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Archive for October 2010

[cross-posted from Overlawyered]

Age of accommodation, cont’d: “in Reedy v. Schneider National, Inc. (E.D. Pa. filed Oct. 15, 2010). Vasant Reddy says that he has ‘a sincerely held religious belief that he cannot consume, possess, or transport alcohol or tobacco,’ and that he informed Schneider National of this. …Nonetheless, he says, he was ordered to transport a load with alcohol, and was fired because he refused to transport it.” [Eugene Volokh]

P.S. In the original post, I purposely did not mention the complainant’s religion (Muslim, per the report.) One may surmise that some other devout persons might also sincerely object to transporting alcohol, and the law’s response should be consistent regardless of which system of religious belief undergirds the objection. Right?

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Oct/10

31

Bell, Diversity Handbook and Candle

Cross-posted over at the Corner:

It’s been well over 350 years since the death of the unlikable Matthew Hopkins but should Britain ever get back into the business of hiring a Witchfinder-General (check out the 1968 movie of the same name, incidentally, for some beautifully filmed, if thoroughly nasty, Hallowe’en viewing), he will, if this Sunday Telegraph story is anything to go by, be considerably more sensitive than this psychotic predecessor:

It is Hallowe’en and the witching hour is drawing nearer, but don’t be alarmed – [British] police officers are on the case, having been issued with official guidance on how to deal with witches. The advice is contained in a 300-page “diversity handbook” which gives officers a range of “dos and don’ts” when approaching followers of a range of religions and other beliefs, from atheism to Zoroastrianism. Instructions include avoid touching a witch’s “Book of Shadows”, which contains their spells, or handling their ceremonial dagger. The online handbook also advises officers not to jump to conclusions if they encounter a situation where a blindfolded, naked person is tied by their hands – they could merely have stumbled upon a pagan ritual, where such activities are normal practice.

And yes, there’s more. Please read the whole thing – and do have a very happy Hallowe’en, or, for that matter, Samhain.

Lower East Side, NYC, Oct 30 2010 (photo: AS)

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Oct/10

31

Bolls, Gringes and Freits

Cross-posted over at the Corner
The English enjoy their ghosts. Via the Independent here’s the distinguished writer and historian Peter Ackroyd with some highly entertaining background. This extract gives a taste:

The quintessential English ghost story is alarming but also oddly consoling. It is inexplicable and yet perfectly credible. Some comfort, some confirmation of an alternative world, may be derived from the presence of ghosts. The English temperament, in its older manifestations, seemed to waver between the phlegmatic and the melancholy. In the English ghost story itself, a matter-of-factness is combined with an intense longing for revelation or for spirituality of the most basic kind. That interest has been maintained in the 21st century by the popularity of many television programmes devoted to the subject of haunting and ghost-hunting. It may be said that more people believe in ghosts today than at any other time in England’s history..

…In Yorkshire and in the north Midlands, spirits were also known as “hobs” or “hobbits”. They were popularly supposed to haunt caves, bridges and round barrows; but they were, in particular, associated with specific places. Thus there were the Lealholm Hob and the Scugdale Hob. There was a Hob Lane and a Hob Bridge at Gatley in Lancashire. Several Hob Lanes can still be found in Warwickshire. In the north of England, the ghosts were often known as “boggarts”. This is derived from bwg, the Celtic word for ghost, and can be heard in better-known words such as “bugbear” and “bogeyman”. It is also behind the Cornish hobgoblin Bucca and Shakespeare’s Puck.

They had a habit of pinching or biting those whom they haunted, and were renowned for their custom of crawling into the beds of their victims. Sometimes, they shook the hangings of the beds, or rustled among discarded clothes. More seriously, they would snatch up sleeping infants and deposit them on the stones outside.

There are other names for apparitions, including “shellycoats” and “scrags”, “fetches” and “mum-pokers”, “spoorns” and “melch-dicks”, “larrs”, “ouphs” and “old-shocks”. There are “swathes” and “scar-bugs”, “bolls” and “gringes”, “nickies” and “freits”, “chittifaces” and “clabbernappers”. In fact, there are more than 200 ways of describing the ghosts of England, a testament if nothing else to their ubiquity and their variety. There is also another expression. When a young woman in Shropshire screamed out “There’s the know of a dog”, she meant that she had seen the shape of a dog when no living dog was there. The “know” of anything is its spectral appearance.

Those who like such topics (as I do) should read the whole thing—while keeping a careful eye out for that suggestion of a shape, that hint of blur, that I-think-I-saw-something that cannot quite be explained—as they do so. Well, you never know

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Oct/10

30

Same Old, Same Old

Via the Economist, news of priests up to their old tricks, this time it’s Buddhist clergymen, in Ceylon:

Real-life lewdness is also out. In July police rounded up hundreds of red-faced couples caught holding hands, cuddling and kissing in public. In Kurunegala, a town near the centre of the island nation, they scoured hotel rooms for unmarried lovers. Similar crackdowns have been reported in many other places.

Prathiba Mahanama, a legal expert at the University of Colombo, says arresting consenting adult couples is illegal and suggests the victims could sue. But these efforts are popular. They are also backed by Sri Lanka’s powerful Buddhist clergy, whose support Mr Rajapaksa has carefully fostered.

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Oct/10

30

Albert Mohler!

Albert Mohler serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world—and he blogs. It’s worth taking a look there from time to time.

Here he is ruminating on the question of whether “science trumps the Bible” (in some ways, a false dichotomy, but that’s a discussion for another day):

“[C]ount me in as being lost to the assertion that science trumps the Bible “about the natural world” or about anything else. In his original response to Jerry Coyne, Giberson made the argument in more striking words: “Empirical science does indeed trump revealed truth about the world as Galileo and Darwin showed only too clearly.” That statement, with its reference to “revealed truth,” is even more shocking than the first.

In the economy of a few words, Giberson throws the Bible under the scientific bus. We should be thankful that his argument is so clear, for it puts the case for theistic evolution in its proper light — as a direct attack upon biblical authority.

What’s interesting about this is not Mohler’s biblical literalism, but the intensity of his assault on “Giberson”, a professor at East Nazarene College, and, clearly, no atheist. To make a public exhibition of your faith by attacking those somewhat further along the dial is a classic sectarian trait whether political or religious. And it’s not going away.

New Mexico, January 1999 (photo: AS)

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Oct/10

30

The Miraculous Deception

Here (via the Guardian) is just another reminder of the timeless appeal of the miraculous:

The name Jesus is stamped behind the pulpit in thick blue lettering. But at the Pentecostal Church of the Miracle the headline act is not the Son of God but a six-year-old girl in a pink dress. A banner advertises “an explosion of miracles” at the entrance to the church – a converted warehouse on the impoverished outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. “She places her hands and the miracle happens.” On the roof a placard promises “health, happiness and victory”.

On the street outside, anxious followers quiz dapper evangelical doormen: “Is she here? Is she here?”

“She” is Alani dos Santos, a “child healer” better known as the Missionarinha or Little Missionary, who is reputedly capable of healing the sickest of congregants with a touch of her hands. Twice a week, bandage-clad and cancer-ridden believers pack this cramped “temple” in search of a miracle.

“Thousands of people have been touched,” says her father, Pastor Adauto Santos, 44, a former hairdresser and car thief who runs what is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most talked-about churches and believes his daughter can cure ailments from cancer to Aids and TB.

“She’s a normal kid – apart from this gift,” he says, adding: “It is Jesus who cures. She is an instrument.”

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Oct/10

30

The Religious Left, Again

Via The Economist, here’s a report on the “Lausanne movement”, a grouping of evangelicals founded in 1974 by Billy Graham as a response to the by-the-numbers leftism of the reliably dreadful World Council of Churches.

I don’t know how this movement was in 1974, but these days it doesn’t sound like much of an improvement over the rabble for which it was designed as an alternative:

…coming from a body that stresses the spiritual, parts of the meeting’s final statement were quite earthly. Humanity must “repent of our part in the destruction, waste and pollution of the Earth’s resources, and our collusion in the toxic idolatry of consumerism,”

‘Toxic idolatry of consumerism’. Oh my.

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Oct/10

25

Secular Right Fan Page

I created one on Facebook. Need 20 “likes” to reserve the vanity URL.

Update: Thanks, http://www.facebook.com/SecularRight is ours!

Oct/10

24

The establishment strikes back, perhaps

2012 pieces are now being written. GOP mega-donors look toward 2012. The GOP plutocrats are obviously worried that someone with mass grassroots support like Sarah Palin might come to the fore. I’ve been skeptical about this in the past, but Barack H. Obama did it in 2008 with a combination of Wall Street money and the online fundraising component. I’ve said that the ads for Mitt Romney from the Right are just going to be too easy, so perhaps someone else will arise to take the establishment mantle?

Oct/10

22

The gods of the future

I have a long review of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? at Discover Blogs. My co-blogger reviewed it for Taki’s Magazine last June, prompting me to add this book to my “stack.” Well worth the read.

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