Category Archives: religion

ZDay

Today is ZDay, a day of “awareness and activism” about the issues addressed in the delicious agitprop conspiracy doc Zeitgeist: The Movie.

I don’t have the patience to be a true conspiracy theorist, but I do believe the following: that the government is not to be trusted; that the elite are sketchy, secretive and often psychotic bastards; and that humanity has much to gain by ditching theistic religions, nationalism, and corporatism. But above all, I enjoy a good story. And for that reason alone I recommend taking two hours to watch Zeitgeist, preferably with a couple friends and your preferred paranoia-inducing substance.

[via alex o.]

conspiracy theorists

Letter To My Sister On Her Bat Mitzvah

A more serious reflection on being a middle-schooler & the awesomeness of my kid sis. I read this to my sister in front of a small collection of family members the night before her Bat Mitzvah. Gets a little corny at the end, but I’m entitled.

Dearest A.,

Congratulations on your Bat Mitzvah. Though I hold much ambivalence towards organized religion (and this coming-of-age ceremony in particular), I am so proud of you and so happy to return home to share this day with you. You have thus far maneuvered through puberty with a grace I find remarkable, especially in light of my own memories of that time, and I am confident that you will continue to mature with the same elegance. You are an intelligent, beautiful and loving young woman, not to mention much cooler than a 12 year old has any right to be.

But as much as I, along with the rest of your family and friends, want to celebrate you, the Amazing A. Relkin Rojer, princess of November 3rd, I’d like to pause first, amidst the festivities, and meditate a bit on this notion of “coming-of-age.” First, lets examine the ritual you are just about to complete, and call it out on what it is.
Continue reading

mystics & messiahs

A genuine first-hand religious experience like this is bound to be a heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely madman. If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn. The new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous religious spirit, and to stop all later bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration. Unless, indeed, by adopting new movements of the spirit it can make capital out of them and use them for its selfish corporate designs!

-William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

(via Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History by Philip Jenkins. A good read if you get the chance.)

church2.0

jewsatanistevolutionist

How to share your faith with…

Jenna the Jew

Jenna does not like to be stereotyped with others from her religion, so ask a ton of questions to learn where she is coming from like:

  • Does she attend synagogue?
  • What happens at Passover?
  • Why doesn’t she offer sacrifices today?
  • How does she find forgiveness since the destruction of the temple?
  • What does she believe about the coming of Messiah?
  • How will she recognize him when he comes?

Sid the Satanist

You should always pray when witnessing to anyone, but this scenario really needs to be covered in prayer. You are attempting to rescue someone from the grips of Satan. Keep in mind that he doesn’t let go of his converts easily. Put on your spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) and prepare for a battle!

Erin the Evolutionist

Like Alisha the Agnostic, talk to Erin about the observable evidence of God that is built in to creation like how ‘fine tuned’ the universe is to support life, otherwise we wouldn’t even exist. This fine tuning simply could not have happened by accident. For example, the earth is the perfect distance from the sun. If it were just a few miles closer, we’d all burn up. A few miles further out, and we’d all freeze to death!

The web’s been born again. And oh Lord, turn up your volume, cause it gets so much better…

sharperfx.com: flash design for ministries

some notable examples:

advancingthekingdom

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

mime.png

K & K Mime Ministries (official site here)

I’m pretty sure that none of this is a joke.

[via voodoo knickers]

Camille Paglia on Cults

Black Mass (small)Cults and Cosmic Consciousness:
Religious Vision in the American 1960s

One of my favorite writers on one of my favorite fascinations. More than just an overview of the various cults and fringe religious/spiritual movements America has seen since the 60s, Paglia argues that Western rationalism’s insistence on ignoring “Dionysus” (religion, spirituality, nature) has left a huge void in our culture and psyche. Thus, until our intellectual and artistic leaders acknowledge and embrace humanity’s need for ritual and mystery, cults and other dubious institutions will thrive. But don’t take my weak summary as a substitute for the essay. It’s long but oh so worth it, if only because Paglia is such a damn good writer.

Hence the religious dissidence and secessionist tendencies of the 1960s were simply a new version of a long American tradition. The decade’s politics loom large partly because demonstrations, unlike inner journeys, were photographable and indeed often staged for the camera. Today’s young people learn about the sixties through a welter of video clips of JFK’s limousine in Dallas, Vietnamese firefights, and hippies draped in buckskin and love beads. Furthermore, the most fervent of the decade’s spiritual questers followed Timothy Leary’s advice to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” and removed themselves from career tracks and institutions, which they felt were too corrupt to reform. The testimony of those radical explorers of inner space has largely been lost: they ruined their minds and bodies by overrelying on drugs as a shortcut to religious illumination.

The absence of those sixties seekers from the arena of general cultural criticism can be seen in the series of unresolved controversies in the last two decades over the issue of blasphemy in art. With the triumph of avant-garde modernism by the mid-twentieth century, few ambitious young artists would dare to show religious work. Though museum collections are rich with religious masterpieces from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century, major American museums and urban art galleries ignore contemporary religious art-thus ensuring, thanks to the absence of strong practitioners, that it remains at the level of kitsch. And the art world itself has suffered: with deeper themes excised, it slid into a shallow, jokey postmodernism that reduced art to ideology and treated art works as vehicles of approved social messages.

The article is not without its flaws of course. Burningman is a glaring omission; a massive celebration of nature, sex, and art that is known for its participation by many really smart people (like the founders of google) in addition to the usual new-age types. And her solution, that universities should make the core of their education comparative religion and culture, seems a bit backwards and Apolloesque. Myths are passed down through storytelling and ritual; the classroom strikes me as an impotent setting for the cultural change Paglia calls for. I want tangible ways to channel Dionysus; active artists, thinkers, and activities to re-inject myth/spirituality/whatever-you-want-to-call-it into our culture. Some people/things who have done that for me in some way already:

  • Francesca Lia Block (author- fairy tales, paganism, magic)
  • David Lynch (filmmaker- transcendental meditation, iconic bizarreness, dreams)
  • Brian Jonestown Massacre (band- psychedelia)
  • Clifford Pickover (author- pop writing on the intersections and wonders of science, religion, consciousness, and art)
  • Rick Strassman & Alexander Shulgin (researchers- psychedelic drugs)
  • Pedro Almodovar (filmmaker- femininity, sexuality, myth, beauty, religion, sensuality)
  • Neal Stephenson (author- east/west dichotomy, collective unconsciousness, past & future, relationship between art & technology)

Who/what is on your list?