Okay Patrol readers, let’s see just how much you know about religion. And we’re not talking about just evangelical Christianity here. We’re not asking if you can name Amy Grant’s first record or provide the date of the first Billy Graham crusade (can you, incidentally?).
No, this is serious business. Click here to take the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s Religious Knowledge Quiz. Your reward for completing the 15 questions is a few pages full of statistics comparing you to the general public and members of different religions.
Just as a bit of a taunt/challenge: I scored 15/15. Just saying.
Go ahead and take the quiz, and then come on back here to let us know how you did!
Since Christopher Hitchens, renowned atheist and author, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer this summer, it seems everyone has started praying. Some are praying for his salvation, some that he will burn in hell, some pray that he will recover, and others pray that the spirit in which he lives his life – the wine-loving, controversy-inciting, love-to-hate him atheist – will continue in his life and his death.
Hitchens’ father died of esophageal cancer at the age of 79. It happened quickly in a time when medicine offered few treatment options. The junior Hitchens is 61, and while doctors have prescribed a rigorous regimen of what Hitchens calls chemo-poison, for the most part, effective detection and treatment of esophageal cancer remains a mystery. The odds are not good…
I don’t know how this happened, but somehow Stephen Colbert ended up testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. I first became aware of this breaking news while on the elliptical machine at Planet Fitness. Unfortunately, the TV was on mute, so I Googled it.
After spending a day working with migrant field workers in Upstate New York as part of a segment for his daily program, Colbert testified in character, saying his experience was “really hard” and gave him a small understanding of “why so few Americans are clamoring to begin an exciting career as Seasonal Migrant Field Workers.”
This may be a fake-news bit for his show taken a little too far, or it may be a lead up to Colbert ’s October ‘March to Keep Fear Alive,’ which I will be attending. Some protested that Colbert’s appearance made a mockery of our Legislative system as he literally mocked our legislative system. But lighten up. We all know the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law has always been a rascally bunch.
To prove a religious point, Moses turned his staff into a serpent before Pharaoh. On another occasion he drew water from a rock when he struck it. To the same end, Muhammad had a winged steed that flew him to the furthest mosque, to heaven and hell, and then back to earth. Then there is Jonah and the big fish, and Jesus and the fig tree; both signs to make a point. More contemporary (and less supernatural) signs include the work of Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary who began a campaign to send Bibles to Glenn Beck, and Terry Jones, pastor of the Gainesville, Florida church that threatened to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, they have the holy books themselves.
What’s the point of these signs, mythical or otherwise? Done well, grand demonstrations primarily help to affirm the faith of believers and are meant to convince non-believers to believe. It’s not the motive that’s important, but the sign itself…
After reading this article yesterday (which, in short, explains why Survivor’s choice of Nicaragua as its next glamorous-unglamorous location is an ethical atrocity and should be boycotted by all fans and non-fans of the show), I was reminded of, not only how this show carelessly dehumanizes our culture by covering up the socio-political realities of the places they choose as locations for the sake of ratings and ad dollars with no regard for the long-term effects of their decisions and actions, but also how it’s time for some real danger in these shows. (Anyone remember Schwarzenegger’s magnum opus The Running Man?)
To amplify the point, I present to you a prophetic Looney Tunes cartoonwhich is a glimpse into what will put the “real” back in reality TV. Sit back, relax and enjoy the future.
Editors Note: Congratulations to Kevin Gosa for writing the longest, most rambly (and yet still grammatically correct) sentence ever published on Patrol. Happy Friday, readers.
My favorite message board quote goes all the way back to a defunct site called skanjska.com. Someone contributed this gem:
Ska New Jersey Ska was my first introduction to the world of anonymous web posting. It was a fan site devoted to publicizing upcoming underground punk/ska shows taking place in firehouses, Elks’ lodges and VFW halls across the state. The message board was really an afterthought, but it soon turned from a place to talk about the latest albums and shows into an active web community in which people discussed music, movies, politics, religion, philosophy and pretty much anything else these burgeoning web users/ska fans could think of.
I met a lot of people through that old, rudimentary message board. It got to be that if you bumped into someone from the site at a show, you felt like you already knew them. But at the same time, giving a bunch of punk kids a venue to express their feelings led to some heated discussions, which often devolved into fruitless insults, threats of violence and requests for real names and addresses so that various ass-kickings could be doled out appropriately.
First Things editor Joseph Bottum has an editorial in the new issue of the magazine that repeats the consensus of a lot of conservatives who can’t quite cave to the worst impulses of the right’s burgeoning anti-Muslim fervor, but also can’t pass up the chance to use the “Ground Zero mosque” as an opportunity to score against their ideological opponents. It’s too beautiful a chance to portray Obama as out of touch with the majority of Americans and, worse, on the side of Islam. Bottum calls the proposed construction of the Islamic community center “wildly offensive” but “wildly constitutional.” Later on, he throws in a couple of barbs about unborn babies and the Greek Orthodox church at Ground Zero that is mired in a bureaucratic struggle with the Port Authority—basically, irrelevant grievances presented as vague justifications conservative excess.
The only reason I mention this piece at all is because of how well it demonstrates the faux-reasonableness of the “constitutional but offensive” position, which is fully betrayed by the end of Bottum’s piece. It wants to be a middle-of-the-road compromise betwen elite multiculturalists and passionate Americans, an admittance of constitutional reality without the cultural snobbery of the Islamic center’s champions. But as Bottum complains about the way Obama and Bloomberg assume “there is nothing left to discuss,” his true feelings are clear: He is deeply suspicious of and hostile to Islam, and resents liberal American leaders for failing to empathize with the anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping the electorate and, apparently, his own person. So he takes comfort in the fact that the messy nature of democracy will probably halt construction of the Islamic center—a project “so offensive, so bizarre, and so deliberate that it should be stopped.”
My latest blog is live at the Huffington Post. In it I take a look at the recent Patheos.com series on the “Future of Evangelicalism” and question whether a future can exist for such an amorphous grouping of Christians.
Well, is there a future for evangelicalism? Click here to find out!
There’s no such thing as a hipster Christian.
There. I said it. This is mostly because hipster is actually a thing. It looks like this:
I saw a couple of real life hipsters last night when my wife and I were taking a walk in Greenwich Village, near NYU. I didn’t ask them if they were Christians, but if they were, then I suppose they would be hipster Christians.
But the way McCracken uses “hipster,” as a catch all for an amorphous group of young people is all kinds of wrong. Here’s the thing though, it does exactly what he wants it to. It gives the old folks a group to finger. “Christian hipster? Oh, you mean those kids with their clothes and their hair and their rock and roll music.”
Yup. That’s the Christian hipster McCracken is talking about…
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