In the News: Passover, Prison, Pop Music , and more!

Louis Waynai and his wife with the complete King James Bible they hand printed in Los Angeles, CA, in 1930

Louis Waynai and his wife with the complete King James Bible they hand printed in Los Angeles, CA, in 1930


At The Marshall Project (By the way, are you reading The Marshall Project? You should be.) Maurice Chammah asks, “Who Told the Truth? A hearing in San Antonio will revive the ghosts of hte satanic abuse trials and questions about the testimony of child victims.

But the hearing will have larger ramifications. Since the satanic abuse scandals died down, there has been a lingering intellectual battle between lawyers, journalists, and activists who have mostly succeeded in getting these cases overturned, and a small community of opponents who say the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of defendants that actual cases of child sexual assault are being papered over.

Kathryn Joyce reports on “The Worst Adoption Therapy in the World” for The Daily Beast. 

An awful story has been unfolding in Arkansas. On March 5, Benjamin Hardy of the Arkansas Times published an explosive investigation about how State Representative Justin Harris “rehomed” his young adoptive children, leaving them in the care of a former employee, who was later convicted of raping one, a six-year-old girl. …

The Harisses’ attorney denied that the couple’s strong evangelical faith supported exorcism or demon possession and instead said the family had relied on the teachings of a woman named Nancy Thomas, a self-styled expert on RAD attachment therapies and author of the bookWhen Love Is Not Enough: a Parent’s Guide to Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Josef Sorett was interviewed on the “Listen Up! podcast by Sylviane Diouf, Director of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

Dr. Josef Sorett proposes that two of the most pressing social issues confronting black churches are sexuality and class divide. He discusses the key ideas of “Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics;” why conversation at the intersection of religion, race, and sexuality is important now; and the phenomenon of Christianity in hip-hop.

Peter Manseau argues that “America is not a Christian Nation” on Fox News.

Yet both today and in a past far more religiously diverse than usually remembered, the insistence that America is a Christian nation has too often encouraged incidents that might be described not only as un-American, but un-Christian as well.

In a useful complement to Suzanne Schneider‘s Revealer article from a couple of months ago, “The Reformation Will Be Televised: On ISIS, Religious Authority, and the Allure of Textual Simplicity” Ed Simon has written, “ISIS is the Islamic ‘Reformation‘” for Religion Dispatches. 

How we use words like “medieval,” “reformation,” and “modern” must be exact if we’re to make any sense out of what the Islamic State is, and how we are to defeat it. Graeme Wood’s controversial Atlantic cover essay “What ISIS Really Wants” has opened discussion in the press about what language we use to describe the Islamic State. It may be politically expedient to deny that the Islamic State is Islamic (and of course the majority of the world’s Muslims find it reprehensible) but it’s also to commit the “No True Scotsmen Fallacy.”

It may be a little presumptuous to call Father James Martin our friend, but after Becky Garrison‘s interview with him here a couple of months ago  we like to think of him as our pal. Here’s Father Martin interviewing everyone’s friend, Stephen Colbert in: “Colbert Catechism: Stephen Colbert Professes His Faith to Fr. James Martin.



In the lead-up to the NYU Center for Religion and Media’s upcoming event, “Making Time: Discipline and Religion in America’s Prisons” (April 10 at 3:30pm — more information here), we wanted to share with you some recent articles about prison religion. 

Sarah Morice-Brubaker reports for Religion Dispatches Theologians Claim Death Row Inmate as One of Their Own.”

I don’t want to diminish the real promise here. For one thing, someone awaiting death found words of hope and blessing in the words of an academic theologian. And they did so because other academic theologians—and theological institutions—partnered with people in prison.

Rebecca Onion writes for Slate about “The Pen: Inmates at America’s oldest women’s prison are writing a history of it — and exploding the myth of its benevolent founders.”

What happens when inmates write a history of their own prison? In this case, the perspective that the group brought to the project took what inmate Michelle Jones, writing in the American Historical Association’s magazinePerspectives on History, calls “a feel-good story” about Quaker reformers rescuing women from abuse in men’s prisons and turned it into a darker, more complicated tale.

 Statistics more your thing? Mona Chalabi of FiveThirtyEight answers the question: “Are Prisoners Less Likely to be Atheists?” with all sorts of numbers and charts.

Overall, almost 1 in every 1,000 prisoners will identify as atheist compared to 1 in every 100 Americans.

So what explains these discrepancies between religious affiliation inside prisons and outside them? I’ll set out a couple of possible theories.


First, RIP Leonard Nimoy. Here’s a video of Nimoy explaining the Jewish origin of the Vulcan greeting.


Alix Wall has a nice profile of Daniel Boyarin in J. Weekly, Daniel Boyarin — the Talmudist, feminist, anti-Zionist, only-in-Berkeley Orthodox Jew.”

Today Boyarin, 68, is a world-class authority in his field — one of the true giants, in this country as well as in Israel. But he’s far from the typical Talmud scholar. He has a kippah on his head, yes, and is shomer Shabbos, but he’s also a confirmed anti-Zionist, a serious collector of fine kosher wines, and has an abiding interest in feminism and queer theory.

Gabe Friedman looks into the phenomenon of “Europe’s Undercover Yarmulke Journalists” for The Jewish Daily Forward‘s Forward Thinking blog.

Sending a yarmulke-wearing man out with a hidden video camera to document anti-Semitism on the streets of Europe, particularly in Muslim neighborhoods, is quickly becoming a journalistic trope.

Ella Habiba Shohat, an esteemed professor here at NYU, recently published her “Reflections By An Arab Jew” in Bint Jbeil.

When issues of racial and colonial discourse are discussed in the U.S., people of Middle Eastern and North African origin are often excluded. This piece is written with the intent of opening up the mulitcultural debate, going beyond the U.S. census’s simplistic categorization of Middle Eastern peoples as “whites.”

It’s also written with the intent of multiculturalizing American notions of Jewishness. My personal narrative questions the Eurocentric opposition of Arab and Jew, particularly the denial of Arab Jewish (Sephardic) voices both in the Middle Eastern and American contexts.

Michelle Boorstein at The Washington Post reports that “Justice Ginsburg has released a new feminist take on the Passover narrative.”

“In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women,” says the essay by Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt of Adas Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Northwest D.C.

You can read Justice Ginsburg’s essay here.

Speaking of Passover, according to Anne Cohen of The Forward, “Nothing Says Passover Like a Modern 10 Plagues Manicure.”

Rabbi Yael Buechler’s modern ten plagues include everything from Ebola to NFL scandals, to the war on women. And the parents among you may be happy to see that “Frozen”s Olaf is duly represented.

“[I’m] always looking for new and meaningful ways to help people engage with the Haggadah,” Buechler wrote in an email. “How can we in modern times connect with the concept of the ten plagues that afflicted the Egyptians? What plagues are we experiencing in modern society? From the lighthearted plague of Frozen paraphernalia, to the serious and deadly plagues of Ebola and gun violence, [I] want to expand the conversation at Seders worldwide.”

By Rabbi Yael Buechler


At ViceGrace Wyler writes that, “Ted Cruz Wants to Lead an Evangelical Ghost Army in 2016.”

“It’s time to decide if we are a pagan nation, or if we’re going to get on with it. Ted Cruz decided to get on with it,” he added. “Now it’s up to the 65 million evangelicals living in America if we are going to restore America to a Biblically-based culture.”

Wondering about some of the other likely presidential candidates religious lives? According to Michael Paulson of the New York Times, “Jeb Bush, 20 Years After Conversion, Is Guided by His Catholic Faith.”

Twenty years after Mr. Bush converted to Catholicism, the religion of his wife, following a difficult and unsuccessful political campaign that had put a strain on his marriage, his faith has become a central element of the way he shapes his life and frames his views on public policy. And now, as he explores a bid for the presidency, his religion has become a focal point of early appeals to evangelical activists, who are particularly important in a Republican primary that is often dominated by religious voters.

Enough of politicians. Let’s talk about Kendrick Lamar (I mean, everyone else is, right?) Kendrick Lamar on His New Album and the Weight of Clarity” from Joe Coscarelli in the New York Times. 

For many fans, “I’m the closest thing to a preacher that they have,” Mr. Lamar, 27, said from the couch of a Santa Monica studio where he recorded much of the new album. “I know that from being on tour — kids are living by my music.” However, he added: “My word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”

Brie LeRose of the Toast shares, “Freaks and Geeks: Christians on TV and Me.”

Sure, Millie could have been just another clueless TV Christian for us to laugh at, but Feig and the Freaks writers were too thoughtful and respectful of their characters to make it that simple. Millie is a good friend who is defined by her love for Jesus. She’s not a parody. She’s a confident Christian, and growing up I certainly knew plenty of those.

Carmen Maria Machado also reflects on her Christian adolescence in her beautiful piece, “A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity” in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

I had made a forest of my own beliefs, and lived in it. Here’s how I left: I stripped away the trees.

My first god was a mishmashed Frankenstein of my imagination, made up of scraps from the Methodist kids and the Evangelical kids, of my upbringing and my worst fears. Later, when Sam abandoned me, I tried to believe in a God who loved and still left his creations. I could not. For a while, God was a faint, hazy presence, and then even that evaporated.

In time, the trees scrolled back. I’d made that forest up. Perhaps I’d needed to go through it, to be the person I became. But to realize that it wasn’t real? That took living.

Now, I was still alone, but at least I could see in all directions.

And while we’re on the subject of gender and Christianity, check out, “The Failure of Macho Christianity by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig at The New Republic.’

Mars Hill’s self-enumerated four pillars: reformed theology, spirit-empowerment, and a missional purpose are listed alongside gender complementarianism as the church’s core beliefs. True to form, Though professedly Calvinist, matters of justification and salvation always seemed only secondarily important to Driscoll, who focused instead on the notion that contemporary American men are sissified, Jesus has been misconstrued as a “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” and good Christian wives need to “serve [their husbands] and love them well” by giving performing frequent acts of oral sex. To refuse, Driscoll averred, is a sin.  

Meanwhile, in Texas (as so many great sentences start): “Texas approves textbooks with Moses as Founding Father” reports Michael Stone at Patheos. 

Christian conservatives win, children lose: Texas textbooks will teach public school students that the Founding Fathers based the Constitution on the Bible, and the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses.

For more background, we recommend Zack Kopplin‘s Slate article, “Moses and the American Constitution.

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty

Whereas, “Utah Passes Antidiscrimination Bill Backed by Mormon Leaders” reports Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times. 

The vote was an extraordinary moment for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is opposed to same-sex marriage, but sent two of its leading apostles to a news conference on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City last week to endorse the anti-discrimination bill. Legislators and gay rights advocates said having the blessing of the church leaders turned the tide in the Legislature, where most members are Mormons.

 Well worth the long read is Patrick Radden Keefe‘s “Where The Bodies Are Buried” in The New Yorker.

Belfast has ostensibly been at peace for two decades, but the city remains acutely divided. The borders between Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods are inscribed in the concertina wire and steel of the so-called “peace walls” that progress like fissures across the city. These towering structures maintain some degree of calm by physically separating the city’s populations, as if they were animals in a zoo. The walls are tagged with runelike slurs—K.A.T., for “Kill All Taigs,” a derogatory term for Catholics, on one side; K.A.H., for “Kill All Huns,” a reference to Protestants, on the other—and dwarf the squat brick houses and the unlovely council estates on either side, throwing them into shadow.

Also in The New Yorker is Paul Elie‘s lovely reflection on “Thomas Merton and the Eternal Search.”

Here ends the book, but not the searching. His search set the terms of the modern religious search for readers of three generations—postwar Catholics, nineteen-sixties pilgrims, progressive contrarians in the age of Reagan and John Paul II—who made his search their own. And yet the exhibit of books and papers that Columbia (his alma mater) has put up to mark his centenary suggests that the search is ended—that Merton, for so long a forerunner or proxy for other seekers, has passed over into history at last.

I guess we read a lot of The New Yorker, last month, because there’s no not recommending Eric Schlosser‘s “Break-In At Y-12: How a handful of pacifists and nuns exposed the vulnerability of America’s nuclear-weapons sites.”

Before long, the former principal of a Catholic high school and one of her former pupils were dancing atop a nuclear-weapons bunker at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, singing, “Jesus Christ has risen today!” They later prayed at the gates of the base every day for three years. The fact that millions of people could be killed by nuclear weapons, at any moment, demanded that something radical be done. They broke into a Minuteman complex in eastern Colorado and, during Gods of Metal Plowshares, hurled blood onto the bomb-bay doors of a B-52 at Andrews Air Force Base, in Maryland. Sister Ardeth and Sister Carol chose the protest’s name to convey the idolatry of nuclear weapons—the blind faith that they somehow keep us safe.

Over at Religion Dispatches, Gordon Haber asks, “Why Does the Pope Love This Trippy Dsytopian Novel from 1907?

Perhaps Pope Francis’s enthusiasm shouldn’t be so surprising. Benson, a Catholic priest, was a popular writer in his time, and his dark vision of a world destroyed by secular humanism still resonates with a small but loyal following. In a 2013 homily, Pope Francis spoke of Lord of the World “almost as though it were a prophecy.”



Harvard recognises Quranic verse as one of the greatest expressions of justice” reports Cii News.

Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the world, has posted a verse of the Holy Quraan at the entrance of its faculty library, describing the verse as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history.

Randy R. Potts documented anti-anti-Islamophobia protesters in “Standing With The (Wrong) Prophet” on Medium.

I asked Eric Pattison, holding “DON’T BEHEAD ME BRO!!” above, a couple questions: “Why are you here tonight, sir?/To protest this meeting./And what kind of meeting is it?/Stand with the Prophet. A muslim get together./Some kind of ceremony?/There’s several key speakers and they’re coming to talk about Mohammad and how the media portrays them and I just want to stand against, what, you know, I don’t believe — this was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles and with what’s going on with Paris and all those types of things I just want to make sure that our voices are heard, that we really don’t want this type of thing going on here.”


Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah has a thoughtful piece on MediumVillains, Heroes, and Other Fantasies: Imagining Muslims On and Off-Stage.”

As creators of cultural capital, we must consider how the process of racializing, demonizing or idolizing our communities are all processes that ultimately dehumanize and have real impacts on how we live in the world.

At The New Inquiry, Grayson Clary has some interesting thoughts on “Fear of a Muslim Planted: The micro-genre of ‘Islamophobic futurism’ in fiction unites Western liberals and conservatives.”

Islamophobic futurism is, in this respect, an effort towards bipartisanship. If conservative readers experience a certain attraction to this vision of Islam, admiring and fearing at once, it gratifies that impulse – doubly cathartic. If readers on the left are especially vulnerable to the aesthetic’s fearful side, that fear is solicited and sharpened. On that second front, Ferrigno mines a rich vein of unease that surfaces in both liberal-popular and left-intellectual culture. Though ultimately — the trilogy argues — left and right fears are branches of one instinct: that neither, if candid, can really stomach Islam.

Speaking of which, Mark Lilla reviews Michel Houellebecq‘s new book, Soumission, Slouching Toward Mecca.”

There is no doubt that Houellebecq wants us to see the collapse of modern Europe and the rise of a Muslim one as a tragedy. “It means the end,” he told an interviewer, “of what is, quand même, an ancient civilization.” But does that make Soumission an Islamophobic novel? Does it portray Islam as an evil religion? That depends on what one means by a good religion. The Muslim Brotherhood here has nothing to do with the Sufi mystics or the Persian miniaturists or Rumi’s poetry, which are often mentioned as examples of the “real” Islam that radical Salafism isn’t. Nor is it the imaginary Islam of non-Muslim intellectuals who think of it on analogy with the Catholic Church (as happens in France) or with the inward-looking faiths of Protestantism (as happens in northern Europe and the US). Islam here is an alien and inherently expansive social force, an empire in nuce. It is peaceful, but it has no interest in compromise or in extending the realm of human liberty. It wants to shape better human beings, not freer ones.

Also on the subject of France, The Boston Review hosted an excellent forum on “France After Charlie Hebdo” with contributions from Joan Wallach Scott, Joseph Massad, and Haroon Moghul and opened by John Bowen, who argues:

…France’s long-term political project can encompass a different view, which strives for inclusivity by making good on the promise of the equality of citizens, celebrating their right to freely and publicly associate in all their religious and ethnic diversity, and accepting immigration as integral to modern France. Inclusivity is the only realistic and moral path toward healing France’s divisions, but it faces high political hurdles: it is easily denounced as multiculturalist weakness in the face of terrorism. Some will argue that the French republic was built on a strong Jacobin state, with little room for visible diversity or value pluralism.

However, while Jacobinism is one tendency of the republic, it is not the whole story. Pluralism, too, has deep roots in the French political tradition.

We at The Revealer are avid readers of the Los Angeles Review of Books, so you can imagine our excitement when we learned that they are now producing a The Marginalia Review of Books, “an international, open access review of literature and culture in the nexus of history, theology, and religion.”

We got even more excited when we caught wind of their new podcast, “Contemporary Islam Considered,” hosted by Sarah Eltantawi, Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies at Evergreen State College. “Contemporary Islam Considered” promises to bring “high-level analysis to issues affecting the Muslim-majority world, in conversation with some of the world’s leading experts in their fields.” The first episode is about the upcoming Nigerian elections. Do check it out.

We also really appreciated this Marginalia item, ISIS: What’s a Poor Religionist to Do? by Aaron W. Hughs.

What do we do with those social actors who appeal to a version of religion that we find uncomfortable? How are we to react to groups that operate on a completely different moral and theological level from ours? The study of religion gives us little to draw upon. This is why we see limited nuance and instead are bombarded by secular scholars of religion — and many scholars of Islam, in particular — who simply accuse members of ISIS of takfīr, that is, of being unbelievers or apostates. This, of course, is not unlike what such groups do to Muslims with whom they disagree.

Lastly, but importantly, “Beyond Authenticity: ISIS and the Islamic Legal Tradition” by Sohaira Siddiqui.

By situating ISIS within the Islamic tradition on the basis of their mere utilization of it, Wood’s article and others like it overlook the fundamental issue which stands at the heart of the debate—ISIS’s juridical understanding and its relationship to the classical Islamic legal tradition. Mapping ISIS onto a dichotomy of Islamic versus un-Islamic is far too simple an approach when trying to understand the phenomenon of ISIS. The parameters of the debate ignore the amorphous nature of law, that law is paradoxical in that it is both fixed and flexible and that the validity of law is dependent upon the framework and system of law issuance that is created. Indeed, if we step outside of the cyclical authenticity debate in order to understand ISIS’s methodology in relation to the Islamic juridical tradition, we will see that ISIS represents a very fundamental rejection of both its principles and its parameters of operation.


Julie McCarthy reports for NPR, “For India’s Widows, A Riot of Color, An Act of Liberation.”

“…when the widows of Vrindavan ignore the social taboo and join in the fun, Holi takes on a whole new dimension. Cavorting in the chaos of color, women young and old stand in showers of rose petals and marigolds and playfully smear each other with fuchsia, green and gold powder. With this act of joy, the women fight back against restrictions that have ostracized them.”

Susannah Ireland for NPR


China’s Tensions With Dalai Lama Spill Into the Afterlife.” reports Chris Buckley at The New York Times.

Officials have amplified their argument that the Communist government is the proper guardian of the Dalai Lama’s succession through an intricate process of reincarnation that has involved lamas, or senior monks, visiting a sacred lake and divining dreams.

Party functionaries were incensed by the exiled Dalai Lama’s recent speculation that he might end his spiritual lineage and not reincarnate. That would confound the Chinese government’s plans to engineer a succession that would produce a putative 15th Dalai Lama who accepts China’s presence and policies in Tibet.


I took a Tour of Scientology’s Los Angeles (And It Was Pretty Creepy)” says Jamie Lee Curtis Taete of Vice.

I decided to explore as many of Scientology’s properties in the city that are open to the public as I could (with the exception of the standard Scientology centers that every city has, because I refuse to believe there is a single person reading this who hasn’t gotten drunk, stumbled into one, then giggled their way through a ” personality test“).

As ever, there’s no talking about Scientology without talking about Tom Cruise. Marlow Stern writes, “Tom, Katie, and Suri: A Scientology Story” for The Daily Beast.

Indeed, Gibney’s eye-opening documentary-exposé may do plenty of damage to Brand Cruise, with its entire final half-hour dedicated to the actor’s alleged actions within the Church of Scientology. It will be interesting to see how Cruise responds.

“I don’t see how Tom Cruise can remain silent,” says Rinder. “I think he has got to get engaged in this, and as soon as that happens, it’s a slippery slope. Because he’s got problems. If he opens his mouth, it’s going to turn into an avalanche on him.”



Wishing there was a little more religion in your March Madness? Vote for your favorite Christian theologians in the Logos Bible Software tournament.

Wishing there was a even less religion in your March Madness? Vote for your favorite Marxist in the Marx Madness Tournament

Respected professor of religion John Modern joins us in rolling his eyes at New York Times Op-Ed buffoonery, My God, David Brooks” in Religion Dispatches. 

Despite Brooks’ self-deprecating worry about “totally butchering” Taylor’s answer to what it “feels like to live in an age like ours,” there is a brutal edge to Brooks’ anti-intellectualism. He belittles the presence of critical thinking in the public sphere even as he defines critique, thinking, and civic responsibility as matters of personal choice. Here we encounter the gospel of David Brooks (and a metaphysical strain of American civil religion) as he doubles down on the reach of his own cultural sway, disseminating, far and wide, the message that we are at our best when we choose to receive watered-down versions of crusty tomes full of abstractions (easier to digest according to the recent discoveries of neuroscience, or something to that effect).

Trust your gut and David Brooks, whose common sense is both yours and mine.

At New York Magazine‘s Daily Intelligencer, Adrien Chen asks a question we at The Revealer, as Brooklyn dwellers ourselves, would very much like answered: “Why do Severed Goat Head Keep Turning Up in Brooklyn?

“Basically it’s one of three things,” Quinones said. “It’s Santería, or Vodou, or Palo Mayombe.” Santería, Vodou, and Palo Mayombe are the three most prominent Afro-Caribbean religions. All three descend from African religions, brought to the Caribbean by slaves who preserved them, often in secret, despite slave-owners’ best, brutal attempts to Christianize them. Santería and Palo Mayombe originated on the sugarcane plantations of Cuba, while Vodou developed in Haiti. All three religions are practiced in the U.S. by immigrants who have large communities in Brooklyn, and contain a component of ritual animal sacrifice. Quinones’s conclusion made intuitive sense, but then I considered the journalist’s warning to me: Wasn’t it self-serving for an expert in the occult to see animal sacrifices wherever he looked? I wanted more proof. I asked Quinones how he would start looking into the goat heads himself.

Lauren Bans investigate, “Om-ing on the Beach With Andrew Keegan, Former Teen Idol Turned Spiritual Guru” for Vulture.

“There’s probably a book here. You want to write a book?” Andrew Keegan, ’90s teen heartthrob, asks, only half-joking, before launching into the story of how he came to be a spiritual torchbearer. Here’s how he tells it: In the spring of 2013, Keegan, best known for playing the slicked-hair popular jerk in 10 Things I Hate About You, got down on his knees and dug a small hole in the front yard of a 110-year-old church, formerly occupied by the Hare Krishna. The building, situated at a busy intersection in Venice, California, was at the time housing a New Age group called the Source, whose mission is “raising the collective consciousness of humanity.” Keegan had joined the group early on, when it was known as “God Realization Church,” but he’d distanced himself after coming to understand that the Source’s philosophy was “not in alignment” with his own beliefs. He did, however, feel especially aligned with its place of worship. So in the hole, Keegan placed a small rose-quartz crystal, and as he dropped handfuls of dirt upon it, he made a solemn promise. “I was clear that if there was ever an appropriate time to be in the service of the temple, I would be,” Keegan says as he gazes out at the Pacific Ocean from a bench on the beach less than half a mile away from the church

Mayor de Blasio Emerges as an Unexpected Champion of Religion according to Michael M. Grynbaum and Sharon Otterman at the New York Times.

In Mr. de Blasio’s New York, public prekindergarten classes will soon be able to include a midday break for observant students to pray. Schools will be closed citywide for two Muslim holy days. He is poised to relax health regulations governing a controversial circumcision ritual that is favored by some ultra-Orthodox Jews. And the mayor says he is intent on finding a way for church groups to continue holding services in public schools on weekends, even as the United States Supreme Court could decide as early as next week to take up a case about whether the city has the right to prohibit the practice.

In other New York City news, Tatiana Schlossberg reports in The New York Times that, “New York Fire Dept., Diversifying Ranks, Is Set to Swear in First Lesbian Chaplain.” Right on, NYFD.

Maybe it is her short, spiky hair, or the cigarettes, which she gives to the men repairing the wiring in her Brooklyn apartment. Maybe it is because she swears. For whatever reason, the Rev. Ann Kansfield does not fit the stereotype of a minister.

Not that she is worried about meeting anyone’s expectations for what a clergywoman should say or do.

God is a Terrifying Monster” according to Jess Peacock at Religion Dispatches. 

In some sense, I am making an argument that, in order to survive, contemporary religion must continue to adapt and evolve, moving beyond the antiquated laws, orthodoxy, and dogmas that prevent modern audiences from fully embracing it, and develop into a vital medley of transforming narratives.

As absurd as it may sound, the traditional vampire narrative in popular culture has a lot to say about this very thing.

Laura Turner has smart things to say about “Fireworks and Brimstone: The Personal God of Katy Perry” at Buzzfeed.

When Perry talks about her relationship with God, it always sounds both personal and somehow refreshing. No other pop star talks about God so regularly and sounds so candid doing it. “I do not believe God is an old guy sitting on a throne with a long beard,” she once told GQ, and it shows. Her God is deeply interested in the details of her personal life, from her Super Bowl performance to her relationships to her cup size.

Allison Meier at Hyperallergic gives us a look at “Five of the World’s Largest Religious Manuscripts, from Devil’s Bible to Buddhist Labrynth.”

The “Codex Gigas” at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm is, according to the library’s site, “reputed to be the biggest surviving European manuscript.” Its name means “giant book,” and its more nefarious nickname — the “Devil’s Bible” — comes from the full page portrait of the devil that lurks amidst the 13th-century text. Measuring 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and 8.7 inches thick with a heft of 165 pounds, its creation required an estimated 160 donkey skins.

Half of a stereoscopic image of the “Codex Gigas” from 1906 (via National Library of Sweden)

Sold out, but still too amazing not to mention: “COMPLETE SET: Golden Girls Prayer Candles


Oops! “Christian Singer let Fifty Shades Use His Song, Thinking It Was a Comedy.” (Thanks go to Jay Hathaway at Gawker for this one.)

I knew it was a book, but I had no idea what it was. So I was like, sure, big movie, good exposure. I’ll be in this romantic comedy. Which is what I thought it was: a romantic comedy. It’s a good way to make money in the music business, you know. Then I saw a preview for it, and I was like, “Oh, shit. Oh, no. What have I done?”

Lastly, CAUTION! “Applebee’s not liable for N.J. man burned while praying over fajita skillet.



-Kali Handelman, Editor, The Revealer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *