Religion, Lately: Pagan Prides, Occupy Judaism, Atheist Missionaries, and Evangelical Apathy

pagan prideBy Kenny Smith

With the Autumn equinox behind us, Wiccan and Pagan communities look to Pagan Pride. In Pennsylvania, a distinctive approach features crystals, pre-Christian deities, and “a cauldron in which to boil children,” poking fun at popular misconceptions. Similar efforts, sans cauldrons, are ongoing in communities across the U.S.“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” newest cast-member, Carlton Gebbia, comes out of the broom closet, discussing publicly her practice of Wicca.

Although no one disagrees that Aaron Alexis was the gunman at our most recent mass-shooting, Buddhist voices staunchly insist that “he was no Buddhist.” How do we determine who the real Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, etc., are, anyway?  On a similar note, a Columbia University professor (and practicing Sikh) who studies religious hate crimes was severely beaten by a “swarming” crowd yelling, “get Osama!” Apparently, most Americans misidentify Sikhs as Muslims.

What happens when we blend Occupy Movements and Judaisms (Orthodox and otherwise)? All sorts of fascinating religious/economic/political developments! For a detailed sense of how this came to be, see Joshua Stephens’ account for Truthout.

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“Religion is broken,” one writer tells us, but online multi-player games point the way: to experience “urgent optimism, tight social fabric, blissful productivity, epic meaning,”and “virtuality” you can believe in, click here. The forthcoming book, Dues in Machine (“God In The Machine”), explores the relationship between religion and technology, from the advent of mechanical clocks in medieval Christian Europe to hourly meditation apps and Islamic debates over organ transplant.

Debuting in London this past January, missionaries from the so-called Atheist Mega-Church bring the good news to twenty-two cities in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and the United States over the ensuing weeks. Bill Maher argues that, like gay marriage, atheism is on the path to widespread public acceptance, and may someday be acceptable even for those running for public office.

About fifty percent of the time,  American parents successfully pass down their own religious choices to their children, rates that have not changed since 1970, and that apply equally to “nones.” Richard Dawkins gives humankind approximately the same odds of surviving the terrors of the 20th century, most especially religious extremists armed with WMDs: 50/50.

Increased percentages of self-identified evangelical Christians, one study suggests, are “loosing interest” in the question of gay marriage (with some 24% in favor of civil unions), and “retreating from the culture wars” generally.

Filed Under: Around the WebFeaturedKenny Smith

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