1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12  |  13  |  14  |  15  |  16  |  17  |  18  |  19  |  20  |  21  |  22  |  23  |  24  |  25  |  26  |  27  |  28  |  29  |  30  |  31  |  32  |  33  |  34  |  35  |  36  |  37  |  38  |  39  |  40  |  41  |  42  |  43  |  44  |  45  |  46  |  47  |  48  |  49  |  50  |  51  |  52  |  53  |  54  |  55  |  56  |  57  |  58  |  59  |  60  |  61  |  62  |  63  |  64  |  65  |  66  |  67  |  68  |  69  |  70  |  71  |  72  |  73  |  74  |  75  |  76  |  77  |  78  |  79  |  80  |  81  |  82  |  83  |  84  |  85  |  86  |  87  |  88  |  89  |  90  |  91  |  92  |  93  |  94  |  95  |  96  |  97  |  98  |  99  |  100  |  101  |  102  |  103  |  104  |  105  |  106  |  107  |  108  |  109  |  110  |  111  |  112  |  113  |  114  |  115  |  116  |  117  |  118 

The lie of the Christian origin of the candy cane and some thoughts on evangelical propaganda

I love when Fred Clark goes into fiery piss-and-vinegar debunking mode. Make sure you click through and stick around for his final three paragraphs. Candy canes and the manufacture of evangelical resentment
Urban legends are not true stories. That, in itself, does not make them remarkable. Many wonderful stories are not true stories. Such untrue stories can be grouped, broadly, into two categories. Some untrue stories are fiction. And some untrue stories are lies. That distinction matters when it comes to urban legends because this particular form of untrue story draws its power from being told and retold as though true. To be effective, an urban legend has to be presented as real — as something that really happened. And it must be heard and absorbed as real. That’s what makes them worth retelling and spreading like a virus. In many cases, this pretense is as harmless as it is in any other fiction. Presenting an untrue story as true is often simply an effective storytelling tactic. This is true of many urban legends that function mainly as jokes. And it is true of most urban legends that function mainly as ghost stories. These sorts of urban legends are basically just fiction. The pretense of telling such untrue stories as though true serves the storyteller’s agenda, which is to elicit delight (laughter or chills, either way). But in other cases this pretense is harmful because in those cases the storyteller has some other agenda. These other kinds of urban legends can’t really be considered fiction — they’re more like simple lies. Such stories are not told in the hopes of eliciting delight, but usually in order to create or to foster a sense of aggrieved victimhood and resentment. Such stories, in other words, are propaganda. They are about sowing division, heightening the antipathy between groups or factions. They are about creating and enforcing and sustaining tribal conflict. . . . The Christian candy cane story is an intriguing example of this kind of agenda-driven, propagandistic urban legend. . . .

June 14, 2012

Have you ever wanted your own special magic Mormon underwear?

Mormon's Secret is here for you. And no, this is not a joke. Products | Mormon's Secret

June 13, 2012

"I’m a Mormon, Not a Christian"

I've been fascinated with Mormonism and it's bloody, awful history ever since I read Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven." The path for Mormonism from Midwestern Cult-with-its-own-assassination squad to the war the United States declared on Mormons in Utah (after Mormons kept murdering pioneers and blaming it on Indians) through to present day mostly totally respectable Mormonism (with pockets of crazy) is amazing. And it's telling that our media has left Romney's religion--a huge part of his life--completely off the table while spending so much time attacking Obama for what his old pastor said *after* he left that particular church. One of the baseline questions we could ask is: Are Mormons Christians? And the answer is: it's really complicated. I’m a Mormon, Not a Christian - NYTimes.com
I want to be on record about this. I’m about as genuine a Mormon as you’ll find — a templegoer with a Utah pedigree and an administrative position in a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also emphatically not a Christian. For the curious, the dispute can be reduced to Jesus. Mormons assert that because they believe Jesus is divine, they are Christians by default. Christians respond that because Mormons don’t believe — in accordance with the Nicene Creed promulgated in the fourth century — that Jesus is also the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Jesus that Mormons have in mind is someone else altogether. The Mormon reaction is incredulity. The Christian retort is exasperation. Rinse and repeat. I am confident that I am not the only person — Mormon or Christian — who has had enough of the acrimonious niggling from both sides over the nature of the trinity, the authority of the creeds, the significance of grace and works, the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the real color of God’s underwear. I’m perfectly happy not being a Christian. My Mormon fellows, most of whom will argue earnestly for their Christian legitimacy, will scream bloody murder that I don’t represent them. I don’t. They don’t represent me, either. I’m with Harry Emerson Fosdick, the liberal Protestant minister and former pastor of Riverside Church in Manhattan, who wrote that he would be “ashamed to live in this generation and not be a heretic.” Being a Christian so often involves such boorish and meanspirited behavior that I marvel that any of my Mormon colleagues are so eager to join the fold.

June 08, 2012

Sakawa: West African priests using Juju to aid internt scammers

Taking a page from cyberpunk, traditional West...
Taking a page from cyberpunk, traditional West African Juju priests adapted their services to the needs of the information age and started leading down-on-their-luck internet scammers through strange and costly rituals designed to increase their powers of persuasion and make their emails irresistible to greedy Americans. And so “Sakawa” was born. Now, as we discovered when we went to Ghana with our video cameras, not only is Sakawa the country’s most popular youth activity and one of its biggest underground economies, it’s a full-blown national phenomenon. Sakawa has its own tunes, clothing brands, Sakawasploitation flicks, and even a metastatic backlash from Christian preachers and the press.