RSSAll Entries in the "Guest Contributor" Category

No Voice for the Non-Believer? Interfaith Dialog Is Dying- The Birth of Safe Space.

No Voice for the Non-Believer? Interfaith Dialog Is Dying- The Birth of Safe Space.

By Karli Robinson-Myers, Georgia State University

For those of us that support community activism, helping those less fortunate, and especially interfaith dialog, news reports of an atheist group turned away while trying to volunteer at a Christian run soup kitchen in South Carolina last month was gut wrenching. According to the Christian Post, the Upstate Atheists group approached the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to assist with giving out food to the needy. They were upfront about being an atheist group, but they assured the church they would not wear shirts with labels to promote their organization. The church’s kitchen director, Lou Landrum, told them they were not allowed to participate because they had “ulterior motives,” says Eve Brannon, president of the Upstate Atheists.

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

By Teo Sagisman…..
This week the Turks are celebrating an age-old tradition, known as Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) in Arabic. Called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish, this tradition is both religiously and culturally important to many Turks. Kurban Bayrami is a long extended holiday, equivalent to the importance and length of the Christmas celebrations in the western world. The 4,0000 year-old story behind the Feast of the Sacrifice is common to all Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but in the modern world, only adherents to Islam commemorate it in a literal way. As the story is told in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, and the Quran, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son.

The Internet is My Religion

The Internet is My Religion

By Meredith Doster, Emory University…..In a 2011 presentation at the Personal Democracy Forum, activist Jim Gilliam presented his conversion story from fundamentalist Christianity to a new found religion: the Internet. Expertly wielding evangelical epistemology, Gilliam described a series of personal and family medical tragedies that resulted in a crisis of faith: “God had forsaken me, but the doctors hadn’t … I watched as a small bag of marrow emptied into my arm. I walked out of the hospital two weeks later, replenished with the blood of a stranger. I was determined to move on with my life, so I gave my heart to the Internet.”

How We Think About Shared Religious Spaces: Collective or Ambiguous?

How We Think About Shared Religious Spaces: Collective or Ambiguous?

By Summar Shoaib…..In a blog entry re-posted here (insert link here) on Religion Nerd, Amina Wadud discusses issues of accessibility to sacred spaces in India, expressing her surprise and disappointment at the apparent lack of encouragement or interest from members of different religious groups in visiting the sacred spaces of others. Wadud emphasizes that they are often even prohibited from doing so. However, as a student specifically focused on, to borrow from Joyce Flueckiger’sIn Amma’s Healing Room, South Asian “vernacular Islam,” Wadud’s posting recalls to mindsacred spaces in India such as saints’ shrines which encourage visitation and use from varying religious groups.

The Clergy Project - A Community for Clergy Without Faith

The Clergy Project – A Community for Clergy Without Faith

By Lauren Cooper…..For most clergy members, guiding the non-believers and doubters back into the fold is part of the job description. But where do the clergy turn when they have lost their own faith? In the age of the internet, one can find an on-line forum for any conceivable topic, where individuals who share similar views can come together to discuss, debate, and offer support to one another. Such is the case with The Clergy Project, an on-line organization where clergy members, both current and former, can discuss their transition from believers to non-believers.

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.”

The Olympics: Religious Glory to National Pride

The Olympics: Religious Glory to National Pride

By Alec Degnats….
Recently the British newspaper The Telegraph reported on a growing scandal involving the Olympics and religion. At the 2012 games (as with every Olympics) a “faith badge” was designed and given to religious leaders of different faiths as a means of official credentials. This year though the London Olympic committee decided to remove all religious symbols from the badges in a move to be politically correct. This exclusion of religious symbols from the “faith badge” has become a bit satirical as religious leaders have become outraged over the committee’s decision. The Olympic committee contends that “not all religious believers would feel “comfortable” wearing symbols of other faiths.”

Religion, Politics & Patronage: The Galileo Affair

Religion, Politics & Patronage: The Galileo Affair

By Alex Johnson ….
Galileo Galilei once said that, “There is no event in nature, not even the least that exists, such that it will ever be completely understood by theorists” (Drake 91). This is certainly true for natural phenomenon, even though they are constantly available to us for observation, but sadly, we find that this statement is often true of historical phenomenon as well, because they can only be observed through the surviving records. Despite this, or perhaps, in spite of this, we are in constant pursuit of an understanding of the past. The Galileo Affair is a prime example of this. Every facet of this event has fascinated historians and scholars of religion for almost 400 years. What happened? Why, and what does it all mean for us today?

Reaching Enlightenment Through Relationships

Reaching Enlightenment Through Relationships

By Alec Degnats….
These noble truths not only outline the tenets of the practice, but also outline the problems that Buddhism is trying to both address and solve in the lives of its followers. Buddhism’s application of alleviating suffering and its ability to adapt to different cultures have helped it endure throughout the millennia. This ability to adapt is one of the reasons Buddhism was successful in China, and why Chan Buddhism was able to rise and flourish. By examining the importance of relationships and the teachings of Bodhidharma, we can highlight an important difference between Chan Buddhism and traditional Buddhism.
Traditionally, enlightenment and the release from duhkha is reached individually, after many generations and cycles of rebirth.

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.”

Pop Culture & the Universalization of Religion through Disney: An Emic Perspective

Pop Culture & the Universalization of Religion through Disney: An Emic Perspective

By Lizabeth Lyon-Brown, Georgia State University…..
Disney has so permeated every part of American life that it seems natural for it to be included in a national news article about a college sports team. Disney becomes an expected response to the question: what comes after an achievement? Americans go and pay homage. They go to Mecca. They go to their religion’s holy ground. They go to Disney World.

The Dogs of God

The Dogs of God

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.

Trans-Vaginal Politics

Trans-Vaginal Politics

Maureen Dempsey, RNC-OB….
This morning, on the Huffington Post, the first story to catch my eye was this: “David Albo, Virginia Lawmaker, Says Wife Wouldn’t Have Sex Because Of Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill.” As I clicked on the headline, I thought, this is going to be good. And the gentleman from Fairfax didn’t disappoint me. I watched a three-minute video of Mr. Albo describing to his fellow delegates how he tried to seduce his wife with a combination of red wine and the Redskins on big screen television. They were on the sofa, he was snuggling up to her while changing the channel, things were heating up…when he inadvertently stopped on MSNBC and saw his name plastered across the 46-inch screen and heard his colleague, David Englin, repeatedly using the term “trans-vaginal.” After a few minutes of this, his wife excused herself and went to bed alone.

The Final Harvest

The Final Harvest

By Lady Arsinoe
Samhain is fast approaching. Many of us look forward to this time of year. Candy, carved jack-o-lanterns, itty-bitty children dressed up as adorable bumblebees, princesses, or pirates. This is a joyous time of year! The leaves begin to crunch beneath our feet. And the crisp breeze begins to pinch our faces and burnish our cheeks. There is nothing so beautiful as frost on crimson leaves gleaming in the morning sun.

At this time, my thoughts turn to death and dying. Whoa! What? O, not in a fatalistic manner, or in the Goth-cool fashion either. Samhain is when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, when we celebrate those who have crossed over during the past year, and when we make reckonings of our lives. I’ve always seen parting the final veil as an adventure to be anticipated.