“Black Death” a treat for medieval history buffs
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – You can’t quarrel with that title, “Black Death.” The film is black all right, pitch black, and death is everywhere.
The story is set in 1348, after all, when the plague began to sweep through Europe, decimating its populace by as much as half and spreading panic to every corner. Yet what a strange land for a horror filmmaker to pitch camp in since he has little to add when horror is a fact of everyday life.
Sure enough, Christopher Smith (“Creep,” “Severance”) plays with the notion of necromancers and demons lurking within the pestilence, but winds up retreating into a kind of historical morality tale told with documentary flourishes and a grim attraction to violence and cruelty.
All of which leaves “Black Death” without a reliable audience. Horror film buffs like to giggle as much as scream but there’re no giggles here. To its credit, the film doesn’t indulge in visual-effects devilry as a very similar plague film, “Season of the Witch,” did just two months ago. So it’s up to medieval history buffs to fill the theaters when it opens on Friday. Lots of luck.
The coincidence of storylines between “Season of the Witch” and “Black Death” is rather striking and in every instance Black Death is the superior film. In both films, the church, seeing its grip on the population severely loosened by this inexplicable plague, sends Christian knights into a remote region to determine if witches, demons or non-believers are the source of this frightening scourge. Read full story from reuters.com
Bulgarian Mayor: ‘Dog Spinning’ Ritual Harmless Folklore, Not Barbarian!
The “dog spinning” ritual practiced in a southeastern Bulgarian village is misinterpreted by the society and the international community, according to Tsarevo Municipality Mayor Petko Arnaudov.
In dog spinning, which is practiced in Brodilovo, a southeastern Bulgarian village, at the beginning of March, a dog is suspended above water on a rope.
The dog is turned repeatedly in a given direction to wind the rope, then released so that it spins rapidly in the opposite direction as the rope unwinds, until the dog falls into the water. The locals claim that the dog is not supposed to be physically hurt.
This ancient ritual of pagan origin is performed in order to prevent rabies and is a part of the traditional Kukeri rituals. Read full story from novinite.com
Blair launches new faith films contest for youth
Last year, Tony Blair ran a film contest for young people, inviting them to make films about faith.
His Faith Foundation was overwhelmed by the response: hundreds of entries, from Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, Sikhs and humanists, on five continents around the world.
Buoyed by the success of the first “Faith Shorts” film contest, Blair is now doing it again.
He was impressed not only by the quality of the films, he said, but what they said about the people who made them.
“I think the fascinating thing about young people and the films that they sent us about faith… is that for them their faith isn’t just about a personal relationship with God, it’s also motivating them to do things, to get active, to have a purpose in life,” he told CNN. Read full story from cnn.com
Muslim-Christian clashes in Cairo leave 11 dead
Clashes between Muslims and Christians in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, have left 11 people dead and more than 90 wounded.
The clashes broke out on Tuesday night as thousands of Christians protested against the burning of a Cairo church last week. The church was set on fire after tensions escalated over a love affair between a Muslim and a Christian that set off a violent feud between the couple’s families.
Security and hospital officials said six Christians and five Muslims died from gunshot wounds and 94 people – 73 Muslims and 21 Christians – were wounded. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
“An inoffensive, vanilla Christianity”
Paris, France (CNA) — Addressing a gathering of European church officials on March 4, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver warned that many contemporary Christians have reduced their faith to a convenient “form of paganism,” which cannot compete with the widespread “idolatry” of modern consumer culture.
Archbishop Chaput offered his observations at a conference in Paris honoring the late Cardinal Archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who was the Archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005.
The Denver archbishop described Cardinal Lustiger as “an unsentimental realist” who dared to speak about disturbing trends in the Church and society – including a lack of faith among professed Christians, leaving a vacuum that would be filled by other “gods” such as sex and money. Read full story from calcotholic.com
Fort Bragg says atheist concert was treated the same as Christian group
Fort Bragg’s garrison commander said Tuesday he supports an atheist concert on post, but the concert’s organizer said the colonel’s refusal to allow it on the Main Post Parade Field or to provide funding effectively canceled it.
Sgt. Justin Griffith was planning an event called Rock Beyond Belief for April 2 on Fort Bragg. British atheist Richard Dawkins was to be the keynote speaker in a day that included other speakers and bands, Griffith said.
Rock Beyond Belief was, in part, a response to Rock the Fort, a concert sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that was held on the parade field in September.
In a letter dated Sept. 22, Lt. Gen Frank Helmick wrote in response to protests of Rock the Fort that Fort Bragg would be “willing to provide similar support to comparable events sponsored by similar nonfederal entities that address the needs of the soldiers on this installation.”
Col. Stephen Sicinski, the garrison commander, and Griffith disagree over whether Fort Bragg is holding true to that statement.
Sicinski said he has received overwhelmingly negative feedback since the concert’s cancellation, and he believes that in part is because people aren’t aware of the facts.
“It disheartens me a little bit to think that we’re being misrepresented,” Sicinski said.
Sicinski said Fort Bragg’s market analysis determined that Griffith’s event would draw, at best, hundreds of people. Events at the parade field need an expected crowd of 5,000 or more, Sicinski said. On March 1, Sicinski wrote to Griffith that the event could be held at the Main Post Theater or the York Theater. Read full story from fayobserver,cin
Why won’t pagans accept trans women?
At a pagan gathering in February, the Pantheacon in San Jose, California, trans women were excluded from a Dianic ritual in honour of Lilith. Many of the defenders of this position – the veteran witch Z Budapest, for example – argue from an essentialist position (“you have to have sometimes in your life a womb, and ovaries and moon bleed and not die”) but also by an appeal to tradition, which is a bit rich from a religious standpoint invented or at best recreated within the past 50 years.
Most of the really bad things that happen to trans women could happen to all women – rape, murder, unequal pay. Some of them happen to trans women more, proportionately; when there aren’t many of us to begin with, a murder rate worldwide of one every two or three days is something we notice.
So being snubbed or made to feel unwelcome in women’s space really is not all that important. After all, some hostile feminists will say – have always said – there are so few of us, why are we demanding all the time that we have this conversation? As if excluding us were not starting that conversation pretty definitively. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Early humans began in southern Africa, study suggests
Modern humans may have originated from southern Africa, an extensive genetic study has suggested.
Data showed that hunter-gatherer populations in the region had the greatest degree of genetic diversity, which is an indicator of longevity.
It says that the region was probably the best location for the origin of modern humans, challenging the view that we came from eastern Africa.
The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Africa is inferred to be the continent of origin for all modern human populations,” the international team of researchers wrote. Read drull story from bbc.co.uk