recent writings suggest that it didn't take long for the father of the Religious Right to regret what he'd birthed.
"Killing others is not loving them.” --meet US Army Captain Peter D. Brown, just granted Conscientious Objector status due to his religious beliefs and honorably discharged after first being denied and taking them to court---only 224 applicants were approved for it during 02-06, out of 2.3 million serving. [more inside]
I knew it would eventually happen. I didn't expect it so soon. The Church of Google.
Searching for God in the Brain. "Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith." [Via MindHacks, which points out a few niggling omissions in the article.]
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]
"From a review of the anthropological and evolutionary literatures [Edge.org]... there were three best candidates for being additional psychological foundations of morality [embedded video], beyond harm/care and fairness/justice. These three we label as ingroup/loyalty (which may have evolved from the long history of cross-group or sub-group competition...); authority/respect (which may have evolved from the long history of primate hierarchy, modified by cultural limitations on power and bullying...), and purity/sanctity, which may be a much more recent system, growing out of the uniquely human emotion of disgust, which seems to give people feelings that some ways of living and acting are higher, more noble, and less carnal than others. [more inside]