The Atlantic has a nice piece this month, arguing for the inclusion of theology while thinking about the liberal arts benefits of studying alterity and otherness. The author, Tara Isabella Burton, writes:
“How does that 12th-century French monk’s view of the nature of God affect the way he sees himself, his relationship with others, his relationship with the natural world, his relationship with his own mortality? How does that Byzantine mystic conceive of space and time in a world he envisions as imbued with the sacred? To find such questions integral to any study of the past is not restricted to those who agree with the answers. To study theology well requires not faith, but empathy.”
Fernanda Santos of the NYTimes has an interesting ethnographic read this month on the rise of American Navajo conversions to Mormonism. Santos not only examines numerous socio-communal reasons for such conversions, but also reminds us of the complicated history between American Indians and Christian missionary groups. “What set the Mormons apart from other missionary groups is the role they ascribed to American Indians in their holy scriptures as descendants of the Lamanites — rebellious nonbelievers whose conversion could help the Mormons build God’s kingdom on earth.”
Columbia anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod explores the rise of the Western trope of the “abused Muslim woman” in her new book out this week entitled Do Muslim Woman Need Saving? You can read an excerpt of the book at the dailybeast here.
It seems that the works of Kierkegaard have seen a recent uprise in artistic appropriation, as seen by Arcade Fire’s new album titled Reflektor, which has clear lyrical allusions to “Kierkegaard’s ideas about a “reflective age,” when passion and story line have been replaced by ambiguity and passive contemplation.” Rap artist Childish Gambino (the stage-name of 30 Rock/Community actor Donald Glover) also noted in a recent interview with Vice that he’s “really into Kierkegaard shit now” as it makes him “happy” by feeling “less alone.”
Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand’s order of Buddhist monks, passed away on October 24 at the age of 100. He held the position of Supreme Patriarch for more than twenty years.
In a recent speech delivered in the predominantly Muslim region of Bashkortostan, Russian president Vladimir Putin accused foreign forces of utilizing radical Islam as a means of undermining the Russian state.
Marvel Comics launched a new series entitled Ms Marvel, which will feature Jersey City-born, Muslim girl-superhero Kamala Khan and her battles against injustices.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the culture minister of the Vatican, immortalized Lou Reed this week by tweeting lyrics from Reed’s “Perfect Day.” Reed, who had an ambiguously unclear relationship with his Jewish roots, once said in an interview that his “God” was “rock n roll.”
The Guardian has a piece on Islamic conversions amongst British women this month.
In Christian Right news, American evangelical David Barton attributed Global Warming to God’s wrath, pastor Kevin Swanson warned us not to purchase “Communist Lesbian Girl Scout Cookies,”and Evangelist Pat Robertson attributed homosexuality to molestation on the 700 Club, using the charmed circle to link the forms of “unnatural” sexual acts.
Vice has an alarming piece on abhorrent violence inflicted on gay Druze men within Syria:
“Even between the plush sofas and mood lighting of one of Beirut’s hippest bars, Ram shook with fear as he relived his ordeal. He turned his large green eyes from me to the translator and then back to me again, speaking in a low voice, even though we were the only people in the room. ‘I think I was targeted for two reasons: because I’m a Druze, and because I’m gay,’ he said. ‘They told us, ‘You are all perverts, and we are going to kill you to save the world.’”
A prominent Chinese paper attributed the violent unrest amongst Uighurs in Xinjiang to “uncultured youth” who subside themselves to “religious extremist forces.”
Debates surrounding Quebec’s proposed “secularism charter,” formerly known as Bill 60, have heated up recently Al-Jazeera reports.
The number of Muslim prisoners in England and Wales has doubled in the past 10 years, The Guardian reports.
The Guardian also has a story on a devout Muslim family who has lost a right-to-life case surrounding their desire to keep their elderly relative, who became minimally conscious after a stroke, alive. According to the publication, the family argued that the relative would “regard his suffering as bringing him closer to God.”
South Africa has an Occult-Related Crime Unit (ORCU).
Last, but certainly not least, here’s a picture of the penis Church.
– Christopher Smith, Student Assistant, The Revealer