Satanic broccoli, baptizing Martians, and Godzilla as a Christ-figure. Welcome to the weekend, fellow imonkers.
First, some lighter news. Here in Indiana, we are anxiously awaiting the next round of the NBA playoffs, where the valiant and virtuous Pacers battle the Evil Empire (aka, the Miami Heat) for the Eastern Conference championship. And the Oklahoma City Thunder will face the San Antonio Spurs for the Western crown. I’m rooting for the Pacers to go all the way of course, but it would be intriguing to have our first “Battle of the Weather” if the Thunder take on the Heat.
In other sports news, the NFL completed their draft with more than the usual amount of drama, as questions arose why Johnny Football dropped all the way to the 22nd spot and got exiled to Cleveland.And Michael Sam, the first openly gay player was drafted in the 259th spot. Before the draft, Sam said he wanted to simply be a football player. After he was drafted, he let the Rams know the Oprah’s network would be filming a documentary about his experience in training camp and trying to make the team.
Last week we reported on a Satanic Black Mass scheduled to be held on Harvard’s campus. The Black Mass is basically just a way to mock Catholics, not a sincere religious service. Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said the idea was to have actors dressed as a nun and a priest performing a ritual in liturgical Latin. A prop representing a communion wafer would have been stepped on or otherwise defiled. Apparently the Cultural Studies Club felt this was the best way to celebrate diversity. Wary of the childish blasphemy, and more wary of the impeding media circus, Harvard asked the participants to go off campus. But not before trying to reach a compromise in order to make the blasphemy not so…blasphemous: “As the controversy spread, representatives of Harvard asked Greaves if he could simply use an “imaginary” communion wafer or even a piece of broccoli in lieu of bread.”
In more substantial news, did you know that the number of French Jews emigrating to Israel rose nearly four-fold in the first quarter of the year and could set a record in 2014? The culprit is largely seen to be rising anti-Semitism in France, though the sluggish economy there is also an issue.
Speaking of anti-Semitism, the first-ever global study of anti-Semitic attitudes shows that more than a quarter of the world’s population harbors intense anti-Jewish sentiment. Wow. Pollsters asked 11 questions about common Jewish stereotypes, such as “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” and “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” Those who answered “probably true” to six or more questions were deemed to be anti-Semitic. They purposely set the bar for anti-Semitism very high, so as to make its results conservative. Here are some take-aways:
- Region, more than religion, shapes people’s view of Jews and Judaism, though Muslims were much more anti-Semitic than Christians, Hindus or Buddhists.
- The 10 most anti-Semitic countries and territories are the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco.
- The 10 least anti-Semitic countries are Laos, the Philippines, Sweden, the Netherlands, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Tanzania and Thailand.
- In the U.S., 9 percent of those surveyed revealed anti-Semitic views.
- The average for Western Europe was 24 percent; Greece was highest at 68 percent.
- Overall, only 28 percent of respondents answered “no” to all 11 stereotypes presented of Jews when asked if they were true.
- 46 percent of people world-wide have either not heard of the Holocaust or think it is a myth or think it is exaggerated. Over half of respondents under the age of 35 had never heard about it.
- A surprisingly large majority of respondents (74 percent) said they had never met a Jew.
- Much of the world greatly overestimates the global Jewish population: Nearly half the respondents (48 percent) believe that Jews account for more than 1 percent of the population, and nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they make up 10 percent. In reality, Jews account for 0.19 percent of the world’s people.
Depressed? How about some pick-me-up news? Here’s a video about an eight year old Kansas girl who calmly took over the wheel after her mom passed out while driving on a state highway.
From the ‘Sigh, why am I not surprised department’ comes this headline: Sandy Hook truther steals memorial sign, tells victim’s mother her child never existed. So yes, now we have Sandy Hook truthers [oh, how I hate that word] who either deny Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and six adults, or who claim that it was a “false flag” incident (that is, that the government carried it out in order to stir up support for taking your guns).
A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy – the abandonment of her religious faith – after she married a Christian man. “We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death,” the judge told the woman. The judge also sentenced the woman to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery – because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law. Since the woman is pregnant, the hanging would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth. And they say Sharia law isn’t merciful…
Still depressed? How about a video of a family cat rescuing a little boy from a dog attack?
Well, this is interesting. An ex Air Force legal officer said he fed false information to UFO conspiracists for years, and he did so at the behest of his superiors in the Air Force. The motive: to discredit witnesses that actually saw secret Air Force operations. One of those witnesses was later checked into a mental facility. Richard Doty claims he actually created fake documents as part of the ploy, which he then leaked. Many of these have been the basis for UFO conspiracy books and websites.
The Supremes recently ruled that prayers before public meetings were A-Okay. This was good news for the mayor of Dillsboro, N.C., who now plans to open town board meetings with prayer: “…We ain’t got nothing but Baptists in town.”
In Prescott Valley, Arizona, a formal wear store was broken into. Police staked out a local prom to catch the thieves.
And from the OWBP [Orwell would be proud] department comes the discussion of abortion at the United Nations Committee against Torture. Certainly, any procedure that systematically dismembers and kills a helpless human would could be considered a form of torture, right? So I was glad to see this being discussed. Oh, wait….The UN Torture Czars aren’t discussing whether abortion is torture; nope, they are discussing whether the Catholic Church’s teaching against abortion is torture. Oh my. First Things tackles the issue here.
Planning to see the new Godzilla movie this weekend? I wasn’t, but the review at CT has me intrigued: “Oddest of all, though, is the movie’s overtly religious tone. On the way to the theater, I mulled over the phrase “puts the God back in Godzilla“—as a parody of Where’s Waldoesque spot-the-biblical-themes writing. But, bizarrely, that tagline is quirkily appropriate for Gareth Edwards’ take on the classic giant monster franchise. Godzilla is the weirdest Christ figure I’ve ever seen.”
Pope Francis is in the news again. No shocker there. The first full movie about Pope Francis was announced this week. Who would play the lovable Argentinian? Why, Antonio Banderas of course.
And the Vatican announced Thursday that Francis will visit the Middle East, accompanied by a rabbi and a Muslim leader. This is first time a pope has made an official visit accompanied by members of other faiths.
Finally, Francis also made headlines for saying he would baptize Martians. But only if they asked. Though some in the blogosphere had a field day with this, what he seemed to mean was simply that the gospel was inclusive enough to include everyone. Fair enough. But Steven Colbert’s blowhard shtick on the topic is too hilarious to pass up: