Whether a criminal converts to Islam or Christianity

James Holmes, who dressed up like the Joker and killed 12 people at the Batman movie (and who faces the death penalty if he is convicted), has converted to Islam.  Robert Spencer explores what that means as opposed to a conversion to Christianity:

The debate over James Holmes’s sanity has raged hotly ever since he murdered twelve people and wounded 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012. But now the controversy can be laid to rest: Holmes is sane. The clearest indication of his sanity came last week, when the Daily Mail reported that he had converted to Islam.

The Mail reported that Holmes is apparently quite devout: he has grown a lavish beard, eats only halal food, prays the obligatory five daily prayers, and studies the Qur’an for hours every day.

Holmes’s conversion reveals that instead of being unaware of what he did, or utterly remorseless, as one might expect of a psychotic or a sociopath, the murders must trouble him a great deal. For it is souls that are troubled — intellectually, morally, spiritually, psychologically — who cast about for some solution to what troubles them, and often find it in religious conversion.

But it is what Holmes converted to that is significant. [Read more…]

Shakespeare the capitalist

One of the many unfortunate legacies of Romanticism (there were some fortunate ones as well) is the mystification of the artist, as if, say, a literary genius were some ethereal sensitive soul far above the crass material realm of everyday life.  Whereas in reality, actual literary geniuses–like Chaucer, Jane Austen, Dickens–tend to be of solid, down-to-earth middle class stock.  That certainly was true of William Shakespeare.  Recent research into the abundant records of his business dealings show him to have been a rather ruthless capitalist. [Read more…]

Easter, continued

After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days on earth.  Then He ascended, and ten days later He sent the Holy Spirit.  So Easter is a whole season, lasting 49 days until Pentecost (which means “fiftieth day”).  So it’s still Easter, and I hope the joy of Christ’s resurrection continues with you.

What insights did you gain from the  sermon you heard or other Easter observances?

 

Unorganized religion

Michael Gerson discusses the 20% of Americans who describe their religion as “none.”  It isn’t that the “Nones” (not to be confused with “nuns”) don’t believe in God, necessarily.  64% of them do.  They just don’t want to affiliate with any “organized religion.”

The statistics about “Nones” probably don’t include the number of self-described Christians who feel the same way.  I know of some who haven’t found a church they can agree with or that is up to their high standards.  So they don’t go to church at all.  After all, with their “me-and-Jesus” theology, why do they need a church?  But they do.

The good news is that 40% of those raised as “Nones” drop out of their non-religion to join an actual religious institution.  Hey, isn’t that about the same drop out rate, according to one measure, for young people raised in churches? [Read more…]

Opening Day

In yet another day marking the renewal that is Spring, today is the new baseball season’s Opening Day.  (That it falls on April Fools’ Day is just a coincidence.)  In observance of this significant holiday for us baseball fans, I will link to this column by E. J. Dionne, linking baseball to religion, a notion that I sort of understand but ultimately reject:  Hope’s opening day.

So keeping in mind that Opening Day is when hope springs eternal and all teams are tied and anybody can win, who do you think will win the World Series?

April Fools’ Day clearing house

Happy April Fools’ Day!  This is the day that the internet and other media are full of pranks, hoaxes, and tall tales.  So if you come across any, please report them here.  Thus we can honor the day.