In the News: Captain America, Serpents, Google’s Gods, and more!


From the work of artists Emiliano Paolini and Marianela Perelli’s in their (cancelled) show “Barbie: The Plastic Religion”

Recent work by Revealer Contributors 

Ayala Fader writes for The Immanent Frame about Orthodox Jewish women bloggers, their language, and their communities in “The Multilingual Jewish blogosphere.”

Shpitzle imagined her readership to be other ultra-Orthodox Jews (heimishe Jews), especially women. Indeed from some of the comments they seemed to be. The public that evolved, which I would posit formed through the postings, the comment threads, and the links on the side of her blog, created a space to explore and express and question without necessarily leaving the community, though some did.

Tanya Erzen has a story in Guernica on prison seminary programs in the American south, “In the Prison of New Beginnings.”

The prison seminary is part of an experiment sweeping through some of the most notorious prisons in the South. In Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and elsewhere, Baptists and prison administrators are molding an army of prisoner missionaries. In the past, these prisons were the epicenter for punitive incarceration. Most of them are former slave plantations or convict-leasing farms where bodies were measured solely in profit and loss. Now these prisons are at the vanguard of a movement where belief in the necessity of punishment coexists with the hope for an individual prisoner’s redemption. The seminary’s idea of freedom for a prisoner is for them to find Jesus and convert others without ever leaving prison.

Brook Wilensky-Lanford writes in The Forward about how her half-Jewish identity has shaped her personal and professional interest in religion: “Tales of a Jewish ‘Nun.'”

It wasn’t the “Jewish” part, my fellow half-Jewish editor explained to me, so much as the “half” part that seemed key to the magazine’s offbeat sensibility. When you grow up half-Jewish, you grow up knowing, viscerally, that it is possible to be more than one thing at a time, even if those things are seemingly in conflict. You always have one foot in and one foot out of the tribe. This marginal viewpoint is something I’ve always had, but I thought about it as a lack of something rather than as its own position.

Jenna Krajeski reports for Harpers about Iraq’s forgotten Christians in Kurdish exile in “Marooned at the Mall.”

In mid-August, hundreds of displaced Christians who had fled to Erbil were moved by Kurdish authorities into the concrete shell of a half-built mall. Most of them were from Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Plain, home to some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. 

In New York City


Photo by Fiona Aboud

Photo by Fiona Aboud

Carol Hills asks, “Captain America is a Sikh. You got a problem with that?” for PRI’s The World. 

Now Vish spends a lot of time in costume, visiting college campuses, youth retreats, camps and conferences, talking about being Sikh and what it means to be an American. His hope is to shed his software engineering day job and work on Sikhtoons and be Captain America full-time.

Sharon Otterman reports for The New York Times about eight seminary professors who were fired at the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan, “Seeking Deans Firing, Seminary Professors End Up Jobless.

How an internal management dispute behind seminary walls turned into a mass dismissal seems to be a tale of hardball negotiating tactics gone awry, and mistrust between the faculty, the dean and the board of trustees.

In the U.S.

Eva Mroczek smart biblical criticism offers insight into present-day struggles in her piece for Religion Dispatches, “Anger, Privilege, and Invisible Injustice: What Cain and Able have to do with Ferguson.

In the World

Elest Ali asks questions about how Muslims are represented in the latest vampire blockbuster in a piece for The New Statesman, What the historical inaccuracies in “Dracula Untold” tell us about the rise of Islamophobia.”

Admittedly, Hollywood is no genius when it comes to accurate representation. If it’s not a larger-than-life action flick where America is saving the world from aliens, chances are they’ll get it all wrong. But why Turks? And why now, when all eyes are on Turkey, and the country teeters unwillingly on the frontline of impending war? In the current climate of global political tension and escalating Islamaphobia, what political statement does Dracula Untold make in pitting our vampire hero against the armies of Mehmet II? 

Stassa Edwards has the fascinating story of how “Europe’s history of penis worship was cast aside when the Catholic Church relized Jesus’s foreskin was too potent to control” in “Venerated Members” for The New Inquiry.

The Holy Prepuce, as it was known, was housed in churches across the continent, and figured in medieval liturgical texts. As the only remaining scrap of God on earth, it brought together the patriarchal powers of the church and the state in ritual obeisance. The foreskin aroused mystical visions and devotional practices throughout the history of the Catholic Church. But its near-total disappearance at the dawn of the modern era indicates that the two institutions felt compelled to hide their phallic object when faced with the end of their absolute reign.

Asif Lahore: My parents are traditional Muslims. It took a lot of courage for me to tell them I’m gay.” Vivek Chaudhury reports on an evening spent at a British night club frequented by the Asian gay community for The Guardian. 

Asifa Lahore has become the most visible symbol of a growing confidence among gay British Asians who are increasingly finding a place and a voice within their families and communities. They claim that there are two issues in particular that place extra pressure on them when coming to terms with their sexuality: religion and culture.

Bob Garfield reports for On the Media about a cartoon character created to combat religious extremism in “Animating Anti-Extremism.”

With the gruesome ISIS propaganda war in full force, a home-grown cartoon character named Abdullah-X is the face of a grassroots approach to anti-extremism. 


Laura C. Mallonee pun-tificates reports on a controversial art show titled, “Barbie, The Plastic Religion” that was set to take place in Buenos Aires: “No False I-Dolls: Religious Barbie Show Ken’t Go on.

Depictions of saints and goddesses like the Virgin Mary and Kali have always indicated beauty standards of the day, and the artists wanted to update these religious icons to reflect contemporary ideals — which they believe are best embodied in the leggy, plastic bombshell doll. The show would have also included several Ken dolls — one crucified like Jesus Christ.


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