By Heather Abraham……
Fighting Monks? Roman Catholic, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox Monks battle each other with brooms. Why are they fighting? For the ultimate prize: Sacred Space! The 1500 year old Church of the Nativity, built over the spot believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, is a hot bed of contestation with the three Christian denominations vying for control of space within the church. The “Fuck it Way,” a break off NRM which finds its roots in the cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” released a Christmas video. Pole Fitness for Jesus! Christian women embrace the stripper pole to get fit while listening to upbeat Christian pop music. Apparently pole dancing empowers women and 4 inch+ hooker shoes are good for the legs! Who knew! Now don’t judge, “It’s all about being spiritual.”
By James Dennis LoRusso, Emory University…..
Undoubtedly, most people in this country understand hard work to be a virtue, but in Newt’s statement resides a subtle assumption: Being poor is a sign of moral failure on the part of the individual and the poor community. The mass appeal of this belief, that poverty itself is a sign of moral deficiency, results from the particular way the so-called “Protestant work ethic” is situated in American culture. The root of this ethic comes out of the strict Calvinist tendencies of colonial New England. The Dissenting Puritans that settled Massachusetts in the seventeenth century held a view that hard work signified virtue. Earlier thinkers of the Reformation like Martin Luther and John Calvin turned Catholic notions of work as penance for sin on their head and painted every individual’s “vocation” or “calling” as a contribution to God’s creation.
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
“American Nazis support the Occupy Wall Street Movement?” This headline ripped through the conservative news outlets like wildfire. Christmas came early for Fox News. My curiosity was peaked… I am a fence sitter regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement… primarily because I refuse to join a movement which will not outline its agenda and even then I am leery. I have to know specifically what and who I am protesting. My fence-sitting is engendered by my recent research into how the Nazis gained power in Germany and were backed surprisingly by many high standing church leaders, scholars, and much of the German population. You can imagine my surprise when I read the above headlines. Was this yet another example of propaganda generated by the Fox News-types of the American media to damn the liberals of the Occupy movement? Yes… but it was also something more for me.
Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable. Since nature and the military both abhor a vacuum, the recent announcement of the military draw-down in Iraq almost inevitably meant that we’d soon be re-deploying our military forces somewhere else. Still, the northern coast of Australia came as something of a surprise. President Obama announced yesterday that 250 US Marines will soon be shipping off for rotating six-month tours at an Australian military base on the north central coast of the island, near a city called Darwin. Their numbers are expected to escalate to 2500 in fairly short order, along with military equipment and long-range aircraft.
By Ben Brazil, Religion Bulletin….
A month ago, when the Occupy movement was beginning to gain traction, Matt Stoller penned an influential response to criticism about the movement’s lack of a clear, concise message. The critics, he wrote, had failed to notice the religious nature of what was going on in Zuccotti Park. He explained: “What these people are doing is building, for lack of a better word, a church of dissent. It’s not a march, though marches are spinning off of the campground. It’s not even a protest, really. It is a group of people, gathered together, to create a public space seeking meaning in their culture. They are asserting, together, to each other and to themselves, ‘we matter’.” The idea of a “church of dissent” did not only interest me – it positively attracted me.
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
In an essay I recently published at “Religion Dispatches,” I used Gary Laderman’s fascinating concept of “Republicanicity” as the launch-pad for the suggestion that what separates developments in the Republican Party from anything happening among the Democrats is simply this: the Republican Party is undergoing a battle to define its orthodoxy, a battle that has no direct parallel to arguments and power-struggles taking place on the political left. In short, a plurality of voices, sharing little more than a name in common, is currently in the process of sorting out a platform to which all bearers of the name might reasonably agree.
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable that the evangelical push-back within the Republican Party would eventually make Mormonism an issue, no matter how hard the Republican establishment tries to make it go away. And now it’s come at last–an entire week of Republican presidential hopefuls being asked point-blank if they think a Mormon (read: Mitt Romney) is a Christian. Only the fierce insistence that last night’s debate be limited to economic questions kept this pot from boiling over again (though Jon Huntsman couldn’t resist one quick snipe at Rick Perry, who appeared befuddled all night anyway, and Michelle Bachman couldn’t resist the suggestion that Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, if turned upside down, becomes the number of the Beast).
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University…..
At the same time that the US Supreme Court issued a second stay of execution in one week in the state of Texas, it permitted the execution of Troy Davis to go forward in the state of Georgia. And at 11:08pm on Wednesday, September 21st, some four hours after his scheduled 7:00pm execution time, Troy Davis was indeed killed by a state-administered lethal injection. The range of emotions and the swirl of debates generated by this confusing juxtaposition are layered and complex: a white Army recruiter accused of rape and murder is spared, at least for now, while a black man accused of killing a police officer is not. Both men insisted on their innocence throughout their circuit of appeals.
By Diana Butler Bass, A Great Awakening
For weeks now, news programs, radio commentators, and blogs have encouraged people to share their memories about 9/11. Some of it has been very moving, some trite, and no small amount divisive. But all of it has reminded me of one thing: words often fail to express what is beyond emotional comprehension. As poet Ardrienne Rich writes, “Tonight I think/no poetry/will serve.” More than anything, on this anniversary, I wish to be silent. A few may protest saying that it is important to remember the events of a decade ago. That is true. A people must know their past. But who alive has forgotten?
By Abbas Barzegar, Religion Dispatches…..
As millions of college students around the country begin the start of another school year most will encounter events, programming, and curriculum built around the tenth year anniversary of 9/11. Content will include paying honored respects to the victims and their families as well as interpreting the impact of the attacks on our nation’s history and identity. The events ten years ago will remain the defining moment of my generation and understanding how those events continue to shape the social and political landscape of our nation will be the responsibility of educators, politicians, and citizens alike. As a professor of Islamic studies I will entertain a related (even if unwarranted) set of issues in the classroom because, whether we like it or not, Islam has become an indelible part of the culture and consciousness of 9/11. Ironically, the questions I regularly encounter have not actually changed much over the last ten years: Who was Muhammad, was he violent? What is Jihad? Why the scarves?
Religion Lately: The Church of the Cylon God and St. Gaius Baltar, Extinction of Religion, No “Go Topless Day” for Toronto
By Kenny Smith….
While they presently remain at the level of fandom and “just for fun,” elements from the Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica series have been re-crafted and re-presented in religious terms. See, for instance, the Church of the Cylon God Facebook page, or the Church St. Gaius Baltar. “Pray at the Pump” founder warns President Obama, create jobs or face more earthquakes, a claim which God then quickly refuted. Others have suggested that the divine reprimand said to be implied in recent earthquakes and historic hurricanes was in fact aimed at Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, in whose district a major quake’s epicenter was located, perhaps in response to the steep cuts Cantor proposed to the U.S. Geological Service. So, is God an angry geologist?
By J.F. Sullivan….
While the 9/11 attacks are likely the dominant catalyst, it may be more appropriate to mark the mainstreaming of Islamaphobia with the emergence of Pamela Geller and the Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) group in 2010. Their provocative ads, purported to protect Muslim converts to Christianity, read, “Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?” Their campaign was only a small part of what could be viewed as a larger response to the proposed Park 51 complex also known as Cordoba House and the Ground Zero Mosque.
Can America be called a “Christian nation”? The argument that our founding fathers were all Christian is questionable, to say the least. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, is thought by most modern day religious scholars and historians to have subscribed to the schools of Deism and Unitarianism as opposed to Christianity in particular. Benjamin Franklin described himself as a Deist and expressly rejected Christian dogma, although he did briefly belong to a Presbyterian church. In a letter written just one month before he died, Franklin expressed that although he respected the system of morals preached by Jesus, he had “some doubts as to his divinity.”
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
You don’t have to be a Marxist to notice the often astonishing overlap between big money and big religion. Nor to be somewhat shocked by the bigness of the whole affair. Consider the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, one of the most popular and most-densely populated tourist destinations in Italy, nearly rivaling its much larger cousin in Rome. It is a striking monument in every way, not least for the bizarre mish-mash of architectural elements and artistic styles that define this most funky profile.