The crystal skull - 2012: The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott My rating: 2 of 5 stars Perhaps this would have been more interesting if I had read it before 21 December 2012, when...
3 days ago
...the nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let’s call it “Fox evangelicalism” — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture.
In the 1960s and 1970s, there was evangelical momentum behind progressive causes and candidates, including Democratic President Jimmy Carter, who described himself using the evangelical term “born again.” But with the rise of the religious right in the 1980s, the ties between white evangelicalism and the Republican Party strengthened.
“And just what is it,” my friend asked, “that was so Christ-revealing about Berrigan’s life?”
When he died last year, age 94, obituaries focused on the anti-war aspects of Berrigan’s life: he was eighteen months in prison for burning draft records in a protest against conscription of the young into the Vietnam War; then there was a later event in which he was one of eight people who hammered on the nose cone of a nuclear-armed missile. No one has kept count of his numerous brief stays in jail for other acts of war protest. He was handcuffed more than a hundred times.
I remember once watching a dramatic show about life in post-WWII America. A certain episode took place during the Christmas season. One character, an aristocratic woman, expressed how appalled she was that stores were decorated for Christmas the week before the holiday! And that people were buying and putting up Christmas trees before Christmas Eve! Horrors! How gauche!
The great capitalistic industrial-consumer complex has certainly changed all of that.
I had my regular lunch an old friend. He is a bit conventional in his view of the way things should be. The fact that things were never actually like that in reality is besides the point. I was talking about poetry in general and made the observation that so many poets seemed to be tortured souls, whether it be by alcohol, sex, or substance abuse, and this tension in their lives fueled their poetic impulses. My friend was unwilling to grant the point, and I countered that I thought very little poetry emanated from the easy chairs of suburbia. He was still having none of it, so I herded the conversation on to more well-nibbled pastures.
Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church are asking worshipers to boycott Lidl and Nestlé, which removed Christian symbols from their food packaging in an attempt to be "religiously neutral."
Earlier this month, shoppers noticed that the German supermarket chain Lidl had used photo editing software to remove crosses on top of an iconic Greek church on its food packaging. Swiss food giant Nestlé and the local dairy producer Mevgal have also removed religious imagery from their Greek yogurts.
In response, the Orthodox Church in Athens is urging its members through sermons and on the internet to boycott Lidl, Nestlé and Mevgal, according to The Sunday Times, whom a spokesperson of the Church told the issue will be raised at a special synodical meeting next month.
The Greek Orthodox Church has urged worshippers to boycott Lidl and Nestlé after they airbrushed out Christian symbols from food packaging.
The German discount supermarket removed crucifix imagery from the packaging of Greek products, arguing that it wanted to remain “religiously neutral”.
But notification technology also enabled a hundred unsolicited interruptions into millions of lives, accelerating the arms race for people’s attention. Santamaria, now 36, who now runs a startup after a stint as the head of mobile at Airbnb, says the technology he developed at Apple was not “inherently good or bad”. “This is a larger discussion for society,” he says. “Is it OK to shut off my phone when I leave work? Is it OK if I don’t get right back to you? Is it OK that I’m not ‘liking’ everything that goes through my Instagram screen?”
Journalists sometimes describe mass shooting as a form of domestic terrorism. This connection may be misleading.
There is no doubt that mass shootings are “terrifying” and “terrorize” the community where they have happened. However, not all active shooters involved in mass shooting have a political message or cause.
On Saturday, February 6, 1981, The Beveridge family was camping in San Diego County. The three Beveridge brothers set out on a foot race but only two arrived back at their camp. Nine-year-old Jimmy was missing. More than 600 people helped to search for Jimmy, including 200 marines.
Sadly, the weather was not with Jimmy, thick fog and torrential rains hampered the searchers efforts. On Thursday the 12th a man who knew the Beveridge family set out on his own to follow a hunch and found Jimmy's body.
Today on ThrillWriting, I have the great privilege of hosting Jimmy Beveridge's mother, Jacquie.
The essence of the Christian Gospel and the spirit of the Orthodox Tradition are entirely and self-evidently incompatible with ideologies that declare the superiority of any race over another. Our God shows no partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17, Romans 2:11). Our Lord Jesus Christ broke down the dividing wall of hostility that had separated God from humans and humans from each other (Ephesians 2:14). In Christ Jesus, the Church proclaims, there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, but all are one (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, we call on one another to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to expose them (Ephesians 5:11). And what is darkness if not hatred? The one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness (1 John 2:11)!
Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market (and not, for example, a polis, a civil sphere or a kind of family) and of human beings as profit-and-loss calculators (and not bearers of grace, or of inalienable rights and duties). Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But “neoliberalism” indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals.
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America joins people of faith and good will across the United States, Canada and Mexico in unequivocally, unreservedly and unambiguously rejecting words and actions which perpetrate, support or encourage hatred, violence, racism, white supremacy, white nationalism or neo-Nazism.
Fed up with bloated, slow, buggy web browsers like Firefox? Yeah, me too. Just about every week now, I find myself wrestling with Firefox, and although I could switch to Chrome, it’s one Google step too far (I already owe too much of my life to the massive Google machine to be healthy). So for those who are in a similar predicament, I’ve brought together a sample of some alternative web browsers, plus one standout winner which I’ve switched to completely and is now my default browser.
The deep, fundamental flaw in what I’ll call, for the moment, ‘Warsaw-thinking’ about Christianity and civilisation, is precisely the problem Saint Ilya takes such pains to highlight, and precisely the problem that the inconvenient existence of Orthodoxy confronts the West with: that Christianity is not Western and never has been. (Of course, it isn’t anti-Western either, but given that we’re not dealing in false dichotomies here, that’s a separate question.)
It turns out ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ wasn’t so far off about the Nazis
By Michael Dirda August 2 at 4:31 PM
Whether you learned about it from watching “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or, even earlier, from reading Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier’s European bestseller “The Morning of the Magicians,” who doesn’t now know that Hitler and Nazi Germany were obsessed with the occult?
In “Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich” Eric Kurlander, professor of history at Stetson University, carefully tracks the fringe movements and lunatic beliefs that swept through Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Researchers who have recently completed a PhD will inevitably be considering what route to take to publication. Terry Clague outlines some of the various options, offering an insight into what questions a publisher might ask when assessing a proposal for a research book. Would-be book authors are encouraged to be mindful of the significant and ongoing changes to the academic books market, with online discoverability of paramount importance. And when it comes to preparing the manuscript itself, there are a number of simple pointers that can help authors to effectively structure, write, and edit their work.
The Talmud is chock-full of magic and ways to ward off demons. Rabbi Hai Gaon claimed that the belief in demons was widespread in the Babylonian academy of Sura as a continuity of the ancient magic of Babylonia court of Nebuchadnezzar, a world filled with spirits who inhabited the air, the trees, water, roofs of houses, and privies.
The Talmud taught that are invisible. “If the eye could see them no one could endure them. They surround one on all sides. They are more numerous than humans, each person has a thousand on his left and ten thousand on his right”. Yet, if you want to see them, “bring the tail of a first born black cat, that is the daughter of a first born black cat. Burn it in fire, grind it up, fill your eyes with the ashes and then you will see them.” (Ber. 6a). This topic has not been given the attention it deserves.
Vladimir Putin has become a fixture in the U.S. political conversation, as a majority of Americans have come to believe he helped rig the 2016 election for Donald Trump. Yet one prominent anti-Putin activist who was jailed by the Russian government says, in a new podcast interview, that America's political class is deliberately promoting an inaccurate picture of Putin to distract from the United States' own domestic problems.
I find it highly interesting that a sainted hierarch, an accomplished ascetic cœnobite of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra with a firm doctrinal formation and a careful cultivation of personal holiness and virtue, had to rein in the legalistic tendencies of his spiritual sons, particularly the presumably-married Father Kirik (whose razor-keen mathematical mind, sketched here so diligently by Fedotov, was clearly drawn toward the harsher, more maximalist view of canonical rigourism). I also find it remarkable that the Russian Church, which had no interest in Hellenistic speculative theology but was instead more drawn toward the rabbinical ‘Juda�sing’ pole and toward theologies of history, swung so heavily at the grassroots to the guidance of the ‘Hellenists’ on matters of practical lay ethics. I’m sure there’s a reason for this, and I’m much mistaken if Fedotov will not see fit to mention it later in the book. Still, such a passage shows that convertitis and Hyperdox Hermans have always been with us; and have a history of trying the patience even of saints!
The CRL Rights Commission has recommended that all religious practitioners operating in South Africa either be registered or face prosecution.
The commission has released its report into the commercialisation of religion and abuse of belief systems.
Several pastors have made headlines in recent months for using dangerous methods, such as spraying doom on congregants.
The CRL Rights Commission says the religious sector must be regulated and operate within the law.
Chairwoman Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said, “You will not be allowed to operate in this country unless we know where you are, what you are doing and who you are.”
She says umbrella organisations must also be established in order to monitor the conduct of religious leaders and institutions.
when Orthodox Christians choose to do evangelism here in Kenya, how should we go about doing it? Should we organise pilgrimages and processions and carry icons around the community whilst chanting? Should we run seminars to better acquaint our neighbours with who we are and where we come from? It has been said that funerals are actually a significant (and for many the only) point of contact with Orthodox priests and services. To our credit (in my opinion) the simplicity and beauty of our funeral liturgy compares favourably with the way funerals are done in other denominations. But this is more on the lines of exposure as opposed to evangelism.
The Ruder Finn strategy has been to build a congressional and Senate coalition in the US in support of Croatia. The strategy has included mobilising the 2.5 million Croats in the US to lobby their own representatives in Congress.
Central to all this activity was equating the Serbian forces with Communism and the Croats with Western freedom and democracy.
On 12 August 1991, the Croatian government hired the American public relations firm Ruder Finn Global Public Affairs to "develop and carry out strategies and tactics for communication with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate as well as with officials of the U.S. government including the State Department, the National Security Council and other relevant agencies and departments of the U.S. government as well as with American and international news media". On 12 November 1991, Ruder Finn's contract was renewed to include lobbying in relation to diplomatic recognition, sanctions, and embargoes, as well as briefings for officials of the first Bush administration and preparation of special background material, press releases, both reactive and proactive articles and letters to the editors to appear in major newspapers, briefings for journalists, columnists, and commentators. In January and February 1992, Ruder Finn organized trips to Croatia for U.S. Congressmen. The United States recognized Croatia as an independent state on 7 April 1992.
LONDON — Here’s a very big win for the good guys. The �100 000 a month London agency which promoted the Gupta agenda in South Africa – including instigating a threat to use the UK courts to close down Biznews – has suddenly seen the error of its ways. After steadfastly denying any wrongdoing by his company and claiming its clients were innocent victims, Bell Pottinger’s owner and CEO James Henderson today issued a grovelling apology: “full, unequivocal and absolute” to quote from the statement. News like this takes time to digest. Nice. But given the damage this firm’s dark media arts has created in South Africa, and the personal attacks and despicable social media deeds conducted under its instruction, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t close matter. But perhaps, to paraphrase Churchill, it is the end of the beginning. – Alec Hogg
Thus, my list of writing contests below once again includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send that exciting draft.
If you only submit to one…
If you only have time to submit to one contest this season, my recommendation is PEN Center USA – Emerging Voices
“We now know that some highly-paid PR specialists contrived a plan to use terms like ‘radical economic transformation’ and ‘white monopoly capital’ to launch a publicity offensive in defence of their clients. It was part of defining a new narrative where those who stood in the way of their clients’ interests were presented as being opposed to ‘radical economic transformation’ and representing the interests of ‘white monopoly capital’.”
You can hire your own troll army if you have the cash. In 2011 the PR firm Bell Pottinger told undercover journalists that they could “create and maintain third-party blogs”, and spruce up Wikipedia profiles and Google search rankings. Indeed marketing has a rich history of so-called “astroturfing”, which is laying down fake grassroots. Take Forest, “the voice and friend of the smoker”, which at least admits in nearly invisible small print that it is paid for by the tobacco industry.
Almost every young person who can read has read Harry Potter — 450 million copies have been sold worldwide. Not to do so was an act of rebellion. On Monday, fans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first book’s publication — two decades on and J.K. Rowling’s tales of wizardry and witchcraft continue to bewitch us, even though we are meant to have grown up.
Around 13 per cent of teenagers said that they decided to become a Christian after a visit to a church or cathedral, according to the figures.
The influence of a church building was more significant than attending a youth group, going to a wedding, or speaking to other Christians about their faith.
A low-profile confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill this week raised eyebrows when the questioning turned to theology — specifically, damnation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pressed Russell Vought, nominated by President Trump to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, about his beliefs.
From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I've tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.
At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.
Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit. The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are piloted remotely from thousands of miles away providing both surveillance in near-constant streams, and the ability to drop bombs. Through this new means of violence, Americans are not vulnerable, and are instead separated physically from the violence and death. The U.S. drone campaign is waged almost entirely in secret and without the hindrance of laws, international or domestic.
The abolition of death penalty would give more opportunities for pastoral work with those who have stumbled and for the latter to repent. It is also evident that punishment by death cannot be reformatory; it also makes misjudgement irreparable and provokes ambiguous feelings among people. Today many states have either abolished the death penalty by law or stopped practicing it. Keeping in mind that mercy toward a fallen man is always more preferable than revenge, the Church welcomes these steps by state authorities. At the same time, she believes that the decision to abolish or not to apply death penalty should be made by society freely, considering the rate of crime and the state of law-enforcement and judiciary, and even more so, the need to protect the life of its well-intentioned members.
So it’s Thursday when I published this post. Go ahead and invite someone for tomorrow night. Keep your to-do list short. Take ten minutes to pick up the house and throw something together for dinner, even if it’s from Trader Joe’s. You’re more ready than you think. And we’re all hungry for genuine conversation more than we realize.
One of the liveliest exchanges at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in June 2016 concerned which Greek words should be used in Council documents to refer to humans: anthrōpos (“human being”); or anthrōpino prosōpo (or simply prosōpon) (“human person”). The main protagonists in this debate were, in the anthrōpos corner, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), and in the prosōpon corner, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), supported by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). While this episode may seem to be an intra-Greek linguistic spat, the theological stakes are very high.
According to Pew Research, Christianity is the world’s largest religious group, so it’s worth knowing something about it, whether you’re a Christian or not. And if you’re interested in learning more about the Christian faith, there’s no lack of books out there. It’s hard to know where to start! I’m here to help with enough recommendations to keep you reading for a long time.
On Tuesday, a “Consistent Life Ethic” group was booted from sponsorship of the Pittsburgh March Against War after Facebook complaints against their pro-life stance.
Rehumanize International, previously Life Matters Journal, is a group that opposes all violence against human beings, including abortion, war, euthanasia, torture, capital punishment and human sex trafficking.
They were invited to co-sponsor the Pittsburgh March Against War, set to take place this summer, and were then removed from sponsorship after a vote of the other co-sponsors, following several complaints on the event’s Facebook page.
New Pro Life activists and writers have received accusatory messages demanding to know whether we are a “Podesta plant” or perhaps receiving Soros money to infiltrate the pro-life movement with insidious messages of social justice.
The message is clear: abortion is the worst evil. Stopping it is the top priority. The absolute necessity that we choose life for the unborn renders all other issues null and void, for now.
The Great Schema in the Orthodox Church requires the traditional monastic vows, plus special spiritual feats. According to Archpriest G. S. Debolsky: "In the understanding of the Church, the Great Schema is nothing less than the supreme vow of the Cross and death; it is the image of complete isolation from the earth, the image of transformation and transfiguration of life, the image of death and the beginning of another, higher, existence."
Christianity is not a religion which is aimed at making men moral. Rather, Christianity is a religion which makes men divine. Morality is indispensable, but morality will be swallowed up in the apotheosis of a man. Classical education does not work against such intentions, which means that a classical education is unconcerned with whether “Good Christians disagree…” on an issue.
Realizing that millions more people are scratching their heads, wondering what to read and where to spend their subscription dollars, here are my top 10 large journalistic brands where I believe you can most often find real, reported facts:
Research the world over is confirming that drinking coffee keeps you alive … but it doesn’t work if you drink it in moderation. In fact, Harvard researchers found that low consumption of coffee is linked to deaths from heart-related illnesses. To get the health benefits of coffee, you have to drink it like you mean it.
Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day gives you a longer life, making you 15 percent less likely to die early, lowering your risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke by 21 percent and slashing your risk for type 2 diabetes by 12 percent.
Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.
That innocuous phrase — “biblical worldview” or “Christian worldview” — is everywhere in the evangelical world.
Progressive Christians resonate with Anabaptist, anti-empire political theology as it aligns well with the language of the prophets--indictment of oppression and injustice--which connects with the social justice impulses of progressive Christians. But lacking a robust ecclesiology, church as counter-cultural polis, progressive Christians are forced to turn to the state as the only player able to address the oppression and injustices they are calling out. Without a church, democratic engagement--guided by Niebuhrian political theology--is the only tool available to make the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
If you watch and read the Australian media, whether it be the television news or discussion programs like Insiders and even Mediawatch, it's taken as read that chemical weapons were dropped by Bashar al Assad's Syrian government warplanes.
It's as if there's no memory of the weapons of mass destruction lies the American, British and Australian governments told us before the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Did you know that Easter was originally a pagan festival dedicated to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, whose consort was a hare, the forerunner of our Easter bunny? Of course you did. Every year the fecund muck of the internet bursts forth afresh with cheery did-you-know explanations like this, setting modern practices in a context of ancient and tragically interrupted pagan belief.
The trouble is that they are wrong. The colourful myths of Eostre and her hare companion, who in some versions is a bird transformed into an egg-laying rabbit, aren't historically pagan. They are modern fabrications, cludged together in an unresearched assumption of pagan precedence.
Today, because Trump and his administration are now committed to convincing Americans that Assad really was responsible for Tuesday’s poison-gas tragedy, the prospects for a full and open investigation are effectively ended. We may never know if there is truth to those allegations or whether we are being manipulated by another “wag the dog” psyop.
Postmodernism presents a threat not only to liberal democracy but to modernity itself. That may sound like a bold or even hyperbolic claim, but the reality is that the cluster of ideas and values at the root of postmodernism have broken the bounds of academia and gained great cultural power in western society. The irrational and identitarian “symptoms” of postmodernism are easily recognizable and much criticized, but the ethos underlying them is not well understood. This is partly because postmodernists rarely explain themselves clearly and partly because of the inherent contradictions and inconsistencies of a way of thought which denies a stable reality or reliable knowledge to exist.
Among those detained and beaten by police forces was Gregory Hill, the underage son of an Orthodox priest and a British subject who was not part of the protesting crowd and whose only fault was failing to produce his papers immediately upon request. In the words of his mother, “Grisha [Gregory] is bruised because one policeman was holding his head to the ground, while the other kicked him in the groin and ribs. We are shocked by the comments from the city government that police reacted in a competent way and ensured security in heavily crowded areas. I very well see that ‘competence’ on Grisha’s face.” (Sergei Chapnin)
In fact, several passages from Schmemann came back to mind in reading Dreher, whose book fixates on same-sex marriage and gender issues to an unhealthy and unhelpful degree. None seems more acute or appropriate than this one: In March 1976 during Lent, Schmemann wrote: "Students' confessions. Always sex. I am beginning to think that this sin is useful; otherwise they would consider themselves saintly and plunge into guruism." Dreher's entire project reeks of guruism.
There is a preference in the media’s political coverage – and in political campaigning altogether – for symbol and personality over policy and fact. The media coverage of Corbyn, who despite being an MP and unusually active campaigner for over thirty years had not much figured in the press until the leadership contest, has been by any measure persistently negative.