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.
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.
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.
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.”
Sky News…..Some 3,500 identically-dressed couples from 70 countries have tied the knot in a so-called “Moonie” mass wedding in South Korea. The couples were members of the Unification Church and many were of mixed nationality who had met just days earlier and did not speak the same language. The wedding was the first since their “messiah” and controversial church founder Sun Myung Moon died five months ago aged 92, of complications from pneumonia.
By Manesh Shrestha, for CNN…..A Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a famous Buddhist shrine in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, police said, becoming the latest Tibetan to adopt this harrowing form of protest over Chinese rule. The man, believed to be in his early 20s, came out of a nearby restaurant doused in petrol and set himself alight in front of the revered Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, said Keshav Adhikari, a police spokesman. “The whole of his body is burnt,” Adhikari said, adding that the Tibetan was not able to communicate when he was taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities are still trying to identify the man.
The unexpected announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a welcome breath of fresh air. A human being, even a pope, ought to have the option to say enough is enough, I have done what I can do, and now it is time for someone else to take over. I applaud his move and read it as a sign of hope in a dreary ecclesial scene….Conscience, Benedict reminds us today, is still primary for Catholics. Examination of conscience: that is just the formula millions of us use to explain why we use birth control, enjoy our sexuality in a variety of ways, and see enormous good in other religious traditions. Conscience is the ultimate arbiter, and the Pope relied on his. Good on him, and good on the rest of us.
Reuters) – Pope Benedict, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, said on Monday he will resign on Feb 28. because he no longer has the strength to fulfill the duties of his office, becoming the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to take such a step.
The 85-year-old German-born Pope, hailed as a hero by conservative Catholics and viewed with suspicion by liberals, said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months.
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Reuters….
People with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group in a new study of the size of the world’s faiths, placing after Christians and Muslims and just before Hindus. The study, based on extensive data for the year 2010, also showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths mostly likely to expand in the future while Jews have the weakest growth prospects.