The Gallup organization has released its latest report of American religiosity. 41 percent of Americans indicated that they are “very religious,” 29 percent were classified as nonreligious, and another 29 percent fell somewhere in-between. Each state was also rated, with Mississippi found to have the most “very religious” people (61%) and Vermont the fewest. (22%). You can check out where your state rates in the Biblethumpers vs. pagans scale here. Or you can just view the nice map from the Atlantic:
Demon possession, levitation, unnatural swarms of flies, skeptical state officials, children walking up walls, oozing substances, spirit silhouettes, an exorcism: Gary (Indiana) police Capt. Charles Austin said it was the strangest story he had ever heard. But after studying the documents and interviewing the family and witnesses, the 36 year veteran said simply, “I am a believer.” The Indianapolis Star (a Pulitzer-prize winning paper) produced a 6,000 word article after reviewing 800 pages of official documents (many of which are hyperlinked to the article). The official intake report documents that both the psych counselor and DCS [Department of Child Services] worker saw one of Latoya Ammons’s three children “walk up the wall as if he was walking on the floor and did a flip over the grandmother.” It also reports that medical staff corroborated a report of one of the children being thrown into a wall by an invisible force.
Should Christians view Muslims as allies in our culture? First Things make a good case for it. Your thoughts?
In Buffalo, many Roman Catholics are practicing a Mass Mob. Like a Flash Mob, participants should up en masse, but in this case their only goal is to fill a struggling church.
Professor Bengtson was curious: Why do some young people adopt their families’ religious views while others strike out on their own? Curious enough that he spent four decades on the question, studying 350 families. His research produced over 200 articles, but he did not publish a summary till now. His conclusions are very interesting. But what have you experienced? Why do children stay in the faith or wander away?
Well this is good news: The abortion rate in the United States has dropped to its lowest point since Roe V. Wade (1973), and is just barely above the rate before Roe. The authors of the study suggest this may be due to better birth control, but they admit this is speculation. Click on the picture at right to see the trend.
Culture war in Europe: In France, 0ver 100,000 conservative French marched through Paris and Lyon on Sunday accusing the government of “family-phobia” for legalizing gay marriage (and other policies). Spain is debating a new abortion bill. In London, it is the battle of the posters. Gay rights group Stonewall, published some downtown which said, “Some people are gay. Get over it!” A Christian charity group responded with posters reading “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” Guess which posters were deemed illegal.
And increasing anti-Semitism in Europe: In Italy, Pigs’ Heads were sent to a Synagogue and the Israeli Embassy before Holocaust Remembrance Day. In France, anti-government protests in Paris denigrated into shouts of “Jews you flaws, France is not yours” “Jews, We don’t want you”, “Jews, out of France”, all while many made Nazi salutes. Wow.
The message was not surprising, perhaps, but the messenger was. Responding to Vatican queries, the Bishops of Germany issued an incredibly blunt assessment of the gap between the churches teachings on sexuality and what Catholics there actually thought and did. “The Church’s statements on premarital sexual relations, homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried, and on birth control, by contrast, are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases,” it said. Ouch. It goes on. “Almost all couples who wish to marry in church have already been living together.” Less than three percent of Catholic couples use the Natural Family Planning of birth control (opting for condoms or the pill instead). Divorced and remarried couples have “become a normal part of pastoral reality in Germany.” And they suggest that the Church should move away from “prohibition ethics” and stress “advisory ethics” instead.
Et Tu, Menno? A regional Mennonite body has licensed their first lesbian Pastor.
Your tax dollars at work: Rutgers students can now take a class called Politicizing Beyoncé. The official class description: “We will attempt to position Beyoncé as a progressive, feminist, and even queer figure through close examination of her music alongside readings on political issues, both contemporary and historical.” The mind boggles; a respected university is going to try to exegete this???
I think I need a barber
None of these niggars can fade me
Im so good with this,
I remind you im so hood with this
Boy im just playing, come here baby
Hope you still like me, niggar pay me
My persuasion can build a nation
Endless power, our love we can devour
You’ll do anything for me.
The same department also lists these other gems (only one of which I made up):
- Representation and Pornography — “This course will examine how the body has been represented in art and visual culture, as well as in pornography and consider the range of ways the nude body and pornography exist in contemporary art.”
- Gender, Race, and Performance During the Harlem Renaissance – “This multidisciplinary course analyzes the fabled cultural awakening among African Americans during the 1920s and 1930s. It focuses on the performance of gender and race identity in literature, popular culture, and the visual arts.”
- Gender and Bollywood — “This course examines through a feminist lens some of these films and the larger political, social and cultural issues they raise, including arranged marriages, sex, prostitution, single motherhood, women in the workplace, and gender and cultural identity. Primary course material consists of Bollywood films, which we will be watching throughout the course.”
- Gender & Consumption — “Topics to be discussed might include: sex work, pornography, tourism, shopping addiction, hoarding, advertising, the fashion industry, celebrity culture, corporatized activism, the pharmaceutical industry, the drug trade, health, the bioeconomy, et cetera.”
- Gender in Calvin and Hobbes – “This course examines American feminist issues in popular culture through looking at how the sexually repressed Calvin relates to his mother, his teacher, and Susie Derkins.”
- Politics, Food, and Environment — “This course will address questions of the intersection of gender, food, and environmental politics from several different perspectives. We’ll be talking about ecofeminism, the sexual politics of meat production, [editor’s note: WHAT?] environmental activism, and maybe The Hunger Games.”
- Homosexuality and Visual Culture — “How has history been changed by queer artists? This course will introduce you to the central role of homosexuality and homoeroticism in visual culture in the distant and recent past as well as the present day”
“If you continue on this destructive path, you will ensure your everlasting disgrace in Jewish history for bringing calamity upon the Jewish people — like Nebuchadnezzar and Titus who destroyed, respectively, the first and second great Temples and the entire Holy City of Jerusalem, and who, by heavenly punishment, brought eventual disaster upon themselves, too.” Who were the Rabbis addressing? One of the leaders of their Muslim neighbors? A group of terrorists? Iran? No, this was addressed to none other than our own Secretary of State, John Kerry. The Rabbis (a couple big names among them) also warned Kerry he was acting like Haman, adding helpfully (in case the Secretary was fuzzy on his Bible stories) “Tellingly, [Haman] and his sons eventually were hung on the very same gallows he had prepared for Mordechai, the Jew.”
A United Nations panel blasted the Vatican for protecting itself rather than victims of sexual abuse and accused the Vatican of “systematically” adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest thousands of young people over a span of decades. It added, “the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests”. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the UN in Geneva, said he had been surprised by the findings, which he considered “not up to date” and a distorted depiction that ignored recent progress.
Pope John Paul II wanted his diaries burned; instead, they have now been published. They record the emotions of a man who spent decades constantly questioning whether he was worthy of the role he was called to carry out, and who agonised about whether he was doing enough to serve God.
A Catholic Diocese is taking heat for its decision to fire an unwed teacher because she is pregnant. The superintendent said the woman “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract,” which requires her to follow Catholic teachings in both her personal and professional life.
Well, this is interesting: What’s your take on why these trends are happening?
Cognitve dissonance alert: Why am I on the same side of an issue as Pat Robertson?
From the “sad, but not surprising department” comes this note that more people read Facebook each day than read their Bibles. Okay, imonkers, fess up? Is this you? And is this a problem or a non-issue?
One of my favorite actors died this week. The Atlantic argued Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the greatest actor of his generation. He is having a Catholic funeral, and you can read why here. Who gets your vote for the greatest living actor?
Birthdays of the week include: Sir Thomas More (1478), Aaron Burr (1756), Charles Dickens (1812), Charles Lindberg (1902), Ronald Reagan (1911, yes only nine years younger than Lindberg), Eva Braun (1912), Bob Marley (1945) who provides this week’s video: