Religion At 2012 Olympics: From Ancient Greece To London

There’s always talk about the number of condoms handed out at the Olympic Village — I suppose in an effort to forestall the rise of a race of super-humans. Well, there are also a couple hundred chaplains, and one can only assume that they’re not an aphrodisiac. But seriously, folks, when that mass of humanity is assembled, there must be some fascinating conversations about spirituality.

A 600-foot footrace was the only athletic event at the first Olympics, a festival held in 776 B.C. and dedicated to Zeus, the chief Greek god.

For the next millennium, Greeks gathered every four years in Olympia to honor Zeus through sports, sacrifices and hymns. The five-day festival brought the Greek world together in devotion to one deity.

What began in ancient Greece as a festival to honor a single god, Zeus, has now become an almost Olympian task, as organizers of the games navigate dozens of sacred fasts, religious rituals and holy days.

The London Olympics will try to accommodate religious athletes with 193 chaplains, a prayer room in every venue and a multifaith center in the Olympic Village.

Read the rest: Religion At 2012 Olympics: From Ancient Greece To London.

An Evangelical Interpretation of “Call Me Maybe”

Jonathan Harrison of the blog, On Pop Theology, has a clever post about the song that my daughter can’t stop singing:

On November 21, 1985, in the quiet town of Mission, the Norse demi-goddess known only to humanity as Carley Rae Jepson manifested herself on the bucolic plains of British Columbia.  Raised by a pack of she-wolves, and rumored to have emanated from the forehead of her sire Billy Rae (sic) Cyrus (Norse God of the Mullet), Jepson soon set out to diligently study the art of music, so that one day when humanity needed her the most, she would unleash upon the world her epic creation.

Summers came and went. Jepson was not sure if humanity would ever need her, and if she had not wasted her time learning the sacred art of putting the beat on 1 and 3 and how to rhyme words such as “maybe” and “crazy”. She became despondent, downtrodden, and, dare we say, disconsolate. Would it happen? Would humanity ever cry out for her aid?

Then came the summer of Gotye. And she knew, it was time.

[Read more...]

Everyday Spirituality: Baking Bread

Bread Loaf

Part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality.

He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

I’ve become a fan — and something of a student — of yeast. It’s an amazing thing, a living organism, that gives rise to fermentation in bread and beer.

Yeast gets a bit of a bad rap in the Bible. It takes too long during the Exodus, so they ditch the yeast and unleavened bread becomes the spiritual food of Israel to this day. In the Christian scripture, Jesus does equate yeast with the kingdom of heaven, but he also warns of the “yeast of the Pharisees” seeping into his followers’ spiritual lives.

I’ve been baking a lot of bread lately — 2-3 loaves per week — and that’s got me thinking about yeast. I’ve been reading about it, too, in William Alexander’s fascinating book, 52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust. In his chapter on yeast, he makes an interesting point: for thousands of years, bakers and brewers relies on yeast, but they had no idea what it was or how it worked.

[Read more...]

Yes, Zondervan Has Jumped the Shark

A while back, I asked whether Zondervan had jumped the shark, based on their publication of the Playful Puppies Bible.

Yes, it turns out they have. As proof, see Our Constitution Rocks by 14-year-old FOX News conservative, Juliette Turner. Seriously, you’ve got to watch this promo video — there are even outtakes at the end:

[Read more...]