Barry Spurr, an expert on T. S. Eliot and the Virgin Mary, is Australia's first Professor of Poetry and Poetics. Appointed as one of two English subject specialists to the new Australian Review of the National Curriculum PDF, his concerns that "the Western literary canon" has been neglected and "the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia" overemphasized in the existing curriculum are quoted liberally in the final report, which recommends that: "There ... needs to be a greater emphasis on dealing with and introducing literature from the Western literary canon, especially poetry," in Australian schools. The report has met with approval in the right-wing Australian press. Now, emails leaked to the New Matilda show that Spurr has spent the past several years sending messages from his University of Sydney email account referring to Native Australians as "Abos" and human "rubbish" and Asians as "chinky poos," calling Nelson Mandela a "darkie," Desmond Tutu a "witch doctor," and his own Vice Chancellor "an appalling minx," comparing Methodists to "serpents," and referring to women generally as "whores." Now, in the wake of the New Matilda exposé, the University of Sydney is investigating the emails and the Australian Education Minister is denying that the Abbott administration had anything to do with Spurr's appointment. Spurr, meanwhile, maintains that the emails were nothing more than "a whimsical linguistic game" and "repartee" shared with friends, which went right over the heads of the New Matilda journalists. There is also a petition to dismiss Spurr from the Review Commission.
Amparo "Amparin" Serrano turned the much-revered Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, into its Hello Kitty. In the early 2000s, Amparin drew a cute cartoon version of the Virgin and asked for protection, an inexpensive cell phone, and removal of her cellulite (Google auto-translate; original Spanish article), and it went from there (auto-translation; original page). Now, Serrano and her Distroller company have teamed up with Walmart and other large chain stores, and the brand has also expanded into the US.
Suspended in Void - a lovely collection of Italian ex votos depicting people who survived falls under the watchful eye of the Virgin Mary. Previously: a larger collection of ex votos from various cultures. (Via Heading East)
Some 10,000 people descended on the Knock Shrine a few months ago to see a Marian Apparition, promised by "clairvoyant" Joe Coleman to appear in the sun. Mary Kenny of the Irish Independent asks "What harm if people derive comfort from what they believe to be a spiritual experience?" while an Irish opthalmic surgeon now reports that he has treated no fewer than five people already, claiming it "monstrous" to mislead people into thinking that altered vision and effects, such as seeing the sun dance, were a religious apparition when they were classic symptoms of solar retinopathy. [more inside]
Sold, for 28,000! Remember that Virgin Mary in the Grilled Cheese? Well, an online casino bought the famed sandwich on e-bay for $28,000 and now you too, can put a face on a grilled cheese sandwich. Blessed Virgin Elmo, perhaps?
Virgin Mary lurks in Boston hospital. Or something.
Tonight, the BBC took the controversial decision to screen a documentary which investigated the plausability of the life of The Virgin Mary as it appears in The Bible. As someone who's spiritual without commiting to any one religion, it was a fascinating look at a people and a time. But I can understand why Christians would be offended, especially since the programme suggested that Mary (or Miriam) wasn't a virgin at all, that she was a 'mother bringing up a wayward son under difficult circumstances'. Was this the kind of programme which should be shown at Christmas time?
There's Something About Mary. Miracles fascinate me, especially stories of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fatima, Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Medjugorje--the list is extensive and ever-growing. Skeptics scoff, agnostics ponder and various scientific theories are propounded.