In the News: Wax, Wits, William James, and more!

First things first, The Revealer is now on Instagram! We’ll be posting photos of religious life in New York and more. So, if snapshots of subway preachers, stacks of books, and interesting mail are your thing (and we hope they are) that’s where can find our stash.


A photo posted by The Revealer Magazine (@therevealermagazine) on Aug 16, 2015 at 1:28pm PDT


Now, the links!

First up, we highly recommend checking out the latest issue of Cross Currents, Creative Nonfiction: A Genre Made for Religion Writing,” edited by S. Brent Rodriguez Plate and Brook Wilensky-Lanford, with contributions from our friends Nathan Schneider, Patton DoddPeter Manseau, Mary Valle and many other excellent writers.

Next, who doesn’t love spending some time with “The Late, Great Stephen Colbert“? Here, in conversation with  Joel Lovell for GQ.

I asked him if he could help me understand that better, and he described a letter from Tolkien in response to a priest who had questioned whether Tolkien’s mythos was sufficiently doctrinaire, since it treated death not as a punishment for the sin of the fall but as a gift. “Tolkien says, in a letter back: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “ ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”

Speaking of funny men, “Watch John Oliver Satirize IRS’ Lack of Church Oversight.”

And, you know who else has the name “Oliver” (cut us some slack, segues are hard): Oliver Sacks. Here, he considers the meaning of “Sabbath” in his latest piece for The New York Times. 

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.

We’ve been waiting all week to share this one with you: “Discarded celebrity waxworks given new life at BibleWalk museum in Ohio.”

Elizabeth Taylor wax statue repurposed for a scene in a biblical museum in Ohio. Picture: James Cheadle/Solent News

In other, less silly news:

Skyping with spirit: Chaplains use computers to support the seriously ill” reports Reuters.

“This provides more people access and resources to end of life questions, faith questions and prayer,” said Eric Price, spiritual care manager at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, who is not affiliated with the tele-chaplaincy service. “However, many hospitals may see this as a more valuable alternative than live face-to-face contact, because it is cheaper than a chaplain. At its best, it will offer another tool for the staff chaplain. At its worst, it may replace the profession.”

MuslimGirl Is Dismantling What a ‘Good Muslim’ Looks Like” says Fariha Roisin in Broadly.

Amani is out here trying to dismantle what a “good Muslim” looks like. “The best way to do that is by not staying silent on these stories,” she says. “As soon as we share the stories, tell our experiences to other people and put them out there, that’s how you dissipate the judgment. We have to talk about what’s taboo–we have remain authentic to our experience.” Talking about smoking weed, talking about sex, or talking about abortions as a Muslim is revolutionary. Hirsi Ali might think it’s a product of being in the West, but really it’s a product of the times. Being blasphemous, and speaking openly about it, allows for dialogue. Asserting authority over these topics, allowing movement, and eliminating the intense obsession with purity creates real change.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh founder of

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh founder of


The Ethics and Politics of Responsible Belief” by Michael Quirk for Public Seminar.

When a Christian fundamentalist refuses to acknowledge the challenge that natural selection poses to a scriptural literalism that places the language of faith on the same plane as the language of science, or when a radical Islamist reflexively understands Christians and Jews to be “infidels” even as he or she accepts the canonical status of the Tanakh and the Christian New Testament in Islam, or when a “New Atheist” blasts “moderate believers” as enablers of theocrats without even attempting to understand charitably the theological sources for this moderation in Tillich, or Heschel, or Rahner, they are all joined together in a common malady of thoughtlessness. The special problem faced by the religious is not dogma per se (which merely means “things taught,” shared beliefs and practices). It is the steadfast refusal to think these beliefs and practices through. To embrace such thinking is a tough challenge to religion in the contemporary world, indeed its chief challenge. But it must be met. Whether it can be consistently met by all who believe, remains to be seen.

U.S. War-Culture, Sacrifice, and Salvation” a discussion with Kelly Denton-Borhaug speaks with Bob Wintermute about her new book.

Denton-Borhaug considers how sacrificial rhetoric has suffused American perceptions of conflict and our military institutions, creating a cultural dynamic that has come to accept war as a normative state in keeping with our notions of an exceptionalist identity. Drawing on Denton-Borhaug’s training as a religions scholar, U.S. War-Culture, Sacrifice and Salvation takes a different, more philosophical and theological based, approach to issues of concern to students of military history. Her book, and our discussion, is a departure from the usual New Books in Military History fare, but we hope our listeners will find her comments provocative and insightful; a true representation of the potentials for our field in inter-disciplinary study.

Christian moviemakers opt for black cast after glut of whitewashed faith films” by Jonathan Merritt for Religion News Service.

“War Room” arrives at a time when racial tensions in America have intensified as a result of police brutality cases and the racially motivated slaying of black worshippers by a white shooter in Charleston, S.C. Those involved with the film say they don’t believe the timing of its release is a coincidence, and they think that the message of “War Room” might have the power to usher in reconciliation in America.

Oh, yeah, and in case you skipped it when your college professor assigned it, maybe now that Mark Zuckerberg is giving it a go it’s time to read some William James.

William James in Brazil, 1865

Have a great weekend!


Past links round-ups can be found here:

Saints, Slavery, Celibacy, and more! (August 14, 2015)

Pundits, Prophets, Politics, and more! (August 7, 2015)

Senselessness, Stereotypes, Slayer, and more! (July 31, 2015)

Apps, Apologies, Apocalypse, and more! (July 15, 2015)

Heathens, Hymns, and Holy Men (July 8, 2015)

#LoveWins, #TakeItDown, #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches (July 2, 2015)

Racism, Ramadan, Romanian Witches, and more! (June 25, 2015)

Emanuel A.M.E., Encyclicals, Etsy, and more! (June 19, 2015)

Satanism, Sacred Music, Shasta Seekers, and more! (June 11, 2015)

Hip Hop, Hijabs, Hasidic Fashion, and more! (June 5, 2015)

TLC, THC, OMG! (May 29, 2015)

Mad Men, Mormons, Monks, and more! (May 22, 2015)

Candles, Kombucha, Crocodiles, and more! (May 15, 2015)

Lindsey Graham, Garland, TX, God’s Plaintiff, and more! (May 8, 2015)

Pamela Geller, Prophesy, PEN, and more! (May 1, 2015)

Talal Asad, Taylor Swift, Turbans, and more! (April 2015)

Passover, Prison, Pop Music, and more! (March 2015)

The Crusades, Anti-Vaxxers, Chocolate Gods, and  more! (February 2015)

Paris, Witches, the CNN Apocalypse, and more! (January 2015)

#black lives matter, #Illridewithyou, TL;DR Bible Stories, and more! (December 2014)

Hasidim, Mormons, Borges and more! (November 2014)

Wicca, Climate Change, Gaza, and more! (August 2014)

Prison Churches, Museums, and, of course, Hobby Lobby (July 2014)


-Kali Handelman, Editor, The Revealer

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