In the News: #blacklivesmatter, #Illridewithyou, TL;DR Bible Stories, and more!

A round-up of recent religion and media stories in the news. Continue Reading →

99 Muslim Comic Sunday

Mary Valle: The 99, a comic series created by Naif Al-Mutawa, has gained popularity in the rest of the world but run into some suspicion here in the US. It’s about 99 superheroes who each embody one of the 99 Islamic attributes of God, but isn’t explicitly Islamic. Also: take note! 50 of the 99 are female. That’s over half. And! The female superheroines are modestly dressed, which isn’t a bummer, actually! I’ll let this story from i09 speak for girl and women comic fans everywhere.

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Buddha and Jesus, Together in the Tokyo Suburbs

by S. Brent Plate

I’m just back from a few weeks researching gardens in Japan, the kind of Zen-type designs that are most idealized in a place like Ryoan-ji. The wonderful thing about Japan, like so many contemporary places, is the ancient-modern juxtaposition that stares you down around every corner. You can walk out of the austerity of a 500-year old garden and in five minutes be at the local 7-11 skimming pages of the latest manga series. Which is somewhat what I did.

Along the way I stumbled upon the manga title Seinto oniisan, which usually gets translated into English as “Saint Young Men,” but also carries “brotherly” connotations. The brothers in question are none other than Jesus and Buddha, who take a vacation from otherworldly life to shack up together in the Tokyo suburb, Nachikawa. They share a spartan, tatami-clad flat, wonder over new technology, do their own laundry (mostly jeans and t-shirts with various Buddhist and Christian references), visit amusement parks, get their food from the local 7-11, and celebrate Christmas and Shinto festivals. The local school girls are attracted to Jesus because he looks so much like Johnny Depp, which makes him happy since people in the 21st century might actually like him; he comes off as a bit of a hippy slacker and wears his crown of thorns around like a bandana. The Buddha enjoys napping, usually sleeping in the pose of the great reclining Buddha, or downing a can of Sapporo beer in response to too much asceticism, while the young girls think he looks like Buddha and the Western tourists think he looks like a ninja. Continue Reading →

Seal of Approval.

Does the president regularly endorse liberal practitioners of other religious traditions as somehow upstanding citizens of those traditions? He does not embrace and identify forms of Christianity and Judaism that he likes, even though there are obviously tendencies within both those religious traditions that support an illiberal relationship to politics and violence. Continue Reading →