I'm presently reading a (post?)cyberpunk novel, Richard K Morgan's Broken Angels. Like William Gibson's Count Zero and others in the genre, voodoo, its practitioners, and its beliefs are an element of the plot and setting. I haven't got the faintest idea about the religion, not even what its proper name is. What should I read / watch to remedy this? [more inside]
At our last session my therapist alluded to God in an entirely benign way but it still leaves me wondering whether I -- as an irreligious gay man -- should start shopping elsewhere. [more inside]
Looking for good books about cults, new religious movements, charismatic leaders and the groups they lead, "brainwashing" / "mind control" (I realize that these are controversial terms and concepts), pathological personalities in positions of power, belief systems (successfully) promulgated by the mentally ill, and the social and psychological dynamics of the aforementioned. [more inside]
Brahmins, shamans, priests, ascetics, monks, holy kings - all of them have some kind of taboo or another that prohibits sex or the tastiest food items. Jesus, Buddha, and Moses all had intense experiences of deprivation and self-denial before spiritual zeniths. My question is - why is that those individuals considered the most spiritually powerful are also taxed with the most prohibitions or expected to have undergone difficult and costly experiences? [more inside]
In Wade Davis' book Into The Silence, he mentions the Tibetan plateau as the meeting place of various religions of the world. Can you recommend books that cover or relate to this subject? [more inside]
I'm an atheist. I don't wear this fact on my sleeve. Most of the time, I actively avoid religion as a conversational topic. There are some conversations, however, where you can't duck the topic, because you're providing support to someone who has experienced a personal tragedy, such as the death of a loved one, and in the course of that conversation, they will invoke their religious beliefs. The question I am posing is: how can I provide emotional support and maintain proper boundaries while respecting their beliefs and my own as well?
I was baptized Catholic, but never got my first communion or was confirmed. Circumstances have me searching for a way to achieve both as soon as possible. Is there somewhere online to do this or a way to get this done in the next three weeks? [more inside]
I'm looking for a play I read years ago, about a girl (a maid in a household?) experiencing religious visions. It's probably but not definitely Irish. [more inside]
How literally should I be interpreting ancient and medieval stories and texts? I gather this is an open question among modern scholars, but I'm having a hard time coming up with any books that deal with it. [more inside]
I'm reading about different manifestations of screaming. I'm familiar with Janov and the primal scream, and I'm familiar with speaking in tongues as well as keening. I would like to find examples in religion or philosophy of screaming, either as spiritual practice/theology or metaphor. Both "religion" and "philosophy" can be interpreted with some leeway.
A good while back I watched a movie on Netflix about a man returning to his recently deceased mother's home to sort out her affairs despite her devotion to a strange angel cult having driven them apart many years ago. Meanwhile, his mother's ghost observes, fears for his safety, and hopes for reunion. What was the title? Spoiler for the ending after the jump. [more inside]
In the recent book by Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy, I stumbled at the following in chapter VI: "None of us should speak of injustice without thinking of all the injustice we have committed before God. We must never forget our origins, the mud of which we were made." If God made us out of mud (i.e. something base and, literally, dirty), why is it the Christian view that God is upset when we act according to our base and dirty nature, and that we must seek forgiveness for our actions and our nature? [more inside]
To those who converted into a religion or identify as a "born again" Christian (going from no faith/not sure -> faith) what was that journey like? [more inside]
I'm interested in religious and spiritual matters - both from an intellectual point of view and as a way toward living a better life. I'm looking for interesting podcasts. No limits on specific religion (Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, spritual-not-religious), but a few special snowflakes inside. Also, please no answers about religion being stupid, flying spaghetti monsters, and whatnot. [more inside]
Some cultures foster majority-held, strongly anti-LGBT beliefs, and some do not, and religion doesn't seem to be the source of these attitudes, just a justification for them. Considering all this, what cultural forces account for anti-LGBT attitudes? What are the origins of these beliefs? [more inside]
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]