It's been nearly a year since Tony Yarber, pastor and mayor of Jackson, Mississippi capital and largest city in the state, tweeted that he believed he could pray away potholes, citing Moses's alleged parting of the Red Sea as precedent. Read the rest
Magnanimous president-to-be Donald Trump says that despite his proposed ban on muslims entering the U.S., London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan, may be an exception.
“There will always be exceptions,” Mr. Trump said when asked in an interview on Monday how his proposed ban would affect London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. “I was happy to see that,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Khan’s election. “I think it’s a very good thing, and I hope he does a very good job because frankly that would be very, very good.”
Asked why, Mr. Trump said, “Because I think if he does a great job, it will really — you lead by example, always lead by example. If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing.”
Khan's having none of it.
Read the rest
He rejected Trump's suggestion that he could be an exception to the proposed Muslim travel ban, saying: "This isn't just about me -- it's about my friends, my family and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world."
The statement continued: "Donald Trump and those around him think that western liberal values are incompatible with mainstream Islam -- London has proved him wrong."
Religion blogger Fred Clark is fascinated with the urban legends and panic surrounding "satanism," so years ago he set up a Google News Alert for the word "Satanic." Over at Pathos, he posted the funny, ridiculous, and fascinating things he's learned. Here's a sample:
• Every year, dozens of filmmakers try to recapture the magic that made The Exorcist so unsettling. Most fail.
• Pat Boone is still alive.
• The political performance art of the Satanic Temple is both hilarious and pointedly effective. They’re defending the First Amendment the way that we Baptists are supposed to.
• Adolescent legend tripping is happening all the time, every day, somewhere in the English-speaking world.
• Adults who should know better are freaking out and over-reacting to adolescent legend tripping all the time, every day, somewhere in the English-speaking world.
• Censorious adults worried about Kids Today listening to satanic heavy metal aren’t really keeping up with the satanic heavy metal acts trying hardest to gain their condemnation.
• Same goes for video games.
Police in Indonesia investigating reports of an "angel" in a remote village discovered not a supernatural avatar of God's will but a blow-up doll. A fisherman found it floating around after a rare solar eclipse and, well, it's a mistake anyone could make: "The timing of the discovery led some to believe the doll had a divine provenance. They have no internet, they don't know what a sex toy is," the AFP quoted a local police chief as saying. Read the rest
After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all.
Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted to study them.
Five Pacific Northwest tribes pressed the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the bones, to hand them over in accordance with a federal law on the repatriation of remains. However, a group of scientists sued to block the handover, arguing that the skeleton was not associated with a present-day tribe.
Federal judges sided with the scientists, and as a result, the corps retained custody of the skeleton and made it available for study. Now that the studies are finished, the 380 bones and bone fragments are locked away in Seattle at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Some scientists suggested that Kennewick Man might have been a visitor from the Far North, Siberia or perhaps someplace even more exotic. But when geneticists compared DNA from a hand bone with a wide range of samples, they found that the closest match came from members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
The burial site will be a secret, so we can have this fight all over again in a few thousand years. Read the rest
Motherboard's Claire Evans visited The Church of Perpetual Life, a transhumanist house of worship whose adherents await the time technology brings them into eternity—by curing aging. The strangest thing is that it seems much like any other smalltown Protestant church, right down to the bland off-white architecture, the nice pews, the books on tables, the clean-cut religiosity. It is in Florida.
"We are fighting against involuntary death, and view immortality as the ultimate solution to every problem mankind faces,” said Bill Faloon, one of the church’s founders.
His parishioners call themselves “immortalists.” Other monikers include transhumanists, “longevity enthusiasts,” and “people who really are committed to the anti-aging concept.”
Whatever they call themselves, they all share one thing in common: They believe that science and technology will find a way for humans to live forever on Earth.
On the always excellent Expanding Mind podcast, we hear from Jeremy Crawford, one of the designers of the new 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.
"We discuss identity, the multicultural multiverse, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the sacred absurdity of terrible dice rolls," says host Erik Davis.
Retro Report did a short feature on the moral panics about D&D in the 1980s. It's a fun, 13 minute look back at the moment when D&D totally changed a bunch of kids' lives, only to be vilified and literally demonized by opportunistic members of the religious right. Read the rest
A Southwest Air flight attendant ordered the removal of a woman of Somali descent in a headscarf from a Chicago-Seattle flight after the passenger asked her neighbor if she could switch seats with him. The flight attendant said she "did not feel comfortable" with the passenger onboard. Read the rest
Though Sanders says he disagrees with the pope on rights for women and LGBT people, he lauds the pontiff for "injecting a moral consequence into the economy," and so he will speak at the Vatican next week. Read the rest
Sanders won an unprecedented six out of seven primaries in a streak that culminated with astounding, lopsided victories on Saturday night. MSNBC "covered" it by airing a couple of reality TV shows about life in prison, while CNN preferred to cover some breaking news about Jesus, who has been dead for at least 2,000 years, and who would have felt the Bern anyway. Read the rest
Catholic Church Insurance, Ltd, owned by the Australian Diocese, assembled thousands of pages of dossiers on rapes committed by paedophile priests in the 1990s when survivors of the assaults started coming forward with compensation claims. Read the rest
Since the 12th century -- and up to this very day -- tourists venture to Somerset's Glastonbury Abbey to see the grave of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, allegedly buried in the churchyard by 12th century monks who discovered their skeletons in an underground tree-trunk. Read the rest
Laurie Penny's latest, sacrelicious short story on Tor.com, "Your Orisons May Be Recorded," is a hilarious thought experiment about the working conditions for the angels who answer customer service prayers from dissatisfied humans. Read the rest