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Mecca super-hotel to offer spa, butler and a chocolate room

Mecca super-hotel to offer spa, butler and a chocolate room | World news | The Guardian Just because you're a pilgrim doesn't mean you have to live like one, am I right? This article is maddeningly vague on just what exactly a "chocolate room" is.
The pilgrimage to Mecca has always involved hardship and sacrifice, whether months spent travelling on foot through barren valleys and sleeping in the open with no shelter from the elements or stripping oneself of earthly trappings. But help is at hand for the pilgrim who cannot bear to be without comfort while executing the fifth pillar of Islam. Raffles, which gave thirsty wanderers the Singapore Sling, is opening a luxury hotel in Mecca offering pilgrims a coffee sommelier, a chocolate room where chefs will prepare bespoke pralines and truffles, and a 24-hour butler service. Undeterred by restrictions on beautifying oneself during the Hajj, the hotel will also have segregated gyms, beauty parlours, grooming salons and a spa. There are strict rules regarding personal hygiene and behaviour during the hajj, and forbidden activities include sex, the cutting of hair and nails and the trimming of beards. These bars are lifted once certain rituals are complete, but Muslims are generally expected to forget worldly thoughts and activities and focus on the divine.

October 21, 2009

"How Dare You Atheists Make Your Case -- Persuasion Equals Intolerance"

Greta Christina's Blog: How Dare You Atheists Make Your Case, Round 2: Persuasion Equals Intolerance Greta Christina continues her series of posts looking at Atheism and common arguments against Atheists.
I've been in a number of debates on Facebook lately (btw, if you're on Facebook, friend me!), with several Wiccans, neo-pagans, New Age Christians, and other practitioners of woo spirituality. And I've been running into a baffling new version of the "Shut up, that's why" argument -- one that basically says that any attempt to persuade someone that you're probably right and they're probably mistaken is a form of bigoted intolerance, and a slippery slope to violent oppression. When it comes to religion, anyway. It's a trope that says, "All experience is subjective, and therefore all experiences are equal and have to be treated with equal respect." Or, rather, "All religious experience is subjective, and therefore all religious experiences are equal and have to be treated with equal respect." It's a trope that says, "It's okay to share your thoughts on religion... as long as you don't disagree with anyone else's, or try to persuade them that they're wrong." And it's driving me up a tree. Armor I'll give the devil its due: Of all the pieces of armor in religion's armory, this one is uniquely effective. How do you debate someone who doesn't value debate? How do you present evidence to someone who doesn't value evidence, who values personal subjective experience over rigorously tested reality? How do you persuade someone who thinks that persuading people is horribly ill-mannered at best and abusive at worst? How do you engage with someone who thinks it's okay for people to express their opinions... as long as they don't commit the appalling faux pas of backing up those opinions with arguments and evidence? How do you make a case with someone who thinks that the very act of making a case makes you a bad person?

October 20, 2009

The Catholic Church opens its doors to intolerant Anglicans and Episcopalians

Vatican seeks to lure disaffected Anglicans - Yahoo! News
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican announced Tuesday it was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism — a surprise move designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions. The decision, reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials, was sure to add to the problems of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion as it seeks to deal with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten a permanent schism among its faithful. The change means conservative Anglicans from around the world will be able to join the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their Anglican liturgy and identity, including married priests. Until now, disaffected Anglicans had joined the church primarily on a case by case basis.

October 19, 2009

Jesus vs the Interpreter

onegoodmove: Jesus and the Interpreter I always love this guy's videos.

Religious groups predictably upset over R. Crumb's graphic novel version of Genesis

Biblical sex row over explicit illustrated Book of Genesis - Telegraph Crumb says he's just illustrating what is in the text. The religious complainers say he is a pervert. It's one of those lovely cases where everyone is right!
The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb has been criticised by leading religious groups such as the Christian Institute. "It is turning the Bible into titillation," said Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, a religious think-tank. "It seems wholly inappropriate for what is essentially God's rescue plan for mankind. "If you are going to publish your own version of the Bible it must be done with a great deal of sensitivity. The Bible is a very important text to many many people and should be treated with the respect it deserves. "Representing it in your own way is all very well and good but it must be remembered that it is a matter of people's faith, their religion. "Faith is such an important part of people's lives that one must remember to tread very carefully."