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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Those who were curious about the gospels and texts explored by Peter Owen Jones in the documentary featured today, can refer to the Nag Hammadi Library resource online:

An Overview of the Nag Hammadi Texts

When analyzed according to subject matter, there are six separate major categories of writings collected in the Nag Hammadi codices:

Writings of creative and redemptive mythology, including Gnostic alternative versions of creation and salvation: The Apocryphon of John; The Hypostasis of the Archons; On the Origin of the World; The Apocalypse of Adam; The Paraphrase of Shem.  (For an in-depth discussion of these, see the Archive commentary on Genesis and Gnosis.)

Observations and commentaries on diverse Gnostic themes, such as the nature of reality, the nature of the soul, the relationship of the soul to the world: The Gospel of Truth; The Treatise on the Resurrection; The Tripartite Tractate; Eugnostos the Blessed; The Second Treatise of the Great Seth; The Teachings of Silvanus; The Testimony of Truth.

Liturgical and initiatory texts: The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth; The Prayer of Thanksgiving; A Valentinian Exposition; The Three Steles of Seth; The Prayer of the Apostle Paul. (The Gospel of Philip, listed under the sixth category below, has great relevance here also, for it is in effect a treatise on Gnostic sacramental theology).

Writings dealing primarily with the feminine deific and spiritual principle, particularly with the Divine Sophia: The Thunder, Perfect Mind; The Thought of Norea; The Sophia of Jesus Christ; The Exegesis on the Soul.

Writings pertaining to the lives and experiences of some of the apostles: The Apocalypse of Peter; The Letter of Peter to Philip; The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles; The (First) Apocalypse of James; The (Second) Apocalypse of James, The Apocalypse of Paul.

Scriptures which contain sayings of Jesus as well as descriptions of incidents in His life: The Dialogue of the Saviour; The Book of Thomas the Contender; The Apocryphon of James; The Gospel of Philip; The Gospel of Thomas.

Interesting research material for those looking at historical context of Christianity.

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Even after centuries of new research available, few Christians have gone about finding out the origins of the most popular faith on Earth and among the many things Christians take for granted is the origin of the modern Bible.

The New Testament in particular–is the foundational text of the Christian faiths–however the text did not begin as it appears today.

In an interesting documentary, Peter Owen Jones examines the early evolution of the New Testament, and particularly the various gospels that were not included in the modern Bible.

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Friends from Mogwai hosted us today to show the classic Peter Joseph film: Zeitgeist.

The crowd was a mix of students and various non-profit groups. We lacked time to have a more in-depth discussion but it was a good start.

For those who want to review the now cult classic film, here it is with subs:

Thanks to Mogwai for having us.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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These have come up since the Health Department started the campaign in February this year. First, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reacts to it, calling for a ban on advertisements and the whole campaign in general.

 

“The condom cannot really put a stop to Aids. Moreover, by creating a false sense of security, it condones and encourages promiscuity outside of marriage, and hence contributes to the further spread of Aids,” the statement added.

The Health department started initiating the free condom drive last Valentine’s Day in Metro Manila due to the increasing cases of HIV-Aids in the country.

DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral earlier said the drive was made as the dreaded disease continues its “silent” onslaught on the Filipinos.

In Western Visayas alone, there are already several cases of HIV-Aids and more victims of the disease are coming out in the open to seek help and understanding from the public, said DOH Center for Health Development-Western Visayas Regional Director Ariel Valencia.

He also said that the advertisements are a timely reminder to the public on the importance of responsible sexual behavior, and not meant to promote artificial contraception.

The CBCP, however, sees the condom drive as immoral.

 

Source: please click here for the full article(1).

 

I don’t think these are grounds enough for the ban of the condom. The church may ban it in its own territories, but not as a whole, as some government officials have expressed. Ban its flock from watching television, staring at ads and buying a condom. But why deny the rest of the Filipino population the choice? Does the church realize that it does not ban more debilitating products in the market that are not only useless but are part and parcel of the pains and joys of having more to choose from? It doesn’t ban violent acts to be shown on television, or a boxing match with Manny Pacquaio to be shown nationwide. Because it really has no right to do that. So if the church were confident in its own, why worry about the condom?

 

In line with the May 2010 elections, reproductive health issues have been the consideration of some voters. Moreover, in the following article by Kara Santos of the Inter Press Fund, the church has not yet realized the pro-life values of the condom nor the reproductive health bill.  The political issues:

 

The election guidelines for Catholics state that contraception is “morally wrong… endangers the spiritual health of the marriage” and “impedes the process or possible fruit of conception”, which the Church says should be the point of conjugal union. Voters who elect pro-reproductive health candidates in the May poll would become willing accomplices to “evil”, they added.

But advocates say that the failure to pass the reproductive health bill has been detrimental to women’s health.

“Eleven women die every day due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended and one-third of unintended pregnancies end in abortion,” says lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of EngendeRights Inc, a non-government organisation promoting women’s rights through legal advocacy.

Asks Padilla: “Will the next president turn a blind eye and not provide for the proper budget for wide access to reproductive health
information, supplies and services simply because such a stance would take the ire of the CBCP?”

Already, PLCPD’s San Pascual notes, candidates for the 2010 polls have been careful not to make their statements on reproductive health issues too strong because of the perceived weight of the Church’s position among many voters. But he says, “By trying to balance their agenda so that they will not face the ire of their bishop or parish, they end up not helping their constituents or giving justice to their job as a public servant.”

 

Source: please click here for the full article (2).

 

I would like to thank Ms. Irina Otmakhova, Membership and Networking officer of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights , for providing the second article.

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A thought-provoking talk from controversial author Sam Harris, where he puts morality in the context of the general well-being of humanity–that which can be scientifically measured and determined. He also deconstructs the notion of the subjectivity of morality–especially moral codes as determined by tradition, religion, and personal opinion.

My thoughts on this one:

Awesome.

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After RickyM‘s and D.M. Murdock‘s review pieces, you might want to compare and contrast hip Christian preacher Mark Driscoll’s view on the film:

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D. M. Murdock – also known as Acharya S. is a religious scholar and controversial author of books detailing the connection between modern Christianity and ancient world religion (e.g. Egyptian myths) such as The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold and Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled.

D.M. also wrote a couple of insightful bits about Avatar and I thought it would be interesting to quote them here. She touches on a few ideas about the message (whether intended or not) of the movie.

On anti-militarism

“Avatar’s” critical commentary of American incursions into foreign lands in search of precious resources is lost on few sentient adults. Nor does it represent a cautionary tale we should ignore. Yet, even though the main goon is an older white male – the favorite villain globally these days, it seems – “Avatar” is careful to depict the Americans as multiethnic and both genders, which they truly are. As such, Cameron’s statement is not really “anti-American” per se but represents a critique of any organized and well-funded incursion and invasion into other lands at the expense of the natives. The Very Big Corporation of America just happens to be pretty good at it at the moment.

On Ecomania

Yet, while I was watching the film’s passionate environmentalism, I couldn’t help but think that none of it would have been possible without a serious “carbon footprint,” from the moment Cameron conceived the project to the day it was released into theaters.  And then add all the energy needs of getting the individual films created and distributed, and all the people traveling to the theaters, which themselves would need to be powered, etc. Obviously, at this point in time we cannot have huge global releases of megafilms like “Avatar” without a significant cost to the environment! Rather than becoming Luddites, again, there are alternatives that we must pursue now.

On Sexuality

My initial, visceral reaction to this scene between Jake and the ikran was that I was watching an act of homosexual rape – the ikran is a male – as well as a form of bestiality. Moreover, my studies in mythology and anthropology brought to mind primitive cultures who have regularly practiced homosexual rape as a form of societal domination. One myth I thought of, unfortunately, is a homosexual rape scene from the ancient Egyptian story of Horus and Set, in which, after battling with him, Set/Seth sodomizes Horus and then brags he has “done a man’s deed.” This mentality of domination through rape has festered for millennia and been practiced in far too many locations. This brutal and violent form of dominance exists to this day in several cultures, especially, of course, the prison culture in a sickening amount of places. 

Read more here.

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Pat Robertson’s recent remarks (see video) on the Haiti earthquake have raised eyebrows and extreme reactions from many fronts, from the religious to the atheists.

Chicago Breaking News reports a Reverend Al Sharpton criticizing Robertson’s comments while calling for relief efforts for Haiti:

Sharpton, at Christ Universal Temple in the South Side on Sunday, said the statements were “repulsive” and “un-Christian.”

But Sharpton had no calls for apologies.

“I wouldn’t call on Pat Robertson to do anything. I think that the best way to deal with a glass that appears muddy is to put a clean glass next to it,” he said. “I hope the clean glass of those fair and humane-thinking religious leaders can be compared” to them.

Meanwhile on the Washington Post controversial atheist and author Richard Dawkins blasted not Robertson but religious sentiments such as those of Sharpton’s, arguing against the “hypocrisy” of Christians:

You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson’s suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who – as you tell your congregations even if you don’t believe it yourself – ‘cast out devils’. You even believe (or you don’t disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the ‘devils’ in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?

I find the extreme exchanges triggered by Robertson interesting not because of the clash of religious and non-religious sentiments (although that is also incidentally fun to read and watch). However what intrigues me is that the polarization of opinion is not between pro- and anti-Robertson, but on whether Robertson should qualify as representative of religious or non-religious sentiments.

Simply put: both the Christians and atheists seem to agree that Robertson was being an ass–but are divided on whether he (being an ass) represents Christians.

The “no true scotsman” fallacy comes to mind. Funny thing is, if Dawkins and Sharpton are to be our benchmarks, both sides of the Robertson issue are guilty of it, which is ironic.

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If you’ve seen Avatar, I guess you have also heard of the Vatican’s comment.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/12/vatican-slams-avatar-prom_n_419949.html

The Vatican newspaper and radio station are criticizing James Cameron’s 3-D blockbuster for flirting with the idea that worship of nature can replace religion – a notion the pope has warned against. They call the movie a simplistic and sappy tale, despite its awe-inspiring special effects.

In the same webpage it continues:

Most significantly, much of the Vatican criticism was directed at the movie’s central theme of man vs. nature.

L’Osservatore said the film “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature.” Similarly, Vatican Radio said it “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”

“Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship,” the radio said.

(more…)

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This video has been making the rounds for a week now. Pat Robertson of 700 Club fame provides a pseudo-religious justification for the quake in Haiti.

Having been a calamity victim myself (my family’s residence was recently destroyed by typhoon Ondoy/Ketsana last year), I find statements like Robertson’s delivered with fervor completely disturbing.

I’ll elaborate more about this later, but for more on this, check out the following:

CBS: Haiti Cursed After Pact With Devil
Politico: Haiti Cursed Since Satanic Pact
ABC: Pat Robertson Had Interesting Thoughts

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