A women's prayer group was expelled from the area of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Wednesday for wearing tallitot and reading from the Torah, in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that restricts these activities to men in the area directly in front of the wall. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the majority of non-Orthodox rabbinical students are female, with the Reform movement being the most female-dominated, leaving some communities struggling to revitalize men's participation in the religion.
On Thursday, the 12th of November, Karen Armstrong (previously & previously) unveiled her Charter for Compassion. The charter is the product of her Feb 2008 TED prize wish to “restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.” The project began with a “unique web-based decision making platform”, allowing “thousands of people from over 100 countries added their voice to the writing of the Charter.” These contributions were then given to the Council of Conscience for the construction of the final charter. Previous attempts at the promotion of a "global ethic" grounded in the Golden Rule have been largely, globally, ignored. Some people dislike the idea of blurring the differences between religions, some have problems with the Golden Rule itself. [more inside]
Does John of God really heal the sick? Or is it just carnival tricks? John of God aka João Teixeira de Faria is a farmer who has been healing people close to his ranch in Brazil for close to 50 years by chanelling the energy of medical spirits. Sometimes he uses visible surgery and sometimes he uses invisible surgery.
Tim Nicholson, a UK former executive, believes he was fired for his environmental views. He has sued his former employer for discrimination on grounds of the Employment Equality act, which states that employees may not be discriminated against for religious or philosophical beliefs. His former employers argue that his views were political, and thus do not fall under the act. [more inside]
Deconversion 2.0. A series of Youtube videos detailing the author's separation from his faith. His diction, with...pauses, is a little odd to get used to but worth getting around.
The Thirty Years War is a website covers that ginormous kerfuffle that consumed Europe in the first half of the 17th Century from the Second Defenestration of Prague to the Peace of Westphalia. It has a handy map with a place locator which will help you tell your Schweidnitz from your Schweinfurt. Here are some other maps, The Religious Situation in Central Europe about 1618, Principal Seats of War, 1618-1660 and Europe in 1648 - Peace of Westphalia.
The Vatican announced today that it would create a new structure that would allow former Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church while preserving elements of Anglican spirituality and liturgy. [more inside]
"For 35 years, I attended the same religion. When I left, I realized I didn't know the first thing about what other faiths believe. So I decided to find out the only way I know how: Go ask. For 52 weeks, I'm setting out to visit 52 different religions. Christian to Muslim, Buddhist to atheist, I'm going to attend their services, discuss faith with their leaders, and bring it all back to you." (via)
Welcome to the charming world of Vissarion: the Siberian, vegan, reincarnation of Christ, who also happens to be a Polygamist. When he lost his job as a traffic cop in 1991, Sergei Torop changed his name to Vissarion and began spreading his message about how to attain moral perfection, drive out negative energy, and survive the coming Apocalypse. Today the Community of Vassarion in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia numbers around 10,000, while a further 50,000 follow his teachings in the world beyond. [more inside]
The airing of the upcoming PBS documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, will bring new attention to a protest event against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that raised important questions about free speech, the rights of student athletes, and the state of the Civil Rights Movement in the Mormon Church. On October 17, 1969, 14 football players at the University of Wyoming were suspended for threatening to wear black armbands onto the field in an upcoming game against Brigham Young University. The squad members, who were known as the "Black 14," were protesting the the Mormon Church's exclusion of people of African descent from the priesthood. [more inside]
Poet Robert Pinsky presents an appreciation (and reading) of the most famous section of Christopher Smart's "Jubilate Agno" (1759-1763) -- the (epic) fragment devoted to the spiritual consideration of the institutionalized Smart's sole constant companion for the years of his confinement: Jeoffry (his cat). [more inside]
"This may truly be the most important new painting of the twenty first century." The McNaughton Fine Art Company presents "One Nation Under God" [cache], an... interesting take on American history in a nifty zoom interface. Artist John McNaughton, who calls himself "the only living artist in the world today" to practice the Barbizon School of French Impressionism, has an extensive body of less opinionated work for you to admire. Interview. Character list.
The Conservative Bible Project. Rod Dreher of Belief.net offers further analysis of a budding new Wiki project to rewrite the Holy Bible to eliminate what some young conservatives apparently now view as liberal bias in the scriptures (via Harpers).
Rifqa Bary, the Ohio teen who ran away from her Muslim parents because she believed they would kill her for converting to Christianity, has appeared on a weekly anti-Islam conference call hosted by the National Day of Prayer Task Force (headed by the wife of Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Lou Engle of The Call & Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council). Rifqa, who is in custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families and was not authorized to be on the call, shared some of her story and then launched into an extended passionate prayer. DCF officials are investigating how she came to be on the call.
Harvey Cox, one of the foremost American theologians of the twentieth century, recently retired from Harvard, where he held the oldest tenured professorship in the nation. You've seen him discussed here before for more bovine pursuits. But more importantly, he has argued that atheism is a passing fad; his new book contends it emerges in response to factors that will change the face of faith in the coming generation. Why should you care about an old theologian's last hurrah? His prior predictions have been right.
Utopia Britannica is a collection of stories and a gazetter about utopian communes in the British Isles from the 14th Century up until the end of World War II. There are some incredible tales in here, such as 'Free Love' in 19th Century Somerset, St. Kilda, Death of an Island Republic, Percy Bysshe Shelley's attempted communes, Augustus John, the King of Bohemia and many more.
"All of which is a long way of saying that, to construct a new church of anatomical horror and to do so out of stone, as Al-Mehdari seems to be suggesting, is a fascinating idea. " - Body Baroque
Clarence Larkin's famous Biblical Wall Charts - previously on Metafilter, but with that link defunct and this one providing excellent scans, it seems worth re-posting. Quality of parent site not guaranteed. Some highlights of Larkin's fanciful, technical illustrations of the ages of man and biblical prophecy: Rightly dividing the word of truth, The six days of re-creation, The world's seven great crises.
The Producer Cites Religious Controversy. The Director points to a recessionary trend against "serious" movies. A new film about Charles Darwin's life ("Creation") is reportedly having difficulty finding a US distributor. ( Creation: IMDB / Official Site / Trailer / Spoiler-laden review from Roger Ebert / LA Times review // Darwin: Previously on MeFi).
The Big Picture: Recent Hindu festivals and rituals. "Many Hindus throughout India recently celebrated Ganesha Chaturthi, a 10-day festival celebrating the birth of Ganesh, their supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Hinduism, the predominant religion in India, is rich with traditional festivals and rituals, celebrated in many ways and locations around the world. Collected here are a few photographs from recent Hindu festivals and of Hindu devotees worshipping and practicing ritual ceremonies in India, England, Nepal and Indonesia."
Stuff Christian Culture Likes - A preacher's daughter marries another preacher's son and offers an insider's perspective about youth leaders, tips and hawks, sexual jewelry, hot wives, drama teams, video games, Jumbotrons, coffee, graphic design, typography and more.
You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind?
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.
Do you know what the Lutherans are doing this week? The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is talking about sex at their bi-annual assembly and they decided that blessings on gay marriage and the rosterering of leaders in same-gender relationships are A OK. [more inside]
British Department of Health releases LR Hubbard Docs The British government has released documents compiled to expose Scientology's founder as a fraud. [more inside]
NSFW: Genesis, a high concept line of sex toys, one for each of the days of Creation. (via, previously)
Some late night fun with Mr. Deity- Mr. Deity Episode 1: Mr. Deity and the Evil Mr. Deity Episode 2: Mr. Deity and the Really Big Favor Mr. Deity Episode 3: Mr. Deity and The Light Mr. Deity Episode 4: Mr. Deity and the Messages
Kōfuku-no-Kagaku (幸福の科学), also called Happy Science, is a relatively new religious and spiritual movement, founded in Japan in October 1986. The organization is gaining ground world-wide, with the international headquarter office in central Tokyo, 6 local temples located in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seoul and Taiwan, and an additional 37 local offices around the world. The group's leader, Master Ryuho Okawa, has is not limiting the scope of the movement to politics, and in May 2009 the Happiness Realization Party was formed, with over 300 HRP candidates running for the coming general election. To provide background on the religion and political movement, here is a little investigation of Happy Science by MeFi's own shii [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Recently, there have been a host of websites that delight in exposing the inanity and stupidity of our society. There is the granddaddy, Overheard in New York, which recounts silly conversations heard in the Big Apple, as well as a host of similar sites. There are now a variety of such websites, dedicated to different aspects of our society. [more inside]
An American Sadhu - A seeking of holiness, resulting in disillusionment and abandonment. A very good read about one man's experience meeting a guru and his disciple, and ultimately coming full circle to "you get the guru you deserve".
Linguists and Missionaries often find themselves in similar situations. The Jesus Film Project. [more inside]
"Kill them all. For God knows His own." Today is the 800th anniversary of the massacre of the inhabitants of the town of Beziers in Languedoc, in the south of France, known by the Romans as Gallia Narbonensis. Beziers was the first town to be sacked in the Albigensian Crusades to extirpate the Christian heresy of Catharism, which flourished in Languedoc. The Albigensian Crusades represented the initial application in Europe of religious warfare sanctioned by the resurgent medieval Papacy, and led directly to the institution of the Inquisition and rise of the Dominican Order.
That Lord! He's always coming up with one brilliant idea or another. Godless Comedy from The Beeb's That Mitchell and Webb Look.
Jimmy Carter leaves the Southern Baptist Church [M]y decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
Who asked for Ireland's blasphemy law? Ireland's sweeping new defamation law, passed in the Dáil on the 9th, "introduces a new crime of blasphemous libel." The creators of Father Ted want some clarification. And at their recent AGM, "...Atheist Ireland members voted to test the new law by publishing a blasphemous statement, deliberately designed to cause offence. The statement will be finalised in the coming days." Across the sea, comedian and co-author of Jerry Springer, the Opera Stewart Lee asks: "What's Wrong With Blasphemy?" [40 minute documentary] [more inside]
Marwa el-Sherbini testified in court against a neighbor who had called her a "terrorist" because she wore the hijab. As she spoke, the man she had accused walked across the courtroom and stabbed her 18 times. In the Muslim world, she is now being referred to as "the headscarf martyr." [more inside]
Does it cause hairy palms? (No, that is a myth.) Will it make you go blind? (No, though zinc deficiency can be detrimental to one's vision, and semen contains a small amount of zinc.) Are you going to hell for it? (Maybe, maybe not.) But what if it helps with conception? (well, the men doing it, anyway)
Prattville, Alabama, is home to the Cross Garden of W. C. Rice. Pour yourself a cold drink and take a tour through this Flickr gallery. Make that drink ice water, as YOU WILL DIE, YOU DO NOTHING TO GO TO HELL, and TO LATE IN HELL FIRE WATER.
Dancing plagues and mass hysteria: how distress and pious fear have led to bizarre outbreaks across the ages. [Via]
Genesis Revisited scientifically summarises the scientific field of Creation Science (warning: science) [transcript]
“They are brands that may not be considered cool by the often elitist and self-absorbed standards of New York media,” she said. She had taken a car from Manhattan that morning, and wore a pink wool shirt-dress, patent leather Manolo Blahnik heels, and diamond hoop earrings.
Reader's Digest jumps the shark. (NYT)
Reader's Digest jumps the shark. (NYT)
Biblemap.org is an interactive map system for the bible, which is great for visualising where certain biblical events are said to have occured. It's also great for people who don't subscribe to any kind of organised religion but do like looking at maps (like me!).
Open to Revisions. "Some religious entrepreneurs have adopted an 'open source' model, where rituals and doctrines can be rewritten as easily as computer code."
At 14 months, Spanish infant Osel Hita Torres was brought by his parents to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama decreed him to be the reincarnation of the recently deceased Lama Yeshe. Torres became Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche, and spent most of his life growing up in a gilded cage in the Tibetan exile capital, venerated as a living deity and isolated from the corrupting influences of the world. But then he escaped. [more inside]
Christian Privilege: Breaking a Sacred Taboo discusses the dominance of Christianity in America, including a privilege checklist, and a longer standalone list was previously linked. More writing focuses on secular college campuses. In American jurisprudence, such as in the case of Sheri Klouda, fired as a language instructor from a Baptist seminary when a new president decided she should not be teaching men, religious freedom often supersedes other rights. Moving away from the specific case of Christianity, some articles from a British secularist viewpoint criticize the special consideration given to religious views and practices. When the last article was reprinted by Kolkata newspaper The Statesman, there were riots and the editor was arrested under a law against "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings."
Graduel à l'usage de Saint-Dié digitizes a French gradual (choir music for the Mass) created in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. For more information about what's what, see the handy definitions offered by the British Library or Celebrating the Liturgy's Books. [more inside]
Chances are, if you live in a cosmopolitan urban centre, you'll have noticed how young muslimahs are growing ever more adventurous in their fashion choices. But taking the veil is no simple matter: the aspiring hijabi will need tips on how to tie her headscarf, as well as ideas on how to stay covered up and stylish all year round. Modesty is clearly no barrier to urban cool, as Elenany's see-them-want-them graphic-print dresses prove, although this year, certain trends are off limits. (previously)
Rev. George Whitefield, an 18th century preacher much admired by Benjamin Franklin, was an astonishing orator. According to a contemporary source, he "could make his audiences weep or tremble merely by varying his pronunciation of the word Mesopotamia. Garrick once said, 'I would give a hundred guineas if I could only say 'O!' like Mr. Whitefield.'"