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 [...]
An atheist mom's blog post on CNN.com was so controversial—imagine being a mother and not teaching your child to worship Jesus—that editors nearly removed the offending material. But the Texas mom's reasons for raising her Texan child without religion "struck a chord," meaning it went viral on the Internet. Some 650,000 page views later, there was a change of heart at CNN.com. Maybe an atheist mom should be allowed to keep her child, after all.
This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the [...]
David Roth: So, tell me again, please, how you found this novel, The Last Western? I know how I found it, which was by you giving me a copy and telling me it was important that I read it.
David Roth: It was like Natalie Portman's "The Shins will change your life" moment in Garden State, except you are shorter, smarter and less pointy than she is, and I am marginally less grumbly-sad than Zach Braff, and you were right and also The Shins couldn't conceivably really change anyone's life.
Maria Bustillos: A guy named Mark Harris went all crazy over it on this listserv I was on back [...]
I know how cool we all like to play it because we’re so young and so beautiful and nothing bad will ever happen to us in our lives! Our youth and our beauty will protect us. But our grandparents were once young if maybe not quite as beautiful. Everything ends eventually, and at some point you may want to start hedging your bets and believing in a higher power, if only to get the goodies that comes along with the benefits of membership. I’d much rather spend the afterlife playing golf with President Coolidge and Charlotte Bronte than not-existing. Or burning in Hell with all the popes ever, for that [...]
35. Makahiki 34. L. Ron Hubbard's Birthday 33. Solstices 32. Pioneer Day 30 and 31. Eid al-Adha & Eid al-Fitr (tied) 29. Purim 28. Diwali 27. Ramadan 26. Lent 25. Pesach 24. Epiphany 23. Equinoxes 22. Yom Kippur
My friend Beau and I grew up together in Tucson, Arizona, where he was the quarterback of our high school’s football team. We’ve since traveled around Italy together, sipped wine and talked about music until sunrise, and, one memorable time, got drunkenly chased out of a Vegas casino. Beau and I have a lot in common, our vices included, which is why I always forget one big thing about him: Until very recently, Beau was a Mormon. He never went door-to-door trying to convert people, nor did he ever march against gay rights. But for 18 years he faithfully went to a Mormon temple every Sunday with his parents and [...]
The determined forays of hallowed Western faith traditions into the digital-media world rarely produce a non-embarrassing outcome. There are your teen-themed “Bible-zine” translations. There are your evangelical trade shows. There are your media churches. But the recent news that the Catholic Church was launching a quasi-official confession app on the iPhone was something else again—and not just because it got snapped up in the related Maureen Dowd column-generating software.
To be fair, the app—the brainchild of a pair of entrepreneurial Indiana-based Catholic brothers, Patrick and Chip Leinen—is not designed to supplant the traditional rite of confession, spoken in anonymity to a real-life [...]
It’s hard to say in what, exactly, our elected representatives believe. Oh, this Congress got all sorts of attention for running, and winning, on a tea partyish platform of ideological purity, but when it comes to belief belief—in the cosmic stuff, last things and first scriptural principles—they’re a distinctly squishy bunch.
They are, like the country they represent, majority Protestant, according to a new study by the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life. But as is the case with the country’s broader Protestant profile, it’s hard to say what, beyond a general feel-good affinity for Jesus, that faith entails. Not surprisingly, the 112th Congress includes stronger [...]
Only a decade ago, it seemed horrifyingly certain that the United States was the exclusive realm of screeching old white people who defined themselves by their consumption of guns, gasoline and corn-syrup anusburgers. The president was a blue-blooded Yale (and Harvard!) man who successfully acted like a moronic Texan suburban cowboy who was always either giggling over his ability to execute retarded people or crying about Jesus. A once smart nation seemed to be operated entirely from shoddily constructed stucco megachurches on the exurban fringe of the world's ugliest sunbelt sprawl. It was depressing, but it was also probably the peak of all that awful bullshit. The "Nones"—[...]
The rest of the western world pretty much gave up on organized religion 40 years ago, but here in America we kept Christian-soldiering onward, because America is special that way. Or it was special that way: A shocking new study reveals that the number of Americans abandoning all religion jumped by 15% in the last half decade. With one in five Americans (five in five in New York) now in the "no religion" category, we should catch up with Europe by 2032 or so, by which point the Earth is expected to be a boiling cauldron anyway.
About two months ago I started reaching out by email to a group of people whose lives I wanted to know about and understand: The Trappist monks of Oka Abbey, in Quebec. Oka Abbey is the oldest Trappist monastery in North America. A century ago, it was a powerhouse; but in recent decades, the community had dwindled to a fraction of what it used to be. After leaving the Abbey to a heritage group, to be preserved as an historical site, the remaining monks relocated to a smaller retreat in the mountains north of Montreal.
Even if you're not Catholic, you may have heard of the Trappists. They’re [...]
I’ve seen them for years. On the way from my old home in West Philadelphia to the airport or the stadiums. Changing subway lines underneath City Hall. In front of the Lowe’s on the way to a past job. I’m talking about the well-dressed representatives of the Nation of Islam, who hawk neatly packaged bean pies (along with copies of the nation’s newspaper The Final Call) to commuters passing through these high-traffic locations. But only recently did it occur to me that I should be sampling their offerings as part of my halting, unsystematic inquiry into foodstuffs inexpensively proffered by various religious organizations.
Here you will find a list of five kooky religions, which somehow presumes that other religions are not equally kooky.
There are countless reasons that the makers of U.S. policy have been caught flatfooted by the uprising in Egypt. As is often the case in human affairs, the most compelling reason is also the basest: We spend $1.2 billion in Egypt to provide “security” and support for U.S. interests in the Middle East—and all that money buys both parties the privilege of looking the other way as the sclerotic Mubarak regime grew more unresponsive to a restive democratic oppostion.
In broader terms, however, American leaders are puzzled by the uprising because so far it has failed utterly to conform to the “Clash of Civilizations” playbook. That is to say, [...]