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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.”

Keeping the Eostre in Easter

Keeping the Eostre in Easter

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By Kenny Smith….
The ancient roots of the Easter holiday as grounded in Germanic goddess-figures alternately known as Eostre or Ostara. Some have also begun to suggest that we “not forget the REAL reason for the season!,” and work to “Keep the Eostre in Easter.”

Midsummer Day: A Once and Future Holy-Day?

Midsummer Day: A Once and Future Holy-Day?

That our modern-day holidays have been shaped by economic forces can prove a rather unsettling notion. We might find ourselves wondering not only about the new holidays we gained, but those we may have lost, in the commodification process. At the same time, it is worth acknowledging that cultural institutions are, like Heraclitus’ river, always in flux, always changing, and subject to any number of forces, economic, political, theological, astronomical, and even meteorological.

Westboro Baptist Church And The Problematic Practice of Proof-Texting

Westboro Baptist Church And The Problematic Practice of Proof-Texting

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By Heather Abraham…..
Phelps’ robotic regurgitation of carefully chosen and horrifically distorted scriptural verses left me more than a little troubled. His mindless rant, devoid of any semblance of rational thinking, left me to ponder how this experience could possibly be an informing one.

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 […]

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

This kind of religious language raises some interesting questions about the relationship between religion and what has typically been referred to as “magic.” In the 19th and early 20th centuries, scholars believed that religion and magic represented two quite different forms of human behavior. For George James Frazier, author of The Golden Bough (1890) and still today one of the most familiar names in comparative mythology, religion involved the supplication of divine forces, magic was their compulsion.

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?

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.

What Do Americans Really Know About Islam?

What Do Americans Really Know About Islam?

Let’s face it; Americans know more about the sex lives of Tiger Woods and Jesse James than they do about Islam. If Arabs do not make up the majority of Muslims—who does? According to the Pew Research Center’s informative report, Mapping the Muslim World, “more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% in the Middle East and Northern Africa.”

Home Shrines for American War Dead: Are They Just About Remembering?

Home Shrines for American War Dead: Are They Just About Remembering?

Borrowing from both Cartwright and Orsi, what do we see in home war shrines that we did not see previously? To begin with, these carefully preserved bedroom offer far more than an aid for remembering. They offer a sacred space in which family members may experience heightened physical intimacy with those “who will never return” in any tangible manner. Relationships sundered by violent and untimely death may be at least partially and fleetingly re-constituted and re-experienced.

Rise of the Jedi Religion

Rise of the Jedi Religion

Followers of the Jedi religion/philosophy follow the way of the Jedi and live by the Jedi Code. Like all other religions, established or new, Jediism is complex and extremely diverse. Having no central authority, each Jedi organization is independent and therefore has differing philosophical and theological beliefs. For the most part, Jedi organizations are democratic in nature and majority vote is necessary to implement any changes in church structure or doctrine.

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

Though contemporary scholars tend to be suspicious of such sweeping generalizations, magical beliefs and practices continue to be perceived as set apart from mainstream religion and culture. But might it be the case that magical beliefs and practices are intimately interwoven within mainstream religion and culture? In exploring this possibility, I look beyond church advertisements to two quite popular religious/spiritual teachers, Tolly Burkan (the founder of the American firewalking movement), and Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and its most popular and long-running daily television show, The 700 Club.

Beltane in the Context of American Religious History

Beltane in the Context of American Religious History

Scholars who study American religion have also wondered why, exactly, American history played out in ways that have emphasized a philosophy of personal religious liberty. Typically these traditions go by names such as Wicca, Paganism, Druidism, Heathenism, often grouped together under the label Neo-Pagan. Taken together, they constitute one of the fastest growing religious communities in America over the past two decades, conservatively estimated as representing at least 1% of the American population.