Image: White Country Church by Mark Van Scyoc, via muse-decor.com

Image: White Country Church by Mark Van Scyoc, via muse-decor.com

I will put my shapeless days behind me,
fencing off the past, as a golden rind
of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.
It is tomorrow I want to look back on, not today.
Tomorrow I start to be happy; today is almost yesterday.

As I warned you all ages agoreligion classes are now mandatory in Russia.

Mark Oppenheimer reviews Colm Tóbín’s The Testament of Mary for The New Republic:

Mary’s cynicism about the process of redaction itself, her belief that the story of Jesus got queered, then scraped into parchment by unscrupulous scribes, would have to be silenced, ignored, called heresy.

Constitutional Bird: Until that day when some glossy mag pays me to write about political decency and the history of the F word, here’s some good news on the sassy sign-language front.

Sappy Saint: Remember our very fun Valentine’s Day special last year?  Here are, a bit in advance, some quotes on the saintly sentiment, including Lemony Snicket, Susan Sontag this warm and fuzzy from C. S. Lewis (thanks Brain Pickings!):

The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

Becky Garrison writes at Religion & Politics:

As a generally liberal mainline denomination, the Episcopal Church is perhaps poised more than most Christian groups to grapple with the complexities of gender identity. Over the past four decades, the church has slowly begun changing its canons to prohibit exclusion on the basis of several categories, including race, gender, and sexual orientation. According to Integrity USA, an Episcopal LGBT advocacy organization, the first openly gay clergyperson was ordained in 1977. In the mid-2000s several clergy came out as transgender, and the first openly transgender Episcopal clergy were ordained.

What’s in the Machine?:  Our dear friend and former Center for Religion and Media fellow Jeremy Stolow edited Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between which is now available.  Until we crawl out of our holiday slumber to post an excerpt for you, read more about the collection of essays here.

Samuel Biagetti review Life of Pi for Killing the Buddha:

The Orientalist longing for Eden expresses itself not only in visions of the East, but also in fascination with the animal world.  Samuel Purchas’s 1613 account of Xanadu, which Coleridge read, describes the emperor’s large enclosed field, housing “all sorts of beasts of chase and game.”

Every time disconsolate white male conservatives say “breakdown of the family unit” substitute, “move toward gender equality.”

A Feminist’s Place: The current issue of Dissent Magazine has some great writing on feminism by the likes of Sarah Jaffe (the new economy, how feminists need to get their class shit together, domestic labor, the work of Ai-Jen Poo, and quotes from Bethan Moreton!) and Sarah Leonard who writes:

But this celebration [of feminist success] is one part toast to the wealthy exceptions, and one part nonsense. Despite the sound of Mayer and Sandberg crashing through the glass ceiling, Rosin’s assertion that women are now economically dominant is pure fantasy. Her claims have been thoroughly debunked by writers such as Bryce Covert, Stephanie Coontz, and Nancy Folbre, who note that the economy is so bad that women and men are finally converging on the same low wages and contingent employment. As of this past summer, men had regained 46.2 percent of the jobs they lost in the recession, while women had regained 38.7 percent of theirs. Cutbacks in the feminized public sector have been brutal.

The Moral Court:

James Knight, a dentist in Fort Dodge, Iowa, fired dental assistant Melissa Nelson after he and his wife became worried that, in response to Nelson’s attractiveness, Knight was “getting too personally attached to her” and “feared he would try to have an affair with her down the road.” Nelson filed suit, alleging that Knight had discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and arguing that her situation arose only because of her gender.

However, the all-male state Supreme Court voted 7-0 in Knight’s favor, finding that Knight did not violate the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which ensures equal treatment for employees regardless of their gender.

Go read our piece by Meera Subramanian on India’s gang rapes and goddesses:

Lakshmi and Parvati, Durga and Kali, Saraswati and Shakti. They are celebrated and worshipped with holidays, festivals and shrines in their honor across the subcontinent. But little of their divine power seems to translate to ordinary women, who hang lower than their male counterparts on every social tier that is measurable.

“…Indian men are rapists.” And this from Jadaliyaa, under the provocative title, “Orientalist Feminism Rears its Head in India,” via our friend Aman de Sondy:

Indeed, many of their first-hand accounts are “largely inaccurate and guilty of extreme generalizations,” but sell because “tell us what we in the West already know–that there’s something inherently misogynistic about Muslims and Arabs.” One cannot, of course, deny the existence of discrimination and crimes like the assault of Lara Logan. However, to assume that Muslim or Arab “culture” is intrinsically responsible–as opposed to context, and political and social factors such as an unequal distribution of power between men and women–is reductionist and narrow-minded.

While I’d be hard pressed to put Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Mona Eltahawy in the same category (Ali, who’s made a career from Islamophobia, is just creepy,opportunistic and eww; Mona’s anti government and establishment, follow here for some real: @monaeltahawy), the point that political and social situations of inequality are more responsible for such acts of violence than culture is spot on.  And should be said loudly.