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The Sacred and the Strange: Transvestite Nuns?

The Sacred and the Strange: Transvestite Nuns?

By Kate Daley-Bailey…..
While the term ‘hagiography’ may not appear in the average American’s day to day lexicon, this genre of religious literature, a type of spiritual biography of a Christian saint, proves to be an enduringly fascinating corpus. One such hagiography, the life of St. Mary/St. Marinos, stands out for numerous reasons. This saint’s dual names, one feminine and one masculine, might peek one’s interest. St. Mary/ Marinos’ story places her in the company of extraordinary women, a group known as the ‘transvestite nuns,’ holy women who disguised themselves as men in order to enter monasteries. Here is a very brief synopsis of her story:

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

By Teo Sagisman…..
This week the Turks are celebrating an age-old tradition, known as Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) in Arabic. Called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish, this tradition is both religiously and culturally important to many Turks. Kurban Bayrami is a long extended holiday, equivalent to the importance and length of the Christmas celebrations in the western world. The 4,0000 year-old story behind the Feast of the Sacrifice is common to all Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but in the modern world, only adherents to Islam commemorate it in a literal way. As the story is told in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, and the Quran, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son.

Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and  bin Laden Halloween Anxieties

Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and bin Laden Halloween Anxieties

By Kenny Smith…..What will Pagan religious traditions (such as Wicca, Druidism, and Asatru, among others) look like in fifty years, in 2063? Full-time Pagan clergy, Pagan celebrities coming out of the broom-closet, and a vast array of Pagan-centric media outlets, one writer predicts. Back here in 2013, new Pagan-themed books for children such as “What is Magic,” and “Who is a Witch?,” hit the shelves, Pagan Pride days continue to be celebrated in various cities nationwide, and Pagan communities prepare for Samhain.

The Internet is My Religion

The Internet is My Religion

By Meredith Doster, Emory University…..In a 2011 presentation at the Personal Democracy Forum, activist Jim Gilliam presented his conversion story from fundamentalist Christianity to a new found religion: the Internet. Expertly wielding evangelical epistemology, Gilliam described a series of personal and family medical tragedies that resulted in a crisis of faith: “God had forsaken me, but the doctors hadn’t … I watched as a small bag of marrow emptied into my arm. I walked out of the hospital two weeks later, replenished with the blood of a stranger. I was determined to move on with my life, so I gave my heart to the Internet.”

No Gefilte Fish for You

No Gefilte Fish for You

By Heather Abraham…..I have always been fascinated with gefilte fish, though I haven’t yet worked up the nerve to try the strange looking fish balls. I don’t make a point of looking for them, but periodically they appear in special displays at the grocery store. I can’t pass them by without first spending time holding the jar up to the light, trying to discern exactly what they are and what the gelatinous liquid is that holds them suspended. I’ve read the ingredients and yet I can’t help but think there is some secret element that magically holds me in suspension between fascination and fear.

Reading: It's Not Just for ‘Readers’ Anymore!

Reading: It’s Not Just for ‘Readers’ Anymore!

Kate Daley-Bailey…..“I’m not really a reader.” I have heard this student claim before and again I let out a sigh of frustration. Telling your college professor you are ‘not a reader’ is like telling your boss you are not ‘really a worker.’ Nope… sorry boss, I’m just not the ‘working’ type. Now before I dump this excuse into the dung heap with the rest of the excrement which gets pedaled to teachers on a daily basis, I would like to briefly reflect on this statement and its implications.

Religion, Lately: Hell House Outreach, Tough Times for Russian Anti-Gay Pastafarians, Autumnal Equinox

Religion, Lately: Hell House Outreach, Tough Times for Russian Anti-Gay Pastafarians, Autumnal Equinox

By Kenny Smith…..As the 2013 Halloween season approaches, churches all across the U.S. are preparing “Hell Houses,” “Judgment Houses,” and Rapture Walks.” In need of a Hell House starter kit? There likewise seems to be a forthcoming film taking up basic Hell House theme: all the stuff young people like to do is demonic. While it’s hardly surprising that 77% of evangelicals are said to believe that “we are currently living in the end-times,” some 41% of American adults are also said to express this opinion.

How We Think About Shared Religious Spaces: Collective or Ambiguous?

How We Think About Shared Religious Spaces: Collective or Ambiguous?

By Summar Shoaib…..In a blog entry re-posted here (insert link here) on Religion Nerd, Amina Wadud discusses issues of accessibility to sacred spaces in India, expressing her surprise and disappointment at the apparent lack of encouragement or interest from members of different religious groups in visiting the sacred spaces of others. Wadud emphasizes that they are often even prohibited from doing so. However, as a student specifically focused on, to borrow from Joyce Flueckiger’sIn Amma’s Healing Room, South Asian “vernacular Islam,” Wadud’s posting recalls to mindsacred spaces in India such as saints’ shrines which encourage visitation and use from varying religious groups.

Religion Lately: Rain-god license plate disputes, Happy Yom Kippur and Ganesh Chaturthi, & the Flying Spaghetti Monster Comes the NFL

Religion Lately: Rain-god license plate disputes, Happy Yom Kippur and Ganesh Chaturthi, & the Flying Spaghetti Monster Comes the NFL

By Kenny Smith…..An Methodist minister is suing the state of Oklahoma on the grounds that “Native American imagery on license plates forces him to become a ‘mobile billboard’ for pagan religion.” OK plates apparently depict a Native American ritual in which a deity associated with rain is invoked, which apparently OK could really use right now. Growing number of Africa American spiritual seekers, despite being raised as Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, or Jehovah’s Witness, are said to be turning to indigenous African religious cultures such as Yoruba for religious and spiritual resources.

Syrian Apocalypse, Measles Outbreaks, and the Inevitability of Mythmaking

Syrian Apocalypse, Measles Outbreaks, and the Inevitability of Mythmaking

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.

The Clergy Project - A Community for Clergy Without Faith

The Clergy Project – A Community for Clergy Without Faith

By Lauren Cooper…..For most clergy members, guiding the non-believers and doubters back into the fold is part of the job description. But where do the clergy turn when they have lost their own faith? In the age of the internet, one can find an on-line forum for any conceivable topic, where individuals who share similar views can come together to discuss, debate, and offer support to one another. Such is the case with The Clergy Project, an on-line organization where clergy members, both current and former, can discuss their transition from believers to non-believers.

Religion, Lately: Hug an Atheist trailer, evangelical sea-change in the making, and a spell for keeping Syria safe from American bombs

Religion, Lately: Hug an Atheist trailer, evangelical sea-change in the making, and a spell for keeping Syria safe from American bombs

By Kenny Smith…..While the great state of Massachusetts considers atheist challenges to the 1954 Hug an atheist dayinclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, a forthcoming documentary tells sympathetically of the daily lives (some might say, “lived religion”) of American atheists. Check out the trailer forHug an Atheist as well as an interview with the film maker. In the millionth round of religion v. atheism, famed sociologist of religion, Rodney Stark, weighs in on the side of religion, though of course the reality is more complex.

When Some People Say “Religion” They Mean “My” Religion

When Some People Say “Religion” They Mean “My” Religion

By Amina Wadud…..For example, members of one religion are not encouraged to or interested in visiting the sacred spaces of other religions. In fact, in most cases, they are prohibited. To be sensitive to these constraints I do not visit any sacred place, no matter how much I have wanted, unless I am given permission as a Muslim. (Coincidentally, I am also prohibited as a woman from entering some of the sacred Muslim spaces!)

Loki's Playground: The Hijacking of Religion Nerd

Loki’s Playground: The Hijacking of Religion Nerd

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?