Think just being a monk is dedication? Try taking on the unseen energy of the universe head-on: A Zen monk in Japan is helping to fight radiation, potentially putting himself in danger as he tries to quell the spread of radiation in Fukushima, Japan. A duo of Jeremy Lin links for you today (er, LINks?): The New York Times wonders if professional sports and religion are inherently opposed to one another, and the Washington Post looks at Faith, Sin and Jeremy Lin. (Hey! That rhymes!) There's a new take on the story of the Good Samaritan: A Priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan walk into a bar…
You've probably read about Christian Libertarians, so why not complete the set? Relevant magazine has a series that includes “Why I am a Christian Republican” as well as “Why I am a Christian Democrat.” No word on whether they'll get Jimmy McMillan to do a “Why I am a Christian Member of the Rent is 2 D@#$ High Party.” One can only hope. The Jewish twitterverse is a thing.
The Beard has returned. Hasidic rapper Matisyahu — who raised controversy recently after he tweeted an image of himself without his trademark super-long beard — has reportedly started growing it back. Check his new stubble here. And now for your obligatory Jeremy Lin links: So there is this guy named Jeremy Lin. Apparently he's really, really good at basketball.
Happy Valentine's Day! Google's Valentine's Day “doodle” is dang-near adorable, complete with music, graphics, and story-ness. The tail-end of the video, however, is raising a few eyebrows in conservative Christian communities: in a montage of happy couples near the end of the video, Google includes a same-sex couple. Conservative bloggers might leap on the move soon, but in the meantime you can watch the video and learn more about how it was made. Christian magazine Relevant talks about the “Truth About Disney Love.”
You've heard of Christians for Jesus, and even Jews for Jesus. But have you heard of Clowns for Jesus?! :: cue those with clown phobias screaming in terror :: The Grammy's had something of a religious undertone last night. The ceremonies, for example, opened with a prayer for the late Whitney Houston, and rapper Nicki Minaj managed to offend a few Catholics (including the Catholic League) with a religious-themed shocker of a performance. Meanwhile Adele — the golden-throated starlet who is clearly genetically engineered by British scientists to sing better than anyone ever — cleaned up at the Grammy's last night, winning 6 of the coveted awards. It was enough to even impress the Holy Tweeter himself: Apparently Oprah's recent foray to a New York hasidic community had an unexpected result: no one knew who she was.
For those in need of a Jewish celebrity gossip fix: Kevin Youkilis, one of the most-decorated Jewish athletes out there, is apparently engaged to Tom Brady's sister. Craigslist Craziness: Apparently you can find (and ask for) literally anything on Criagslist — even enchanted/possessed inanimate objects of religious significance. A sharp-eyed Redditor noticed an actual craigslist ad asking for a “Rabbi Versed in DARK TALMUDIC ARTS to create GOLEM,” or an anthropomorphic creature of Jewish folklore. The poster of the ad apparently wants their golem to help with “dishes & sweeping, basic Math Tutoring for our daughter in 3rd grade and basic household security.” Don't we all, buddy.
Plate Politics: drivers in South Carolina can now buy an “I Believe” Christian license plate as well as a pro-Gay Rights plate. Still no word on whether either cause will expand to mud flaps. You can now see how the rest of the world sees American Christians…in humorous infographic form! Is it accurate? Is one of them you? Let us know!
In an effort to build self-reliance, thousands of Iranian women are training to be ninjas. Right now. Hardcore. The blogosphere is still hoppin' about the tiff between the Obama administration and Catholic bishops over healthcare coverage and contraception. Christian author Diana Butler Bass was especially unimpressed with the Catholic position… …While RNC presidential candidate Mitt Romney seems to be taking the Bishop's side, equating Obama's decision to an attack on religious liberty… Other blogs and newspapers are offering their own opinions, but American Catholics may think the point moot: New polls say that most American Catholics reject the Bishop's position on contraception in the first place.
Heads up to the Republican Presidential Candidates: Harry Potter is not happy with you. Well, the actor who plays Harry Potter isn't anyway: Daniel Radcliffe, an atheist, is apparently taking issue with the religiosity of several RNC presidential hopefuls. No word on how this impacts the coveted Hogwarts endorsement. Dumbledore could not be reached for comment. As those of you who watched that “big” sporting last night (the Mega Cup?) already know, Madonna was the headlining halftime performer.
In That's An Unlikely Pairing News: Some Jehovah's Witnesses with leukemia are turning to an atheist doctor for a very particular reason: he respects their refusal to accept blood transfusions. In You Probably Should've Seen That Coming News: Some of you might have heard that Eddie L. Long — the Atlanta megapastor who accused of sexual coercion — was recently wrapped in a Torah scroll and declared “King.” Not unsurprisingly, some Jews are a little bit upset about that… In Interfaith Textual Commentary News: Looks like you can now buy a version of the Bible complete with a Jewish take on the New Testament. In Atheist Activism News: The Friendly Atheist reports on Black Atheists who are starting to speak out. Finally, your Video of the Day closes out our week of religious music with a little bit of John Coltrane.
Monks need love, too: A matchmaking service in Japan is giving Buddhist monks a way to find dates. I wonder how those first dates will go: maybe they'll go see a movie, get a pizza afterwards, and order one with everything. (I'm hilarious, I know) Speaking of social media, GOOD magazine has a new infographic (YEAH!) on the social lives of religious americans. Curious about the Obama National prayer breakfast held this morning? Well you can find the text of the President's speech here, a write-up on the event here, and a criticism of the general idea of the prayer breakfast here.
The Catholic blogosphere is in a bit of a tizzy over the Obama Administration's recent decision to require certain religious institutions to pay for employee health plans that include contraception coverage. Commonweal has their own take/roundup on the subject, as does America Magazine. Perhaps the most unlikely commentary, however, comes from the one and only Sarah Palin (remember her?). She posted a critique of the decision on Facebook page this morning. Did you know Baptist ministers can be funny?
Florida is voting. Right now. Guess what that means? …Religion issues! (Wait, you were thinking something else?) In recent days, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been courting the Jewish vote in the Sunshine State by accusing opponent Mitt Romney of being less-than-sensitive to Judaism. Today, though, Newt brought out the big guns: his campaign is reportedly blanketing the state with a “Robocall” accusing Mitt Romney of having forced Holocaust survivors to eat non-kosher food. For such a sunny state, things seem to get dark in Florida pretty quickly.
Christians are are taking a stand against cockfighting. What an eggselent cause! It's good to hear they're not chickening out this time, and are trying to cooperate with others to get it done. As long as they don't get cocky… Get ready folks: Christian Libertarians (like Ron Paul) are on the rise. Have you ever played the video game Asura's Wrath and thought, “Man, everything about this game is so Buddhist!” According to Kotaku, that might be because, well, it is — games with less-than-explicit religious themes are apparently popping up all over the place.