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The Sacred and the Strange: Transvestite Nuns?

The Sacred and the Strange: Transvestite Nuns?

By Kate Daley-Bailey…..
While the term ‘hagiography’ may not appear in the average American’s day to day lexicon, this genre of religious literature, a type of spiritual biography of a Christian saint, proves to be an enduringly fascinating corpus. One such hagiography, the life of St. Mary/St. Marinos, stands out for numerous reasons. This saint’s dual names, one feminine and one masculine, might peek one’s interest. St. Mary/ Marinos’ story places her in the company of extraordinary women, a group known as the ‘transvestite nuns,’ holy women who disguised themselves as men in order to enter monasteries. Here is a very brief synopsis of her story:

The Ghost: Chicago's Most Offensive Hamburger

The Ghost: Chicago’s Most Offensive Hamburger

By Lauren Cooper, Georgia State University….Last week a friend posted a link to a rather interesting article on my Facebook wall—it was an article about a restaurant in Chicago called Kuma’s Corner that is serving a burger called The Ghost. Generally speaking, I’m not usually interested in what eateries in Chicago are serving their patrons, but this particular burger caught my attention immediately.

DIY Christian Bar Mitzvahs

DIY Christian Bar Mitzvahs

By Brandon Logan……..According to Craig Hill, “there is something on the inside of every person that longs for blessing from parents” and a failure to fulfill this need has led to many of the ills plaguing modern Western society (1). Hill combines this sentiment with a belief that the West is tragically deficient in rite of passage ceremonies. The result is a populace left rudderless, constantly seeking the affirmation that should have been provided to them as they transitioned into adulthood. These individuals fail to develop a sufficient amount of emotional maturity, since for those who fail to receive a “proper release into manhood or womanhood” there remains “in the heart a lingering feeling of childhood.”

Jesus’ Remains: Teaching Multiple Jesi

Jesus’ Remains: Teaching Multiple Jesi

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.

Burning Jesus, Mary, and the Prophets

Burning Jesus, Mary, and the Prophets

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,”…

House of the Virgin Mary: The Discovery at Ephesus

House of the Virgin Mary: The Discovery at Ephesus

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.

Papal Retirement: A Matter of Conscience

Papal Retirement: A Matter of Conscience

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.

Benedict to resign, first pontiff since Middle Ages to quit

Benedict to resign, first pontiff since Middle Ages to quit

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.

Are Christians taking Christ out of Christmas?

Are Christians taking Christ out of Christmas?

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

Roy Moore, Redidivus

Roy Moore, Redidivus

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post Religion…..
On one extreme, we meet Tea Party activists who recognize virtually no legitimate role for centralized federal government (apart from the Pentagon and the definition of marriage); de-regulation, states’ rights, and local control of government institutions is their mantra. On the other, slightly more fictional extreme, we meet French-style statists who think the vast majority of social networks are best handled in a centralized and top-down manner; centralization and government regulation is their rallying cry.

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.”

There is Something About Mary Magdalene, Part IV

There is Something About Mary Magdalene, Part IV

By Catherine Schmidt, Georgia State University….
Mary Magdalene, I argue, needs to be rediscovered by popular culture. She needs to no longer carry the role of prostitute and be rediscovered as the apostle of the apostles: first to witness and announce the resurrection.[14] She must be rediscovered in order to be wiped clean of the ancient “mud-slinging job” and “smear campaign.” For over fourteen hundred years she has been portrayed in legend, art, sermons, novels, theater, film, music videos, musicals, and comic books as something that she was not. Mary needs to be seen as equal to the other apostles. Women need to be seen as equal to men. If popular culture depicts Mary not as a whore, but as what she really was—apostle of the apostles—society will be one step closer to equality and gender pluralism

A Brave New Book: Kelly J. Baker’s Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930

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