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Why What Goes Around Doesn’t Always Come Around, and Maybe Something Better

dear-karma[1]Karma is one of those words that have launched into our English language with a vengeance. Mostly people take it in a new age sense, as cosmic payback. I suspect the majority of us use the word, when we use it, in that sense, where there is some cosmic zero sum and where if you do good, good will come to you, and if you do bad, well, what’s coming is your fault. It’s summed up nicely in the phrase “what goes around, comes around.” [Read more]

New Images and Soundbites in Five New TV Spots for Noah

vlcsnap-2014-03-13-14h40m55s25-300x168[1]With two weeks to go until the film’s release — just one, if you live in Mexico — Paramount Pictures released at least five new TV spots for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah today, as well as a brand new motion poster. As ever, check out the links and the new images below the jump. [Read more]

Mormons: A Follow Up

washington-mormon-temple2-300x225[1]I apologize to my new Mormon friends that your efforts have not converted me. I have been open-minded and I’m glad that I was because it is wonderful to learn about other people and other beliefs. More knowledge can’t be a bad thing, in my opinion. I also think there’s a big benefit in interfaith dialog because we can pool our resources and see different sides and aspects of God. Together we might get a more complete picture than alone. However. [Read more]

Make it Plain: The Truth about the Muslims Called Bilalians

i-am-a-bilalian-225x300[1]We read a well-meaning article recently, by Chaplain Bilal Ansari, which misrepresented the history of the American Muslim community that once referred to themselves as “Bilalians.” We co-authored this piece to correct the most problematic inaccuracies. Going forward, we will also be co-curating a documentary website, The Bilalian Project, to provide a window into how this rich history fits in the greater narrative of Islamic, African American, and United States history. We are thankful to the chaplain for starting the conversation. [Read more]

Darth Vadar Appears to Believers

050506_maryfile_hmed_8a.grid-6x2[1]I remember reading a few years ago about a spot under a highway in Chicago becoming a sort of shrine to people who believed Mary, mother of Jesus in the New Testament, was appearing to the faithful.  There was a stain in the concrete left by leaking seals. I kept looking at the photo, and think to myself, really? People really believe this is a sign? That some sort of supernatural entity is making itself manifest to people by appearing on a moldy, dirty, graffiti-strewn concrete underpass in urban America? [Read more]

Still Learning

jehovah-witnesses[1]Two young men recently came to my door carrying Bibles. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and wanted to know if I’d heard the good news. I said I would be happy to chat with them, but that I felt I should tell them up front that I’m an atheist, so they wouldn’t waste their time, if they thought it would be a waste. They said they don’t usually talk with atheists but they guessed they could this time. [Read more]

What the Media Won’t Tell You about the Roadside Cross in California

elsinore-300x192[1]The cross in question was erected in May 2012, and was actually removed by the city in December 2013 (after being up for a year and a half), after some residents complained about it. The city (not the family of the decedent) put the cross back up a few days after taking it down, then promised the complaining parties that it would be removed again after the holidays, giving a specific date of January 6, 2014. To the shock of the complaining parties, the city left the cross up after January 6, saying it would come down in March. [Read more]