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 -
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 -
"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
God, Sex, and the Left
posted by daniel_charms
on Dec 26, 2011 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
(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 -
Teachings on Right Practice by Shunryu Suzuki, as compiled in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
, read by Peter Coyote: "Posture", "Breathing"
, "Mind Weeds"
, "The Marrow of Zen"
, "Nothing Special"
posted by Trurl
on Nov 8, 2011 -
"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
posted by timsteil
on Nov 6, 2011 -
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
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 -
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.
posted by COD
on Sep 27, 2011 -
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 -
"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 -
"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 -