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 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.
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 Heather Abraham…..
As Christian groups continue to disagree on the “War on Christmas” issue, a recent survey by LifeWay Research, a Christian organization, may shed some light on this manufactured crisis that continues to capture so many headlines. As reported in the USA Today article, For Many, Jesus isn’t the Reason for the Season, 74% of those polled ‘”told LifeWay many of the things they enjoy this season “have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus,”‘ and only 37% reported including Jesus in their Christmas celebrations
By Joseph Laycock….
On August 30, eBay officially discontinued the sale of “metaphysical” goods and services on its online market. Spells and divination services have been available on eBay since the site’s inception in 1995. Before Thursday, eBay shoppers could select from more than 40,000 spell listings and 15,000 offers of tarot card readings. The new policy has put an entire class of online magicians, fortune-tellers and potion-brewers out of business. Some claim to be sincere practitioners while others have admitted to being frauds. Many have sought to relocate their shop to Craigslist and other parts of the online marketplace.
A Brave New Book: Kelly J. Baker’s Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930
By Kenny Smith….
Dr. Kelly J. Baker is a lecturer in Religious Studies and Americanist Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Seemingly indefatigable, she has written for numerous academic and popular publications, has two additional books and several scholarly articles currently in the works, serves an editor for the award-winning American Religious History blog, oversees panels and groups within the American Academy of Religion and American Studies Association, all the while teaching a full-load of university-level courses each semester, raising a young daughter, and encouraging aspiring graduate students at other institutions. A glance at her resume suggests a broad range of teaching and research interests: world religions in America, apocalyptic and Rapture-oriented movements, the figure of the zombie in contemporary culture, religious in/tolerance in the South Park series, and of course, the early 20th century rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and its relationship to “mainstream” American religion and culture, precisely the focus of her new book, Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
I have the perfect gospel for Glenn Beck; a Saxon retelling of the Christian gospel with Jesus as a warrior chieftain written in “song” or epic form in the early part of the 9th century CE and was supposedly used to convert the pagan Saxons, after they had been conquered and forcefully baptized by Charlemagne.
This rendering of the Jesus story is no direct translation of a canonical gospel rather it is an actual retelling of the Jesus story. As an expert on the Heliand, the title of this Saxon gospel, G. Ronald Murphy, J.S. describes the text as “a reimagining of the gospel.” Murphy writes that the Heliand’s author, whose identity is still a mystery, “rewrote and reimagined the words and the events of the gospel as if they had taken place and been spoken in his own country and time.”
By Kate Blanchard, Religion Dispatches…..
I could very much relate to the recent NPRstory about a Christian minister losing her faith. Like her, I once counted myself among the über-faithful but then “fell away” in my twenties. Despite marrying a clergyman and spending lots of time in theological school, I never made it back to the one true way. But there is a major difference in my story and this minister’s story, which is that she has embraced the name “atheist,” while I cannot bring myself to do so.
By Mark Chalifoux, Man Cave Daily…
This Friday (May 4) is the official day for Star Wars fans to celebrate the franchise in all of its glory. The reasoning, much like everything associated with Star Wars in the past 15 years, is fairly contrived. It’s likely because of a translation error of a George Lucas interview on a German TV station (“May the Force be with you” was translated into “May 4 be with you”). Regardless, it gives nerds a chance to geek-out and walk around the office saying “May the Fourth be with you!” all day. Star Wars Day has a different meaning to me, though, because I saw the dark side of fandom and obsession during a brief period in the last decade in which I was accidentally voted to the International Council of the Church of the Jedi.
By Kenny Smith….
The ancient roots of the Easter holiday as grounded in Germanic goddess-figures alternately known as Eostre or Ostara. Some have also begun to suggest that we “not forget the REAL reason for the season!,” and work to “Keep the Eostre in Easter.”
By Gregory L. Reece….An intriguing excerpt from his upcoming book: “Creatures of the Night: In Search of Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves and Demons.” The sound began down deep in his chest, rose to a growl in his throat, and then forced its way between his lips as a snarl. The coarse silver hair on his neck bristled. His ears, covered with the same silver fur, twitched. There was a burst of air from his nostrils, a snort of warning and territorial claim. The muscles in his arm began to twitch. His head snapped quickly to the left, then to the right. Thrown back against my seat by a sudden change in direction and speed, I instinctively clutched at the door handle of the mini-van, my eyes darting between the oncoming traffic and the hairy form in the driver’s seat. His reactions to the traffic were quick and aggressive – canine reactions, lupine reactions. For just a moment I was terrorized, speeding down the highway with a werewolf at the wheel.
By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Nerd…..
The article itself did not surprise me… but the comments from the website’s respondents most certainly did. What I found most intriguing was the theological language being used on this modern media site, one explaining scientifically natural weather phenomena and includes no reference to any theological agenda. Here are just a few examples: “God loves us so much and He is trying to get our attention one more time before He judges the earth. He wants us to live and not die. Wake up, people.” And, “I pray God’s protection during this difficult time. May He give us His peace, comfort, and strength. Romans 12″
By Joanna Brooks, Religion Dispatches….
Patrick Mason is the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and author of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South(Oxford University Press, 2011). He is the nation’s leading scholarly expert on anti-Mormonism. I spoke with him this morning about the controversy surrounding Mormonism at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit.