7 Common Myths About Religions Around The World – That Might Actually Be True

I've come across this fascinating list on The Divining Blog: "25 myths about religions around the world." A list like this, debunking common misconceptions about religions, is much needed - but the list from the Divining Blog mixes some blatantly obvious truths with some much more subtle. It should really be called "25 silly things Christians believe about religion that aren't true." I would go so far, in some cases, as to argue in favor of ...

Does the Devil Exist? A Review of “The Rite” (2011)

As a theology student/ex-Christian I'm practically required to watch movies about exorcisms, God, Satan, and Christianity. And usually they suck. So it was refreshing to watch "The Rite" (2011) and be entertained. The Rite is a brilliantly complex movie, with stunning special effects, moments of panic and macabre, and of course, world-class acting (Anthony Hopkins , Colin O'Donoghue , Alice Braga). That said, there are certain pitfalls. The plot revolves around an American seminary student, who joined priest-training ...

Stairway to heaven: cosmetologist becomes Taoist master after climbing sword ladder

Taoism is one of the religions I appreciate. From the Lao Tzu's tao-te-ching we get pearls of wisdom like "Those who know do not speak, those who speak, do not know" and "Even a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step" - what's not to like? So I was a bit disappointed when I saw this ridiculous headline on the front of the Taipei Times: Sword ladder makes cosmetologist a Taoist master (登一百零八層劍梯 美容師順利考取法師) Apparently the Beitian Temple in Hualien County’s ...

Who will watch the Watchmen? God, Biopolitics and the secret truth of Christianity’s homo sacer revealed in the Watchmen movie

In Michel Foucault’s 1975 Discipline and Punish, he tried to trace the processes and effects of power as they relate to discourse; that is, the systems of power that extend not merely from above (as in an authoritarian regime) but also from below (power that is internalized, and thus less obviously perceived as an influence at all). The aim of power, in Foucault’s terms, is to exercise power “at the lowest possible cost (economically, by ...

Satan’s Moral Development: making sense of Milton’s Paradise Lost through the lens of modern theory

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ABSTRACT: Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost (1667), was originally interpreted as in line with traditional Christian themes; a moral piece of literature with the final conclusion that Satan (and man) must submit to the absolute authority of God. Near the end of the 18th century, William Blake challenged this view, relating Milton’s personification of Satan to Prometheus as a creature of nobility, righteously seeking justice and freedom. Later humanists followed Blake in claiming that Milton, ...

A brief exoneration of Satan: The inverse morality of Christianity and the restorative ethics of Alan Badiou

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(This was a project for my PHD studies.) Introduction: While Zizek’s radical postmodern Marxist-atheism openly discusses, criticizes and invokes the Christian tradition, Badiou’s treatment of religiousity is more subtle – and yet there can be no doubt that Badiou’s philosophy is heavily influenced by Christianity: he continuously refers to St. Paul’s experience of the Christ-Event as a primary example of the value of fidelity to an event (even though he denies that such an ...

Is the Bible the Word of God? Biopolitics and Divine Intervention in The Book of Eli Movie

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Denzel Washington's "The Book of Eli" movie was an unexpected treat: I knew it had something to do with the Bible and religion, but I was unprepared for the complex theological statements, intense action scenes, and surprise ending (which may not have surprised you at all - but I'll tell you why it should have). More interesting, however, was the divine intervention that determined that the Bible would have a place in the newly reconstructed ...

The Bible Sucks: How Star Wars and Harry Potter use Void as Cult-Producing Mechanism

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PZ Myers (biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota) recently pointed out on his blog Pharyngula that Star Wars sucked. What is it about sucky movies and TV shows (like Star Trek) that gather a cult following? It's an interesting question which, due to its relevance in my research, I will attempt to answer in this post. On the one hand, not everybody will agree that they suck - some people are devoted ...

Pascal’s Wager and the Red Pill: Belief in the Historical Jesus as Self-Constituting Subjective Reality

“If the Jesus of faith is not also the Jesus of history, he’s powerless and he’s meaningless. Unless he’s rooted in reality, unless he established his divinity by rising from the dead, he’s just a feel-good symbol who’s as irrelevant as Santa Claus” (Strobel, 127). Strobel’s reaction to the claim that Jesus wasn’t historical is the same (failed) attempt of the early church to justify the historical Jesus: if he wasn’t historical, he would have been ...

Santa is Satan: God’s Devious Tyranny, the Meaning of Christmas and the True History of Santa Claus

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You may have heard the claim "Santa Claus is Satanic" before from fundamentalist Christians seeking to preserve the true meaning of Christmas (i.e. "Jesus is the Reason for the Season"), who view Christmas as a celebration of Jesus Christ's birthdays and can't figure out for the life of them why we focus more on a fat guy in a red suit and white beard, who flies around the world on magical sleigh pulled by flying ...

Christian symbolism in “Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” reveals perverse truth of religious faith

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Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a Christian movie. Although we all know CS Lewis is a Christian apologist and that the Narnia series does, in a sense, reflect his theology, Voyage of the Dawn treader is specifically and totally about a journey of faith and establishing a belief in Jesus Christ. When I finally got around to watching it, however, I noticed something interesting that I wasn't expecting. Despite all the Christian symbolism, not-too-thinly ...

Defining Jesus: Voting on Christ’s divine and human nature in the Ecumenical Church Councils

Although Christianity had finally been given state approval, Constantine soon saw that as a movement Christianity was deeply divided among itself in virtual all areas. In order to stifle disagreements and unify the empire under one, simplified religion, Emperor Constantine summoned the first Church Council. In the summer of 325, the bishops of all provinces were summoned to Nicaea (now in modern-day Turkey), a place easily accessible to the majority of delegates by Emperor Constantine, ...