Religion Lately: Extraterrestrial Christs and Jedi Blues, Salem Witches Counter Tebow-Magic, Domestic-Violence Video Games

By Kenny Smith, Emory University

Explore artistic renditions of Christ-figures blended with the extraterrestrial, technological, and trans-human.  Star Visitor theology, anyone?  A journalist ponders the odds of extraterrestrial encounters, arguing that UFO-based religions require as much faith as any other.  

Rev. Ed Young’s “24-hour live streaming online bed-in,” in which he and his wife discussed healthy Christian marriage and sex, ended in a minor eye injury.  With Young’s recent “sexperiment,” Marc Driscol’s new book about Christian sex, and a thriving Christian sex toy industry, some believe that Evangelicals have become overly preoccupied with the topic. 

Complaining that America has become a place where “school children are prohibited from wishing our troops Merry Christmas,” Rick Perry has called for a “next great awakening” making America “that shinning city of a hill” and sweeping away the social/political hegemony of secularists and liberals.  

For Muslim American Republicans, Ron Paul’s libertarian commitments make him the candidate of choice.   Among the next generation of American Muslims, religious careers (e.g., as imams) are emerging as a popular option.  

A day in the life of a lazy Jedi

Dudeism, “the slowest growing religion in the world,” boasts some 150,000 ministers worldwide. But one would-be Dudeist wonders “if a woman can really crack the Dudeist way. While I’ve met plenty of Dude-ish men over the years, many women, it seems, have trouble slacking off.” Indeed, this is a point Dudeists have pondered for some time now. 

In preparation for the NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos, a group of self-identified witches in Salem, MA gathered to “raise energy” and help the Patriots in their battle against Tim Tebow’s Christian magic.  After the Broncos’ crushing defeat, some Christians have begun to wonder whether it’s wise to hook religious faith to sports fandom.   

In Hungary, Wiccans, Pagans, and other religious minorities, are struggling against constitutional changes that delegitimize their traditions.   In North Carolina, expansive notions of “religious freedom” that entitle Christian religious organizations to bring their literature into public schools suddenly “vanish” when a Wiccan a mom shows up with a spell-book.  

One young rapper offers a You-Tube-futation of last week’s “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus” video, 

while another offers a Muslim version.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNGqrzkFp_4

An Atheist’s defense of religion, Alain de Botton’s, Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, is critiqued as historically interesting but theologically shallow. 

If only 9% of Americans identify religion as “the most important thing in their life,” why is it so important in our politics?

An American Rabbi argues that 2012 is the year for “Occupy Religion,” since it, much like Wall Street, “does not work for enough people.”  In Israel, the question of ultra-conservative religion, the role of women, and the control of public spaces, may be reaching a crisis.

Tired of playing Angry Birds? Try Angry Brides, “a Facebook game in which you play an angry Indian wife who bludgeons her husband with frying pans and shoes,” wracking up “anti-dowry points.” Yes, it’s bizarre.

Or, to explore more fully the virtual genre of spousal abuse, check out Domestic Violence: The Video Game (which presumably teaches children not to engage in such behaviors).

In Nashville, TN, the local Church of Scientology is distributing its well-known “Way to Happiness” guide throughout the community, a book offering “21 precepts that point out that… without the survival of others, neither joy nor happiness is attainable.” Over the years, some 95 million copies have been handed out in 180 countries and 100 languages.

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