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.”
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Kile Jones….
On February 28, 2011, I attended a meeting of Atheists United at the Center for Inquiry (CFI) in Hollywood, California. It was a typical day in southern California—sunny, beautiful, without a cloud in sight—when I pulled into the parking lot of the CFI. On a nearby mountain you could see the famous Hollywood Sign looming in the distance. The CFI is located next to a Mexican Pentecostal Church and a Christian Science Reading Room, proof of the religious diversity in Los Angeles. From the outside, CFI looks like more like a warehouse than a Church. Its electric sign, found on the street corner, not only announces headlines and CFI news, but also provides one of the only ways of detecting the building. While in the parking lot I was approached by the treasurer of Atheists United, Norm, who politely asked me if I was attending their meeting.
By Sherry Morton….
On June 28, 1969 the New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a mafia run basement bar in Greenwich Village known as a haven for homosexuals. In an effort to root out this “undesirable element,” Stonewall was a too often the target of police raids. On this particular sultry summer night, the desperation of a people oppressed for no reason other than their sexual orientation (the police seem to have no particular issue with mafia run establishments), boiled to the surface. Gay patrons and onlookers stood their ground, refusing to tolerate brutality and unjust treatment at the hands of the police. Patrons of Stonewall stopped dancing and started resisting; the police were trapped inside the Inn and days of rioting followed. Instead of containing the “social ill of homosexuality,” the Stonewall raid provided the necessary fuel to set the gay pride movement in motion.
The LDS decided to get a member convicted of polygamy and appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court. George Reynolds was a perfect candidate for this test case. Reynolds may believe whatever he wishes about the importance of polygamy, but that did not mean he could necessarily act upon that belief. Marriage, according to this reading, is the base of the entire society. From the marriage comes every other social relationship and institution, all the way up to the government.
It’s not always easy to be an atheist in a predominantly religious culture, but most of the challenges are manageable and getting easier with time. Some of my fellow non-believers would kill me for saying that, but it’s silly to suggest that it’s as difficult to be openly nonreligious now as it was in 1954. Not to mention 1454.
By Dan Beckett….
When people first hear about firewalking they often think of strange, ancient rituals performed by people with weird costumes and painted faces who talk funny and lived a long time ago. While it’s true that firewalking has been practiced for centuries, even millennia, in many cultures around the world, what people often don’t realize is that firewalking is alive and well today in the United States, with more people practicing it each year than at possibly any other time in history! Many have found it, as I have, to be a profoundly moving spiritual experience. I am a firewalker who first encountered the practice in a spiritual growth workshop hosted by Edwene Gaines in Valley Head, Alabama. To date I’ve attended five firewalks, and want to share my experience and understanding of the practice to those who may be interested in learning more about it.
By Joseph Rosenthal, Georgia State University…..
“Man shall not live by bread alone,” responds Jesus defiantly in the Gospel of Matthew (4:4) to Satan’s entreaty to break his forty-day fast. This phrase has been used variously by Christians throughout history as a tribute to the virtues of moderation and as a justification for some of the most extreme forms of asceticism. Dietary practice is the second most popular domain of religiously motivated self-denial, surpassed only by matters of sex and human intimacy. The diversity of rituals, laws, and red tape surrounding the consumption of food ranges from prohibitions of basic food types (e.g. shellfish, pork, alcohol, etc.) to extended periods of fasting. The religious preoccupation with what goes into the body goes well beyond hatred of gluttony, sometimes verging on total caloric restriction.