I'm strongly considering converting to Judaism. I've heard about the process during a class that I'm taking, but I'd like more insight into what actually goes on. I would be converting through a Reform synagogue. If anyone has experiences or tips to share, please do so. Thanks for your help!
So I'm starting research on a new project that involves people who supposedly sold their soul to the Devil for something Robert Johnson style. Unfortunately all the searching I'm doing is pointing to him. Help me find the early deals, the famous ones besides RJ and the most recent soul sales attributed to old Scratch.
I've been finding the occasional Santeria-related object in a public location and would like to dispose of them respectfully. How can I do this? [more inside]
I'm looking for a somewhat academic book on the inter-relations in ancient societies between the functions (or functionaries) of religion, law, and the "state" (or rule). Particularly something covering Sumer (and Cuneiform Law) and delving into Judaic Law and Christian law would be good. [more inside]
There appear to be a lot of versions of the Lord's Prayer out there. In Europe, between 1400 and 1700, how much did it vary over time and between locations? Did every place/ time have a canonical version or did it vary by sect? Is there a map or resources that show how translations shifted between times and locations? [more inside]
For a project I'm doing, I'd like an illustrated book with lots of information on the physical world of the Bible - particularly animals, plants, and insects. I can look up what's mentioned in the Bible on Wikipedia, but I want more than that. I want to be able to page through an illustrated work (color) - bonus points if there are commentaries from scholars - and to learn a lot about all of the creatures mentioned without having to turn to my computer for complete information. More below. [more inside]
I'm trying to remember a parable about a man who invents a religion (as a bet or as an experiment), then after he has built up a following, he reveals that it is false. However, his followers are so bought into the story that they call him out as an infidel, and kill him for blasphemy. I can't remember the origin, but it sounds like something from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Does anyone else remember this, and know where it's from?
I"m looking for an introductory historico-philosophical text on religion and politics, political-theology, or secularism and anti-secularism philosophically? Specifically, I'm interested in understanding, the context and surrounding works which would situate Carl Schmitt's claims regarding the persistence of theological concepts in 20thC political philosophy. [more inside]
I heard a speaker say that if members of a religious congregation have at least two friends in the group--close enough that they feel comfortable socializing within each other's homes--the odds of them leaving the congregation are really small. I can't locate this research and am not sure about which key terms to use. [more inside]
I'm an atheist trying to take the question of secular morality in society seriously. In debates about whether a secular society is better than a religious one, theists often allude to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc -- the mass murders of the 20th century who were motivated by secular beliefs. Are theists right that atheists killed more people in the 20th century than religious leaders did? What notable examples of this exist, besides the three mentioned above? [more inside]
Please help me understand how to better engage with those who are close to me having an irrational fear of Muslims (especially with Syrian refugees who she believes are full of ISIS operatives) . I want to engage because I can't not say anything anymore. [more inside]
My daughter is starting kindergarten at Catholic school. We are atheists (although raised Catholic). She will be learning about god in school, learning prayers, etc. and I basically just realized that I have NO CLUE how to navigate this. Do I let her believe, or do I tell her it's all just pretend? Is there an in between? Please help. [more inside]
What is the best scholarly, annotated, edition of the Koran? I am trying to find something in English similar to the Oxford Annotated Bible. I am not a Muslim, and I have little background to date, so an edition that assumes very little in terms of prior knowledge would be ideal for me.
When my husband and I got married we were both practicing Muslims. We've been married almost 3 years and now I don't think I believe anymore. Can I make this work despite the religious differences? [more inside]
A pretty thorough Google search doesn't turn up anything about former cult leaders who put out thoughts about religion of any kind in any way shape or form after they stopped being cult leaders. I am looking for some. [more inside]
I am currently living in Austria, where it is typical for people entering a semi-public space (e.g. doctor's office, barber shop) to greet the entire room and receive a greeting back. What is the appropriate response when greeted with "salaam alaikum" (selamün aleyküm)? [more inside]
How does one engage respectfully with a combative atheist who tries to convince you that most major religions are inherently anti-humanist / anti- enlightenment? I am an atheist myself, but I respect people who are religious. [more inside]
I've been interested in Theosophy and similar philosophies for a long time and have on several occasions considered joining up here in Auckland, New Zealand. However, I'm not entirely sure whether their activities will be of overall interest to me. [more inside]
We are planning a future together... If only my family would accept him in spite of his race and religion. Snowflakes entail. [more inside]
Maori chiefs were taboo'd from eating inside their houses, the Jewish Kohen (priests) couldn't handle dead bodies, and clerical classes across religious traditions have required celibacy -- does anyone know of any other examples of taboos on holy or religiously influential people? The cultures can range from contemporary big religions (e.g. Abrahamic) to the animism of small-scale societies - all examples are welcome!! THANKS!
Turns out – there is a word for what I’ve been fascinated by for some time! It even seems that it has been studied in some detail. Please suggest some readings for me so I explore this phenomenon in more depth. [more inside]
When I was growing up, in the seventies and eighties, Eastern Orthodoxy was pretty much an ethno-faith. That is, to be Orthodox was to be Greek, or Ukrainian or Russian or any of the historically orthodox nationalities who had immigrated to this country, along with a few outsiders who had married into the faith. Nowadays, however, things have changed . . . [more inside]
Having studied Christian theology in college, I am aware that much of what we have reflecting ancient Greek and Roman religious belief survives because Christian apologists were refuting source materials drawn from that culture. But what else do we actually know? [more inside]
I attended an adjunct faculty meeting at a public two-year college in Texas. Before the meeting, the campus vice president asked an instructor to lead us all in prayer. So we prayed. I was under the impression that public colleges weren't permitted anything more than a "moment of silence." Or does that apply only to elementary and secondary schools?
Can you give me quotes from historical or mythical religious figures on the thought that life is process, that one is never "finished"?
Years ago, I had a male coworker who wore a plastic rosary as a necklace. Just recently, I met another man who does the same thing. Is this part of some kind of movement or subculture? Fashion trend? Fringe religious group? [more inside]
Family dynamics are slowly driving me up the wall, but I can't bear to let things wind destructively. How can I cope without being caught in the storm? [more inside]
There are widespread reports that the Pope now claims that animals go to heaven, based on this article from the illustrious Daily Express newspaper, and in particular this line: “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ’, Francis quoted Paul as saying. Is this a real quote attributed to Paul, or is the Express making shit up, or is Francis making shit up, or what is happening
What are some good books of mythology/stories from world religion for kids? [more inside]
Two points in the early chapters of Karen Armstrong's "The Case for God" are really bothering me, almost to the point of putting the book down in frustration; can the hivemind put my doubts to rest by answering two questions about religious history: First about the validity of Armstrong's "logos/mythos" distinction, and second, about the current thinking on the documentary hypothesis? [more inside]
Hi! I'm interested in finding some information about the way that Hephaistos is guessed to have come to be worshipped in ancient Greece. Please note that I am not looking for psychological theories (for example: "he represents the creative drive, and functions as a symbol of social exclusion and early technology"), but historical ones (for example: "he is found on an Athenian vase in 500 BCE, but no earlier, so that may have been when they began worshipping him" or, for example: "the philosopher Anaxamagazine tells us that the Thracians worshipped Hephaistos above all other gods, so it is possible Thrace was the initial origin of his cult"). Book recommendations or well-sourced websites would both be welcome! If you're dropping by the thread to merely mention a fact you know regarding Mister Hammer's origin point, that's great, but please link to a primary source. Thank you!
I've been basically a lifelong atheist, but a small part of me is extremely tempted by some of the more comforting aspects of various religions (such as the idea of an afterlife). But the logical part of me just can't bring myself to seriously believe in things for which there is no evidence. I am interested in hearing stories of people who have gone from being firmly atheist to accepting religion later in life, and how they were able to do so without cognitive dissonance. [more inside]
Did English peasants in the Late Middle Ages--say, 14th c.--take Communion? If so, how often? How about the other sacraments?
In the bible we have the example of the Prophet Samuel, whose mother is so grateful for him that she gives him to God to be raised by the priest Eli. Has this ever been a common practice – children being given over to an organized religious organization? Can anyone give me examples? More specifically, has the Vatican ever done this? [I'm not interested in the Philomena type of stories, with young girls getting pregnant, just because I'm already aware of them.]
My kindergartener's class has started learning the Pledge of Allegiance. I told him he could stay silent during the "under God" part. Am I being too strident? Would there have been a better way to handle this? [more inside]
I want to observe the Jewish holidays without going to synagogue this year. Ideas for non-traditional ways I can commemorate the holy days? [more inside]
Hi, I'm an almost lifelong athiest. I have a job interview in 3 days (was given very little notice) for a job in a church. The job is pretty community-development-ish, but they are looking for someone with some understanding of different faiths. This is the one thing they want that I'm pretty thin on. I think it would also me good to know the main commonalities of them too. Any straightforward resources would be welcome. Thanks
I have a new doctor. He has many copies of this book in his office (waiting room, examination rooms): The Urantia Book. I really did not think much of it, the doctor has a pretty good reputation (where I live that means jack). Should I be concerned? [more inside]
So I'm trying to find examples of cultures/peoples/ethnicities/religions that are significantly dissimilar to the main city/culture/groups that surround them. Like finding a group of Amish people in Detroit. Or the one someone gave me of the significant Hasidic population in the scantily clad nightlife world of South Beach. What other current examples are there in the USA and Canada of unexpected groups in unexpected places?
I'm the only copywriter at a mid-sized advertising agency. We just landed a huge job that's going to require a lot of work on my end. Here's the problem: I'm agnostic, and religion (namely Christianity) makes me really cranky and frothy. The client is a faith-based company that makes things (I don't want to say what) for churches. How can I make it through unscathed? [more inside]
I've been an atheist for most of my life. I've never been to a formal church service outside of a wedding or a funeral. Recently I've realized that I politically agree with the leftist interpretation of the teachings of Christ. I still don't believe in the supernatural aspects of the Christian faith. Would it be wrong for me to seek out a left leaning sect like Unitarians? I'm worried that this is, at the very least, intellectually dishonest to my own beliefs, and more likely, selfish for the church I'd pursue. I'm looking for guidance on how to proceed. I apologize if I've offended the faithful with a misunderstanding of their beliefs. Part of my desire for this is that of community and connection with fellow left leaning folks.
Someone I know who is about to graduate from college would like to participate in a religious community in some way and is interested in exploring hyper-progressive religious institutions in New York City (if any exist). [more inside]
Short version: my fiancé's family is involved in a cult. He left the cult while in college, but they don't know. Most people don't know, except me and a few other friends. He hasn't told his family that he left, and he says he never will. My question is, what do we do when/if they want us to be more involved in their lives, without either getting involved in the cult or letting it slip that we're not part of it? [more inside]
How to deal with a member of my daughter's girl scout troop whose religious beliefs make it difficult to engage in regular group activities? [more inside]
Suppose you had new philosophical and/or religious ideas meant to be taken seriously. Suppose they were relatively unaffiliated with any particular religious community or conventional academic conversation. Suppose you were not a celebrity. Where, particularly in New York City, would be places open to new speakers with these kinds of ideas? Where might sophisticated, sympathetic, open-minded audiences be found?
I'm drawing a short comic in which two characters visit a site that has significance to many different kinds of people, for both religious and secular reasons. I want for there to be a cluster of items that previous visitors have left behind, but I'm having trouble thinking of anything outside of my own (northeastern urban American) experience. [more inside]
Coincidence or something real? Two "relatives" have contacted me with a similar story: born to teenage mothers in Indianapolis in the 1960s or 1970s. Was there a home for unwed mothers there? [more inside]
A religious wingnut--who is also a former coworker--sent me a mildly scary email. I don't know how to respond or if I should ignore it. Details inside. [more inside]
I just finished reading Zealot, by Reza Aslan, and I found it to be a fascinating book. I'm looking for similar books! [more inside]
I saw about ten people in NYC on the A train this weekend who claimed to be the "true Jews." One of them told me that their beliefs include: (1) no conversion is accepted and (2) the people I'm used to thinking of as Jews are actually a Turkic tribe that tried to convert in the 8th century A.D. (but see (1) of course). Notably, all of them were extremely large black men (one of them had to duck to get off the train) wearing dark robes, headbands and head cloths, and carrying shoulder-height wooden sticks wrapped in black tape. Their shirts and headbands had hexagonal stars on them, and one of them had a few letters of Hebrew written on his head cloth. They were having this free-wheeling discussion from which I recognized several references to events in the Old Testament. Weirdly enough, the guy sitting next to me told me they were actually some kind of Muslim, although I don't know how much I trust that guy's opinion. Does anyone know what religion these people were from?