Can growing Muslim populations result in shrinking Islamophobia?

Enjoy my latest article from the Nashville Free Press.

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Was Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit to Israel Worth It

Check out my latest article in the Nashville Free Press: The Pope’s Visit to Israel – Was It Worth It?

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The Art of Taking Ourselves Less Seriously For the Public Good

Read my latest Nashville Free Press article.

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Enjoy some Fun with the Bible posts.

The Catholic Bishop Holocaust Denier Is Making the News and, ba-da-da-da-da, I’m Lovin’ It

Find out why in my latest column in the Nashville Free Press! Click HERE.

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Fun with the Bible: The Importance of Charity in a Ten Commandments Time

I wrote an article for the Nashville Free Press in my column, No Holier Than Thou, about the importance of charity and the concept of charity among Judaism, Islam and Christianity. To check out this article, please click HERE and please feel free to leave comments either there or here.

Enjoy!

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Fun with the Bible: Obama’s Inauguration Ceremonies, Religion and the Bible

Yes, it is a little late for such an article seeing as how we’ve been enjoying our new president (who would have thought we could ever say “enjoy” and “president” in the same positive sentence?) for nearly two weeks now, but as it happens, I recently got a column in a new upstart paper called the Nashville Free Press. It’s a spin-off from the radio station, Radio Free Nashville, which is a sensational non-profit station dedicated to discussing matters that the mainstream media ignores. A particular favorite of mine is the Health at Every Size show with Dr. Peggy Elam (8 a.m. Pacific Time every Monday). You can listen to any of their shows on the web through their website.

In any case, the leaders of that wonderful endeavor just started a newspaper dedicated to similar principles: bringing people the news that mainstream media feels comfortable ignoring. And as it happens, yours truly has a column in this new paper called No Holier Than Thou. The link is in the blogroll to the right under My Sites –>

Please feel free to check it out whenever you like. Along those lines, for this week’s Fun with the Bible post I’m going to point you in that direction. Click HERE to read up on the place of religion, God and the Bible in the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. You can return here to leave comments on the article and your thoughts about religion in the Inauguration.

Hope you enjoy!

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The Vatican’s Newspaper Forgives John Lennon for Thinking the Beatles are Bigger Than Jesus

The paper was the semi-official L’Osservatore Romano, which recognized that Lennon’s remark was just the youthful ebullience of a young working class man who was shocked at his own unexpected success. Who will die out first, Christianity or Rock and Roll?

The article came along with the 40th anniversary of the critically acclaimed White Album.

Well, I must say, who the hell cares if the Vatican, or some subsidiary paper, forgives you. What does that mean anyway? Does it mean Lennon isn’t burning in Hell anymore? Does it mean that we can all rest easy that Catholicism isn’t holding a grudge?

I don’t think the paper was trying to do anything official or spark any controversy but I think it’s pretty presumptuous to think that your forgiveness matters to anyone – but I guess we are talking about the Vatican here, which is the institution par excellence for forgiveness and thinking itself extremely important in that department.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for forgiveness, but John Lennon wasn’t a Catholic and I’m fairly sure that he doesn’t give a shit what the Vatican thinks about him wherever he is. It’s a bit presumptuous is all.

What do you think about this?

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Religion in the News: Exciting New Discovery of Syria’s Largest Ancient Church

In Palyrma, a town in central Syria, what is thought to be the largest church ever discovered in the state has been unearthed. Archaeologists think that it is 1500 years old; they have even discovered other building of significance, including an amphitheater, in the area of the church.

I love new discoveries like this: anything that sheds light on our picture of early Christianity and allows us to understand the religion’s dissemination and early theology better. Plus, it’s an interesting reminder to us all that Christianity was so popular in certain regions of the modern Middle East. In fact, Syria’s Antioch is one of the five patriarchates.

There is no period of Christianity (or history for that matter!) that I don’t find fascinating, but I’m particularly intrigued by the early period, which is often dated between the first and sixth centuries – though I don’t think it would be inappropriate to cut it off earlier. In any case, this church is a really cool find from that period, and I hope that the archaeologists continue to find other things in the area that shed light on the period and religion. After all, the dry dessert heat preserves scrolls really well, so it’s not impossible that some awesome texts stored in ancient jars will be unearthed!….but nothing yet.

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How to Understand the Current World Financial Problems

If you have difficulty in understanding the current world financial situation, the following should help. It has been simplified.

Once upon a time in a village in India , a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each. The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.

The man bought thousands at $10 each, but, as the supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts.

The man further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.

Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going  back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply  of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his  assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.”

The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Welcome to WALL STREET. (also explains the real estate debacle)

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Religion in the News: Monks Brawl at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Where Jesus was Supposedly Crucified

As many of you know, I used to live in Jerusalem. I did my masters at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. One of my favorite places to visit in the city, and one of my absolute favorite to bring visitors, was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was such a fascinating place with so many cubbies to explore and so much history on top of myth. Truly, it was a special place whether or not you believe that Jesus was crucified, laid and entombed there.

However, as history would have it, six different Christian denominations have control over various parts of the Church and since a treaty in the latter half of the 19th century, not a single element of the status quo of the church is allowed to be changed, for fear of a resumption of the often violent disputes that used to erupt there. Though squabbling is still common amongst the monks of the controlling denominations, there are only rarely outbreaks of violence.

As it happens, one of those outbreaks was earlier this week. Armenian monks trying to celebrate a festival commemorating the discovery of the cross Jesus was supposedly crucified on and Greek Orthodox monks who wouldn’t leave a certain space for fear of losing control over it, got into a violent scuffle where fists and anything moveable were thrown.

Now people, this is a little ridiculous. Is that what Jesus would want? Personally, I’ve always felt that Jesus would want everyone to leave him alone and stop bringing him into their disputes but in the meantime I’m pretty sure that Jesus would actually prefer that nobody fight over such stupid things. And this is freaking stupid.

Get a grip people. Set a frickin’ example.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an amazing place and things like that just ruin the atmosphere.

Have you ever been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? Tell us about your experience.

Want to read another post on the Church that includes pictures and more detailed history? Click HERE.

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