is what might have resulted if L. Ron Hubbard took so much ketamine he time-phased into 1882. The product of an automatic-writing ex-prospector dentist
, the 900-page tome includes submerged continents
, bizarre dictionaries
, and plenty
of space travel
. [more inside]
Bull-Killer, Sun Lord.
"Foreign religions grew rapidly in the 1st-century A.D. Roman Empire, including worship of Jesus Christ, the Egyptian goddess Isis, and an eastern sun god, Mithras
With the passing of Executive Order 13505, Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells
, in 2009 President Obama expanded federal funding and rescinded George W. Bush's policies
that eliminated most federal funding and restricted human embryonic stem cell
research to the use of existing, contaminated cell lines. On Monday, federal judge Royce C. Lamberth blocked this new order after protestations
from James L. Sherley, a former scientist with the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, who operates the Ave Maria Biotechnology Company
, which aims to do "pro-life" therapeutic research without the "taint of embryonic or electively aborted fetal materials". [more inside]
on Christopher Hitchens, illness, medicine, religion, and death. [via] [more inside]
"On September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked 'What God do you pray to?' 'What beliefs do you hold?'"
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has
the planned Cordoba Initiative
Islamic Community Center and Mosque to be built near Ground Zero against critics
. Yesterday, after the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted
the demolition of a building that would be replaced by the center, Mr. Bloomberg gave a speech
on Governor's Island (the location seems to have been deliberately chosen)
in which he eloquently defended religious freedom.
) (Previously on MeFi)
"Supposedly the still life
came to the fore when religion and the state
became replaced by the middle class. Do you know when that was. The world began to be run by people who just wanted a lot of shit.
And would go anywhere to get it. The Dutch who invented our own dear New York and this is why it is this way
—full of people who want stuff
—they were the stars of this moment
, collecting shit from around the world and putting big piles of it on shelves, in boats, taking it somewhere else. And making paintings of it. And really this moment never ended.
They would paint marketplaces, and the thing that's funny is that if you were a painter and you weren't being paid to paint someone rich you would just probably paint some stuff and sell it in the market and so the place where all this was happening of course got painted too—it's dizzying
." (via dd
The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking religious extremism
for several decades, including anti-Islamic violence in the United States after 9/11. Nonetheless, the organization joined right-wing opposition
earlier this week to the construction of Cordoba House
, a 13-story Muslim community center and mosque that may be built two blocks away from the site of the former World Trade Center. The ADL's alignment with calls for "refudiation"
by Republican celebrities Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, along with other members of the GOP who are ramping up
angry sentiments in voters during an election year, have puzzled and angered religious, political and cultural figures of various stripes, particularly within New York City itself. [more inside]
“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety among religious traditionalists that when you take one step toward egalitarianism, the floodgates are open and everything that seemed self-evident will no longer be. Men go to work, and women raise children. If you undermine that, you have lost your whole universe.”
The Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism have been ordaining women as rabbis for decades, but the religion's most traditional sect, the Orthodox, remains a lone, minority holdout against egalitarianism. Last year, Orthodox Rabbi Avraham "Avi" Weiss (political activist
and founder of the controversial
, liberal, "Open Orthodox" Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
Yeshiva in New York) tried to shake things up by ordaining the first female American Orthodox rabbi
. [more inside]
The Thinking Atheist
Another atheism site on the internet, featuring a handy list of bible contradictions
, a forum
, etc. Most notably, they feature a series of slickly produced videos
on various religious topics. [more inside]
The Willard Memorial Chapel
is all that remains of the original Auburn Theological Seminary. [more inside]
The rise of a new generation of Mormons
] - Many of the most successful US professionals are also members of the world's youngest major religion, which is being embraced by the elite in spite of its reputation.
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]
John Milbank and Katherine Pickstock are interviewed about Radical Orthodoxy [more inside]
Animals as spiritual, and the role of animals in spirituality. "Some religious leaders welcome pets to worship services, memorialize them at death and discuss them as spiritual beings without distinction from humanity"
... "Factory farming, green living among topics sparking discussion." [more inside]
Pope Benedict XVI has announced
the establishment of a new Vatican department
dedicated to tackling what he called 'a grave crisis in the sense of the Christian faith and the role of the Church." The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelisation will (per Archbishop Vincent Nichols,
) focus on countries "in which, even though the Christian Gospel has shaped an entire culture,"
secularism now reigns, in what the Pope termed an "eclipse of a sense of God." [more inside]
Given it is Sunday, feel free to get your Jesus
on with The Mighty Clouds of Joy
. Somebody say Amen.
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]
In the late 1950s, psychologist Milton Rokeach was gripped by an eccentric plan. He gathered three psychiatric patients, each with the delusion that they were Jesus Christ, to live together for two years in Ypsilanti State Hospital to see if their beliefs would change.
Vaughan Bell tells the story
of one of the weirdest experiments in the history of psychology. (via
The man who made philosophy safe for theists again
The conference in celebration of his impressive academic career is in progress on the campus of Notre Dame University and has brought together many important figures
in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. Many of Plantinga's seminal works
are available in their entirety online.
The Inglehart Values Map
, based on the World Values Survey, visualizes the strong correlation of values in different cultures. Countries are clustered in a remarkably predictable way, with great cultural continuity across the English-speaking world.
A Saint for Lost Souls.
"The barrio of Tepito, where it's said that everything is for sale except dignity, has been one of Mexico City's roughest neighborhoods since Aztec times. Famous for its black market and its boxing champions, Tepito
is a place where residents learn to fight early and fight hard. These days it has also become the epicenter of Mexico's fastest-growing faith
: Santa Muerte
, or Holy Death
, a hybrid religion
that merges Catholic symbolism with pre-Hispanic worship of the skeletal Mictlantecuhtli
, Lord and Lady of the Dead."
The new focus on the Liberal Democrats sees the Daily Telegraph's Cristina Odone profiling Dr Evan Harris.
That's "profiling" in the sense that the FBI might profile a criminal. A criminal the papers are calling Dr Death. [more inside]
In 2009, four Buddhist nuns (Bhikkunis) were secretly ordained
in Australia - the first ever ordination of Bhikkunis in Australia, and a first for the Thai Forest
tradition anywhere. London-born Ajahn Brahm
, a long-time supporter
of women's equality in Buddhism, facilitated the ordination. For this he was expelled
from his community, the Wat Pa Phong Sangha
, and his monastery's status was revoked
. This video
summarizes the conflict, and is possibly the first use of the Downfall meme related to Buddhism. This March, more nuns were ordained
in the UK for the first time since the Australia controversy, but they're still not equal
to male monks. This blog post
discusses sexism, fundamentalism, and the conflict between East and West. The modern opposition to bhikkhuni ordination is no ancient Buddhist tradition. It can be traced no earlier, so far as I am aware, than the abhorrent 1928 ruling against bhikkhuni in Thailand, made by monks who thought it reasonable to arrest nuns and throw them in jail for ordaining. [more inside]
Recent troubles with Muslim women's clothes
have lead to the Quebec Government to begin proposing legislation on the issue of face covering and access to public services
. The niqab has become a central symbol in the anti-muslim rhetoric of nationalist parties in Europe (political poster examples: France
, and Britain
) about the threat Islam poses to tolerant secular societies. [more inside]
Affirmed evolution (and anti-intelligent design) biologist Francisco Ayala has won
the 2010 Templeton Prize
. In 1981, Ayala was a pivotal expert in overturning an Arkansas law
that required the side-by-side teaching of creationism
and evolution. Besides his nationally recognized work in evolution and genetics
, the former Catholic priest has sought to reconcile evolution with religious belief
, noting that science and religion are not mutually exclusive. [more inside]
Is Facebook chametz?
An interview with two rabbis about their Facebook group
, encouraging Jews to consider giving up Facebook for Passover next week
. While the word "chametz"
strictly refers only to leavened bread, which is prohibited during Passover, the group is inspired by a Chassidic interpretation that connects the leavening of bread to an "over-inflated sense of self."
Women were not allowed to speak
at a meeting held to determine the fate of suspended principal John Hartwig of St. John’s Lutheran School
in Baraboo, WI. While women are normally not allowed to vote at such meetings, this is the first time in recent history that the St. John’s Council President exercised his authority to keep females from even speaking. Women who wanted to ask questions were told to write them on a piece of paper and have a man read them aloud. Hartwig was suspended for distributing a document questioning Lutheran doctrine that says that women should not hold authority over men.
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
). [more inside]
Over the last few days, a fair bit of attention on the web has been focused on Repent Amarillo MySpace YouTube
, an organization dedicated to converting Amarillo, TX to the organization's particular brand of Christianity. Their tactics include "Spiritual Warfare" and witnessing
, but also appear to involve harassing people who they believe to be sinners
. They've even got a map of sinful places in Amarillo
, including gay bars, Masonic lodges, rival churches, and other religions' places of worship. But not everybody is all that amused; blogs
have started springing up in response.
I am writing to you to inform you of an important change to our group health care benefit plan that will take effect on March 2, 2010 due to a change in the law of the District of Columbia. [more inside]
- like Yelp
!, but for churches.
Ilkka Pyysiäinen and Marc Hauser have a new paper in the journal "Trends in Cognitive Sciences". The origins of religion : evolved adaptation or by-product?
) [more inside]
Daily life of the jihadis:
rants, the usual aggressive posturing, murderous threats, and dreams of paradise. Also, problems with frying eggs.
An excellent response to Pat Robertson.
"This Vodou priest is not speaking about divine retribution, as has Pat Robertson. God is not punishing us for disobedience. Erol is speaking about a giant natural rebalancing act, a reaction against human dealings with the ecosystem."