People who live in the LGBT-identified Sydney neighborhood of Darlinghurst are getting letters through their door signed by "Jesus" that blame queer people for extreme weather (drought, hail); "Jesus" also takes credit for felling the (admittedly horrible) former PM Malcolm Turnbull.
Read the rest
In 1922, the devil appeared at several teen dances in Hutchinson, Minnessota. Apparently he'd manifest "in the middle of the dance floor with fire streaming from eyes, mouth and tail" and attempt to break up the sinful festivities. A reward of $5,000 was offered to anyone who would shoot the devil next time he turned up. At the next party, a boy, 14, took his best shot and hit Lucifer right in the abdomen. Turned out that the devil was a local Methodist minister.
(Weird Universe) Read the rest
Between 1947 and 1954, avant-garde dancer and experimental filmmaker Maya Deren visited Haiti and immersed herself in vodou. Supported with a Guggenheim Fellowship grant, Deren intended to study and film the trance dancing of vodou ceremony. Ultimately, Deren became an active participant in the rituals. She documented her experiences in the 1953 book Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo (Living) Gods of Haiti and the footage that resulted in the entrancing 1981 film above, completed two decades after Deren's death by her third husband and his wife. Now, the Psychic Sounds Research & Recordings label has remastered and reissued Deren's audio recordings from Haiti on vinyl. Audio sampler below. From the label:
Read the rest
Maya Deren journeyed to Haiti to make a film of ritual dances, instead, she came to be accepted as a Voudoun initiate, whose devotees commune with the cosmic powers through invocation, offerings, song and dance of the Voudoun pantheon of deities, or Loa, whom are witnessed as being living gods and goddesses, actually taking possession of their devotees. Deren describes the relationship between magic, science and religion bringing a uniquely lyrical voice to her narrative. This paints a multi-textured, infinitely complex portrait of a spiritual tradition with roots stretching back to the very dawn of humanity. Joseph Campbell calls Divine Horsemen 'the most illuminating introduction that has yet been rendered to the whole marvel of the Haitian mysteries as 'facts of the mind.'' Included in this album are some of the first recordings ever made during religious ceremonies near Croix de Missions and Petionville featuring selections that serve as a soundtrack to the film she shot documenting Voodoo ceremonies and festivals conveying the incantatory power of the ritual drumming and singing.
Bill Donohue, the president of the ultra-conservative Catholic League, has called the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's report on the official coverups of the priestly rape of children an "obscene lie," insisting that rape was relatively rare, because most of the sexual abuse committed by the priesthood doesn't qualify as rape, because the priests didn't penetrate their victims.
Read the rest
In a change to Catholic doctrine, Pope Francis wrote that it is always "inadmissible" to inflict the death penalty because of the inherent dignity of human life.
"Consequently the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide," reads the new text, which was approved in May but only published Thursday.
This helps folks talk about abortion with a straight face but it's not as if a selective approach to the sanctity of life bothered many to begin with. It doesn't seem to be going down well. Read the rest
Feed 19 repetitions of the word "dog" to Google Translate and ask it for a Maori conversion and you get this: "Doomsday Clock is three minutes at twelve. We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus' return."
Read the rest
In the rush to vote through Trump's trillion-dollar-plus tax gift to the super-wealthy, Congressional Republicans voted on unfinished drafts full of notes, erasures, and incoherencies, with no one really sure what they were casting a vote in favor of.
Read the rest
Jeff Sessions says that the Bible commands him to cruelly separate thousands of children from their parents, but Colbert -- a devout Catholic -- begs to differ. (Thanks, Rutherford B Hayes!) Read the rest
...as imagined and averaged out by 511 American Christians surveyed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
When the researchers averaged out the features on the more commonly-selected pictures, they found that the average view of God is significantly different than how Michelangelo portrayed the Almighty. Instead of a large, old man with a flowing white beard, the averaging image showed a beardless, younger face.
God is a Pittsburgh bus driver. Read the rest
Gabriele Trovato is an Italian human-computer interaction researcher at Tokyo's Waseda University; along with colleagues from Peru's Pontificia Universidad Católica, he presented Design Strategies for Representing the Divine in Robots (Sci-Hub mirror) at March's ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction.
Read the rest
2,000 US schools use textbooks from Abeka, BJU Press and Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), including tax-funded charter schools across America; students who learn from these texts are taught that God wanted Protestantism to flourish in North America and that Catholocism is not a true faith; that it was better Africans to be enslaved and come to "know Christ" than to be free but not Christian; that evolution is untrue; that humans and dinosaurs lived together (and that Noah brought baby dinosaurs on the ark); that the Loch Ness monster is real; that "abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act" are part of a "radical social agenda"; that nonwhites are inferior (60% of the tax-funded scholarship students at charter schools come from racialized minorities and are thus taught that they are racially inferior to their white schoolmates).
Read the rest
A few weeks back, we pushed out a post about the fact that Heathens serving in the U.S. Army are now allowed to sport a beard as part of their faith. In the story, I mentioned that a group that stands for heathens serving in the military stated that the growing of a beard wasn’t a tenet of Heathenry. Given that Ásatrú, Heathenry and Paganism have been used to describe a wide number of belief systems and religions, I wasn’t sure if making a basket statement like this was factually correct. Fortunately, I know someone who does.
Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried was the first Ásatrú to earn a graduate degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. While at the university, he was President of Interfaith Dialogue and served on the Spiritual Life Council, the advisory board for the Spiritual Life Office. He holds degrees in literature and music from University of California at San Diego, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and University of Texas at Austin. He studied literature and art history at Loyola University Chicago, Rome Center, in Italy and took Icelandic language courses through University of Iceland's distance learning program.
Dr. Seigfried currently works at the Illinois Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Professor in Humanities and as a Pagan Chaplain. He’s Goði (priest) of Thor’s Oak Kindred—a Chicago-based organization, dedicated to the practice of the Ásatrú faith and a member of the Troth Clergy Program. Previously, Dr. Seigfried taught Norse mythology and religion at Loyola University Chicago, Carthage College, and the Newberry Library Seminars Program. Read the rest
Ireland's no-exceptions-made abortion ban was one of the cruelest and most inhumane in the world, and after years of struggle, the country has finally held a referendum to amend its constitution and strike down the abortion ban in Article 8; the official count isn't out, but the Irish Times has called it for the reformers, in a "landslide," with a projected 68%-32% margin.
Read the rest
Stasi, the secret police of East Germany, used Orwell's 1984 as a training manual for torture and degradation. Some Catholic nuns in Colombia apparently looked to psychopathic torturer Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale for child rearing lessons. Read the rest
The Vatican Secret Archives sound like a joint that'd give Illuminati conspiracy junkies feverish wet dreams. The site, which sits kitty corner to the Vatican's Apostolic Library, is a treasure trove of Catholic Church documents: over 50 linear miles of that letters, books and papal bulls, some of which date back to the eighth century, to be exact.
Too bad that you could jam the number of scholastically accessible information in the VSA could be jammed up a gnat's ass and it'd look like a BB in a boxcar.
Y'see, most of what's there is priceless. You'd be a nut to allow folks in to view it on a regular basis, for fear of it being damaged. Those responsible for the VSA have, in the past, made half-assed attempts to scan and translate a small number of the Archive's documents. But remember, we're talking OVER 50 MILES of shelves chockablock with missives, notes and tomes. It'd take a fortune (which the Vatican totally has, I suppose) and an unknowable amount of time to collate, translate and scan everything into a usable format.
According to The Atlantic, computer scientists love challenges like this. A new project called In Codice Ratio is working towards using Artificial Intelligence to understand and translate the Archive's contents using OCR so that the information can be plopped into text documents for humanities scholars to use in their studies. It's tough to do! OCR is notoriously bad at translating handwriting, let alone script which, in some cases, was written in a dead language. Read the rest
Soldiers that consider themselves part of the many religious traditions that make up what we call modern Heathenry have had the option since 2013 to have their military tombstone marked with a Hammer of Thor, instead of the traditional Christian crosses and Stars of David that most often adorn the stone markers. It seems only fitting then, that a soldier who still draws breath should also be able to mark his faith while serving his country. This seems to be the logic that the U.S. Army used when it created a new exception to the Army's uniform and grooming standards.
According to The Army Times, the U.S. Army authorized Sikh soldiers to wear beards – beards are an important tenet of the Sikh faith. As it turns out, the change in military grooming standards now applies to soldiers of all religions: if maintaining facial hair is apart of your God-thing, then you've got a right to rock a beard. That said, in order to do so, you'll have to ask permission to do so.
The latest accommodation granted for a religious group is for those who consider themselves to be heathens – adherents to any number of pagan faiths.
There is, however, some contention over whether or not the wearing of a beard is an important tenet of Heathenry. From The Army Times:
Read the rest
According to the Open Halls Project, an advocacy group for heathens serving in the military, the beard is a beloved tradition, but not a requirement.