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HDS Scholar Announces Existence of a New Early Christian Gospel from Egypt

HDS Scholar Announces Existence of a New Early Christian Gospel from Egypt

By B. D. Colen, Harvard News Office….
Four words on a previously unknown papyrus fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, Harvard Professor Karen King told the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies today. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, announced the existence of the ancient text at the Congress’s meeting, held every four years and hosted this year by the Vatican’s Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome. The four words that appear on the fragment translate to, “Jesus said to them, my wife.”

Pledging Virginity to Dad: A New Doc Explores the World of ‘Purity Balls’

Pledging Virginity to Dad: A New Doc Explores the World of ‘Purity Balls’

By Jessica Valenti, Religion Dispatches….
As I watched Virgin Tales, a Swiss documentary about purity balls—dances where young girls pledge their virginities to their dads—I thought of my father often. Because the most compelling focus of the film wasn’t the events themselves, but the way in which one family’s dynamic can reveal so much about American culture and politics.
Filmmaker Mirjam von Arx follows the Colorado Springs-based Wilson family whose patriarch, Randy, invented purity balls. Von Arx focuses on one daughter in particular, Jordyn. (The Wilsons have five daughter and two sons.) Jordyn is college-aged but not in college. “I want to be a wife and a mother,” she says, “I would hate to go off and spend thousands of dollars on an education that I wouldn’t use.”

Commands of the Blood

Commands of the Blood

Often referred to as Hitler’s theoretician or Hitler’s philosopher, Alfred Rosenberg codified much of the anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-Communist rhetoric which Hitler used to legitimize his political agenda. Rosenberg’s most significant text, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual Confrontations of our Age, was revered, at least superficially, by the Reich as second only to Mein Kampf as embodying the mythical and ideological frame for Hitler’s Germany. According to Rosenberg, for races around the world, blood was fate. Physical, intellectual, and spiritual characteristics were the products of blood. According to Rosenberg, there was no redemption for the ‘lesser’ races… their blood made them the natural enemies of the Aryan Volk… their blood had sealed their fate.

The Donation of Constantine

The Donation of Constantine

By Mark L. Movsesian, CLR Forum ….
The Donation was a purportedly an imperial decree, signed by the Emperor Constantine, granting the entirety of the Western Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester I and his successors. Constantine supposedly made this gift ingratitude for Sylvester’s actions in miraculously curing him of leprosy and baptizing him in the Christian faith. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Donation was taken as authentic, and it played a major role in justifying papal assertions during the investiture crisis that Harold Berman famously described in Law and Revolution. By the Renaissance, however, scholars within the Church had begun to have doubts.

What Should the Vatican Say to the (Last Generation of) Nuns?

What Should the Vatican Say to the (Last Generation of) Nuns?

By Peter Manseau, Religion Dispatches….
I grew up around nuns. My mother had left the convent five years before I was born, but all through my childhood our home was often visited by her “convent buddies,” a dozen or so women who had formed enduring friendships as novices or professed sisters of the Roman Catholic religious orders they had joined as teenagers. Daughters of immigrants from Irish and Italian enclaves, many of them had become sisters for reasons not just of faith, but of education and opportunity. The convent to them had been an unlikely part of the American dream.

By the time I met them, some of these women had left religious life, having shed their habits in the late 1960s, as my mother had, as if to feel more of the breeze blowing after Vatican II famously “opened the windows of the Church.”

Coming Out As a Heretic

Coming Out As a Heretic

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.

“You Can’t Reason with a Crazy Person”: The Un-politics of American political discourse

“You Can’t Reason with a Crazy Person”: The Un-politics of American political discourse

By James Dennis LoRusso, Religion Bulletin….
Were you to travel one segment of the Eisenhower Expressway in Illinois this morning, you might discover a curious billboard. The display features a mugshot of Ted Kaczynski, the self-confessed “Unabomber,” coupled with the question, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?” The new billboard campaign lining various commuter routes is the latest initiative of the Chicago-based conservative think tank, the Heartland Foundation, to call into question prevailing scientific consensus around climate change.

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN Belief Blog….
You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation. And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

We Are All Nuns

We Are All Nuns

By Mary E. Hunt, Religion Dispatches….
When it comes to the Vatican’s crackdown on women religious, I believe it’s time to declare that for the purpose of this struggle:we are all nuns. If you can spell Catholic, you are probably asking: how dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world? How dare the very men who preside over a Church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious? While this story is focused on nuns, it doesn’t stop there.

NASA, the Mayan Apocalypse, and the Study of Non-Events

NASA, the Mayan Apocalypse, and the Study of Non-Events

By Matt Sheedy, Religion Bulletin….
A recent article posted on the Scientific American website entitled, “NASA Crushes 2012 Mayan Apocalypse Claims,” provides a good example of what is wrong with common secular approaches to religion in the public sphere. The article features a three-minute video put out by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where spokesperson Don Yeoman discusses “false claims about the Mayan apocalypse,” including fears that we will fall prey to solar flares, tidal effects or, even more fantastically, that the “imaginary planet Nibiru, will collide with earth,” a premise that, he notes with a chuckle, is impossible, for if it were true “we would have seen it long ago.”

Good Friday Christianity

Good Friday Christianity

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post….
The consensus view is that Paul’s letters were written in the mid-to late 50s, whereas Mark’s Gospel was written right around 70 C.E., after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by centurions very much like the one he describes observing Jesus’s death. Some important implications of this dating are the following. It could be the case that Mark was responding directly to Paul’s claims in this letter. It could be the case that he had never heard Paul speak, nor ever read this letter. It could be the case that Mark was responding to the kind of beliefs articulated by Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, whether Paul was the original author of such views or simply one especially vocal proponent of them.

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Religion Dispatches….
On November 2, 1984, Velma Barfield became the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1962, and the first to be executed in the State of North Carolina after the nationwide moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976. She was 52 years old. For those of us who had worked on her clemency petition, it was a devastating blow. Then-Governor Jim Hunt was running for a seat in the US Senate against arch-conservative Jesse Helms. Inexplicably, Barfield’s clemency hearing had been scheduled just six days prior to the election. Helms made it a campaign issue, of course, suggesting that, were the Governor to grant Barfield clemency, then his true liberal stripes would be clear to everyone.

Religion Lately: Jedi Training Camps and Marian Visions in Texas, Gay-ing Dead Mormons, & St. Valentine was a Pagan Too?

Religion Lately: Jedi Training Camps and Marian Visions in Texas, Gay-ing Dead Mormons, & St. Valentine was a Pagan Too?

By Kenny Smith, Emory University….
In Austin, Texas, yet another “Jedi Camp” offers training for youngsters. In San Francisco, adult Jedi demonstrate advanced light-saber fighting skills. Exactly how much Jedi-based social production does it take to constitute a “religious movement,” anyway?
Down the road in Houston, neighbors continue to bring devotional offerings to an oak tree in one man’s yard, in which they claim to see the Virgin Mary. Fortunately, said resident has no plans to take the tree down and violate their religious freedom to come onto his property.

Mourning John Hick: One of the Greatest Theologians of Our Time

Mourning John Hick: One of the Greatest Theologians of Our Time

By Joe Winkler, Huff Post….
With a deep sadness in my heart, I write of the recently deceased Christian theologian John Hick. I feel utterly unqualified to provide a proper eulogy, or even the requisite encomium for one of the 20th centuries most important religious thinkers. Given his impact on my religious personality and thought I can only express my immense gratitude towards this insightful thinker. Hick, in his books, interviews, articles and essays, not only clarified numerous theological issues including pluralism, eschatology and the truth of scripture, all in the light of modern thinking, but just the way he thought, his methodology: infused with generosity, reason, and a fullness of spirit continues to serve as a model.