Annie Clark’s fourth record as St. Vincent, out February 25, has elevated some eyebrows because it is self-titled (“underwhelming,” one journalist called the decision). Self-titled albums tend to be statements: either This is the sound of St. Vincent or I am redefining myself, and this is the NEW sound of St. Vincent. Thankfully, neither of those items seem to be on Clark’s agenda here. Rather, the title St. Vincent is just one of many explorations of worship on the record, a kind of self-aware acknowledgement of Clark’s new fan base. St. Vincent’s cover art, depicting Annie Clark on a throne, sitting regally “above” the viewer, furthers this concept. [...]
The first in a series about our favorite TV shows past.
There are some things I know to be true that cannot be objectively or scientifically proven, what theologians call articles of faith. Corporate lawyers, for instance, are not simply bad people who made poor life choices. They actually work for demons, a kind of lesser god-monster from a parallel dimension porously paired with our own. Professional politics, a career nearly all attorneys aspire to, is itself a realm of slightly higher demons—higher in influence and power, not intellect or evolution. These professions, like those of talent agents and film producers and record-label executives and school principals, are natural [...]
At a performance last August, the deliberate and sharply dressed emcee, who is also well known as an actor, announced his “official transition” to a huge audience gathered in the parking lot of a popular pub and pizzeria in Anchorage, Alaska: “My professional name will be my chosen and my legal name, which is Yasiin Bey. … And I don’t want to have to wait for it to be in Source or Vibe or someplace. I figure, we’re all here. We can see each other.” And then he spelled it out for them: “Y-A-S-I-I-N, first name. Last name: B-E-Y.”
When a few Alaskans made some disapproving noises, Bey responded, [...]
While the ultra-Orthodox steadily streamed down the 7 train platform and onto the pavilion, a group of four teenagers sat around the big red New York Mets apple, waiting for their friends. This was last night, an hour or so before the Citi Field gates opened. Outside the stadium, a few hundred ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stood around, waiting for the masses to arrive to this rally about the dangers of the internet. The 40,000-stadium tickets had sold out the week before and the event organizers—The Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp—had scrambled to rent nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the 10,000 or more attendee spillover. These boys [...]
Why do God-believers hate atheists so much? Apparently they (the God-believers) find that an unwillingness to credit magical enchantment and mumbo-jumbo makes them (the atheists) untrustworthy: Religion, in other words, has served a specific function throughout much of human history (beyond assuaging existential fears): It keeps people in line, discouraging them from engaging in selfish acts that hurt the larger community. Gervais and his colleagues point to recent research that bears this notion out; several studies have found people engage in less-selfish behavior “when reminded of watchful supernatural agents.” If you believe – even implicitly – that the prospect of divine retribution is the primary factor inhibiting immoral [...]
In the month since I’d dined with the Episcopalians for Shrove Tuesday, I’d been spending too much money going out to eat. It was time to take advantage of the generosity of another religious group and avail myself of a free meal, so I headed to the closest Sikh temple.
The trip from my South Philadelphia home took me to the tiny town of Millbourne, just outside the city limits, but serviced by the El train. Of Millbourne’s slightly more than 1,000 residents, the 2010 census found that over half are of Asian descent—and almost all of these are South Asian: Indians, but also Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
The Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade decision turned 38 last week, and regardless of one’s ultimate view of the issue, the legal right to abortion on demand is clearly in the throes an awkward middle age.
This year’s Roe anniversary coincides with the indictment of Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell on eight counts of murder. Gosnell appears to have been the sort of unscrupulous abortion mill operator you’d find in a Jack Chick comic—an answer to the many fervid prayers of pro-life activists keen to make the public abortion understand as murder in the most brutal and forceful terms. When state inspectors suspended his license and closed [...]