Two people drowned in river baptisms

Two adult men drowned during their baptisms in the Ungwasi River in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania in Africa.

“Following the incident, we have agreed on some measures that will ensure the safety of our followers during baptism in the rivers,” Victory Christian Center pastor Samuel Kamigwa was quoted as saying.

From Religion News:

Kamigwa said churches were considering increasing the number of ministers at one baptism event. They would also baptize one person at a time, while others are kept at a safe distance, and will choose a time when the water is calm enough for the ritual....

Last year, six children died in Zimbabwe’s eastern province of Mashonaland during an early morning baptism in a stream by a self-styled prophetess.

And in January 2015, two elderly Pentecostal church pastors drowned in Mutshedzi River in Limpopo Province of South Africa, where they had gone to baptize four junior church members.

Read the rest

Beautiful film on a Buddhist ritual only 46 monks have completed

The Kaihōgyō is a quest to become a living Buddha through 1000 days of gruelling rituals. Ivan Olita was granted rare access to a temple near Kyoto to film The Seven Year Pilgrimage to Enlightenment.

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An illustration of the the danger of saying "Play this at my funeral"

TheScreamingFedora sharpened a joke more tamely made here.

Previously: Biggie Smalls the Tank Engine Read the rest

A worldwide occult ritual for binding Donald Trump

My friend, the horror writer, Fortean investigator, and educator, Michael Hughes, has been circulating details for a series of occult rituals being planned to cast a "spell to bind Donald Trump and all those who abet him." The basic mission statement of the ritual:

To be performed at midnight on every waning crescent moon until he is removed from office. The first ritual takes place Friday evening, February 24th, at the stroke of midnight. This binding spell is open source, and may be modified to fit your preferred spiritual practice or magical system — the critical elements are the simultaneity of the working (midnight, EST—DC, Mar-a-Lago, and Trump Tower NYC time) and the mass energy of participants.

I had to chuckle at the shopping list for the ritual:

Unflattering photo of Trump (small); see below for one you can print Tower tarot card (from any deck) Tiny stub of an orange candle (cheap via Amazon) Pin or small nail (to inscribe candle) White candle (any size), representing the element of Fire Small bowl of water, representing elemental Water Small bowl of salt, representing elemental Earth Feather (any), representing the element of Air Matches or lighter Ashtray or dish of sand

Optional:

Piece of pyrite (fool’s gold) Sulfur Black thread (for traditional binding variant) Baby carrot (as substitute for orange candle stub)

They had me a "tiny orange candle" and "baby carrot."

Whether you're a believer in any flavor of woo-woo or just see this as Yippie-esque political theater/performance art, a la the 1967 levitation of the Pentagon, you may be interested in participating. Read the rest

Our little technology rituals don't do anything--or do they?

At Vice, Leigh Alexander (recently at Boing Boing) writes about the superstitious rituals we all practice when it comes to technology. We do it whether we are conscious of the ritual or not, and we do it even when we are informed the ritual is harmful to the machines.

...blowing on cartridges may have actually caused more problems than it solved. But because collectively our anecdotal experiences had led us to believe that blowing had some positive effect—it seemed to work, even if it took an unpredictable number of puffs, amid all kinds of other unknown factors—we established a ritual. Our belief that blowing on cartridges does something is stronger even than evidence to the contrary.

Closing background apps on your iphone, wiggling accellerometers, tilting game controllers, double-tapping touchscreen icons, and rebooting slow computers: all modern equivalents to the ol' Nintendo Blow. But something has changed: now the designers of the technology can adapt to and integrate our rituals into how technology works. And once it's there, the technology can demand it. Read the rest

Why are these children "sieg heiling" the American flag?

In this 1915 photo, the children appear to be raising their arms in a siege heil salute of the American flag. Actually, this gesture was part of the Pledge of Allegiance ritual for decades. Then, um, Hitler happened. From Smithsonian:

Originally known as the Bellamy Salute, the gesture came to be in the 1890s, when the Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis J. Bellamy. The Christian socialist minister was recruited to write a patriotic pledge to the American flag as part of magazine mogul Daniel Sharp Ford’s quest to get the flag into public schools.

At the time... Bellamy and his boss both agreed that the Civil War had divided American loyalties and that the flag might be able to bridge those gaps. His campaign centered around the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the new world. He published his new Pledge as part of a unified Columbus Day ceremony program in September 1892 in the pages of the Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine with a circulation of 500,000.

“At a signal from the Principal,” Bellamy wrote, “the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag…'”

Then in the 1930s, Hitler reportedly saw Italian Fascists doing a similar gesture, likely based on an ancient Roman custom, and adopted it for the Nazi party. Read the rest

Have your body turned into effluent and just poured down the drain when you die

A funeral home in Ottawa, Canada, is using a new body eco-friendly disposal technique called Alkaline Hydrolysis, which leaves only a coffee-like slurry that can be simply poured down the drain.

Aquagreen Dispositions began operating in a rental unit within the former Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls in May 2015 after receiving a licence from the Ontario government. Hilton's Unforgettable Tails, a parallel business handling the remains of pets, had been using the same process for a couple of years prior to Aquagreen Dispositions, but it took longer to get a licence to handle human remains.

The owner, Dale Hilton, who is from a family of funeral home operators in Smiths Falls, said he watched as the "green wave" swept through the funeral industry, bringing biodegradable caskets and urns.

We've covered the technique before here and here, where John Brownlee pointed out that a straightforward chemical disposal process is, if nothing else, more dignified than the disgusting bilking-of-the-bereaved that oftentimes goes on at funeral parlors.

Nevertheless, "we keep an eye on these things," a local water quality official, Ted Joynt, told CBC News.

Cremations take hours to complete and release carbon dioxide; the alkaline disposal system uses potash, salt and water to "break down a human body in a heated, pressurized vessel" that allows implants and artificial joints to be recovered and reused.

In wide use for animal disposal, similar equipment can be seen at Pri-Bio's Thermal Tissue Digester product page.

Here is a deleted scene from Dune where a body is broken down to water and the remains given to the dead man's killer, who must safeguard it for the tribe. Read the rest

This game will make your morning coffee seem kind of scary

Keurig coffee machines, with their clunking lever, digital menu and environmentally-hazardous pods, are already kind of creepy—and that's even before you're hooked on their precious, precious dark caffeine.