By Jessica Valenti, Religion Dispatches….
As I watched Virgin Tales, a Swiss documentary about purity balls—dances where young girls pledge their virginities to their dads—I thought of my father often. Because the most compelling focus of the film wasn’t the events themselves, but the way in which one family’s dynamic can reveal so much about American culture and politics.
Filmmaker Mirjam von Arx follows the Colorado Springs-based Wilson family whose patriarch, Randy, invented purity balls. Von Arx focuses on one daughter in particular, Jordyn. (The Wilsons have five daughter and two sons.) Jordyn is college-aged but not in college. “I want to be a wife and a mother,” she says, “I would hate to go off and spend thousands of dollars on an education that I wouldn’t use.”
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. 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
By Peter Manseau, Religion Dispatches….
I grew up around nuns. My mother had left the convent five years before I was born, but all through my childhood our home was often visited by her “convent buddies,” a dozen or so women who had formed enduring friendships as novices or professed sisters of the Roman Catholic religious orders they had joined as teenagers. Daughters of immigrants from Irish and Italian enclaves, many of them had become sisters for reasons not just of faith, but of education and opportunity. The convent to them had been an unlikely part of the American dream.
By the time I met them, some of these women had left religious life, having shed their habits in the late 1960s, as my mother had, as if to feel more of the breeze blowing after Vatican II famously “opened the windows of the Church.”
By Catherine Schmidt, Georgia State University….
This is part III of a IV part series exploring popular culture depictions of Mary Magdalene. In part I, we looked at a brief history of pre-Vatican II portrayals of Mary. Part II discussed the history of Vatican II in relation to Mary and how the change in Church thinking did little to how Mary was portrayed in popular culture as seen in Lady Gaga’s music video “Judas.” Part III will build on the post-Vatican II portrayals with the musical film Jesus Christ Superstar.
By Mary E. Hunt, Religion Dispatches….
When it comes to the Vatican’s crackdown on women religious, I believe it’s time to declare that for the purpose of this struggle:we are all nuns. If you can spell Catholic, you are probably asking: how dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world? How dare the very men who preside over a Church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious? While this story is focused on nuns, it doesn’t stop there.
By Catherine Schmidt, Georgia State University…..
In part one of this series, we looked at how Mary Magdalene was depicted in popular culture prior to Vatican II. This second installment will discuss both the history of Vatican II in relation to Mary and Lady Gaga’s interpretation of Mary in her music video for her son “Judas”. In the 1960s the Catholic Church held a council to essentially modernize the Catholic Church. This was the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II. One of the many things done was the changing of the suggested readings for Mary’s saint day. No longer did the readings include the Biblical verses that Pope Gregory I attributed to Mary, making her a prostitute in the eyes of the church.
By Catherine Schmidt, Georgia State University….
There is something about Mary…Magdalene that is. She is one of the few New Testament women (or even characters for that matter) that continues to fascinate the public; and yet, we know so very little about her. Because we know so little, it leads some people to create stories of what they think she was like. Depending on the time and place, she is different things for different people. Sometimes she is a repentant whore while other times she is the lover—or even wife—of Jesus Christ. Many of these depictions of Mary Magdalene actually diminish her memory.
By Maureen Dempsey, RNC-OB…..
Just what exactly is a slut? According to Rush Limbaugh, because Sandra Fluke thinks that all insurance providers – even those with a religious objection – should provide coverage for contraception, she is a slut. “She wants us to pay her for having sex,” Mr. Limbaugh claimed, “what does that make her? A slut, right? A prostitute.” To Mr. Limbaugh the word slut signifies a bad woman – a woman with no value. And sexual activity is the criterion that Mr. Limbaugh is using to determine value. Does she have sex? Yes? Then she is bad. No sex? Then she is good.
Maureen Dempsey, RNC-OB….
This morning, on the Huffington Post, the first story to catch my eye was this: “David Albo, Virginia Lawmaker, Says Wife Wouldn’t Have Sex Because Of Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill.” As I clicked on the headline, I thought, this is going to be good. And the gentleman from Fairfax didn’t disappoint me. I watched a three-minute video of Mr. Albo describing to his fellow delegates how he tried to seduce his wife with a combination of red wine and the Redskins on big screen television. They were on the sofa, he was snuggling up to her while changing the channel, things were heating up…when he inadvertently stopped on MSNBC and saw his name plastered across the 46-inch screen and heard his colleague, David Englin, repeatedly using the term “trans-vaginal.” After a few minutes of this, his wife excused herself and went to bed alone.
By Heather Abraham….
Two years ago on New Year’s Eve morning, I boarded a MARTA train at 7AM and began my journey to an office job in downtown Atlanta. Before the train reached the first stop, an inebriated man approached me and grabbed both of my breasts. All the while repeatedly screaming, “Mamasita!” I punched the man in the forehead, knocked him to the ground, stepped over his body, exited the train car, and entered another. For the remainder of the trip, I sat and reflected on the strange way I was ending the year and the detached manner in which I reacted to my attacker. Twenty minutes later, I exited the train at the Five Points Station and found myself in the middle of a freak show; Peachtree Road was in the chaotic process of transforming itself for the New Year’s Eve celebration and Peach drop.
By Michael Vicente Perez, Huffington Post….
With the anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching and the awareness that terrorism is still a real threat for the United States, we should consider what we might do differently to make our country a safer place.
Looking back on the last 10 years, one thing is clear: the violence of terrorism cannot be defeated with more violence. Afghanistan and Iraq are convincing proof of that; both countries remain ravaged by terrorism and al Qaeda forces seem much more resilient than the architect of the war on terror, George W. Bush, ever imagined. We also know that counter-terrorism measures at home have produced mixed results. On one hand, the government has prevented several domestic attacks through various intelligence operations.
By Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times…..
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” ended Wednesday, bringing despair to booksellers who relied on her book club, television programmers who needed her ratings, and religion scholars who for a decade have tried explaining how this child of poverty became the leader of a worldwide cult. They have worked just as hard to define that cult, which is at once Christian and pantheistic, African-American in origin but global in reach. The scholars found conflicting sources of Ms. Winfrey’s spirituality. It began, but definitely does not end, with the black church of her youth. In her 2003 book, “Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery,” Eva Illouz, a sociologist, quotes Ms. Winfrey as saying: “Since I was three and a half, I’ve been coming up in the church speaking. I did all of the James Weldon Johnson sermons” — Mr. Johnson being the poet whose “God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse” was published in 1927. “I used to do them for churches all over the city of Nashville,” Ms. Winfrey said.
By Joe Pompeo, The Cutline……
In the photo, President Obama and his national security team are huddled around a conference table in the White House Situation Room, watching CIA director Leon Panetta narrate last Sunday’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. The mood is clearly tense. When Women’s Wear Daily consulted a coterie of photo editors and designers about why the image is “destined to be one for the history books,” Clinton was foremost in their responses.
“The Hillary Clinton expression is the one that holds the photograph fully,” Time’s photo director told the magazine. “You can see 10 years of tension and heartache and anger in Hillary’s face,” Conde Nast’s Scott Dadich agreed.
By Teo Sagisman
I lost both my parents at what I consider a young age. My religious background is that of a secular Turkish Muslim but I now consider myself a spiritual seeker more than religious. I lost my father when I was only five years of age. My paternal grandfather, originally from Eastern Turkey, had migrated to Istanbul in the early 1900’s. His last name, Sagisman, I later discover belonged to a list of Jewish converts to Islam (Dönmeh) who followed Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) a 17th-century Jewish Kabbalist who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah but was eventually forced by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV to convert to Islam. After Sabbatai’s conversion, a number of Jews followed him into Islam and became the Dönmeh.