Religion Lately: Jedi Saints, Oprah as Anti-Christ Enabler, a Scientology Musical? & Hindu-Pagan Dialogue
By Kenny Smith
Recent Star Wars artwork may well resonate with new religious movements that understand and live Star Wars mythology as spiritual truth. Thank you St.Vader?
In a recent CNN interview, Bill Maher explains his own philosophy of “Apatheism,” which blends religious apathy and atheism: “I don’t know what happens when you die and I don’t care.” In another instance of blending, the idea of UFOs as extraterrestrial spacecraft seems to have been explicitly combined with the new religious movement known as ECKANKAR (“The Light and Sound of God”).
After vandalism to a local church implicated The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or FSM, whose members are often known as Pastafarians), local FSM members raised $2,600 to repair the damage.
Dudeists, that is, members of the Church of the Latter-Day Dude, a new religious movement based upon the 1990s Coen Brothers film, The Big Lebowski¸ are celebrating the 10th annual Lebowski Fest this month. Are you a Dudeist who wants to spread the good news? Try out for the documentary film currently in the works.
A number of commentators have reported that Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer (yes, IHOP), claimed that Oprah Winfrey is the Anti-Christ. Technically, though, Bickle said that Winfrey was one of the chief pastors of the “Harlot Babylon,” who was paving the way for the Anti-Christ by creating a world-wide religion characterized by tolerance, compassion, humanitarianism, and of course demon-worship.
Some corporate leadership experts (and a new Harvard study) recommend that CEOs and supervisors embrace “New Age” management philosophies, emphasizing “letting go,” “imagination,” “smiling and appreciating employees,” and “long vacations.”
A new book by Christian Bible scholars decides it: the damned will not be eternally tortured, but simply annihilated once and for all. Plan accordingly. Hundreds of Christians gathered at the Wild Goose festival in North Carolina to celebrate liberal, progressive, and (as they see it) intensely Christian values, e.g., social justice, tolerance, acceptance of different lifestyles, and the arts.
Also in North Carolina, still other Christians gathered to craft two-faced “Salvation Sally” dolls (the “before conversion” side is frowning, the “after conversion” side smiles happily) for poor and starving 3rd world children.
The site at which Jesus of Nazareth is believed to have been baptized is now open daily to tourists and pilgrims, and may well be fully cleared of land mines.
Some conservative Christians worry about “what comes next” after Harry Potter, recreational demon possession?
In an effort to counter criticism regarding its investigation/harassment (you decide) of former Scientologist Marty Rathbun, Scientology “Squirrel Busters” (i.e., members devoted to debunking apostates publicly criticizing the church) argue that they are merely making a documentary film, and perhaps even a musical, starring (of course) former member Marty Rathbun.
For a particularly joyous form of Orthodox Judaism, check out the Na Nachs, who drive their party-busses around city streets, offer pounding techno-music, ecstatic dance, drum-playing, and shofar-blowing, turning public spaces into spiritual party-spaces, all the while helping to bring about the arrival of the Messiah.
A day in the life of a Pagan general-goods store serving Wiccans, Druids, secularists, and even Christians, that is, when they’ll come inside.
One North American Pagan writes about the challenges of “coming out of the broom closet.”
Still struggling financially? Try the “Money Voodoo Doll,” enchantments not included.
American Hindus consider what they have in common with Pagan communities, religiously and socially, and the need of both communities to work together.