NPR: What If Heaven Is Not For Real?
“... even though none of us existed 1,000 years ago, you don’t find many people worrying about their nonexistence during the Dark Ages. Our not-being in the past doesn’t worry us. So, why does our not-being in the future freak us out so much?”
NY Times: Prison Beard Ban Violates Muslim Religious Rights, Supreme Court Rules.
And now I wonder what Fox News thinks of the Supremes after that decision.
BBC: Pope Francis - No Catholic need to breed like ‘rabbits’.
“Good Roman Catholics do not need to breed like ‘rabbits’ ...” Dude must be giving the traditionals in the Vatican nightmares.
AP/Bigstory: Pope’s climate-change stand deepens conservatives’ distrust.
“What they’re worried about is the solution. [snip] Climate change is the ultimate collective-action problem. It’s going to require local, state and national policy change, and it’s going to require international cooperation, which means the United Nations.”
LiveScience: Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel.
“Evans said that the research team will publish the first volume of texts obtained through the mummy masks and cartonnage later this year. It will include the gospel fragment that the researchers believe dates back to the first century. ” Keeping my eyes peeled for this one. If there are even minor differences, it’ll shake the foundations of Christianity.
Time: How Religion Can Move Us to Do Terrible Things.
“Them.” When we stop them-ing, we’ll have a civilization worthy of the name.
Dissent: Islamism and the Left.
“The Christian Crusades have sometimes been described as the first example of Islamophobia in the history of the West. The crusaders were driven by an irrational fear of Islam. I suppose that’s right; they were also driven by an even more irrational fear of Judaism. They were fierce and frightening religious “extremists,” and that assertion is not anti-Christian.” Good.
RedFlag: Charlie Hebdo and the hypocrisy of pencils.
“Of course the pen has played its role as well. The pens that signed the endless Patriot Acts, anti-terror laws and other bills that entrenched police harassment and curtailed civil rights. The pens of the newspaper editorialists who whip up round after round of hysteria, entrenching anti-Muslim prejudice and making people foreigners in their own country. But the pens of newspaper editors were strong not by virtue of their wit or reason, but insofar as they were servants of the powerful and their guns.”
Well, you may not agree. But it does mention Algeria, and these events are inextricably linked with the history of France/Algeria. If someone starts calling out Muslim extremism in general as a result of these attacks, without referencing Algeria ... time for you to call BS. A whole mess of opinion out there right now, and 1% of 1% is worth the electricity you’re using to read it ...
Later: Note, some are making hay from Charlie Hebdo merch.
Dazed: Luc Besson pens heartfelt open letter to young Muslims.
France 24 [Article from 2011]: Govt targets Marseille’s AK47-wielding gangsters.
I was wondering how easy it was to obtain AK-47s in France. Very easy, apparently.
Then there’s America.
Slate: AP “Piss Christ” - Image apparently self-censored after Charlie Hebdo-related complaints.
I have a terrible feeling, between The Interview, Charlie Hebdo and this, that a new wave of ‘shock and offense’ is going to hit the art world.
Widening out a bit: I was discussing the other day, “Is nothing sacred?” As Plato argues, are some acts impious because the Gods say they are, or are Gods saying those acts are impious because they are so by their very nature? Religious texts are pretty quiet on necrophilia, for instance. Plato’s argument may be missing the forest for a couple of trees. There seem to be taboos that religions have missed completely. Makes one wonder what ‘sacreds’ they’ve also missed. The smell of rain in the desert, after a long dry spell, comes to mind.
The Economist: Blasphemy - Dangerous words.
“The belief that casual, satirical or profane mention of the divine is a grievous sin belongs to prehistory. It has roots in all three Abrahamic religions. But to live in 2015 requires bringing ancient beliefs into consonance with modern values.”
Archaeology News Network: Weighing up the evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’.
CNet: Ancient Indian aircraft on agenda of major science conference.
“The presenters of the session are apparently serious in their belief that ancient Indian planes were not only able to travel across the solar system, but also “could move left, right, as well as backwards, unlike modern planes which only fly forward” ...” Buy stock in foil (for hats).
ArtDaily: Disgruntled Italian entrepreneur Marcello Di Finizio climbs St Peter’s Basilica - again.
Roads & Kingdoms: The Holy Bones of Pittsburgh.
“The more popular relics include: 22 splinters of the True Cross; threads from the Virgin Mary’s veil; a cloak of St. Joseph; and bone fragments of all 12 apostles; the entire skeleton of St. Demetrius; the skulls of several older and newer (and thus lesser known) saints; and a molar once belonging to St. Anthony, the very tooth missing from his skull in Padua.” Of course, there are enough ‘true Cross’ splinters around the world to construct a small Sequoiadendron giganteum tree.
ArtDaily: Calligraphers cry foul as Vatican shuts down scrollmakers amid reports of fakes.
“Instead of being made by hand, the parchments will be computer prints produced by the Vatican’s Office of Papal Charities ...” Oh, bad form. Especially now that letterpress is having a nice renaissance. Pope’s on the wrong side of this issue.
Art Daily: Hebrew U. archaeologists find 20-meter-high corridor at Herodium National Park.
Better and more photos, please.
Later: Two impressive interior photos here.
ScienceMag: Wealth may have driven the rise of today’s religions.
“Once people’s worldly needs were met, religion could afford to shift its focus away from material rewards in the present and toward spiritual rewards in the afterlife. Perhaps once enough people in a given society had made the psychological shift to long-term planning, moralizing religions arose to reflect those new values.”
Archaeology News Network: Danish Bronze Age glass beads traced to Egypt.
“The analyses revealed that the glass originate from the same glass workshops in Egypt that supplied the glass that the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun took with him to his grave in 1323 BC.” Atenism? Proselytized internationally? Lordy, what a find. This should shake western religion to the core.
CJR: The Texas school board isn’t as powerful as you think.
“‘They [dm! note: speaking about journalists] — how should I say this — they don’t look at the story real closely.’ If they did, they would see that Texas schools do not have to use the textbooks that the board approves. In 2011, a new state law made it possible for school districts to use textbooks that are not on the board-approved list. Many (though not most) districts are already reveling in their newfound flexibility.” I suspected, given the rise of e-texts and other modernizing/computerizing influences, that Texas was ripe for disruption.
Extra good point about certain political groups fanning the flames to increase donations.
ArtDaily: Hagia Sophia - object of admiration and contention.
“... under the rule of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which came to power in 2002, there have been noises about reconverting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.” Ask Constantine first.
OpenCulture: The Wisdom of Alan Watts in Four Thought-Provoking Animations.
Fun, but he conflates Zen and Taoism, as many in the West do. The story of the farmer is straight from Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi). Better to get it from the original, from one of my favorite books. [Caveat: Published by the Princeton University Press, when my best friend was an editor there.]
BBC: Pilgrims flock to Goa to see Saint Francis Xavier remains.
Archaeology News Network: Ancient Coptic ‘Handbook of Spells’ deciphered.
“This codex, with its mix of Sethian and Orthodox Christian invocations, may in fact be a transitional document, written before all Sethian invocations were purged from magical texts, the researchers said.” Cool. So much was destroyed by Christian zealots of later periods, chipping and burning ‘heresies’.