“When the holy mother sizzle is the only sound you hear”
Golden Palace, the casino that bought the “Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich” for $28,000, is capitalizing on its purchase with a “Make Your Own Sandwich” option (“Your Face Here”), and a signature song (to the tune of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”), “It’s Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese After All.”
9/11 Buddha
It is only in the last few pages of An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World that Pankaj Mishra directly addresses the concerns of his title, and here the “world” is defined as the spectacle of 9/11… Jeff Sharlet reviews Mishra in New York.
Andy Norman Saves Christmas
Andy Norman, a Chicago lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), is on the case at McHenry County school, where the kindergarten through second grades recently put on a holiday show that featured Santa Claus rather than Jesus in its Christmas songs. Norman says he’s fighting to “‘save Christmas‘” from the ACLU, and that the ADF aims to “‘eradicate misconceptions about the phrase “separation of church and state,” and defend Christians and protect their rights to talk about Jesus.’”
Blog Wars Are Lame, Dan
Is The Revealer a liberal rag? Dan Knauss, at The New Pantagruel is figuring it out in true American style: with a reader poll.
Peace Birds in Thailand
Violence returned to southern Thailand shortly after the army dropped a “peace offering” of 100 million origami birds into soothe the troubled region, where more than 500 people have been killed this year in religion-related violence between Muslim rebels and the Buddhist majority.
Free Market Christ
In the Riverview Community Bank in Otsego, Minnesota, the staff pray with customers — in offices or at the drive-through window — under the direction of bank “pastor,” Chuck Ripka, who says God spoke to him on the bank’s opening day, telling him, “‘Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I’ll take care of the bottom line.’” Jon Tevlin, of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, reports on Riverview’s controversial plan to win souls for Jesus while competing in the free market.
The Black Seal
Blackadder actor, Rowan Atkinson (“Heaven is for people who like the sort of things that go on in heaven.”), is to lead a coalition of comics, writers and scholars against a new British bill that would punish extremists who incite religious hatred. The group claims the bill, which is intended to protected Muslims and other faith groups from hate attacks, could undermine the free speech of comedians, satirists and writers, and curtail serious discussion of religion. “‘Freedom of expression must be protected for artists and entertainers and we must not accept a bar on the lampooning of religion and religious leaders,’” said Atkinson, whose group is joined by the National Secular Society, plus several Christian organizations that fear the bill could prevent them from “‘highlighting the persecution of Christians’” within some religions.