Pope Francis had an eventful week last week. In addition to getting his very own popemobile, a 1984 Renault 4 with 186,000 miles on it, Francis has reportedly made several cold-calls to various suffering Catholics around the world, including one made to a pregnant Italian woman who was being pressured by her fiancé to have an abortion. Although the Vatican has confirmed several of Francis’s phone calls, it has vehemently denied an alleged phone call made to a young French man who had “confessed to his troubles as a gay Catholic.” Which begs the question: how will I be able to differentiate between the authentic Francis and mere phantom prank-callers when I receive my phone call? Francis also received publicity this week for remarks made concerning non-believing Atheists. In his increasingly progressively-perceived rhetoric, Francis, in addition to highlighting God’s unlimited mercifulness, implored non-believers to “abide by their own consciences” as “there is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience.”
Buzzfeed this week shed light on an interesting advertising campaign in India that uses religious iconography to evoke public sentiment about the country’s struggle with issues of domestic violence and sex trafficking. The campaign by the organization Save Our Sisters includes ads that depict Hindu Goddesses, from the likes of Lakshmi to Durga, with photoshopped bruises and cuts. The copy of the ads reads: “Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.” The campaign comes just as prosecutors announced they are seeking the death penalty in the case of the four convicted rapists found guilty in the rape and murder of a 23-year old woman last December.
In other Indian religious-artistic intersection news, two different art exhibits are making their way throughout the United States, both “offering sobering reflections on religious violence in India.” The Washington Post quotes Anthony Hirschel, Director of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, which hosted one of the shows: “Both are religions that remain largely unfamiliar in their practices and beliefs to a significant portion of the American public. I think the interest stems largely from the much greater interest in Islam and its manifestations because, sadly, of the geopolitical concerns about Islam in general.” The exhibits largely focus on the Hindu-Muslim tension that has manifested itself in India since Pakistan’s independence in 1947.
In Texan Creationist news, Slate reports that the Texas Board of Education has sent out several letters to creationist theorists, asking for their opinions over the biology textbooks presently used in schools across the state.
Amidst the turmoil in Syria, a “New Poetry” has emerged, as Al-Jazeera writes this week, one which eschews traditional “metaphors,” “allegorical images,” and “religious symbols,” emphasizing rather “literal, visceral descriptions, with a newfound emphasis on a united Syrian identity.” The article quotes Ghias al-Jundi, an ex-patriate Syrian writer: “There is a cultural side to the revolution, and it’s brilliant.”
In upcoming things to look out for, Vice will be featuring a follow-up documentary to their wonderfully written, extremely disturbing piece “The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia” which chronicled the extensive sexual violence that permeated a Mennonite community in Bolivia.
Lastly, writing an op-ed piece for the NYTimes this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin religiously condemned American exceptionalism as ungodly.
–Christopher Smith, Student Assistant, The Revealer