By Kenny Smith…..With the possibility of an American military assault upon Syria, a number of conservative Syrian apocalypse Christian voices have begun to read such events not simply through a biblical lens (which was likely the case already), but through passages that seem especially relevant. Isaiah 17, for example, speaks of a Syria laid in ruins, the wrath of an angry deity, and human beings looking with awe and respect upon the divine. Some, then, see the looming military strike as presaging not only the ruin of Syria, but the Second Coming of Jesus and the biblically ordained end-times.
By Heather Abraham…..Religion Nerd had been hijacked. I reacted to the news with indignation but I could not help but wonder—Who and Why? I quickly dismissed monetary gain as a motive as there are no financial transactions associated with the site. Was it possible that Religion Nerd was pilfered in an act of revenge for a post found theologically offensive?
I found the anonymity of my “enemy” disconcerting. The who became more important than the why. I needed to assign an identity to the anonymous miscreant. After all, how can one fight an enemy who remains unknown?
Creatures of the Night: In Search of Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves, and Demons by Dr. Gregory L. Reece
Before sparkly vampires like Edward Cullen, before Count Orlok of Nosferatu, even before Bram Stoker’s classic tale of Dracula, there were the vampire tales of European folklore. As Reece suggests, these early prototypes of the vampire are far-less glamorous that the stylized, Gothic vampires of Polidori, Le Fanu, and Stoker. They attack cattle as well as humans, resemble bloated ticks when exhumed, and they more physically favor our conception of a zombie than the modern day vampire. Not only does Reece present a thorough but enjoyable romp through the history of the vampire, he also explores research about various real-life vampire communities, such as work done by Joseph Laycock in Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampires. Perhaps the most fascinating chapter in Reece’s book, according to this reviewer, is his chapter on werewolves, a chapter which plays upon the concepts presented in folktales made familiar by The Brothers Grimm, Perrault, and Paul DeLarue.
By James Dennis LoRusso, Religion Bulletin….
Were you to travel one segment of the Eisenhower Expressway in Illinois this morning, you might discover a curious billboard. The display features a mugshot of Ted Kaczynski, the self-confessed “Unabomber,” coupled with the question, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?” The new billboard campaign lining various commuter routes is the latest initiative of the Chicago-based conservative think tank, the Heartland Foundation, to call into question prevailing scientific consensus around climate change.
Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
The Super Bowl continues to be one of the most visible and influential cultural events in the United States. For that very reason, it always warrants a closer look. This year was no exception, but what the look reveals is unexpected. Two years ago, the big story was not about the game, but rather about the advertising. The family of Tim Tebow was alleged to be involved in an anti-abortion advertisement that would suggest that they had considered aborting Tebow, in order to put a face on the loss of potential represented by abortion. The ad proved to be pretty benign, but the controversy lingered. The whole debate was shot through with religion.
By Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University…..
I recently published a piece at “Religion Dispatches” about the Roman winter festival called Saturnalia. A commentator noted that I had inadvertently confused (or rather, conflated) two very different divinities in that piece: namely, the Greek figures of Cronus and Chronos. I was grateful for the opportunity this provided to say what I should have said then with a bit more care and clarity, and the detail of these reflections seems perfectly suited to the non-at-all nerdy audience at “Religion Nerd.” So here goes. Greek and Roman religions were religions without canonical scriptures; their mythology is notoriously complex and, to modern eyes, often contradictory.