August 07, 2011

Familiar with Jesus Malverde or Santa Muerte? The popularity of the original narco-saint and "saint of death" are on the rise, and are being worshipped by drug traffickers, gang members, and locals in Mexico and the U.S., are saints growing in popularity. One hitch: they are not approved by the Roman Catholic Church.

August 05, 2011

“One day the santos malandros help a desperate mother keep her child off drugs; the next day they help you score some cocaine. It’s the duality of life, but that’s the way real life functions. I also believe in the Virgin Mary and my other saints — it’s just that these saints understand the street better.” ~Judith Escalona

July 30, 2011

Harry Potter holds Dumbledore's Elder WandStill frame from “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

In addition to providing me with a least a decade’s worth of entertainment, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has also given me a fresh and hopefully meaningful way to explain my not-always-easy-to explain religion to others. And given that practically half the world has either read or seen the last installment of this epic series, I feel comfortable doing so without fear of spoiling the ending.

But first a little background…

July 27, 2011

Happy Ramadan(photo: Mohammad Khedmati/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Ramadan this year starts Monday, August 1st. Every year it comes 11 days earlier because Muslims follow a lunar calendar. A lunar year is only 355 days long. So my Ramadan comes sometimes in super freezing Iowa winters and sometimes in hyper sizzling hot and humid summers.

When Ramadan comes in winter. It is easy to fast. Sunrise to sunset is a very short day. When it comes in summer, like this year, oh God helps us. Dawn is about 4:30 a.m. and sundown in Cedar Rapids is about 8:30 p.m. A sixteen-hour fasting day.

July 03, 2011

Audio of the revered theologian explaining why the GLBTQ issue has such adrenaline in church communities and why a chance for theological discussion has passed.

June 25, 2011

Path in Andalusia

The road may be — and almost always is — made of our footsteps, as Antonio Machado said, but there are places in the world, sacred sites, where arrival is at least equal to the effort of getting there, where our beginnings and our ends do actually know each other. The Camino du Sacromonte, which we recently climbed all the way to the Abbaye du Sacromonte at the very top of the trail is such a place.

June 10, 2011

Giles Fraser comments on Archbishop Rowan Williams' article challenging government officials on issues of social justice and human welfare.

June 10, 2011

The 72 Disciples of ConfuciusA visitor looks at the statues of the 72 Disciples of Confucius in the courtyard at the Koshi-byo, or Confucius Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan. (photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

May 25, 2011

'Bob Dylan, Rossilli Bay' by Peter RossPainting of ‘Bob Dylan, Rossilli’ by Peter Ross. (photo: Martin Beek/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

The BBC has released Blowing in the Wind: Dylan's Spiritual Journey in celebration of the singer/songwriter's 70th birthday. The radio documentary traces Dylan's path from a Jewish boy bar mitzvahed in Minnesota through and beyond his conversion to evangelical Christianity in the late 1970s. Even if you're not a die-hard Dylan fan, it's well worth 30 minutes of your listening time.

May 24, 2011

Martin Marty highlights "one of the best short criticisms yet of the old/new or new/old atheism" by Jackson Lears, "whose critics describe him as a 'man of the left' in a 'magazine of the left.'"

May 05, 2011

Praying Handsphoto: C. Jill Reed/Flickr, cc by-sa 2.0

In honor of the 60th National Day of Prayer today, I thought it fitting to share a bit about what prayer means to me.

Most recently I’ve been thinking of prayer as an unmistakable reminder from God that I’m not helpless and alone in this world. These reminders come not just during moments of peaceful reflection but during even the busiest of days as I find myself appreciating qualities of God I see expressed by others — qualities such as patience, compassion, grace, wisdom, order, intelligence, and joy.

May 05, 2011

Club NurOn the dance floor at Club Nur in Los Angeles. (photo: Andrew Khouri)

“The hookah breaks the ice,” said the man behind the bar.

A collection of old, silver-painted water pipes styled as light fixtures hang above his head, bathing in gold a crowd of men as they puff away on flavored tobacco below. The pulsating beat of Arabic music wafts onto the outdoor patio from inside the bar, where throngs of gay men dance together, and scantily clad male go-go dancers gyrate on stages.

May 01, 2011

By acknowledging our shared humanity, we can begin to build bridges, friendships, and relationships — and heal past memories and create new ones.

April 29, 2011

Prince William Exchange Rings with Kate Middleton with Rowan Williams PresidingArchbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, presides over the wedding ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton as he gives her a ring. (photo: Dominic Lipinsk/Getty Images)

I didn’t get up at 4 a.m. today, but I do hope to catch a good bit of the wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton. I doubt I’ll have much trouble finding it replayed (and replayed and replayed) across the spectrum of cable and broadcast networks in the days and weeks to come.

April 27, 2011

Woman in Voodoo CeremonyIn Souvenance, Haiti, a woman immerses herself in a stream during a Vodou ceremony that’s celebrated in conjunction with Easter. (photo: Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images)

April 25, 2011

Easter is overThe end of Easter in Prague, Czech Republic. (photo: Leonardo Sagnotti/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

In the Czech Republic, a tradition of spanking or whipping women is carried out on Easter Monday. On Easter Monday morning, it is customary for girls and women to stay at home while the boys and men, usually dressed in nicer clothing and sometimes even in kroj — traditional costume — go door to door of female relatives and/or friends, bringing greetings, singing Easter carols, demanding the right to spank the women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka and/or splash them with cold water or perfume for good luck and fertility, and demanding “treats” (eggs, chocolate, liquor, or a peck on the cheek) as their reward.

April 24, 2011

Boys in silenceA sign hangs on the wall of a Taizé community in Burgundy, France. (photo: forteller/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)

It is Easter week. This week, we remember the events from Thursday’s meal to Friday’s torture to Saturday’s silence and Sunday’s mystery.

Years ago, 13 years ago in fact, I fell apart. I was 22 and I had already been sick for a year. It had started with a bad flu that had never gone away. After 12 months, I was bewildered and dizzy and achy, confused with a fatigue and an illness that would take a further five years to diagnose and a total of nine years to recover from.

April 23, 2011

Byron Herbert Reece - His Poems and Their Setting in North GeorgiaThe farm and now heritage center of Byron Herbert Reece, who lived and wrote in the Choestoe area of Union County, Georgia. (photo: UGArdener/Flickr, CC by-NC 2.0).

It’s about as simple as poems come:

Easter is on the field:
Flowers declare
With bloom their tomb unsealed
To April air.

Little lambs
New as the dew shake cold,
Beside their anxious dams:
Easter is on the fold.

April 14, 2011

by Paul C. DeCamp, guest contributor

Sr. Elizabeth A. Johnson and Her Book "Quest for the Living God"

If you ban it, they will read it. That seems to be true thus far in the case of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s 2007 book Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops suggested should be banned from Catholic schools in a statement on March 24.