With no apparent sense of irony at all, the faith site Beliefnet allegedly hired a guest blogger who writes about feminist issues … and then told her she couldn’t use the word “feminist” anywhere in any of her blog posts.
Why? Because “feminist” is such an offputting word. Keep reading »
These days, Scientology is everywhere – three books are out this month alone, including Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, which has been featured everywhere from CNN to the New York Times Book Review. Yesterday, several ex-members filed a lawsuit against the Church, saying that Scientology kept asking them for more and more money for shadowy projects which were never completed, then had them blacklisted for asking questions about where the money went.
I believe in freedom of religion. But as a longtime religion reporter, I know enough about Scientology to think that the Church is dangerous and harmful. In particular, it’s terrible for the women who join it. It may be funny to watch the Xenu clip from South Park, but many of the labor violations and harsh punishments against women in the Church should give you a sense of why this religion isn’t amusing – it’s scary. Keep reading »
Megan Fox covers this month’s issue of Esquire, and she’d like you to know that she’s actually been religious this entire time.
“I’ve read the Book of Revelation a million times,” she told interviewer Stephen Marche. “It does not make sense, obviously. It needs to be decoded. What is the dragon? What is the prostitute? What are these things? What is this imagery? What was John seeing? And I was just thinking, What is the Antichrist? When war breaks out in the Holy Land, like it is right now, if that is a sign of the immediate end times, then where are the other signs? Is it possible that it’s the Internet or fame itself or celebrity?” Keep reading »
Telling people that you write about religion for a living always raises a couple of eyebrows. In the past, I’ve covered everything from fashion to pop culture, but no one ever questioned why someone might be interested in lipstick or TV.
However, religion is one of those things that can scare people just by being mentioned. I’ve been accused of promoting an agenda, of lecturing people, and of being boring – and that’s without putting a single word on a page. As a kid, I learned that you should never talk about religion, sex, or politics in polite company, but it’s only when I write about the first one that people start to clam up or get upset. So, why do I write about religion?
Keep reading »
I love hippies … I just don’t always understand what they’re talking about. Case in point: an uber-New Age-y piece Alanis Morissette penned today on The Daily Beast about the “divine feminine.” Well, it’s sort of about how everyone needs to reconcile the “divine feminine” and the “divine masculine” within themselves and that will bring peace and harmony to the Earth. Or something. Keep reading »
A Swiss newspaper reports a 50-something woman starved to death in January 2012 after forgoing food and water for a “sunlight diet.” But “breathearianism,” as the practice is called, isn’t a diet with the intention of losing weight. Rather, it’s a spiritual fasting that requires the practitioners to skip food and water for weeks. The unnamed woman reportedly saw an Austrian documentary called “In The Beginning There Was Light” about an Indian guru who claimed to have lived off sunlight for 70 years. (You can watch the trailer here, which includes doctors who are both in support and in opposition to the “sunlight diet.”) Unfortunately for this woman, she eventually was discovered dead by her children. Not to be glib, but what made this woman think she could live off vitamin-D alone? And you thought the feeding tube diet was extreme. [London Free Press]
Recently, while sitting in the kitchen as a friend helped me dye my hair, the topic turned to death. We had both experienced close friends dying in our early twenties, and we were discussing how we dealt with it. I sat facing away from her, as she checked the foils on my hair. “I just have to think that they are in a better place, in heaven,” she said.
I thought about those words for a minute. Then I replied, “For me, it soothes me to know there is no after-life. Like, there is completion in it. They are gone, that was their life, and it’s okay. I don’t have to worry about seeing them again. It’s been helpful to really process their death and know they are gone.”
My friend was intrigued. “I’d never thought about it that way,” she said.
The truth was I hadn’t always either. I identify as an atheist now. But I haven’t always. Keep reading »
As someone who has attended an Indian sweat lodge and thoroughly benefited from it, I was deeply saddened to hear about the ritual gone terribly wrong in Sedona, Ariz., last week. Self-help guru James Arthur Ray is being investigated for his “Spiritual Warrior Retreat” that left two people dead and 19 others hospitalized. There was allegedly a 36-hour fasting period before 60 people were crammed into a makeshift sweat lodge at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, where he’d rented facilities for his five-day retreat. Inside, 38-year-old surfer Kirby Brown and 40-year-old father James Shore dropped dead. Ray has made no public comments, but he did update his Twitter account to say, “My deep heartfelt condolences to family and friends of those who lost their lives, I am spending the weekend in prayer and meditation for all involved in this difficult time; and I ask you to join me in doing the same.” I bet the last thing participants and their families want to do is meditate on how this whack job stole their $10,000 and nearly killed them. Ray had said the retreat would “absolutely change their life.” Oh … he changed their lives all right. [CBS]
I was so angry when I heard about this because I know it will mar the public’s perception of the sweat lodge ritual. People already think they’re kooky, but now they’ll add dangerous to the list. A sweat lodge ritual can be a beautiful thing when done safely, properly and with good intentions. Any sane person should know that 60 starving people shouldn’t be crammed into a synthetic, overheated tent and made to pay $10,000 for the torture. My experience was so different. Keep reading »