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.
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?
A “Muslim Gospel,” Khalidi points out, even overflows the pages of the Qur’an: for nearly a thousand years (from the 8th-18th centuries CE), stories and sayings attributed to Isa continued to emerge in Islamic written and oral traditions. While this Jesus is Islamic in tone, a clear Biblical voice is evident. In one of the earliest of these, “Jesus said to his people,”…
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.
By Heather Abraham….
Unlike the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Knock, which are held to be the locations of apparitions of Mary, Our Lady of Ephesus is a shrine connected to Mary’s physical historical presence. Pilgrims who journey to Nightingale Mountain to visit the shrine believe it to be the site of her last earthly residence, the place of her death, and, for some, the location from which she was bodily assumed into heaven.
By Heather Abraham…..
As Christian groups continue to disagree on the “War on Christmas” issue, a recent survey by LifeWay Research, a Christian organization, may shed some light on this manufactured crisis that continues to capture so many headlines. As reported in the USA Today article, For Many, Jesus isn’t the Reason for the Season, 74% of those polled ‘”told LifeWay many of the things they enjoy this season “have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus,”‘ and only 37% reported including Jesus in their Christmas celebrations
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 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.
Religion Lately: Mabon Celebrations, More Teavangelicals, Ugly Atheists, and the Machine Gun Preacher
By Kenny Smith and Heather Abraham…..
Wiccans and Neo-Pagans of all sorts celebrate Mabon this September 23 (or there about), a celebration of the fall harvest and the Autumn Equinox, a day in which the hours of day and night are perfectly balanced, and just one day after the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! Looking for a primer on Wiccan/Pagan holidays? Rob Bell, the controversial Christian minister whose book, Love Wins, published earlier this year questions some basic conservative ideas, for instance, that heaven is not a Christians-only club, strikes out on his own. Elsewhere in Christendom, one Southern Baptist leader argues that state executions are “pro-life.”
Religion Lately: Roseanne Barr for President?, The Teddy Bear Pope on a Perp Walk?, and The Book of Mormon the Movie?
By Heather Abraham….
As part of her “empower women” mission, comedian and faux pas expert, Roseanne Barr has announced her simultaneous candidacy for both the U.S. Presidency and Prime Minister of Israel. The motives behind of her dual challenge?: inspire women to become more religiously and politically active, combat the status quo of patriarchy gone wrong, legalize marijuana, and bring justice to women and the Palestinians. I wonder, will she be endorsed by the Cannabis Christian Ministries? In Kentucky, nine Amish men have been ordered to jail for refusing to put reflective orange signs on their horse buggies.
Apparently, this devout Christian woman belongs to a prayer group that meets regularly to pray for, in her words, “our nation, family, friends, and fellow Christians.” I found it intriguing that the nation would be of first importance but continued to listen (and take notes) as she discussed how these prayers had helped so many and her belief that prayer is the “most powerful human force on earth.” According to her, prayer is dangerous when used by those “who are enemies of our Christian Nation” and that Christians everywhere need to pray in groups to “counteract the evil prayers that are offered up daily.”
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.
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Abraham’s article awoke anew many concerns I have had with the Catholic Church’s’ ardent fear of the possibility of allowing women into positions of authority in the church. As Abraham so astutely pointed out, the linking of female ordination and sexual abuse of children is startling. Is the Catholic Church launching a preemptive strike against what they fear will be a renewed interest in allowing women into the priesthood? This overreaction led me to investigate the origin of the Church’s fear of women in leadership roles.