Tags: movies

goddess and god

Box Office Pantheism, Islam and the civic state, The Lesser Path

Box Office Pantheism
ChristianityToday.com, March 5, 2010‎
"C.S. Lewis thought pantheism—the belief that a non-personal God and nature are one, that there is an all-inclusive divine unity—was more corrosive to Christianity than atheism itself.
[...]
A conventional love story bolstered by dazzling visuals, the film follows ex-Marine Jake Sully as he joins forces with the Na'vi, Pandora's natives, to defend their ecosystem—which is also their god, it seems. The blue humanoids revere all life, believing that each creature is interconnected and charged with divine energy. We see the Na'vi bowing and worshiping before the Tree of Souls, their holiest site. Eywa, an unseen female deity, holds it all together, responding to their prayers for protection against American mercenaries.

What all this amounts to, grumbled New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, is Cameron's "long apologia for pantheism," which has been "Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now." It's the spirit that animates such classics as the Star Wars saga and The Lion King, along with the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. Vatican Radio criticized the film for "cleverly wink[ing] at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium." Movieguide said the film "has an abhorrent New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes goddess worship and the destruction of the human race." The only clear religion in Avatar is White Messianism, scoffed David Brooks at The New York Times, since "the natives" need a white man, Sully, to lead their crusade."
----------------------------------------------------------------
Islam and the civic state
Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 March 2010, Issue No. 988
"Every religion has its own genius for finding a universal meaning or value that serves to carve its niche in history. This genius might be inspired by the challenges it faces, by the aims it aspires to, or by the historical role it seeks to play. Islam appeared in a tribal and pagan environment, one characterised by the lack of a dominant religion and by the absence of an overarching political society -- an early Arabian without tribal protection had little chance of survival. Islam thus encountered a three-fold challenge: a crisis in creed in the face of prevailing paganism; a social crisis fed by prevailing tribalism; and a civilisational crisis in light of the backwardness of life in the Arabian Peninsula in comparison to the overwhelming superiority of neighbouring civilisations."
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Lesser Path
by Lewis S. Rutherfurd, The New York Times, UDAIPUR, INDIA, March 5, 2010
"I encountered Father Lesser at the hotel buffet, where my dad had assembled his mutinous table, including his fiancé, her 20-something son, my agnostic wife and our three glowingly pagan children.
[...]
Father Lesser has become a genuine Indian holy man. He’s paid his dues. Everyone in Udaipur knows this, Christian or not. But I asked him what he thought a missionary could bring to India, with all its riotous, ancient religions.

“It’s a valid question,” he said, as we sat in his small, cluttered room at a Catholic high school. “But if I believe in Christ, he tells me to go and preach. He doesn’t tell me go and convert.”

As we spoke, the noxious traffic of urban India clamored outside. “For instance,” he continued. “You came here, and I must try and give you something of Christ. But there’s no compulsion. How can there be?”
[...]
He’d come to love Indian spirituality, he said, especially the poetry of Indian saints. They made him a better communicator, and a better priest, and so he wrote books about them.
[...]
“If you really want to live — you’ve got to relate to God, and you’ve got to relate to people,” he said. “You cannot live a proper life without these.” The worst sins were selfishness and pride."
----------------------------------------------------------------
goddess and god

Golden Bough found in Italy, No Witches in Nigeria, Witchcraft Through the Ages

Golden Bough from Roman mythology 'found in Italy'
Italian archaeologists claim to have found a stone enclosure which once protected the legendary "Golden Bough".
By Nick Squires in Rome, telegraph.co.uk, 18 Feb 2010
"In Roman mythology, the bough was a tree branch with golden leaves that enabled the Trojan hero Aeneas to travel through the underworld safely.

They discovered the remains while excavating religious sanctuary built in honour of the goddess Diana near an ancient volcanic lake in the Alban Hills, 20 miles south of Rome.

They believe the enclosure protected a huge Cypress or oak tree which was sacred to the Latins, a powerful tribe which ruled the region before the rise of the Roman Empire.

The tree was central to the myth of Aeneas, who was told by a spirit to pluck a branch bearing golden leaves to protect himself when he ventured into Hades to seek counsel from his dead father.

In a second, more historically credible legend, the Latins believed it symbolised the power of their priest-king.

Anyone who broke off a branch, even a fugitive slave, could then challenge the king in a fight to the death. If the king was killed in the battle, the challenger assumed his position as the tribe's leader.

The discovery was made near the town of Nemi by a team led by Filippo Coarelli, a recently retired professor of archaeology at Perugia University.

After months of excavations in the volcanic soil, they unearthed the remains of a stone enclosure.

Shards of pottery surrounding the site date it to the mid to late Bronze Age, between the 12th and 13th centuries BC."
----------------------------------------------------------------
Nigeria: 'No Witches Here'
by Mary Ekah, AllAfrica.com, ‎Feb 18, 2010‎
"Recently, Gov Godswill Akpabio visited the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), Ikot Afaha, Eket Local Government Area, where some 201 children abandoned by their parents and guardians gathered for a surprise package. Guided by their teachers, they rendered improvised songs to welcome their special guests.

Some of the inmates, according to the proprietor of the centre, Samuel Itauma, were street children. Some were dumped at birth while quite a number were sent out of their homes by their parents or guardians on grounds that they were witches or wizards.
[...]
So far, the governor has done a lot to change the situation of abandoned children. Beyond putting policies in place, he has also worked on the self esteem of the people; changing their mental orientation. "You would no longer hear children being thrown into the streets any longer. Many parents are learning. I know also that, yes, the story was a bit blown out of proportion the extent of which might not have been as it was but for me. What was important was that if it was happening at all, it had to be nipped in the bud to ensure the protection of our children. It is not true that Akwa Ibom State is full of witchcraft people. What is true is that there were a few fraudsters, fake pastors and bishops masquerading under the guise of Christianity and making money from gullible and unsuspecting members of the public by branding the children witches", he said.

However, if there are still those left in the Stone Age when harmful traditional beliefs ruled the day, Akpabio intends to jolt them out of their illusions with legislations. Now, there's a law in place against stigmatization of children and defaulters risk 10 years in jail."
----------------------------------------------------------------
To Do: Witchcraft Through the Ages
Anni Saastamoinen, District Weekly, Long Beach CA, Fri. February 19
"Writer/director Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 Swedish/Danish silent film Häxan (aka Witchcraft Through the Ages) documents the history of witchcraft as it was then known, depicting how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases could feed hysterical witch-hunts. Banned in the United States—and heavily censored elsewhere due to dramatized scenes of torture, nudity and sexual perversion—the film will be scored Friday by the Jimi Cabeza De Vaca Arcestra. The Arcestra’s music alone is capable of giving you the chills—all the better for watching demons dally with witches.

The Art Theatre, 2025 E Fourth St, Long Beach CA 90814. 562.438.5435. Fri 11:55pm. $10. arttheatrelongbeach.com."
----------------------------------------------------------------
goddess and god

Pagan Chaplain Appointed, God hates hate, Pagan Avatar, POTUS on Religious Liberty, Pagan Families

First Pagan Chaplain Appointed at Syracuse University
By Rebecca Kheel, Virtue Online, 2/15/10
"Hendricks Chapel recognized Mary Hudson as its first pagan chaplain on Feb. 1, in line with its goal of being more inclusive of all religions on campus.

This is the first new chaplain since the appointments of the Buddhist and the historically black church chaplains and the 11th chaplain at Hendricks. As a chaplain, Hudson will work at Hendricks two days a week, sponsor community outreaches and be apart of the Chaplains Council.

Syracuse University may be only the second university in the nation to have a pagan chaplain, Hudson said. The only other one she was aware of is at the University of Southern Maine.

Hudson said she hopes her appointment will help the SU community become more aware and understanding of the pagan community. Although she said there is more awareness and respect than the past, she hopes the chaplaincy will help stigmas and stereotypes disappear."
----------------------------------------------------------------
Aw, this is sweet.
Christianity should be marked by love, not hate
by Myles Ikenberry, Kansas State Collegian, February 15, 2010
"When St. Thomas Aquinas shaped the Catholic Church’s view of homosexuality, he believed that homosexuality was a creation of human beings, standing in direct opposition to the intentions of the Creator. Today we know that homosexual behavior exists not only in other mammals, but also in birds, reptiles, amphibians and even bugs.

Although the evolutionary reasons for LGBTQ are not fully understood today, when a man or a woman is born gay that is clearly not a defiance of God’s will.

Although Jesus never condemned homosexuality, he did condemn the persecution of the weak, the vilification of those who are different and the hatred of fellow human beings.

God doesn’t hate LGBTQ. God hates hate."
----------------------------------------------------------------
Is "Avatar" too Blue for Oscar gold?
by Peter Keough, The Phoenix (blog), Feb 15 2010
"Adds the ever reliable John Podhoretz of the "Weekly Standard:" "Avatar is blitheringly stupid; indeed, it's among the dumbest movies I've ever seen [and he's seen his share -- he's listed "Cinderella Man" and "The Phantom Menace" as among his favorite movies]." And mainly it's dumb because of its "mindless worship of a nature-loving tribe and the tribe's adorable pagan rituals, its hatred of the military and American institutions, and the notion that to be human is just way uncool-at all seriously as a political document."

And then of course, there is its godless, anti-religious paganism, a theme that doesn't surprise Russ Douhat in "The New York Times." "...pantheism," he sighs, " has been Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now."

And there's a lot more where this comes from. You got to wonder where these guys get the time to spread their lies and half truths about Obama's health care reform policies."
----------------------------------------------------------------
Presidential Proclamations: The Chief Executives On Religious Liberty
by Rob Boston, Americans United (blog),
"George Washington: “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.” (Letter to Touro Synagogue, Newport, R.I., August, 1790)
[...]
John F. Kennedy: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.” (Speech to Greater Houston Ministerial Association, Sept. 12, 1960)"
----------------------------------------------------------------
A New Political Theory Research Program For Today
by James Poulos, First Things (blog), ‎Feb 14, 2010‎
"As instructive as it is to trace the logic of Sade, Emerson, Freud, and others into the post-Foucauldian territory we frequent today, and as worthy a task as it is to reemphasize the natural character of the traditional family, both these sides of the family debate seem to me to miss something essential: a special aspect or character of the family that is non-natural. Typically, those who defend the family on natural-law grounds are happy to further demonstrate the compatibility of the nature-based approach with a supernatural one, wherein the authority of the traditional family results from the imposition of sacred order upon the natural substrate or raw material of biological necessity on the one hand and possibility on the other. But the question of whether that imposition is soft or hard is an important one; at least some commentators, particularly on the left, will not tire of pointing out the potentialities, in Christianity, particularly, for a sacred order that imposes commanding truths against certain aspects of the traditional family. The pagan, republican, quintessentially Roman family — as Tocqueville took a moment to hint — runs fundamentally contrary to the typical sort of family lived and theorized by natural-law Christians.

There are a variety of ways in which this is so, but, at the same time, it’s clear that certain aspects of pagan familial virtue are not exactly incompatible with the Biblical sacred order that can check or overcome their excesses and pathologies — just as the Biblical order imposes powerful interdicts, not to be confused with taboos, against the kind of violent desires that, to the morbid fascination of the ancient Greeks, deconstructed and destroyed the identities of family-bound individuals. Above all, for individuals in families Biblical order interdicts two kinds of pride, which combine and culminate in aristocratic nobility: pride in the unity of bloodline and virtu. Nonetheless, Biblical order has been unable to destroy both pagan familial order and the residual pride in family identity and family accomplishment that persist, especially among ‘real Americans’, to this day. It is not too much to suggest that Biblical order, in practice, has been unwilling to destroy these things."
----------------------------------------------------------------
goddess and god

AFA Worship Circle, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Love Spells, Lupercalia

Gotta have a sense of humor.
Inside the AFA worship circle
by Rich Tosches, Colorado Springs Independent, February 11, 2010‎
"The new Wiccan, Druid and Earth-centered religious worship circle on a mountaintop at the Air Force Academy is equipped with a propane gas hookup for the ritualistic soul-healing fires — just like the worship circles a thousand years ago, when the High Priestess of Babalashadan would stand by the fire and cry out in an enchanted voice, "Lagaz atha cabyolas," which means, literally, "OK, who brought the marshmallows?""
--------------------------------------------------------
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
by John Mulderig, Catholic News Service, 12 Feb, 2010
"For the film -- like the children's novel on which it's based -- is set in motion when its hero, mildly troubled New York high school student Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), discovers his true identity as a demigod, offspring of the Greek sea god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Sally (Catherine Keener), his affectionate, but perfectly ordinary human mother.

Some will take this mingling of contemporary reality and ancient myth as no more than a literary device, and a useful means of introducing youngsters to the deities of Mount Olympus, whose figures crop up constantly throughout the canon of Western literature. For others, it may represent an attempted revival of pagan ideas with the potential to confuse impressionable kids."
--------------------------------------------------------
Mystical, magical: Learn lore of love spells and potions
by Elizabeth Harrison, Great Falls Tribune, MT, February 12, 2010 ‎
"From herbal elixirs to love spells, the world is full of folklore, superstitions and spells claiming to ignite the fires of love and turn the popular Valentine's Day phrase "Be Mine" into reality.

"Even people who are suspicious of magic will often do superstitious things to attract love," said Lance Foster, a Helena-based anthropologist specializing in traditional folklore practices."
[...]
While love spells are not necessarily bogus, casting them is considered immoral in the neopagan religion, Wicca.

"It's real, but it's really against the Wiccan religion to affect someone," said Lady Nytewind, a high priestess with the Billings Mountain Moon Circle pagan group. "You're messing with someone else's karma, and that's not ethical."

Nytewind said doing work to ask for more love in your life is acceptable, as well as healing spells.

"Like healing a broken heart," she said. "As long as you're not trying to influence someone else."
--------------------------------------------------------
Valentines Day: The Real Story
by Jeremiah McDaniel, KHTS Radio, February 12 2010
"The History Channel reports that the decision to celebrate Valentines Day in the middle of February was an effort to Christianize the pagan's Lupercalia festival.

The festival, which celebrates the official beginning of spring, was a time for purification. Romans cleaned their houses and sprinkled salt and spelt, a type of wheat, throughout their homes.

"Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus."

According to theholidayspot.com, "in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day and set its observance a day earlier, February 14. He proclaimed February 14 to be the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine.""
goddess and god

Avatar Tree, Who is God?, Biodiversity, Lupercalia, 17th Century East Anglia

Is Avatar' anti-(fill in the blank)?
by Douglas Brode, TheNewsTribune.com, 02/08/10
"The "pro-environmentalist" theme is present. But what's wrong with that? Why do so many contemporary "conservatives" recoil in horror from principles of "conservation" when those two terms derive from the same word? This wasn't always the case: former President George H.W. Bush proudly stated, "I'm a conservationist. Always have been. Always will be." Another Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, initiated our environmental policies.

So! If Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995) were released today, would it likewise come under scrutiny for projecting the same supposedly "liberal" themes?

Speaking of Disney, in its Florida resort area sits a 500-acre site called Animal Kingdom, a theme park dedicated to "nature and conservation." On its opening day, sign-wielding demonstrators from the left massed to complain that animals were exploited there. Yet this modern zoo and rehabilitation center for harmed beasts has no bars. Should those protesters now be replaced by rightists, angry about efforts made there to protect the natural world?

The epicenter of Animal Kingdom is The Tree of Life, 14 stories high, 50 feet wide. Visitors resemble the indigenous blue creatures in "Avatar" who gather around their own, similar tree. This brings up the most heated attack on "Avatar" - i.e., that Cameron's film is "anti-religious." Is there any truth to that? Actually, answering "yes" or "no" depends on how an individual defines the term "anti-religious."

Positive symbolic use of the tree does run directly against the grain of the JudeoChristian Bible. Those anonymous figures who set down the moral fables of Genesis set out to reverse the meanings of pagan icons, which celebrated nature in general, the tree in particular. With roots burrowing down into the earth and leaves that reach toward Heaven above, the tree was worshipped as a natural bridge between here and there."
----------------------------------------------------------
Local religions answer the question: Who is God?
by Lisa Larson, St. George Daily Spectrum, ‎Feb 6, 2010‎
"It's a word uttered by many - religious and non. At times it is shouted in anger and other times whispered in prayer. It represents a person to some and an idea to others so the answer to the question: "Who is God?" is as varied as the people who respond.

"I don't know that I would answer it," said Melanie Cottam, a neo-pagan of Cedar City. "Being pagan there is no set person to worship or celebrate."

That said, Cottam does have a concept of deity, but the god - or goddess in her case - depends on the needs of the person seeking help, the season of the year, or the phase of the person's life.

There are hundreds of gods and goddesses, said Cottam, adding that she thinks of these beings more in a spiritual realm. "I can call upon them to give me strength for what I'm needing, similar to how Christians will pray."

"I pray but I just don't pray to the same person every day," she said.
[...]
For Warren Wright, lay leader with Unitarian Universalists in St. George, this is something that remains a great mystery of life.

"For me, it's an unknown. It's not knowable," Wright said. "I've always felt it would certainly be nice to know what relationship we may have with our creator. But whether God, or the creator of us all, has any interest in us as individuals, I don't know. I think that's questionable."

Wright describes himself as an agnostic, though people who gather with the Unitarian Universalists come from a variety of theological backgrounds. When it comes to the idea of God, Wright said the agnostic approach seems to be the most honest.

"You just don't know," he said. "When you think about the concepts of god around the world, to limit it to one approach seems very difficult to swallow."

If a person chooses to believe in one of these concepts, Wright said it is important to have a balance of masculine and feminine attributes in the expression of God.

"A lot of people, not just Unitarians, would argue against the emphasis on the masculine part of God," he said.

Cottam said she prefers to focus on a feminine deity because she grew up in a patriarchal house.

"I'm kind of done with that. I need more of a matriarchal house," she said.
[...]
Cottam said her knowledge of the pagan gods came after a lot of study as well.

"I think the most important thing for people to know is they have the freedom to choose what makes them happy. When it comes to religion, they need to follow their heart," Cottam said. "As long as they're not hurting anyone and doing what makes them happy in life, they're going to find that peace in their life.""
----------------------------------------------------------
Saluting Darwin, Biodiversity
by Warren D. Allmon, The Ithaca Journal, February 8, 2010
"The diversity of life is truly staggering: approximately 1.7 million species have been described so far, and estimates of the total range from 10 to 100 million. Everyone should know three things about this mind-boggling panoply:

* It really matters. For example, biodiversity mirrors and enhances the overall health of ecosystems, and therefore ultimately of human communities, and all those species provide abundant ecological "services" such as pest and flood control. They are also treasure troves of genes and chemicals that we can use for medicine, agriculture and other important purposes.

* We are losing species at a rapid and quickening pace, due to human activity. Between one quarter and one half of all species on Earth will likely be gone within the next two centuries, amounting to a mass extinction of a size not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

* Finally - and back to Darwin - all of these species are the unique and irreplaceable products of millions of years of evolution. Because they were evolved, and not created, once they are gone they are gone forever. They may eventually be "replaced" by evolution, but this will take hundreds of thousands to millions of years, and we will be long gone by then. Evolution, in other words, should encourage us to value and protect the biodiversity with which we share the planet, because it is all we're going to have."
----------------------------------------------------------
Will you be my Valentine?
Thaindian.com - Shobha Shukla February 9th, 2010
"In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and to Juno, the goddess of marriage, as well as to Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or luperca. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with them. Roman women welcomed this, as it was believed that the strips would make them more fertile. Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. This custom lasted until the 1700s when people decided their beloveds should be chosen by sight, and not by luck.
[...]
Today Valentine’s Day is a popular observance around the world and has been increasing in popularity in India too, in recent years. Despite complaints from fanatic religious groups that it is a western phenomenon, destroying Indian culture, Valentine’s Day has now become a widely recognized and celebrated day with the Indian youth.

Similar is the situation in some other countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, and Pakistan , where the hardliners forbid any romantic relationship, dubbing it un-Islamic, unless the couple is married. Nevertheless, the occasional heart-shaped gift, stuffed animals with love messages and flowers sneak their way in the shops, and the Day is becoming increasingly popular among young people.

We must remember that Valentine’s Day is not a day of debauchery, as made out by religious fanatics. It is a day that celebrates love and romance, and the only ritual performed is when a guy sends flowers or candy to his sweetheart. We should not let it become a consumer driven holiday, which fills the coffers of the rich. Let it remain a celebration of love and hope, as it was meant to be.

In a world full of hate and discord, let the true meaning of Valentine’s Day be embraced by all cultures. Valentine’s Day should be the ultimate ecumenical observation. What religion or culture could possibly be against love?"
----------------------------------------------------------
Region caught up in witchcraft and war
Great Yarmouth Mercury, UK, 08 February 2010
"THE turmoil of the 17th century will be explored during a series of public lectures starting at the University of East Anglia this week.

The 17th century witnessed war, revolution and profound social change.

East Anglia was caught up in these life-shaping events: its population divided by the English civil wars; the region experienced periodic witchcraft trials; and the enclosure of common land drove many poor people to the brink of desperation.

Entitled 'The Turbulent 17th Century', the lecture series has been organised by the Centre of East Anglia Studies, based in the School of History. Experts in the history of the region from the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Warwick will present cutting-edge research into the revolutionary changes experienced by people during this time.

On Thursday, Prof Steve Hindle (Warwick) will talk on 'Work, reward and labour discipline in 17th century England', while 'Popular politics and seditious speech in early 17th century Norwich' is the subject of Dr Fiona Williamson's lecture on February 18.

Dr Alison Rowlands (Essex) will give a lecture entitled '17th century witch-hunts in comparative context' on February 25, and Prof John Walter (Essex) will present 'Swearing oaths and subscribing petitions: East Anglia gets ready for war' on March 4.

All lectures take place in Lecture Theatre 2 at UEA. Admission is free and all are welcome."
goddess and god

The Jewish People, Witch-hunter Murders, African Polygamy, Religion in Movies, Witches' Hat

Wow! this is really controversial stuff.
"A leading Israeli historian shatters the national myth of the Jewish exodus from the promised land."
The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand (Author), Yael Lotan (Translator)
Book Review: The Invention of the Jewish People
by Harry Clark, CounterPunch Feb 4, 2010
"Sand’s account of Judaism, from exclusive Israelite genealogy, to Hellenic proselytizing, to proselytizing and conversion on the margins of Christianity, in Arabia, North Africa, Spain, and among the Khazars and the Slavs, to defensive introversion amidst the final triumph of Christianity, is the interesting and compelling story of a religious minority subject to normal historical forces.

The contrary view of the unitary Jewish people expelled from its homeland, and wandering aloof in exile for two thousand years, until beginning its return in the late 19th c., is a reactionary myth which Zionism has deployed to conquer Palestine and compel support for it. The myth prevails unchecked today not only in Israel but worldwide. Nothing “has challenged the fundamental concepts that were formed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Advances in the study of nations and nationalism have not “affected the departments of the ‘History of the People of Israel’ (aka Jewish history) in Israeli universities.

Nor, amazingly, have they left their imprint on the ample output of Jewish studies departments in American or European universities.” The Zionist myth expresses a virulently racialized Jewish consciousness. In the canonical liberal view “anyone who argued that all Jews belong to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today’s Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jew-hater.”

Sand states in closing that “the mood at the end of this book. . .is more pessimistic than hopeful.” His final paragraph asks:

“In the final account, if it was possible to change the historical imaginary so profoundly, why not put forth a similarly lavish effort of the imagination to create a different tomorrow? If the nation’s history was mainly a dream, why not dream afresh, before it becomes a nightmare?”"
---------------------------------------------------------------
Three held for E Cape witchcraft murder
by SAPA, Independent Online, South Africa, February 04 2010
"Three men were arrested on Thursday for allegedly beating a woman to death they accused of practising witchcraft, Eastern Cape police said.

The trio, aged between 21 and 28, also faced a charge of arson and another of pointing of a firearm.

They went to a homstead in Bizana on Tuesday and allegedly assaulted a 60-year-old woman they accused of witchcraft, said Captain Mlungisi Matidane.

She died of her wounds. Her husband escaped.

"The same suspects later went back to the same homestead and set alight two rondavels. The 11 occupants survived with minor injuries."

The trio was arrested on Thursday morning and expected to appear in the Bizana Magistrate's Court shortly.

In a separate incident, three men accused of killing 65-year-old Nokitani Tshemesi and her three granddaughters, appeared in the Elliotdale Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

They had suspected the woman of practising witchcraft, police said. Their bodies were found in their home in Ntsingizi village on Tuesday morning. They had been stabbed to death."
---------------------------------------------------------------
Another take on Polygamy. Even with three wives he fathered a child outside of marriage!!

Union: Stop Zuma witch-hunt
by SAPA, News24, 2010-02-04
"Johannesburg - Critics of President Jacob Zuma are trying to re-engineer society into "one man and one woman for life", the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) said on Thursday.

"The media's obsession and interference at President Zuma's private life aims at re-engineering society to conform to the capitalist sex 'norm' of one man and one woman for life, thus denying the complexity of human sexuality," said the CWU.

Demanding that the media "stay out of the bedroom", they said if the media owners and opposition party leaders could not respect Zuma's privacy, they should declare their own partners and "throngs" of children.

"This puritanical witch-hunt against President Zuma waged by the bourgeois media and the opposition is a typical modern day version of Christian fundamentalist crusades against 'sin'."

"This witch-hunt directed towards President Zuma seeks to reinforce the idea in the public sphere that it is morally wrong for either President Zuma or women to be sexually intimate and impregnate each other outside the institution of marriage."

The union believed Zuma's private life was "none of our business".

Zuma had taken two days off to rest after confirming he fathered a child outside his three marriages and engagement.
---------------------------------------------------------------
'Avatar' draws controversy from the Vatican
by Joe Cramer, The Villanovan (subscription), Feb, 4, 2010
"Rev. David Cregan, O.S.A., a professor in the theater department who holds his doctorate in drama, feels that the Vatican newspaper is extremely important in the function exemplified by its critique of “Avatar.”

“It can be helpful in leading people toward the kinds of artistic projects that will enrich their spiritual lives,” Cregan says.

This would apply not only to films with a particular influence over pop culture at any given moment, but also those which challenge or reinterpret ideas that may be crucial to the religion in general. Yet the newspaper has remained silent on recent religious-themed films, such as “The Book of Eli” and “Legion,” both of which deal with religious implications and iconic imagery in a much more blatant way than the allegorical “Avatar.”
[...]
As often occurs when popular entertainment attempts to address topical issues, questions are raised concerning its place and significance within the issue, as well as its effectiveness in addressing those questions.

Rev. Joseph Farrell, O.S.A., doesn’t see the naturalistic ideologies as necessarily in opposition with Catholic or Augustinian views.

“What I was reminded of was a passage in Book X of the Confessions of St. Augustine when he asks himself the question, ‘What am I loving when I love my God?’” Farrell says.“He goes on a search questioning nature and all created things and keeps getting the answer from them, ‘We are not your God.’ He concludes by saying, ‘They lifted up their mighty voices and cried, “He made us.” My questioning was my attentive spirit, and their reply, their beauty.’”
[...]
Ultimately, “Avatar” is yet another example of the tension that will always exist between art and ideology.
When a form of popular entertainment attempts to address highly topical and divisive issues, even in an allegorical manner, it is sure to incite some criticism. Despite this, it illustrates the importance of having relevant and intelligent arguments on both sides to maintain a well-informed balance for viewers.

“Art can create perspective,” Cregan says. “But art is not doctrine.”"
---------------------------------------------------------------
South Lyon Cross Country--Witch's Hat Run
Apparently the race is named after a building, the Witches Hat Depot Museum
"The Witch's Hat Depot functions as a museum and the gathering place for the South Lyon Historical Society. It's distinctive roof line gives the building it's name: The Witch's Hat. The building was moved from the original location on East Lake Street to McHattie Park in 1976 as a bicentennial project and it now serves as the focal point for the historic village.

The interior of the depot has been preserved to show what a turn-of-the-century train depot would look like. The Historical Society uses the Depot and the nearby Freight Building to store historic documents. The Depot is an excellent resource for railroad buffs or those who simply want to know more about the history of South Lyon."
goddess and god

Pagan Assistance for Haiti, and God and Groundhog Day

Pagan groups join forces to offer assistance in Haiti
Fosters.com, January 29, 2010
"PORTSMOUTH NH — PaganFM!, a radio program and Pagan podcast, originating at WSCA-LP, 106.1 FM in Portsmouth, and Circle Sanctuary, located near Barneveld, Wis,m have embarked on a collaborative effort, with the support of musicians from around the world, to create a music album, the proceeds from which will be used to provide assistance to the recovery and rebuilding efforts in Haiti."
---------------------------------------------------
God and Groundhog Day: Screenwriter Danny Rubin on the Religion of a Movie (Audio)
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Danny Rubin, the screenwriter of "Groundhog Day," has heard from religious leaders since the release of his film, thanking him for celebrating their belief systems.

Angela Zito, co-director of NYU's Center for Religion and Media, has given talks about the religious interpretations of "Groundhog Day" to audiences around the country.

The Book of Murray: Journalism and 'Groundhog Day'
By John Hockenberry, February 02, 2010
"“Where did this story come from?” was my question about the idea that we were going to talk about the religious significance of the movie 'Groundhog Day' on the holiday Groundhog Day, February 2nd. What religious significance? I was imagining the crackpots who would come into the show with Bill Murray masks or with their hair all done up like Andie MacDowell, or worst of all Groundhog Day costar Chris Elliot would show up in a trench coat with a Bible in hand talking about his past lives.

Fortunately, the calm, cool and collected Mary Harris just patiently tells me that the whole thing has been handled. We booked the screenwriter, Danny Rubin, Mary told me. I could only imagine what he thought of this religious repurposing of his film.

There was also an NYU professor who taught the movie as part of a religion and media course. She would be on the show. Apparently she finds people from numerous religions who embrace the pagan roots of the whole Groundhog Day ritual. Others embrace the repetition plot twist as a parable about wanting to go back and correct the mistakes in one’s life. Buddists apparently embrace the repetition thread as part of the value of imagining life as a narrative of constant improvement. There is a little of the Old Testament's Book of Job in there, along with some Christian-style redemption. What’s amazing is that it’s the movie driving this, not that famous rodent of the Pittsburgh exurbs, 'Punxatawney Phil,' who predicts the weather. The Wiccans even have a piece of this.

I began to look at clips of the movie and sure enough, the whole religious parable thread began to stand out like some shiny, colorful embroidery. There was the ego-maniac caught in his own world forced to live in a world of repetition only he could perceive. When he tried to use this odd power of knowing what is going to happen each time he wakes up on Groundhog Day to his advantage, he becomes more miserable. Only by letting his situation teach him something about life does he find some peace."