Religion is sexy! Well, on the internet, anyway: The Daily Beast reports on how Christian, Jewish, and Muslim entrepreneurs are creating sex-toy shops for religious couples. You’re blushing – I can tell. Speaking of sex, conservative Christian megapastor Mark Driscoll just released a new book on “Real Marriage,” which addresses, among other things, the sex lives of Christian couples. Some conservative Christians are giving the book catuious praise, but the review most people are talking about is from blogger Rachel Held Evans.
Ah, New Years Eve. A time for revelry, resolutions, and twitter controversies involving John Lennon, Cee Lo Green and atheists. Long story short: several folks are miffed at singer Cee Lo Green for changing a lyric in John Lennon’s “Imagine” while performing on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. He reportedly tweaked the line “nothing to kill or die for / and no religion too” to say “nothing to kill or die for / and all religion’s true.” Lennon fans were pretty incensed, reportedly leading to several heated twitter exchanges with Cee Lo (which have since been deleted).
Everyone is working on a newfangled menorah these days. Google may have gotten some flack this week for not making a Hanukkah “Google Doodle,” but they made sure folks knew about the lava-lamp menorah in their offices (at left). There are other techie menorahs too, such as this robotic menorah and even a “digital” menorah made out of a circuit board. (you can see how they made it here) For the curious, you can enjoy a whole list of off-beat (and often geeky) menorahs here. Jewish rappers are all over the news these days, with Forbes even putting out an entire article on the best Jewish rappers of all time.
Google is getting getting into the holiday spirit. If you go to google.com right now and search for the phrase “let it snow,” you’ll get a wintery surprise. The same is true if you search for “Hanukkah,” although with fewer snow flakes. (For more Google fun, search for “tilt” or “do a barel roll”) Despite the fun, a few folks are miffed at Google for not doing one its trademark holiday “doodles” for Hannukkah: As long as we’re talking about geekiness and Judaism, all you kids with 3D printers (yes, those exist, and no, you probably can’t afford one) can now 3D print your very own Dreidel! It’s the future, kids.
Yesterday, as mentioned, was the first day of Hanukkah. We all know what that means: It’s time for a good, old fashioned Politician Holiday Well-Wishing Tweet Off! This year most of the Republican presidential candidates got in on the holiday tweet-fest (although apparently nothing yet from Ron Paul or Rick Santorum?), each with their own particular flair. Michele Bachmann lead the pack with an enthusiastic well-wishing (exclamation points are awesome!!!!!!), followed closely by a personal greeting from Mitt Romney’s family and an Unnecessarily Capitalized Message from Jon Huntsman. The two southern candidates displayed contrasting styles.
Today marks the first day of the eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. It also marks the beginning of a struggle journalists and bloggers know well – how do you actually spell Hanukkah? God only knows, right? Actually no. Apparently God doesn’t.
Despite a six-game winning streak, Denver Broncos quarterback and vocal Christian Tim Tebow lost to the New England Patriots last night, 41-23. It was a sad day for Broncos fans, but the Jesus Needs New PR blog thinks Saturday Night Live (and Jesus) foretold the reason for loss before it happened. (also, the Patriots are really good.) Are the Saudis trying to buy out Twitter? Saudi Prince Alwaleed reportedly just invested $300 million in the microblogging service, raising questions as to whether the royal family was tring to control the technology that assisted Arab Spring protestors. Still, BoingBoing bloggers think the news is a bit overblown.
Christopher Hitchens, famed author, columnist, atheist and overall critic of religion, passed away yesterday after a prolonged battle with esophageal cancer. Traditional media responded quickly: the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Fox News and NPR and others promptly posted obituaries. There were reactions from believers and nonbelievers alike, with nuns from Mother Teresa’s charity offering up prayers for Hitchens and his family. (They’re not sure he would have appreciated the prayers, but then the nuns probably didn’t appreciate Hitchens’ scathing critique of Mother Teresa in 2003 either) New media outlets were the quickest to weigh in. Hemant Mehta of “The Friendly Atheist” blog offered both a written and artistic tribute, and satirical comedy news outlet The Onion poked fun at Hitchens’ talent as a debater.
Virtual nativity scenes are popping up all over these days. Take your pick: you can opt for one performed by adorable Hipster children, roll deep with a beatbox version of Christ’s birth, or enjoy the oldy-but-goody “Bethlehemian Rhapsody”…as performed by puppets. Speaking of Christmas (and hipsters), notoriously secretive street artist and celebrated troublemaker Banksy has given the Walker Art Gallery a “Christmas present.” His new work, entitled “Cardinal Sin,” is meant to be a response to the Catholic abuse scandal. So you might have read RNS’s report on how some Jewish folks celebrate Christmas, but did you know several popular Christmas songs were written by Jews?
I know it’s the question that’s been keeping you up at night, keeping you from counting electric sheep: is there salvation for cyborgs? Techie blog iO9 highlights a recent interview with a Christian seminary professor on this very topic (i.e. – transhumanism, which I’m sure you’ve heard of), and also notes the existence of a somewhat unexpected (but seemingly well-organized) group: The Mormon Transhumanist Association. Whoa. In more present-y news: As inter-faith activist Eboo Patel points out, there’s been a lot of talk about Sharia law these days – especially how much Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dislikes it. But you know the Sharia conversation has become ubiquitous when it’s referenced on the pinnacle of cultural bellwethers: The Simpsons.
The department store chain Lowe’s recently pulled advertisements they were running during TLC’s new “All-American Muslim” reality TV show, reacting to protests from conservative Christian advocacy groups. The move, however, sparked a blacklash from several groups. The Crescent Post was not happy, and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, a state senator from Southern California, is calling for a boycott of Lowe’s. Even business magnate Russell Simmons jumped into the fray, tweeting the following: There was also a back-and-forth twitter conversation between interfaith activist Chris Stedman and a satirical (fake) “Lowes Global PR” twitter feed, culminating with this exchange: Also, you may recall comedian Jon Stewart declared a “war on Christmas” last week. Apparently, Fox News show-host Bill O’Reilly fired back, joking that Jon Stewart was “going to hell.”
So some of you might have heard that Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry released a new ad entitled “Strong.” The spot showcases Perry announcing he’s “not afraid” to say he’s a Christian, and decrying the fact that gays can now serve openly in the U.S. military. The commercial was seemingly an attempt to win over conservative Christian voters in Iowa, but it failed to win over something else: the Internet. The ad is now one of the most “disliked” videos in YouTube history, surpassing even Rebecca Black’s fantastically awful rendition of “Friday.” (for the confused: that’s really bad) It has also garnered parody videos from atheists, Jews, and…er…Dinosaurs?
The interwebs are abuzz about how actor/heartthrob/portrayer of odd roles/occasional vocalist Johnny Depp got in a little trouble recently. Apparently Captain Jack did some backup vocals for a song about Jesus getting drunk at a bar, prompting some Christian groups to announce that Depp is destined to burn in hell. Muslim media maven Reza Aslan had this to say: Meanwhile, CNN ran an opinion piece yesterday by Tony Perkins – president of the conservative-leaning Family Research Council – about the Occupy Wall Street movement. He argued “Jesus was a free marketer, not an occupier.” But others – such as Garrett FitzGerald of The Religious Left and (as RNS reported) the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – did not agree.
The U.S. Army recently announced it will allow an orthodox Jewish Rabbi to attend military chaplaincy training without shaving his beard. Still, the Washington Post wonders if there are other religious barriers in the U.S. Military. No more funny business? Religion Dispatches asks: is making fun of Mormonism cliche? Full Contact Enlightenment (yup, that’s a website) looks at an upcoming film project entitled “Living in Exile.”
The Dalai Lama is out and about in India, much to the chagrin of Chinese officials across the border. And when he’s not irking China, he is also getting some buzz going about his new book on secular ethics. CNN is looking at experts who claim Muslims are “more religious” than other faithful. The Kentucky church that recently “banned” interracial couples from its pews is getting some pushback: local related churches are saying the overture is “null and void.” America Magazine examines Catholicism and World AIDS Day.