Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

How Martin Luther Went Viral

September 6, 2017

How Martin Luther Went Viral

500 years ago a disgruntled Catholic priest named Martin Luther is said to have nailed his handwritten 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Well, maybe he did, but that 1517 parchment blog post, with the clickbait title Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum, was picked up by the cool kids of the day, nerds who translated it from Latin to German, coded it into moveable type and spread it across Europe with their newfangled printing presses.

More:

“How Technology Helped Martin Luther Change Christianity,” Tom Gjelten, NPR

“Long Before Twitter, Martin Luther Was a Media Pioneer,” New York Times

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Image (“Martin Luther with His iPad, after Lucas Cranach the Elder”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Trump Is Meeting With the Wrong Guy at the Vatican

May 22, 2017

Trump Is Meeting With the Wrong Guy at the Vatican
U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Pope Francis on Wednesday when he visits Vatican City, but he should really meet with another Francis while he’s in town — Father Francesco Bamonte. He’s the leading Catholic exorcist, president of the International Association of Exorcists, and well-practiced in casting out demons.

Related:

“Can the pope save Trump?”  E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post

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Image (“Trump and Francis on the U.S./Mexico Border”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Adulterer and Dissembler Speaks to Impressionable Young Christians

May 14, 2017

Adulterer and Dissembler Addresses Young Christians
On Saturday, renowned sinner and U.S. President Donald J. Trump, flanked by Secret Service agents and 2 Corinthians, gave the commencement speech to graduating students at the world’s largest Christian college, Liberty University. He was introduced by University President Jerry Falwell Jr., the gun-totin’ Christian lawyer famously sired by televangelist and Liberty U. founder Jerry Falwell Sr., who had endorsed Mr. Trump during the election. 1300 LU students and a prominent university board member protested the endorsement.

Even though Mr. Falwell Jr. has encouraged Liberty University students to carry concealed handguns on campus and keep them in their dorms, firearms were not permitted in Lynchburg’s Williams Stadium during commencement exercises. Oh ye of little faith ….

Mr. Trump urged the graduates to adhere to the basic founding principles of our Republic, Christian Nationalism, critic-bashing, and college football. Since 30% of Americans are not Christians, will their citizenship be revoked? And if you’re counting critics, 58% of your neighbors disapprove of the job President Trump is doing. And of course many people prefer the NFL to college football. No wonder Trump is fast-tracking Deportation Force recruiting.

Related:

“At Liberty University, All Sins Are Forgiven on the Altar of Football,” Michael Powell, New York Times

Update:

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Liberty University Mascot: Donald Trump

October 18, 2016

Liberty University Mascot: Donald Trump

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., the gun-totin’ Christian lawyer famously sired by televangelist and Liberty U. founder Jerry Falwell Sr., has forgiven admitted sexual predator and GOP candidate Donald Trump, whom he had endorsed. Mr. Falwell says he will vote for Trump even if the sexual assault charges are true. Liberty University students, not that forgiving, are concerned about Mr. Falwell’s defense of the Republican creep:

“While he occasionally clarifies that supporting Trump is not the official position of Liberty University, he knows it is his title of president of the largest Christian university in the world that gives him political credentials.”

“… Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”
— Liberty United Against Trump statement

More:

“Liberty University students protest association with Trump,” T. Rees Shapiro, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Susan Svrluga and Scott Clement, Washington Post

“Liberty U. Students: ‘Donald Trump & Jerry Falwell Jr. Don’t Represent Us,’” Ian Tuttle, National Review

“Evangelical clash over Trump reverberates at Liberty University,” Linda Feldmann, Christian Science Monitor

“Des étudiants d’une influente université chrétienne rejettent Trump,” Le Figaro

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Ark Encounter: State-Subsidized Religious Tourism in Kentucky

August 8, 2016

Ark encounter: State-Subsidized Religoius Tourism in Kentucky

Noah’s Ark may have landed on Mount Ararat, but you can see it in Kentucky off Interstate 75, on State Route 36 in Williamstown. Answers In Genesis, the outfit behind the Creation(ism) Museum, has built a 510-foot-long biblical boat as a tourist attraction, Ark Encounter ($40 admission, $10 parking).  The wooden hull is stocked with pairs of animals said to be on the Ark, including dinosaurs (from the Book of Flintstones?). There’s also a zoo, but don’t expect any dinosaurs there.

Ark Encounter opened on July 7th and was built at a cost $102 million. Of that, $62 million was raised from Industrial Development Bonds issued by the City of Williamstown. The Kentucky state government granted Ark Encounter $18 million in tax incentives and is building a new $10 million highway interchange for the new Christian theme park.

The rationale for granting this public largesse for religious evangelism is that the big boat will stimulate the tourist economy and create jobs. Want to apply for those jobs? You’ll have to sign a statement of faith in Genesis and Jesus Christ, disavowing homosexuality, same-sex marriage and premarital sex. Somehow, Federal Judge Greg Van Tatenhove (alumnus of Christian Asbury University) has ruled that this is all constitutional and isn’t state sponsorship of religion. It seems Ark Encounter is a secular outfit when it gets public funding and tax breaks, but a religious organization when it hires employees. Glory be, it’s a miracle!

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Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

April 23, 2016

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

The Haggadah (הַגָּדָה‎) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover ritual meal, the Seder.

“There’s a reason the haggadah feels goyish: Formally speaking, it’s Greek. It’s a Judaicized version of a Greek genre called ‘symposium literature’. Plato loved the form. So did Xenophon. The symposium enshrined the most appealing traits of the Hellenic personality: conviviality, Epicureanism, a love of good conversation.”

–”Platonic Form,” Judith Shulevitz, Tablet Magazine

The ancient Greek symposium (συμπόσιον) was a drinking party; drinking four glasses of wine is a Passover obligation. Diners are supposed to recline while they do so, just like the Greeks.

There’s a cute Passover tradition, breaking a piece of matzoh (unleavened bread) and hiding half of it. The bread can only be eaten at the end of the meal, after the family’s children discover it. That piece of bread has a funny name, afikomen, but its origin isn’t Hebrew. You guessed it, it’s Greek:

“In Greek, the word is epikomen and is made up of two smaller words: epi, which means after (as in an epilogue), and komos, which means a banquet or merrymaking, and is the same word that inspired the English word comedy. For centuries, Jews have taken afikomen to mean ‘that which comes after the meal,’ more commonly known, of course, as dessert.”

– “Breaking Matzah,” David K. Israel, Mental Floss

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The Macaroons of Moses

April 22, 2016

The Macaroons of Moses
Tonight many Jewish families hold the Seder, the ritual meal celebrating the holiday of Passover. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the customs of this dinner, such as recounting the Exodus story as told in the ancient Maxwell House Haggadah and the obligation to drink four glasses of wine (oh, the sacrifices …).

One seasonal custom puzzling to Gentiles is the appearance of canned Kosher cookies in American supermarkets. Many Jews are puzzled as well, since the cookies are macaroons made with coconut, chocolate, and other ingredients not prominent in the Old Testament.

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Pope Trumps Donald

February 19, 2016

Pope Trumps Donald

Winging back to Rome after his visit to Ciudad Juárez on the Mexico-US border, reporters asked Pope Francis what he thought of the idea of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” His Holiness replied. “This is not the gospel.”

That “person,” of course, would be reality TV star, fear monger and Bible scholar Donald J. Trump. Naturally The Donald picked a fight with the Pope, claiming Mexican officials got Pope Francis to say that (so they won’t have to pay for Donald’s wall, no doubt). Then he claimed the Pope had no right to impugn his Christian faith, as if his own words hadn’t done so already.

Pope Francis has decried the suffering of migrants in Europe and the Mid East as well as on Mexico’s northern border. Maybe those walls can be Trump-branded, too.

More:

“The Pope Is Way More Popular Than Donald Trump,” Leah Libresco and Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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‘Two Corinthians Walk Into a Bar ….’

January 27, 2016

'2 Corinthians Walk Into a Bar ....'

When Republican presidential hopeful, shady golfer and adulterer Donald Trump spoke at fundamentalist Liberty University recently, he quoted from his “favorite book,” the Bible, which someone else read for him (he “has people…”). Mr. Trump elicited ridicule by citing Second Corinthians as “Two Corinthians.” Oops.

Maybe The Donald would have been better off quoting from his “second favorite book,” Art of the Deal. That’s the autobiography he paid Tony Schwartz to write for him.

Really smartWharton grad Donnie Trump may have flunked Bible School, but that didn’t stop gun-totinlawyer and Liberty U. prez Jerry Falwell Jr. from endorsing him. Mr. Falwell, like his televangelist daddy, is a man of faith, facts and democracy be damned.

More:

“Trump Thumps Bible, Bible Thumps Back,” Monica Bauer, Huffington Post

“Trump’s Liberty U Performance Was Insulting to Christians Everywhere,” Tom DeLay, Christian Post

“Bible-thumping playboy: Associated Press explores faith, contradictions of Donald Trump,” Bobby Ross Jr., Get Religion

“Trump’s Bid to Become Born-Again Fails as Jesus Turns Down Friend Request,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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The Blessing of the Buses

January 11, 2016

The Blessing of the Buses
“The quality of life in cities has much to do with systems of transport, which are often a source of much suffering for those who use them. Many cars, used by one or more people, circulate in cities, causing traffic congestion, raising the level of pollution, and consuming enormous quantities of non-renewable energy. This makes it necessary to build more roads and parking areas which spoil the urban landscape. Many specialists agree on the need to give priority to public transportation. Yet some measures needed will not prove easily acceptable to society unless substantial improvements are made in the systems themselves, which in many cities force people to put up with undignified conditions due to crowding, inconvenience, infrequent service and lack of safety.”

—  Laudato si’, Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis on care for our common home

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