Archive for the ‘religion’ tag
Really interesting story of how since deciding that technology wasn’t a sinful temptation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has found it much more effective as a way to use the young people engaging in its famous missionary period:
Even within a church legendary for adding converts with machine-like efficiency, the Internet-only mission has been an outlier. Whereas traditional Mormon missionaries convert, on average, six people during their 18- to 24-month service, the online apostles in Provo have averaged around 30 converts per missionary per year, says Burton. And these people stick around. Ninety-five percent of the Internet converts have kept active, a retention rate more than triple the norm.
(via The Browser)
A Muslim woman unintentionally learned that dressing for the cold changes most everything about who she’s perceived as she moves around the world:
But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.
I enjoyed this little essay from Pico Iyer about the similarity he sees between the writing of Marcel Proust and Buddhism. This bit captures his thesis:
Marcel Proust never formally meditated, so far as I know, and he never officially quit his gilded palace to wander around the world, practicing extremes of austerity and cross-questioning wise men. But if I want to understand the tricks the mind plays upon itself—the ways we substitute our notions of reality for the way things are and need to dismantle the suffering false thoughts can create—I can’t think of a better guide and friend than the author of À la recherche.
Second Largest Religion Map
I’ve recently learned that I’m more interested in maps than I previously knew. And this one’s pretty cool, though the comment thread (linked below casts doubt on some of its specific data points). This is a map of countries shaded by the second largest religion in their territory. You can probably easily guess the first in most of them, but the second wouldn’t have occurred to me for many of these.
(via /r/MapPorn — which is completely SFW; my efforts to find the creator came up empty)
I think this very point is not only true of the old televisions series — which I recommend even as many of the special effects themselves are laughable and some of the science today out-of-date — but all of Carl Sagan’s work. He truly was a unique figure with unique things to say.
Whereas radio kids represent the “get practical” approach to science education and motivation, Sagan kids represent the “life, the universe and everything” strategy. Such a strategy taps into one’s “spiritual” or “religious” brain, getting at one’s romantic desire to figure out “what it all means” and “why there is anything…at all.” That’s the kind of motivation that can redirect a life into a science.
And this is what Sagan’s Cosmos had in spades.
Striking photographs accompanied by an interesting story well told. Its start:
Paul Koudounaris is not a man who shies away from the macabre. Though the Los Angeles-based art historian, author and photographer claims that his fascination with death is no greater than anyone else’s, he devotes his career to investigating and documenting phenomena such as church ossuaries, charnel houses and bone-adorned shrines. Which is why, when a man in a German village approached him during a 2008 research trip and asked something along the lines of, “Are you interested in seeing a dilapidated old church in the forest with a skeleton standing there covered in jewels and holding a cup of blood in his left hand like he’s offering you a toast?” Koudounaris’ answer was, “Yes, of course.”
I now forget why I had this in my to-read pile, but I’m definitely glad I did:
In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.
With Mitt Romney’s possibly certain status as the Republican presidential candidate, Mormonism is in the air. But the details of Mormon history aren’t. I had no knowledge of the Mountain Meadows massacre — explained here by Gilbert King on the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog — which is a pretty horrific reflection on the actions of the young Mormon church.
The story of how Martin Luther’s ideas went from a small bulletin-board post at a university to a religion-changing, war-causing force.
Tetzel, the indulgence-seller, was one of the first to respond to him in print, firing back with his own collection of theses. Others embraced the new pamphlet format to weigh in on the merits of Luther’s arguments, both for and against, like argumentative bloggers. Sylvester Mazzolini defended the pope against Luther in his “Dialogue Against the Presumptuous Theses of Martin Luther”. He called Luther “a leper with a brain of brass and a nose of iron” and dismissed his arguments on the basis of papal infallibility.
This National Geographic article does a good job challenging the validity of the argument that is its premise, but I enjoy considering the dawn of civilization so much that I don’t really care. A provocative quote to entice you:
Discovering that hunter-gatherers had constructed Göbekli Tepe was like finding that someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife. “I, my colleagues, we all thought, What? How?” Schmidt said. Paradoxically, Göbekli Tepe appeared to be both a harbinger of the civilized world that was to come and the last, greatest emblem of a nomadic past that was already disappearing. The accomplishment was astonishing, but it was hard to understand how it had been done or what it meant. “In 10 or 15 years,” Schmidt predicts, “Göbekli Tepe will be more famous than Stonehenge. And for good reason.”