erikwdavis

Sounding on Religion, April 15, 2011

In sounding on April 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Welcome to Tax Day, if you’re in the United States. They say that only two things in this world are certain: death and taxes. I concentrate on death, of course, and at any rate, there are lots of people who get away without paying taxes at all. I am not among them, more’s the pity.

So, while some of us are working towards one of life’s supposed ubiquities (taxes), here are a few stories that have to do with religion.

  • Star Trek Hypothesis
  • Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President argues that Buddhism, Hinduism, and Marxism are demonstrations of Satanic Power.
  • “America’s Top Exorcist,” a rather lurid CNN video piece in which the Vatican’s chief American exorcist, and inspiration for new movie “The Rite,” is given the mini-biopic treatment. This would be uninteresting and just another case of lurid religion-movie tie-ins in the media (especially around horror-genre films), except that I’ve recently become interested in the immense rise in the number of officially credentialed exorcists in the Catholic Church in the last few years, and the scary rise in exorcisms generally.
  • Mayan Corn God/Jester God images discovered
  • Prehistoric Burial Sites in PNG
  • Robert Fisk on Secular Popular Revolts Not Backed By Secret Islamists
  • “A Taxonomy of Gods”
  • The Trot Dance Ritual in Khmer New Year celebrations (Khmer language video)
  • Mike Huckabee interview with Jon Stewart
  • 7 Best Unintentionally Sexual Church Signs
Actual links and comments after the jump
Star Trek Hypothesis
I inherited this phrase – Star Trek Hypothesis – from one of my undergraduate  instructors (but, I can’t remember which one!).  It refers generally to the secularization hypothesis – that as the world ‘progresses’ towards ever-greater forms of rationality, religion not only poses a positive and reactionary threat to this progress and rationalism, but will disappear.  It refers specifically to the widespread attitude toward religion espoused in the Star Trek franchise, especially in the original series.  How often can you think of (if you are familiar with Star Trek) examples where a Star Trek Fleet member was religious?  Usually, it’s the primitives on the planets who are victims of religious delusion.  I saw that this attitude is especially apparent in the Original Series, but this little video clip is about as clear about it as I can imagine:
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President argues that Buddhism, Hinduism, and Marxism are demonstrations of Satanic Power.
This story is fascinating.  I recently read the unbelievably good (just, too good) book on Primitive Accumulation and Gender by Silvia Federici, “Caliban and the Witch.” I’ll probably have to write it up into a blog post soonish, but the upshot is that I’ve become very interested in anti-witch movements, including anti-demonic movements (see next point on exorcism).  So, Buddhists, Hindus, and Marxists (I’m pretty sure Muslims are just included by assumption) are expressions of Satanic Power.  Good to know.
“America’s Top Exorcist”
This is a rather lurid CNN video piece in which the Vatican’s chief American exorcist, and inspiration for new movie “The Rite,” is given the mini-biopic treatment. This would be uninteresting and just another case of lurid religion-movie tie-ins in the media (especially around horror-genre films), except that I’ve recently become interested in the immense rise in the number of officially credentialed exorcists in the Catholic Church in the last few years, and the scary rise in exorcisms generally.
Mayan Corn God/Jester God images discovered
Both of my long-term readers know that I have an abiding interest in the relationship between the transition to agriculture (the use of cereal grains and tilling) and the development of ‘civilized’ (complex societies based around urban centers) religion.  Along with my separate love of all things Mayan, this story is awesome. From the “Ancient Foods” blog:

Over the weekend, we reported the discovery of the possible oldest Maya royal burial, from around 350 BC. The discovery turns on images of the Maya Jester god found on an incense burner in the tomb, a symbol of royalty.

Archaeologist John Tomasic of the University of Kansas, provided USA TODAY with some images of the incense burner and other finds from the site, near archaeological digs at Holmul, headed by Francisco Estrada-Belli.

The Jester god is an interesting figure in Mesoamerican scholarship, taking his name from adornment with a headdress sporting a triple-leafed headpiece, the stems spread like a jester’s cap. The trefoil design actually mimics an ear of corn, and the deity is thought to be an Olmec corn god later taken up by the Maya as a patron of royal power.

Robert Fisk on Secular Popular Revolts Not Backed By Secret Islamists
The great journalist on the Middle East, Robert Fisk, on the impression that the “Arab Spring” revolts are secretly backed by Islamist movements, and why that’s just dumb. This week’s must-read in religion and politics? Via Religion Bulletin.
“A Taxonomy of Gods”
One of these strange, beautiful little pieces that I find deeply inspiring and challenging, when thinking about religion.
The Trot Dance Ritual in Khmer New Year celebrations (Khmer language video)
Trot is a traditional, New Year’s season, dance, with lots of fascinating symbolism encompassing such diverse aspects as physical individual healing, regicide (murdering the king), hunting (probably inspired by the Vessantara Jataka and the Ramayana/Reamke), and corporate purification.  Even if you don’t understand Khmer, this video is nice:
Mike Huckabee interview with Jon Stewart
Curious to know what Mike Huckabee, former State governor and potential presidential candidate, thinks about the separation of Church and State? Here’s the extended video clip of his interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.
7 Best Unintentionally Sexual Church Signs
And because religion is best when served with humor, this collection of the 7 best unintentionally sexual church signs. We can discuss the potential that these are photoshopped, or intentional, but I think we can all agree that these are hilarious.
  1. [...] previously mentioned the Catholic Church’s renewed love affair with demon-fighters. Here’s another story in that theme, this time from the Philippines: “There is a great [...]

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