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Aum Shinrikyo fugitive surrenders after 16 years

Makoto Hirata, a senior member of doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo and one of three remaining fugitives from the group, has turned himself in to police after more than sixteen years on the run, leading to questions about the timing of his surrender now, after all these years. While Aum is best known as the group responsible for the deadly sarin-gas attack on Tokyo's subway system that killed 13 people and injured more than 6000, Hirata is wanted on suspicion of taking part in a different crime, the kidnapping and murder of Kiyoshi Kariya, the brother of an ex-Aum member who had left the group. Despite the fact that police stations and koban (police boxes) throughout Japan have prominently displayed wanted posters of the three Aum Shinrikyo fugitives for the past 16 years, Hirata had remained at large and hadn't had plastic surgery, leading to police speculation that he must have been helped by others while on the run.
posted by Umami Dearest on Jan 1, 2012 - 22 comments

 

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.
posted by Trurl on Dec 29, 2011 - 8 comments

God, Sex and the Left

"In all other circumstances we praise non-violent activities and when people, for whatever personal reasons, enjoy sexual violence even in a consenting context I think we shouldn't just say “whatever turns you on”. We should say “There's something wrong here”. But people on the left are so terrified of being accused of moralising and therefore of being oppressive that they've abandoned their critical faculties in this area." Clive Hamilton on God, Sex, and the Left (Part 2).
posted by daniel_charms on Dec 26, 2011 - 358 comments

This is not an uplifting post. You have been warned.

Well, to put it simply, The Big plan is the same as the immediate plan: they want you dead. It’s not that they want to kill opposition; they want to kill the opposition, literally. This country ain’t big enough for the both of you, and they have everything to lose. And they have guns. And the media. And all the keys of power. And you want to overthrow them. How do you think they will react to that? Give you cookies? - an on the ground report of what's going on in Egypt now from a blogger turned parliamentary candidate.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 20, 2011 - 37 comments

Test everything; hold fast to what is good.

Fred Clark posts at a blog called "Slacktivist", so he is often referred to by that name. But this left-wing Christian is far from a slacker. His blog is a powerful voice against the usual conservative Christian presence in America, and the best distillation of his strength is his series of posts analyzing the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Fred savages these books for their "bad writing and bad theology" but it's not the usual Internet snark; Fred has a larger mission here than just pointing and laughing. He just finished dissecting book two, Tribulation Force, so it's a great time to jump on if you already haven't. (He has promised that after a holiday break, he's going to do the Tribulation Force movie, and then on to book three.) [more inside]
posted by Legomancer on Dec 20, 2011 - 183 comments

Simone Weil

Some lives are exemplary, others not; and of exemplary lives, there are those which invite us to imitate them, and those which we regard from a distance with a mixture of revulsion, pity, and reverence. It is, roughly, the difference between the hero and the saint (if one may use the latter term in an aesthetic, rather than a religious sense). Such a life, absurd in its exaggerations and degree of self-mutilation — like Kleist’s, like Kierkegaard’s — was Simone Weil’s. - Susan Sontag [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Dec 19, 2011 - 8 comments

"Well, that went as well as could be expected..."

An awkward moment in politics. (YouTube) While campaigning in a New Hampshire diner, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spotted local Bob Garon, a regular to the diner, eating his breakfast while wearing a Vietnam veteran's cap. “Vietnam veteran!” Romney greeted Bob, as he slid down onto the diner seat for a little chat. Unfortunately for Mitt, Bob was dining there that morning with his husband, and had to explain to Bob that his husband didn't deserve any of the benefits he fought for, and that the makers of the Constitution held marriage to be between a man and a woman. (Which doesn't really explain Mitt's great-grandfather Miles and his wives Hanna, Caroline, Catherine, Alice, and Emily, but stilll...)
posted by markkraft on Dec 12, 2011 - 168 comments

Battlestar Galatica's ending sucked and that's great

"Here, in my final post on the ending, I present the case that its final hour was the worst ending in the history of science fiction on the screen. This is a condemnation of course, but also praise, because my message is not simply that the ending was poor, but that the show rose so high that it was able to fall so very far." -Brad Templeton's dissection of the modern version of Battlestar Galatica and where it went wrong
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 12, 2011 - 275 comments

It's all in the hand movements

From Sociological Images, here's baby preacher, baby worshipper and baby rapper.
posted by Apropos of Something on Dec 12, 2011 - 10 comments

Ark of the Covenant: 2½-1½-1½ Cubits

Maps of Biblical Prophecy and History. Also Protestant distribution, oil pipelines, Mars, and more.
posted by Winnemac on Dec 10, 2011 - 14 comments

Michael Tolkin's "The Rapture"

(MAJOR SPOILERS EVERYWHERE) [Michael Tolkin's The Rapture] is one of the most radical, infuriating, engrossing, challenging movies I've ever seen. There are people who love it and many who hate it, but few who can remain on the sidelines. ... Movies are often so timid. They try so little, and are content with small achievements. "The Rapture" is an imperfect and sometimes enraging film, but it challenges us with the biggest idea it can think of, the notion that our individual human lives do have actual meaning on the plane of the infinite. - Roger Ebert
posted by Trurl on Dec 8, 2011 - 54 comments

A collaborative genealogy of spirituality.

"Frequencies is an experiment. The experiment is simple: Ask scholars, writers, and artists what they think of when they think of the word spirituality." So began a project that's now 71 entries strong. Every weekday, Frequencies features scholars and artists on such topics as Burning Man, espresso, highways, Philip K. Dick, companion animals, and Dr. Oz. [more inside]
posted by farishta on Dec 8, 2011 - 5 comments

Horror Stories From Tough-Love Teen Homes

Kathryn Joyce looks at unregulated Christian homes for troubled children.
posted by reenum on Dec 8, 2011 - 39 comments

You can't stop Katy Perry

Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT] Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
posted by furiousxgeorge on Dec 4, 2011 - 103 comments

Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews

The Netanyahu government has paid for US TV ads saying US Israelis will never understand what it means to be Israeli, and American Jews will lose their religion
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Nov 30, 2011 - 189 comments

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Teachings on Right Practice by Shunryu Suzuki, as compiled in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, read by Peter Coyote: "Posture", "Breathing", "Control", "Mind Weeds", "The Marrow of Zen", "Bowing", "Nothing Special"
posted by Trurl on Nov 8, 2011 - 16 comments

Bully as Victim

A Michigander questions why an anti-bullying legislation became instead a bully protection tool. "On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state senate passed an anti-bullying bill that manages to protect school bullies instead of those they victimize. It accomplishes this impressive feat by allowing students, teachers, and other school employees to claim that 'a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction' justifies their harassment." [more inside]
posted by TheGoodBlood on Nov 7, 2011 - 137 comments

"I always call you Jesus, you always call me Sonny. This Sonny talking."

"Thirty minutes into the screening, studio executives began leaving the theater to wheel and deal outside."

In the early 1980's, Robert Duvall wrote a movie script about a subject he loved dearly. It languished for 15 years. Then he put five million dollars of his own money down to make it. It was called, The Apostle. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,12, 13.)
posted by timsteil on Nov 6, 2011 - 35 comments

"I felt like I'd been catapulted from one end of the universe to the other"

This weekend marks the time of the Hajj, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God. Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat and the ritual stoning of Shaitan to the circling of the sacred Kaaba (the shrouded cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily) and kissing the Black Stone (colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite). While the city has modernized to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich, and tent cities the size of Seattle -- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders. Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise to write a rare travelogue, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt], a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey. Browse the manual to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 4, 2011 - 31 comments

blood so clear you could read the paper through it.

The Academic Ob/Gyn: Taking Care of the Dying Jehovah’s Witness. The comments are good too.
posted by the young rope-rider on Oct 26, 2011 - 83 comments

How the religious right censored the UK media – Christian Mothers’ Union head appointed as ‘expert’ by David Cameron

How the religious right censored the UK media – Christian Mothers’ Union head appointed as ‘expert’ by David Cameron
posted by nam3d on Oct 14, 2011 - 34 comments

"I give thanks for those who disagree . . . yet know that we are one in Jesus Christ.”

On Saturday, Scott Anderson became the first openly gay person to be ordained as a minister by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the nation's 10th-largest denomination. But the ceremony actually marked his second ordination, after he was forced to step down from the pulpit, under threat of blackmail, 20 years before. At the time, Anderson had donated his pastoral stole to the Shower of Stoles Project, including over 1000 items representing LGBT people of faith barred from the ministry. Saturday's ceremony also marked the first time that a donated object was returned to its owner. [more inside]
posted by Madamina on Oct 10, 2011 - 17 comments

Beauty, Virtue and Vice

Most of the prints in the exhibit "Beauty, Virtue and Vice: Images of Women in Nineteenth-Century American Prints" were designed simply to please the eye, but they are also useful to historians who would like to understand how nineteenth-century Americans thought about the world in which they lived. Although prints are often works of imagination (even when they are grounded in fact), they still have much to tell us about the time and place in which they were created. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Sep 30, 2011 - 10 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

So It's OK If I Stone My Kids?

A couple of Jehovah’s Witness' knocked on the door of secular parenting advocate Dale McGowan. What happened next is both funny and instructive, without being disrespectful or confrontational. Part 1 Part 2
posted by COD on Sep 27, 2011 - 209 comments

Carl Jung

Carl Jung: Taking inner life seriously. An eight-part series on the thought of Carl Gustav Jung from the Guardian's How to Believe series (previously.) Jung's relationship with his patient, student, and rumored lover Sabina Spielrein, and his mentor Sigmund Freud is the subject of a new film, "A Dangerous Method." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Sep 16, 2011 - 14 comments

Straight guy for gay marriage

Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father Of Three Cares About LGBT Equality. Married father of three boys writes eloquently about the reasons why he opposes the proposed constitutional amendment banning any legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The amendment goes before voters in May primary election, when heavy Republican turnout is expected. Meanwhile Senator Goolsby says that it is all about "empowering voters" "so no activist judge is able to decide on his or her own what marriage is." [original]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 16, 2011 - 38 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

We Have Graphs

The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”
While the FBI's monitoring of Muslims and infiltration of mosques in the United States is nothing new, this is the first time I've seen any of documents they use to train some of their agents. [more inside]
posted by gman on Sep 15, 2011 - 81 comments

Eternity

"That shy mysterious poet Arthur Stace
Whose work was just one single mighty word
Walked in the utmost depths of time and space
And there his word was spoken and he heard
ETERNITY, ETERNITY, it banged him like a bell
Dulcet from heaven sounding, sombre from hell."
- Douglas Stewart
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn on Sep 11, 2011 - 4 comments

"We become like gods to those who come after us."

In March, indie game designer Jason Rohrer (previously) created a video game, called Chain World, intended to evoke feelings of the sacred and spiritual. The game gains its aura from its uniqueness: there is only one copy, and an individual can only play it once. Then, Chain World ended up on eBay, and everything changed. [more inside]
posted by a sourceless light on Sep 9, 2011 - 63 comments

"In other words, Judah Maccabee, his father, and his brothers, are like the heroes of every Mel Gibson movie."

Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas have announced their latest, Warner Bros.-backed epic: a film about 'legendary Jewish warrior' Judah Maccabee. American Jewish leaders are plotzing. Rumors about a Maccabee movie were raised in 2004, but nothing ever came of them. Back then, at Christopher Hitchens' direction, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic met with Gibson to (sorta, but not really) talk him out of it. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 9, 2011 - 134 comments

In the beginning, there was no advertising

In a regular spot on the show called The Pitch, ABC Television’s The Gruen Transfer (previously) this week asked two ad agencies to come up with a pitch for why religion should be banned. Here are the pitches in SYTL format.
posted by the noob on Sep 8, 2011 - 49 comments

Markov Bible

Markov Bible
posted by Pants! on Sep 1, 2011 - 35 comments

"Everyone has pain. It's your job to find it."

Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 31, 2011 - 47 comments

The Gospel of You

O Sister, What Art Thou - Kathryn Lofton on the Religion of Oprah.
posted by joannemullen on Aug 30, 2011 - 21 comments

Islamophobia

Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network In America.
posted by homunculus on Aug 28, 2011 - 87 comments

An Asterisk of a Different Kind

Ralph Branca's story now manages to combine baseball, tragedy, genealogy, Judaism and the Nazis
posted by xowie on Aug 15, 2011 - 14 comments

Outsider's View of Mormon Archaeology

Prof. Michael Coe, an expert on the Maya, discusses the challenges facing Mormon archaeologists investigating the historical truth of the Book of Mormon. [more inside]
posted by Ideefixe on Aug 12, 2011 - 192 comments

They’re more open-minded, but here’s the thing: They’re no less faithful.

More educated tend to be more religious, by some measures.
posted by selfmedicating on Aug 11, 2011 - 75 comments

30 Mosques. 30 States. 30 Days.

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

"I suppose people can go through an entire lifetime without questioning God and a religion that they were born into"

A few months ago, The New Statemen asked a number of public figures "why they believe in god." Last week, they asked a number of public figures "to explain why they don't."
posted by bardic on Jul 31, 2011 - 194 comments

But what does God think?

How Christian is Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life? [more inside]
posted by philip-random on Jul 31, 2011 - 88 comments

BusinessWeek on the Rapture Market

Times are tough, but one market is doing well: The Rapture. You've got your usual seeds and survival packs and first aid kits, but do you have your Rapture erotica for those long, lonely nights in the bunker? What about an iPhone app so you know when the Rapture occurs? How about informational and inspiring movies? And for those looking to break into the market, BusinessWeek gathers some helpful tips, such as "never give a date for your endtime prophecy."
posted by Ghostride The Whip on Jul 31, 2011 - 35 comments

God's Own Warden

Burl Cain, the warden of Angola, Louisiana's largest prison, uses religion to control and subdue the prison population.
posted by reenum on Jul 26, 2011 - 47 comments

Irish stew. Papal hide the pickle.

Irish PM condemns Vatican interference in sex abuse cases. Enda Kenny, the new Taoiseach of Ireland, has scathingly criticized the Vatican, citing the Cloyne Report and a recently-leaked Vatican letter intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public, despite their public policy of reporting all abuse claims to the authorities. (Similar claims of the Vatican not reporting recent child abuse cases have also been made in the US.) Ireland's Minister for Justice has cited an extensive list of The Church's failures to comply with their policies, and is supporting legislation to make it a crime not to report child abuse claims. The Vatican's envoy was asked to report to Parliament and explain The Church's position on this matter quickly, with the implied threat that they might be forced to testify. Today, the Church, citing "surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions" has recalled their envoy. "(This) should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) Government."
posted by markkraft on Jul 25, 2011 - 297 comments

Rick Perry's Army of God

"If they simply professed unusual beliefs, movement leaders wouldn’t be remarkable. But what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take 'dominion' over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the 'Seven Mountains' of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an 'army of God' to commandeer civilian government. In Rick Perry, they may have found their vessel. And the interest appears to be mutual." Previously. Via.
posted by brundlefly on Jul 14, 2011 - 136 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

Debate in Toronto over presence of religion (and sexism?) in public schools

Debate in Toronto over presence of religion (and sexism?) in public schools Toronto's Valley Park Middle School exposes flaws of religious accommodation? A photo from the Toronto Star of Muslim Middle school student's praying during school sets off Canadian news journalists and religous groups. [more inside]
posted by devonia on Jul 11, 2011 - 121 comments

WARNING: Please check in with a heterosexual “accountability buddy” before reading this article

How I Went Undercover at Bachmann's Clinic: Truth Wins Out (or TWO) activist John Becker took a hidden camera with him to five therapy sessions at a Christian counseling center run by Marcus Bachmann. Meanwhile, QUEERTY debates whether making fun of Mr. Bachmann's own decidedly "gay-sounding" voice (and theoretical repressed-gay tendencies) is fair game, or whether it counts as homophobic bullying.
posted by hermitosis on Jul 11, 2011 - 137 comments

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