Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is a powerful reactionary figure in the country's toxic political scene, which has welded a tale of thwarted imperial destiny to a thin-skinned fundamentalist theology that can't bear the slightest sign of mockery; he's blamed ISIS on secularism and Pride parades and says that marriage equality literally heralds the imminent apocalypse. Read the rest
Living treasure and outspoken atheist Stephen Fry has a classic bit from a two-year-old episode of RTE's "The Meaning of Life" in which he answers the question, "What would you say to God if you died and found yourself at the gates of heaven?" Read the rest
The Book of Miracles (also known as the Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs) is a compendium of beautiful 16th-century illustrations of cosmic anxiety and apocalyptic surrealism. The new edition from Taschen, edited by Till-Holger Borchert and Joshua P Waterman, is a perfect introduction to the Renaissance obsession with signs, portents and the damned weird. Read the rest
"‘Jesus’ Appears Over Landslide-Stricken Colombian City" (Mysterious Universe)
Not long after Bob Marley's death, Dan Rather heads to Jamaica, bringing with him the misinformed view of Rastafari that was common in the United States then (and, well, now).
Mormonleaks is a whistleblower site dedicated to revealing corruption and hypocrisy in the Church of Latter Day Saints; over four months, it has published many documents that did just that, but when it published a leaked Powerpoint revealing the Church's view on "the roots of apostasy, such as pornography, campaigns to ordain women, challenges to church history and general 'lack of righteousness,'" the Church turned to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a bogus claim of copyright infringement to get the document taken down. Read the rest
Manhattan is just one of hundreds of metropolitan areas in the United States that has an eruv, which is a wire that symbolically turns public spaces into private spaces during the Jewish Sabbath.
From Mental Floss:
Read the rest
On the Sabbath, which is viewed as a day of rest, observant Jewish people aren't allowed to carry anything — books, groceries, even children — in public places (doing so is considered "work"). The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one's own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath — and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law. Along with everything else in New York City, the eruv isn't cheap. It costs a group of Orthodox synagogues $100,000 a year to maintain the wires, which are inspected by a rabbi every Thursday before dawn to confirm they are all still attached.
During an "improvised sermon" in his residence during morning mass, Pope Francis excoriated Catholics who lead a "hypocritical double life," going to mass and joining religious organizations while living from the exploitation of others -- the Pope said these people should say to themselves, "my life is not Christian, I don't pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life'." Read the rest
The nonprofit Unchained At Last analyzed US marriage license data from 2000 to 2010 and learned that 167,000 children (almost all girls, some as young as 12) in 38 states were married off to older men: 31% of the girls were married to men who were 21 or older. Extrapolating from their data-set, Unchained at Last estimates the true total of child-marriage 2000-2010 as 248,000. Read the rest
Congratulations on your upgrade to Malebolge, the Eighth Circle of the Abyss. This tier of our eternal rewards program is reserved for customers of our Fraud department, including flatterers, adulterers, hypocrites, and thieves. And what a dedicated customer you have been.
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All others pay cash. Read the rest
In 2014, Daniel Trochta of the small town of Vranov nad Dyji in the Czech Republic heard screaming coming from the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. He peeped through the keyhole and watch an exorcism unfold, and caught a couple minutes of it on his mobile phone camera. Sadly, Trochta seems to have missed any projectile vomiting, levitation, or head-spinning that may have occurred. From Mysterious Universe:
After Trochta posted the video, some parishioners and town residents questioned its authenticity and complained about the noise and possible danger. Local priest Father Marek Dunda finally confirmed that the video was real and implied that he was the exorcist or at least present during the ceremony.
"We were asking God to protect and to liberate the person. We used a Latin prayer asking for help. Of course it helps."
He refused to identify the woman and gave no details on her current condition. While the complaints continue, the town mayor says he’s talked to the priest and nothing illegal occurred in the church.
If you're a California state employee -- including an employee in the UC system -- no longer use California state funds travel to Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina or Tennessee, or any state "that has passed a law that (1) authorizes discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, or (2) voids or repeals existing state or local protections against such discrimination." It's hard to imagine any major academic conferences being held in those states anymore. Read the rest
Convicted election fraudster and public education opponent Betsy Devos made her billions through hard work -- really, you can't overstate the effort required to emerge from the loins of someone who married a rich guy, nor the work of later marrying someone else who emerged from the loins someone who married a rich guy. Read the rest
An analysis of passwords found in the 2009 breach of Rockyou -- 32 million accounts -- finds a large number of Biblical references ("jesus"," "heaven", "faith", etc), including a number of Bible verse references ("john316"). Read the rest