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Star Wars Icons

Star Wars Icons

By Kate Daley-Bailey……I recently found a few remarkable images of memorable Star Wars scenes crafted by Thai artist Chawakarn Khongprasert entitled Star Wars in Medieval Manuscript. These images stood out to me not because of the quality of the art itself, albeit the images are exceptional, nor even due to the ironic blending of pop culture subjects with traditional Christian artistic forms which I so often enjoy. These particular images reminded me of not just any presentations of Medieval Christian art but rather of a very specific style of Medieval Christian art form, Eastern Christian iconography.

"Extreme" Religion

“Extreme” Religion

By Kenny Smith…My grandparents enforced very few rules at their dinner table, but one they absolutely insisted upon was, “Never talk about religion or politics at the table.” For in their view, “the table” represented a quasi-sacred familial site reserved for eating good food, enjoying good company, and perhaps a late afternoon tea or friendly game of cards, any of which would be readily frustrated by such fractious topics. Not only was this policy a resounding success (their dinner table was almost always peaceable), but those unable or unwilling to comply were clearly marked as “too extreme” in their views.

Can a Community of Faith Decrease Recidivism?

Can a Community of Faith Decrease Recidivism?

By Gina Ryder, Huff Post Religion…..Does anyone love me? Is there a point to all this? We all tend to ask ourselves these questions time and time again. For a person coming out of jail, these questions seem to have even more weight. Does anyone love me after what I’ve done? Where is my life going after being behind bars?

Bieber, Beliebers and Anne Frank

Bieber, Beliebers and Anne Frank

By Gary Laderman, Huff Post Religion…..Imaging Anne Frank as a “Belieber,” taking her out of her horrific and incomprehensible historical circumstances and placing her in the pop world of contemporary entertainment, especially in the fandom surrounding a mediocre teenybopper-cum-serious young adult performer, is a profanation of the worst kind to many critics. She is an icon, a heroic figure who figures so prominently and nobly in the histories and popular imagination associated with the rise of Nazis and the extermination of Jews. For Bieber to “belieb” this about Frank, to even think the thought, is both outrageous and offensive.

Going to a Tea Party with Paul Revere and Jesus

Going to a Tea Party with Paul Revere and Jesus

By J.F. Sullivan….
This has been an odd year for history, politics and religion. While Sarah Palin has provided the media and the rest of the country with many gems, the recent spate of mangled metaphors has illuminated what appears to be something of trend, if not a new strategy when history and religion are combined. The development of alphabetic literacy (writing with vowels) by the ancient Greeks allowed speech to be directly represented. As a result, reality could be recorded, communicated and preserved in this new form. While originally intended to aid in memory and recall, it instead helped to create a repository (books and scrolls) where information could be stored, not only preserving it, but eventually creating a collection that exceeded anyone’s ability to memorize. By writing something down, it indeed preserved it, but it also allowed the possibility for comparison, which helped to create the concept of history as fact.

The Mythology of Matthew Ritchie: An Attempt to Rewrite the Beginning of the Universe…Sort of…

The Mythology of Matthew Ritchie: An Attempt to Rewrite the Beginning of the Universe…Sort of…

What do you get when you cross a group of drug-addicted thugs with some musically inclined angels, a gang of corrupt cops, a soon-to-be pregnant actress, an astronaut, and a Golem? According to Matthew Ritchie, you get the Big Bang, or the beginning of the universe as we know it. Or not. It could also bring Armageddon or the Apocalypse. It is a fall from the heavens (one might choose to say ‘grace’); it is a simple event that gets the universal ball rolling. It all depends on the button pushed- the character chosen (who chooses is still a question up for debate)

The Economy is Sacred, Stupid

The Economy is Sacred, Stupid

By Gary Laderman, Religion Dispatches….
This Christmas, the haunting spector of impending economic calamity will compete with the candlelit nativity scenes representing the glorious birth of Christ. Indeed in this light, the recent “shellacking” of Democrats—as President Obama put it—in the midterm elections points to an obvious yet underanalyzed dimension of political life today: the economy is sacred, and “free enterprise” is a religious commitment of the highest order to most Americans when the chips are down and the recession is deep.

Oklahoma’s Prohibition Against Sharia Law: Banning That Which Does Not Exist

Oklahoma’s Prohibition Against Sharia Law: Banning That Which Does Not Exist

By Scott R. Grubman….
But Obamacare was not the only thing that Oklahoma voters spoke up against in 2010. They also overwhelming approved a state constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from considering Sharia law (or the sacred law of Islam)—as well as international law—when making rulings. The ballot measure passed by an overwhelming 70 percent. Apart from the legal objections to the amendment, which will be discussed more below, the amendment’s passing raises an obvious question—was it really necessary for voters to prohibit Oklahoma courts from considering Sharia law?

The Burning Bush They’ll Buy, but Not ESP or Alien Abduction

The Burning Bush They’ll Buy, but Not ESP or Alien Abduction

By Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times
Practically anything goes at the American Academy of Religion’s annual conference, where scholars of dozens of religions convene annually to debate, relate and on occasion mate. Conversation ranges from the Talmud to tantra, from Platonism to Satanism. This year, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Atlanta, nearly 5,000 people attended panels including “Seeking New Meanings of God and Dao” and “Madness, Smallpox, and Death in Tibet.”

The Religion of the Tea Party: A Cautionary Tale to Scholars

The Religion of the Tea Party: A Cautionary Tale to Scholars

By James Dennis LoRusso  In the last 18 months, the political landscape in the United States has undergone seismic shifts.  The ever-widening ideological chasm between progressive and conservative renders constructive dialogue problematic at best, and no phenomenon better symbolizes this dilemma for both sides of the political spectrum than the Tea Party.  On the right, […]

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.

Lost: A Reflection

Lost: A Reflection

Unlike the average sitcom, the events of ‘Lost’ challenge the viewers and engage their minds on multiple levels. Although the audience encounters what may at first appear fantastical, these fantastical confrontations are readily converted to relatable human issues. Natures’ transience, humanity’s interconnectedness, possibilities of truth behind myth/magic still existing in the world, and the many forms faith presents itself in the world are old issues, all too familiar—if not in the surface of most people’s minds then in the recesses of one’s consciousness, as it attempts to locate itself and make sense of the world.

Factions And Their Fictions

Factions And Their Fictions

We cannot wait on a new Solon, or a different Cleisthenes, to do this work. It falls to an organized citizenry to press back against the factionalism of its professional classes (the Wall Streeters, the banks, the large corporations, the entrenched religious interests, and the lobbies they all fund), who clearly must be getting something out of the messes in which they invest, and the renewed factionalism and political rancor they have left in their wake.

Home Shrines for American War Dead

Home Shrines for American War Dead

As “[y]ou walk into these rooms… and you feel like these are the kids you used to hang out with…. It’s powerful to look at where these kids lived, to see who they were as living, breathing human beings.” The authors interpret these actions as attempts on the part of family members to “resist” and “wrestle with” what has happened; this is “how they will cope and how they will remember.”