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Female Genital Mutilation: Cultural or Religious Practice?

Female Genital Mutilation: Cultural or Religious Practice?

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, is most commonly practiced in various African nations, the Middle East, and Asia and is an unusual issue to encounter in a small southern American town. We need to explore the phenomena of FGM and the motivations behind this brutal cultural practice.

The Pope's Astronomer:  In Conversation With Brother Guy Consolmagno

The Pope’s Astronomer: In Conversation With Brother Guy Consolmagno

The idea of a “split” between science and religion is a fairly modern one, mostly dating from the 19th century and the rise of professional scientists who were making a living independent of the Church. That’s why the Church specifically started funding an observatory, in 1891, to show the world that it supported science. Our duties at the observatory today are simply to “do good science” — we’re left to decide for ourselves what science to do — as a way of continuing to demonstrate that support.

Titillating Islamic Fashions

Titillating Islamic Fashions

By Heather Abraham…..
Since my first holiday to Turkey in 1996, and subsequent visits, I have noticed a continuous and substantial increase in the wearing of conservative Islamic attire (hijab). Since the advent of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey has struggled to discourage public displays of this culturally influenced religious mode of expression; even going so far as to institute laws prohibiting the wearing of religious dress in government buildings. Today, the public wearing of religious garb has become a contentious issue on the Turkish political battlefield and has resulted in a significant cultural divide.

Mary: A Bridge Between Islam and Christianity

Mary: A Bridge Between Islam and Christianity

In this atmosphere of tension, it may be prudent to attempt to find common ground between these two clashing Abrahamic traditions. Christianity and Islam are in some ways, intimately connected; sharing many sacred stories, devotion to one god, ethical standards, and scriptural figures. Illuminating commonalities between these two mega religions, whose adherents make up almost fifty percent of the world’s population, may be the first step in building an understanding and hopefully, a bridge between the two.

The Politics of Religion: From the Feast of the Assumption to the Ground Zero Mosque

The Politics of Religion: From the Feast of the Assumption to the Ground Zero Mosque

While most Muslim Turks labored to complete their first week of Ramadan during a record breaking heat wave, two branches of Christianity celebrated the August 15th Feast of the Assumption at prominent Christian pilgrimage sites. In Western Turkey, Capuchin Catholic Priests celebrated the Feast of the Assumption at the Our Lady of Ephesus Shrine (Meryem Ana) and in the Black Sea region, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of some 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, presided over the Assumption Mass at Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, Turkey.

Cannabis Cafes of Amsterdam

Cannabis Cafes of Amsterdam

By Heather Abraham In an intriguing Religion Nerd article entitled Cannabis: The American Sacrament Kenny Smith examined America’s passion for cannabis and suggests that cannabis, if legalized in the United States, may come to function in ways comparable to other culturally sacred substances ritually consumed each day in the workaday world or with family and […]

Greetings from Saint Severin, Paris

Greetings from Saint Severin, Paris

The elaborate and dramatic nuances of the flamboyant gothic style are beautifully captured in St. Severin’s multitude of twisted pillars which jut out of the foundation, soaring to heights of about 40 feet, and twist into arching limbs that appear to organically embrace each other as they create a stunning ceiling whose curious arches appear to give birth to one another.

Greetings from the Louvre’s “Roads to Arabia” Exhibition

Greetings from the Louvre’s “Roads to Arabia” Exhibition

Most of the 300 plus artifacts in the exhibit have never been on display to a domestic or international audience. Many of the artifacts found in the exhibit represent a myriad of cultures and civilizations of pre-Islamic Arabia and representations of the human form are understood as blasphemous according to the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam practiced throughout Saudi Arabia since the rise of the Saud family at the beginning of the 20th century.

Battle of the Burqa

Battle of the Burqa

By Heather Abraham Recent news reports and articles concerning France’s attempt to ban the wearing of certain modes of Islamic “veiling” in public is more than just the latest example of Western anti- Islamic sentiment.  As John Sullivan wrote in his Religion Nerd article entitled The Muslims are Coming, this  anti-Muslim sentiment has fallen in with the […]

Sorcery, Witchcraft, and an Epidemic of Human Rights Abuse in Saudi Arabia

Sorcery, Witchcraft, and an Epidemic of Human Rights Abuse in Saudi Arabia

A young pregnant rape victim was sentenced to a one year prison term and 100 lashes (postnatal) by a Saudi judge. The charge: adultery! The girl testified that she had been repeatedly raped by four men who took her to an abandoned building. The victim did not report the event because the Saudi justice system almost always finds the woman at fault in cases of rape. After realizing she was pregnant, the victim went to King Fahd Hospital in the hopes of obtaining an abortion. She was promptly arrested by the Mutaween and charged with adultery.

Vatican Smokescreen Maneuver: The Dreaded Delicta Graviora

Vatican Smokescreen Maneuver: The Dreaded Delicta Graviora

What is surprising to many, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, is the Vatican’s renewed and intensified condemnation of the ordination of women. The new norms will declare any attempted ordination of women to be comparable to sexual abuse of children or delicta graviora. This decision is more than a little suspicious given its timing and the fact that excommunication is already automatic for any woman who attempts ordination and any priest who may assist in said ordination. Could the Vatican be that removed from reality? Is it possible that the “good old boys” from Vatican City actually believe that an attempted ordination of a woman is on par with the raping of a child?

From Your Lips to My Ears: The Power of the Spoken Word

From Your Lips to My Ears: The Power of the Spoken Word

I bring this delightful and unexpected experience to Religion Nerd readers because I believe we often overlook this powerful art form which was once the prominent form of entertainment, communication, and the recorder of human histories. Watching Kween perform I was reminded of another poet and his epic poem so steeped in legend and history. Homer’s Iliad, that epic poem which so often catches our imagination on the big screen, was originally created to be orally transmitted to an audience by a professional and specialized performer or rhapsodist.

Jews and Turks: Centuries of Goodwill

Jews and Turks: Centuries of Goodwill

Although our culture is well versed on the horrifying events of World War II, the story of the Turkish Jews is one that has unfortunately slipped into obscurity. In this time of religious discord, I believe it is important to remember that it has not always been so and that, contrary to popular media portrayals, religious differences do not, for the vast majority, signify hatred, distrust, or the negation of humanity.

Europe's Battle of the Burqa

Europe’s Battle of the Burqa

The veil, Islam’s most controversial symbol, is not the primary issue but has come to symbolize the clash between western secular society and the determined attempt of Muslims to push back against secular cultures that are uncomfortable with public and political displays of religious devotion. Let’s face it, the veil makes many of us uncomfortable; especially for those from secular societies.