Baghdad Burning (Riverbendblog) is back.
If you hadn’t seen it elsewhere.
Guardian.UK: One in four Americans think Obama may be the antichrist, survey says.
This isn’t news. This is National Enquirer chaff being marketed at way too high a level. A similar amount thought Ronald Reagan the Antichrist. Ronald (6 letters) Wilson (6 letters) Reagan (6 letters). 666. What more proof do you need? Oh, wait … conservative Christians thought FDR was the Antichrist too, for extending Federal programs before the war (becoming like Stalin and Hitler). I can go on and on and on, through religious leaders, kings, emperors, Popes. Find a famous person, find an Antichrist. They’re a dime a dozen. But find the right one fast; the Second Coming is imminent (“since ~33AD”).
More on this most peculiar, and mostly American, obsession.
Times.UK: Pope shocks his flock by washing women’s feet in Maundy ceremony.
Twist it 90 degrees and look at it again: would any refuse the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene a foot bath?
Later: Synchronicity. Telegraph.UK on Mary Magdalene.
TG’s Political Wire: Huckabee Warns Evangelicals Could Leave GOP.
Oh please. Where are you going to run to? What power would you have? [Why did I even bother linking this?]
Guardian.UK: Why British critics don’t get The Book of Mormon.
“You can’t really function in America – you can’t even turn on the television – without a high tolerance threshold for people with absurd beliefs.” Amen, brother. As for the actual Book of Mormon, read Mark Twain’s Roughing It. He does a thorough analysis in a chapter or two and castigates the author for plagiarizing the Old and New Testaments sans attribution — while dulling the content down: “He stopped just as he was in danger of becoming interesting.”
Guardian.UK: Creationist stakes $10,000 on contest between Bible and evolution.
“Mastropaolo believes that evolution cannot be proved scientifically. ‘It turns out that there is nothing in the universe [that] is evolving, everything is devolving, everything is going in the opposite direction’ ...”
Guardian.UK: Richard III’s distant relatives threaten legal challenge over burial.
“There is no obligation to consult living relatives where remains are older than 100 years.” Popular opinion’s gonna have a difficult time with that contention.
Guardian.UK: Roman erotica lacks a sense of sin.
“It feels dirty to look at dirty pictures. The ancient Pompeiians plainly did not feel like that. The statue of Pan making love to a goat in the British Museum show comes from a respectable garden. Yet without a sense of sin we, today, would not enjoy sex half as much, and that is why modern sexuality owes more to St Augustine than it does to the painters of Pompeii.” Hmmm. I’ll take Cicero over St Augustine … or Norman Vincent Peale for that matter. But no goats, TYVM.
NY Times: Focus on Benedict Raises Questions on Dual Popes.
Present Pope and Predecessor Pope … pontificating?
HuffPo: Even Top Scientists Believe Everything Was Created by Magic.
“We see the world through a lens of purpose: Why is this happening? Why are we here? Who let the dogs out? It’s comforting—except when it leads to paranoia or fatalism. But one cold fact is unavoidable, particularly in science: Sometimes shit just happens.”
Independent.UK: Islam’s most holy relics are being demolished in Mecca.
“It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed. [snip] The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now.” When a religion begins to delete its own history, watch out.
NY Times: Cardinals Elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as New Pope.
“Formerly the head of the church’s influential Jesuit order, Frances was born to Italian immigrant parents and was raised in the Argentine capital.” The Times proclaims on the lede, “First Jesuit” … but then lobs it in the actual article. Note that fact will keep the Grail conspiracists happy far into the future.
Anyone else notice, we had two new Popes on Wikipedia, ever so briefly? One social media source prematurely declared Cardinal Tauran the choice. A line appeared in his Wiki entry, as Cardinal Bergoglio’s entry was changed to Pope Francis. Never jump too fast.
S+R Today: How Do Zombies Help Us Cope With Fears About the Future?
“From overpopulation, disease, nuclear meltdowns, and species endangerment to climate change and dwindling resources, people around the world have been hearing about and discussing what our attempts to ensure a good future have potentially done to threaten it. Regardless of our opinions on those topics, they still form part of our cultural experience and add further to the list of possible ways we are collectively at risk.” Discussed among my commenters previously here. I can buy into a broader concept of ‘fear of the future’ more than just a ‘fear of WWII.’ We seem to collectively long to descend into dystopia; I suppose with the lack of religiousity, something had to replace ‘imminent Second Coming’ for the populace.
Aeon Magazine: Godless but good.
“After all, there are plenty of people in this world who don’t believe in God but nor do they behave like sociopaths. Of course, one might reply that such atheists are confused: given that they don’t believe in divine punishment, they should act like sociopaths, whether they realise it or not.” Ethics and morality exist quite comfortably outside of religious framework. This bit I’ve quoted out struck me pretty hard … I recall when I first worked in NYC, I was ostracized for not seeing a shrink weekly. It seems just about everyone in Manhattan of the ‘80’s needed a psychiatrist to verify their normalcy. They firmly believed that since I was not ‘one of them’, I was going to ‘pop’ at some unpredictable point.
Given the subject matter of the article, imagine what would happen if you told someone you were unbaptized in today’s culture!
ArtDaily: More than 3,000 year-old pyramid belonging to Egypt pharaoh’s vizier discovered.
“The monument was largely dismantled in the 7th and 8th century AD, when the tomb was transformed into a Coptic hermitage.” Christians co-opted and repurposed so much. Lucky it wasn’t destroyed.
One of my favorite photos of the day.
Just a simple black and white. San Miguel Chapel, the oldest church in America. You’ll notice I’m going to be dropping the use of vignette and filters. Instagram has given me the mental trots. I can’t stand anymore. Filters and vignette are so cliche as to be completely useless as artistic expression. No more, unless it’s in the nature of the lens.
The Christian Century: How the Antichrist reflects an era’s anxieties.
“In the modern era, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, U.S. presidents, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, England’s Prince Charles, and even megachurch pastor Rick Warren have all made the Antichrist list.” So did Ronald Reagan. So were various heretical bishops, until their bribes and machinations made their writings orthodox. Whoever is ‘other’, is Antichrist.
ArtDaily: At Princeton U’s Art Museum, “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe.”
PU’s Art Museum consistently comes up with really interesting exhibitions.
HuffPo: Celebrating Darwin—Religion And Science Are Closer Than You Think.
MailOnline.UK: First Pontiff in 600 years to stand down; ‘no longer has strength to carry on.’
Linked purely so I could make this punnish title: “Too Pooped to Pope.”
WaPo: The bizarre stories of the four other popes to have resigned in the last 1,000 years.
Bizarre today, perhaps. SNAFU, for their eras.
Discover: Foodies Find Common Cause with Anti-Abortion Activists.
New Scientist: The dragon that evolved into a pterosaur.
“Sadly for creationists and dinosaur-loving dreamers everywhere, the beast was, of course, a fake, cobbled together from animal parts and fancifully sculpted fabrications The skull and jaw came from different dogs, the ribs from a fish, and the hind limb is the arm of a bear.”
ArtDaily: Most Timbuktu texts saved, say curators.
“A vast majority was saved… more than 90 percent.” Thank goodness.
The Economist: Islam and science: The road to renewal.
“Research published in 2008 by Salman Hameed of Hampshire College in Massachusetts, a Pakistani astronomer who now studies Muslim attitudes to science, found that fewer than 20% in Indonesia, Malaysia or Pakistan believed in Darwin’s theories. In Egypt it was just 8%.” Tough climb ahead.