Our primary focus is to inform readers about current religious issues and the religious diversity that we encounter in our daily lives. Remember one person’s absurdity is another’s religion! It is not our intention to promote any one religion or belief system nor to be disrespectful of any religious tradition. My name is Heather Abraham Sagisman and I am a religion addict or as my husband Teo calls me, the Religion Nerd. I am obsessed with religion and everything about religion. It doesn’t matter which religion, I find them all fascinating and have spent most of my life reading about religion, observing various religions in practice, and eventually attended Georgia State University for formal training in religious studies. After earning both a BA and MA in Religious Studies (comparative religion), I find that I am still hungry for more—this blog is an extension of my magnificent obsession. Professional Memberships: American Academy of Religion, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Religion News Writers Association.
By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Bulletin…..Amid all these Jesi (my highly technical term for multiple Jesuses), my hope is to drive home to my students that Jesus, much like the concepts ‘religion’ or ‘the sacred’ or even ‘human’, has become somewhat of an empty signifier, meaning so many things to so many people that invoking his name becomes a rhetorical move to claim ownership over a powerful signifier which, ironically, is no longer grounded in any particular content.
By Gary Laderman, Huff Post Religion…..Imaging Anne Frank as a “Belieber,” taking her out of her horrific and incomprehensible historical circumstances and placing her in the pop world of contemporary entertainment, especially in the fandom surrounding a mediocre teenybopper-cum-serious young adult performer, is a profanation of the worst kind to many critics. She is an icon, a heroic figure who figures so prominently and nobly in the histories and popular imagination associated with the rise of Nazis and the extermination of Jews. For Bieber to “belieb” this about Frank, to even think the thought, is both outrageous and offensive.
By MARK JUERGENSMEYER, Religion Dispatches…..Most of the suspicions point towards right-wing extremist Christian Patriot groups. They are exactly the kind of movement that might be attracted to make its mark on a liberal anti-gun crowd on what many have noted is Massachusetts’ Patriots’ Day. The 26-mile course of the marathon was meant to honor the 26 victims of the Newtown school shooting, with a different victim recognized at each mile marker.
A “Muslim Gospel,” Khalidi points out, even overflows the pages of the Qur’an: for nearly a thousand years (from the 8th-18th centuries CE), stories and sayings attributed to Isa continued to emerge in Islamic written and oral traditions. While this Jesus is Islamic in tone, a clear Biblical voice is evident. In one of the earliest of these, “Jesus said to his people,”…
By JEFFREY P. KAHN, New York Times…..Once the effects of these early brews were discovered, the value of beer (as well as wine and other fermented potions) must have become immediately apparent. With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts. Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds. But the alcohol would have had more far-ranging effects, too, reducing the strong herd instincts to maintain a rigid social structure.
By Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, Huffington Post,,,,On March 10, Hindus around the world will celebrate Shivaratri (The Night of Shiva). I share these theological reflections on the occasion of this sacred festival. For centuries, Hindus have worshiped and described God through the name and form of Shiva. The name Shiva connotes kindness, benevolence and grace. Shiva is also commonly known as Shankara, meaning one who acts unceasingly for the good of all. The many names and forms of God available in the Hindu tradition are not just expressions of India’s religious and cultural diversity.
Religion Lately: Dress Codes, Betting on the Next Pope, Demon Sweaters, and Palestinian-Only Bus Lines
By Heather Abraham…..A heads up to all thrift store shoppers—you may need to find a dry cleaner who can remove demons from slightly used clothing. According to Pat Robertson, there is a slight chance that a great find at a thrift store may be home to demonic entities. I wonder? If demons can attach themselves to clothing trough human touch, do we have to worry about demons at the manufacturing level? If so, demon removal may be a great business venture.
By Kenny Smith…..
In the case of both Jediism and Dudeism, entirely new religious traditions have been created wholesale from the cloth of popular culture. In other cases, key elements are borrowed from popular culture and grafted onto pre-existing religious traditions, resulting in equally innovative and to some degree “new” versions of these traditions, which their critics typically regard as humorous or horrifying.
By Mollie Reilly, The Huffington Post…..A measure aimed at preventing groups like Westboro Baptist Church from protesting at funerals advanced in the North Carolina state legislature Wednesday and is headed for Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) desk to be signed into law. The “Respect Our Fallen Heroes” bill, which expands on a 2006 law limiting when and where picketers can demonstrate at funerals, would require groups like Westboro to vacate the funeral area for at least two hours before and after a ceremony, and to stay at least 500 feet away during the funeral.
By KATE BLANCHARD, Religion Dispatches…..One recent scientific study draws a link between mental illness and lazy spirituality—and some atheists scorn others for not having the courage to come out and admit what they really are. “Today’s secularists must do more than mount defensive campaigns proclaiming that we can be ‘good without God,’” writes one author;
Craig Martin, Religion Bulletin…..I am growing increasingly suspicious of this idea that people come to blows or “clash” over differences in belief or faith. I am of course in full agreement with the many anti-essentialist criticisms of the “clash of civilizations” thesis: there are no monolithic civilizations, and as such there can be no monumental “clash” between them (the last chapter of Chiara Bottici’s A Philosophy of Political Myth contains a particularly good version of this criticism). But this is not what I’m angling at here. What bothers me is the very idea that people fight over “beliefs” at all, monolithic or not.
A number of new religious movements have come to see the ritual use of cannabis products as central the religious quest. The Church of the Universe, founded in Ontario, Canada in the late 1960’s, teaches that marijuana provides a vital “calming influence,” helps to focus and “direct [one’s] thoughts without interference from negative forces,” allows for an experience of communion with the natural world, and overall “makes life worth living.”
By Betsy Rothstein, Fishbowl DC…..Over the weekend, The Daily Caller‘s Editor-in-Chief and Fox News Contributor Tucker Carlson unloaded on the Wiccan community. Is Carlson not afraid of the spells they could cast on him? “I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I’m not sure of the dimensions of it, but I’m pretty sure that I’m unpopular in the witchcraft community, and I understand why,” Carlson told FishbowlDC this afternoon. “I probably was unduly harsh. As far as I know, most Wiccans are peaceful taxpayers. I’ve never been mugged by one anyway. So I apologize for hurting anyone’s feelings.”
By Heather Abraham….
Unlike the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Knock, which are held to be the locations of apparitions of Mary, Our Lady of Ephesus is a shrine connected to Mary’s physical historical presence. Pilgrims who journey to Nightingale Mountain to visit the shrine believe it to be the site of her last earthly residence, the place of her death, and, for some, the location from which she was bodily assumed into heaven.