By Kate Daley-Bailey….
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (the Gospel of Luke 10:25-37) is probably one of the best- known parables from the Christian New Testament. In the U.S. the phrase ‘good Samaritan’ is commonly understood to describe someone who has gone out of their way to help another. This phrase has been thoroughly secularized and one need not be a Christian to know its meaning. You voluntarily carry your elderly neighbor’s groceries… you are a ‘good Samaritan.’ You clean up someone else’s litter on the side walk… you are a ‘good Samaritan.’
By Heather Abraham……
Fighting Monks? Roman Catholic, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox Monks battle each other with brooms. Why are they fighting? For the ultimate prize: Sacred Space! The 1500 year old Church of the Nativity, built over the spot believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, is a hot bed of contestation with the three Christian denominations vying for control of space within the church. The “Fuck it Way,” a break off NRM which finds its roots in the cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” released a Christmas video. Pole Fitness for Jesus! Christian women embrace the stripper pole to get fit while listening to upbeat Christian pop music. Apparently pole dancing empowers women and 4 inch+ hooker shoes are good for the legs! Who knew! Now don’t judge, “It’s all about being spiritual.”
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Alfred Rosenberg, sometimes referred to as ‘the philosopher of the Nazi party,’ was instrumental in the ideological construction of what might be called a Germanic Aryan ethic. Rosenberg, an ardent anti-Semite, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Catholic, presented the Nazi establishment with a disparate and staccato ‘history of the Aryan’ in his book, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual, which was used to philosophically support Nazi doctrines on race and religion. While Nazi German elite often held a great disdain for Christianity, condemning it as a flawed ideology not compatible with the regime’s political and social aims, they were not, initially, opposed to using Christian theories about Jesus to promote their own cause. Rosenberg is no exception. In his most prominent book, second only to Mein Kampf in Nazi circles, Rosenberg presents a rather unusual, and ahistorical, view of Jesus of Nazareth.
By Lady Arsinoe
Samhain is fast approaching. Many of us look forward to this time of year. Candy, carved jack-o-lanterns, itty-bitty children dressed up as adorable bumblebees, princesses, or pirates. This is a joyous time of year! The leaves begin to crunch beneath our feet. And the crisp breeze begins to pinch our faces and burnish our cheeks. There is nothing so beautiful as frost on crimson leaves gleaming in the morning sun.
At this time, my thoughts turn to death and dying.
By Joseph Laycock…..
Last month, Jose Maldonado of Guadalajara Mexico claimed he found and captured a fairy. The 22 year-old unemployed bricklayer was picking guavas when he spied a twinkling object that he at first thought was a firefly. The object allegedly turned out to be a tiny humanoid creature (apparently female) with gossamer insect like wings. Maldonado explained, “I knew that it was a fairy godmother.” The creature died not long after its discovery (disturbingly, it is not clear how the fairy died after it was captured) and its discoverer put it in a jar of formaldehyde. Word of Maldonado’s fairy in a jar spread throughout his neighborhood of Lornas Verdes, one of the poorest and most dangerous regions of Guadalajara. Soon, thousands of people were arriving, standing in line for up to an hour to see the fairy. Being unemployed, Maldonado asks for a donation to see his discovery. His neighbors have also capitalized on the situation by selling photographs and key rings with the image of the fairy for 20 pesos ($1.60) as well as food and beverages to those waiting in line.
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY…..
If World War II-era warbler Kate Smith sang today, her anthem could be GodsBless America. That’s one of the key findings in newly released research that reveals America’s drift from clearly defined religious denominations to faiths cut to fit personal preferences. The folks who make up God as they go are side-by-side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for “310 million people with 310 million religions.”
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
You don’t have to be a Marxist to notice the often astonishing overlap between big money and big religion. Nor to be somewhat shocked by the bigness of the whole affair. Consider the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, one of the most popular and most-densely populated tourist destinations in Italy, nearly rivaling its much larger cousin in Rome. It is a striking monument in every way, not least for the bizarre mish-mash of architectural elements and artistic styles that define this most funky profile.
By Kate Daley Bailey….
Harry Potter as Coded text? Not only does Rowling incorporate many overt references to the history and legends surrounding alchemy, she often employs the very methods of communication which noted alchemists used. Alchemists often employed symbols, animal images, anagrams, and various word games/codes in order to keep their finding secrets and safe. While Rowling is not facing the Inquisitors or angry monarchs, her use of codes (anagrams (i.e. Tom Marvolo Riddle/ I am Lord Voldemort) and backwards writing (the Mirror of Erised/Desire) are very compelling to her audience. The most readily identifiable mythic animal associated with alchemy is the Phoenix. The phoenix, the iconic ‘fire bird,’ embodies the ultimate symbol of death and rebirth. It also represents spiritual transformation. This mythical bird plays a defining role in the Harry Potter series, especially the first few books. Harry is particularly troubled when Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, grows very old and bursts into flame before his very eyes. He is even more perplexed when from the ashes a small baby phoenix is born.
By Kate Daley Bailey….
Ever wondered where J. K. Rowling got inspiration for her magical world of the Harry Potter series? Did you know that Nicholas Flamel was a real man and famed alchemist, who according to mystical lore had created the illusive Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone? Alchemy, the ancient mystical practice of trying to turn crude metals into gold, while seemingly fantastic to modern people, was the precursor to Enlightenment Sciences and various forms of Christian mysticism. Not purely an entrepreneurial venture, alchemy was not only viewed as a path to fame and wealth but also a spiritual practice grounded in religious symbolism. Some modern readers view Rowling’s alchemical leanings as advocating witchcraft and thereby denounce the series as promoting what they see as an anti-Christian agenda. Ironically, much of the alchemical history, which Rowling utilizes, is linked to Christian mysticism.
Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
At the ripe age of “eighteen and three quarters” (his words), Paddy Fermor decided to take a long walk, in lieu of attending university. He determined to travel by foot from the Hook of Holland all the way to Istanbul (a city he always imagined Greek-ly, and referred to stubbornly as “Constantinople” or “Byzantium,” its first name as a Greek colony). The trip took some years, and it gave both flavor and form to the rest of his extraordinarily long and extraordinarily creative life. But he did not begin to publish his reflections on the journey until fully forty years later, and that generational lapse between a youthful excursion and a mature reminiscence is a central feature in what makes his writing so singular, and the genre he created so difficult to define.
By Michel-Camille Bordeau…….
Parenting works in mysterious ways. It’s a complex affair for experienced, willing parents and a intimidating undertaking for those who, like myself, never prepared themselves for it, never imagined they would be fit for the task, or be given the opportunity. Two years ago, I became a born again parent, a step-dad to an 8 year old with an incredible (free)thinking mind and a mean high kick. Overnight, I grew a second heart—the first one being for his mother—and with twice the volume of blood stimulating my (free)thinking brain, I discovered a whole new family of anxieties that can be summed up with: ‘Seriously, don’t fark up (this kid’s life).’
By Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr…..
On the day after Osama bin Laden’s unexpected death was announced by the US President, a fascinating new exhibition was previewed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Entitled “Savage Beauty,” it bore more than a casual relevance to the city’s attempt to grasp the right tone in the twinned face of this assassination and the upcoming decennial commemoration of the September 11th attacks. Naturally, that strange-sounding juxtaposition needs some explanation. It has something to do with the sacred. That is to say, it has something to do with an important aesthetic and religious category very popular among the Romantics: the Sublime.
By Michel-Camille Bordeau….
If, like yours truly, you’ve been closely following the new wave of freethinkers, if you’ve helped Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bart Ehrman, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and many others become bestselling authors, you might remember Matthew Alper, author of The ‘God’ Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. You might even recall the original cover of the 1996 self-published edition of his seminal work. Although The “God” Part of the Brain continues to pad Sourcebooks’ pocketbook; although it has been adopted by about 50 college professors; and, although, fifteen years after the initial release, Matthew Alper still receives hundreds of e-mails from students and professors worldwide, I still think it should get more attention. It should get Religion Nerd’s reader’s attention. Here’s why.
By Teo Sagisman
I lost both my parents at what I consider a young age. My religious background is that of a secular Turkish Muslim but I now consider myself a spiritual seeker more than religious. I lost my father when I was only five years of age. My paternal grandfather, originally from Eastern Turkey, had migrated to Istanbul in the early 1900’s. His last name, Sagisman, I later discover belonged to a list of Jewish converts to Islam (Dönmeh) who followed Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) a 17th-century Jewish Kabbalist who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah but was eventually forced by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV to convert to Islam. After Sabbatai’s conversion, a number of Jews followed him into Islam and became the Dönmeh.