Greetings, all. Adam Palmer here, filling in for our illustrious Jeff Dunn as he sojourns on an enigmatic quest through the exotic and mysterious land known only as “Dayton, Ohio.” Hopefully he’ll file some reports from high atop some ancient ruin–if he can hack his way through all the jungle vines and make the ascent without disrupting some booby traps and taking a poison arrow to the solar plexus. You know Jeff is pretty much the American Bear Grylls, right?
Ahem. Shall we ramble?
You may have heard about a little motion picture coming to US theatres this weekend called The Avengers. Turns out the marketing pros at Disney are very forward-thinking, as they’re launching their superhero movie on the same weekend as the only so-called “supermoon” of 2012. The moon will appear larger in the sky than usual this weekend, and while that’s as good an occasion as any to gawk at our most beautiful natural satellite, the difference isn’t discernible to the naked eye. In food terms (which I always appreciate), it’s the same difference between a 15- and 16-inch pizzas.
The National Day of Prayer was this week. I have nothing to say about it, but if you want to read a good book on prayer, you should check out Pete Greig’s Red Moon Rising.
This week also saw the release of many interesting “studies” in regards to religion. For starters, we learned that, while religious people are often generous, they tend to give out of “factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.” Yes, atheists and agnostics are driven by human compassion while the religious are driven by guilt or a sense of duty. Once again, science has proven what we already know: we have a problem with grace.
Another study dares to ask the question: Can Analytic Thinking Decrease Religious Belief? I’m not so sure about this one, but the article is worth reading for this dandy quote: “Religion is such an important part of the world and we have so little understanding of it. So regardless of what you think about religion, it’s important to understand it because it’s so important in the world.”
Okay, this one is actually pretty interesting: according to the 2012 Religious Congregations and Membership Study, the fastest-growing religion in half the United States is now… Mormonism. Second-place goes to Islam. The author of this article asserts that this growth “should concern church leaders.” So… are you?
Here’s one for the “Let’s Generate Some Comments” file: after studying a “microscopic algae-eater that lives in a lake in Norway,” we have now found the oldest human ancestor. Do with that information what you will; just remember comments are moderated and we like it when you play nice.
Notable birthdays of the week include: crooners Bing Crosby and Engelbert Humperdinck, that writer named Niccolo Machiavelli, delicate flower Audrey Hepburn, Michael Palin, actresses Uma Thurman, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kirsten Dunst, and former newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, who just missed out on sharing a birthday with the man who borrowed his story and made the greatest movie of all time, Orson Welles (his is next week).
In sadder news, at least for people of my generation (i.e. Generation X): prolific hip-hop artist and one-third of the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch (aka MCA) succumbed to cancer yesterday. He was a devout Buddhist, and while I didn’t agree with his faith, I appreciated his music and respected his devotion to his beliefs and to his craft. So, in memoriam, enjoy this one-take version of the Beastie Boys doing what they do best. I’m sure Jeff will return to ’70s rock guitar performances next week.