Blood Moon Lunacy, or the Virtue of Vagueness


On Sunday night, I went out to see the "super blood moon" eclipse. It was a clear autumn night, and I got a good view of the Earth's shadow spreading across the Moon, like a dark slice taken out of a white sea. When the eclipse reached totality, the Moon's face dimmed to a ruddy polished-copper color, glimmering with, as Phil Plait puts it, the reflected light of every sunset on Earth.This was the fourth and final in a series of total lunar eclipses last year and this year. It was also a … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Rapture of the Capitalists


Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter XLeaving the stranded train behind, Dagny and Owen Kellogg set out into the night to seek help. As they walk along the tracks, they get to talking. Dagny tells Kellogg how hard her job has become, lamenting, "I don't have a single first-rate man left on the Taggart system" (ouch - sorry, Eddie!), and offers him any job he wants if he'll work for her again:"All right. Track walker.""What?""Section hand. Engine wiper." He smiled at the look on her … [Read more...]

What’s Behind the Appeal of ISIS?

Amidst the steady drumbeat of grim headlines in the Middle East, the trend I've been most concerned by is the strange drawing power of ISIS, also known as Islamic State or Daesh, the brutal extremist group rampaging through Iraq and Syria, capturing cities and committing horrendous acts of violence. ISIS seems to exert an almost magnetic attraction, drawing in not just the disaffected, the disgruntled, petty thugs and criminals, but also young Muslims from middle-class Western families, people … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 2


• After serving most of a ten-year prison sentence for tax evasion, Kent Hovind was due to be released next year... but now the government is pressing new charges, saying that he filed fraudulent liens in an attempt to stop them from seizing his property as part of the punishment for his original conviction.• Virgin Galactic's experimental rocket plane SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight in the Mojave Desert, killing one of its two pilots. It's a tragic setback and a … [Read more...]

Ragnarok Is Upon Us


You'd think that a news story this big would be impossible to miss, but somehow I overlooked it until just now. I hope you'll forgive my tardiness, readers, because I have urgent information to impart: the Jorvik Viking Center has predicted that Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse foretold in the ancient texts called the Eddas, is due to occur on February 22, 2014 - less than two weeks away!As you doubtless know, Ragnarok is the world-shattering war in which the gods will be slain in battle with … [Read more...]

Notable (and Hilarious) Examples of the Christian Right’s Failed Prophecies


This article was originally published on AlterNet.The Christian right in America, like all organized religions, claims to have a correct and exclusive understanding of God's will. To hear them tell it, the almighty creator of the universe has strong opinions about corporate tax rates, firearm ownership, and what consenting adults do with their genitals, and he's delegated them to speak on his behalf.But if they want us to believe they have this authority, it seems only fair to consider … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: April 14


• My wife Elizabeth is raising funds for the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon, and has just one week left and less than $200 to raise to get to her goal of $1,000. Help out!• And if you need some motivation, anti-choicers are harassing and terrorizing the staff of the newly reopened family-planning clinic in Wichita once owned by the murdered Dr. George Tiller. One of them, David Leach from the group Army of God, calls the clinic's existence "a gauntlet thrown down by someone … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Religious Right’s Failed Predictions


My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Notable (and Hilarious) Examples of the Christian Right's Failed Prophecies. In it, I examine the track record of religious-right culture warriors who've claimed that their correct understanding of God's will gives them insight into the future. While some have prophesied the coming apocalypse, others have staked a claim to advance knowledge of worldly events. Needless to say, most of them haven't done all that well. Read the excerpt below, then click … [Read more...]

The Great Panic of 2012 and the Balm of Skepticism

All throughout this year, I've been hearing people excitedly claiming that December 21, 2012, one week from today, will be the date of some major world event. Amusingly, the many New Age authors who've written about this date all have completely different ideas of what specifically is going to happen - they don't even agree on whether it's going to be good or bad. (See the inset image for this post for a few of the ideas that have been proposed: "Eloheim and the council", galactic alignment, … [Read more...]

Apocalypse Soon: Why Are Christians So Obsessed With the End Times?

This essay was previously published on AlterNet. In the summer of 2010, I saw him several times a week: a portly, dark-skinned gentleman, leaning against a pillar in Penn Station and holding out two fistfuls of pamphlets to the disinterested commuters. He wore glasses and earbuds connected to an MP3 player in his coat pocket, and always had a serene, almost bored expression that was in sharp contrast to the urgency of his message:He was, of course, one of the devotees of … [Read more...]