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The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture?

The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture?

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By Kenny Smith…..
In the case of both Jediism and Dudeism, entirely new religious traditions have been created wholesale from the cloth of popular culture. In other cases, key elements are borrowed from popular culture and grafted onto pre-existing religious traditions, resulting in equally innovative and to some degree “new” versions of these traditions, which their critics typically regard as humorous or horrifying.

Cannabis: The American Sacrament

Cannabis: The American Sacrament

A number of new religious movements have come to see the ritual use of cannabis products as central the religious quest. The Church of the Universe, founded in Ontario, Canada in the late 1960’s, teaches that marijuana provides a vital “calming influence,” helps to focus and “direct [one’s] thoughts without interference from negative forces,” allows for an experience of communion with the natural world, and overall “makes life worth living.”

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.

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.

Disenchantment and Re-enchantment on eBay

Disenchantment and Re-enchantment on eBay

By Joseph Laycock….
On August 30, eBay officially discontinued the sale of “metaphysical” goods and services on its online market. Spells and divination services have been available on eBay since the site’s inception in 1995. Before Thursday, eBay shoppers could select from more than 40,000 spell listings and 15,000 offers of tarot card readings. The new policy has put an entire class of online magicians, fortune-tellers and potion-brewers out of business. Some claim to be sincere practitioners while others have admitted to being frauds. Many have sought to relocate their shop to Craigslist and other parts of the online marketplace.

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.”

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

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.

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?

Victims or Conquerors: The Saxon Gospel and Glenn Beck

Victims or Conquerors: The Saxon Gospel and Glenn Beck

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
I have the perfect gospel for Glenn Beck; a Saxon retelling of the Christian gospel with Jesus as a warrior chieftain written in “song” or epic form in the early part of the 9th century CE and was supposedly used to convert the pagan Saxons, after they had been conquered and forcefully baptized by Charlemagne.
This rendering of the Jesus story is no direct translation of a canonical gospel rather it is an actual retelling of the Jesus story. As an expert on the Heliand, the title of this Saxon gospel, G. Ronald Murphy, J.S. describes the text as “a reimagining of the gospel.” Murphy writes that the Heliand’s author, whose identity is still a mystery, “rewrote and reimagined the words and the events of the gospel as if they had taken place and been spoken in his own country and time.”

The Wisdom of Youth

The Wisdom of Youth

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
The last week of classes at many Italian schools is now past, and the stressful season of final exams—a one-week battery of written exams, followed by intensive oral follow-ups—began this next. But the last week of classes was also a time of culmination, the week for the presentation of the extracurricular theatrical productions some of these same students have been preparing all spring. I had the singular pleasure of seeing one such production in the Roman seaside township of Fiumicino a week ago on a late Monday afternoon, and was amazed by the sophistication of the entire production.

Entitled “2012: An Odyssey in Space and Time,” the show was conceived, written, choreographed and produced by a remarkably creative group of more than thirty students ranging in age from eleven to fourteen, and supported by some remarkably generous and far-sighted teachers who do this all voluntarily, in addition to their already extensive professional duties.

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.