“The Exorcist Files” will recreate stories of real-life hauntings and demonic possession, based on cases investigated by the Catholic Church. The project includes access into the Vatican’s case files, as well as interviews with the organization’s top exorcists — religious experts who are rarely seen on television.
“The Vatican is an extraordinarily hard place to get access to, but we explained we’re not going to try to tell people what to think,” says Discovery president and GM Clark Bunting. Read full story from cnn.com
Bhutan offers rare glimpse inside historic temples
(CNN) — The isolated kingdom of Bhutan has opened its doors to a team of art experts in order to preserve its Buddhist history.
Working for the first time in collaboration with Bhutan’s Department of Culture, conservators from The Courtauld Institute of Art in England have spent the last three years documenting some of the reclusive kingdom’s most precious wall paintings.
According to Lisa Shekede, leader of the project, the wall paintings date from around the 17th century and are some of the best surviving works in the region.
The team visited over 200 temples — sometimes trekking for an entire day to reach remote monasteries — and documented around 50 paintings in detail. Read full story from cnn.com
Romanian Witches Use Spells to Protest New Taxes
(AP) MOGOSOIA, Romania – Everyone curses the tax man, but Romanian witches angry about having to pay up for the first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government.
Also among Romania’s newest taxpayers are fortune tellers — but they probably should have seen it coming.
Superstitions are no laughing matter in Romania — the land of the medieval ruler who inspired the “Dracula” tale — and have been part of its culture for centuries. President Traian Basescu and his aides have been known to wear purple on certain days, supposedly to ward off evil. Read full story from cbsnews.com
Egyptian police fear repeat of new year’s bombing in Alexandria
Egyptian authorities put up a heavy security cordon today around the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo hours before Christmas Eve mass, using bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors and officers to thwart another attack like the New Year’s suicide bombing at a church in Alexandria that killed 21 people.
Al-Qaida in Iraq had threatened Christians in Iraq and Egypt in the weeks leading up to the holidays, while militant websites have allegedlyposted online lists of churches in Egypt to target.
Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, which makes up 10% of the 80 million population, celebrates Christmas tomorrow. Some have said they will avoid Christmas Eve services. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
‘Psychic’ predicted lottery syndicate win
A GROUP of work colleagues have scooped £1m on the lottery, after a ‘psychic’ co-worker predicted a win.
The syndicate of 15 workers from West London Training in Aldershot are sharing the prize, which was won on the EuroMillions Millionaire Raffle on Christmas Eve.
Each is £66,666.66 better off thanks to catering manager Ocean Kinge, whose predictions they would win spurred them to start the syndicate. Read full story from gethampshire.co.uk
Mass Animal Deaths Leading To End Times Panic
What started with reports of unusual blackbird deaths in the southern United States earlier this week has now snowballed into multiple reports of mass bird and fish deaths from around the globe, prompting some to theorize that they may be signs of the end times.
“When the term ‘dead fish’ became a top Google search Wednesday, soaring past the likes of Lindsay Lohan and leaving Justin Bieber in its scaly wake, it looked as if the end were near,” Jill Rosen of the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. “That’s what everyone was saying, anyway.”
“After millions of tiny fish went belly up in Chesapeake Bay this week, much of the populace immediately dismissed the official scientific explanation (the water was just too darn cold),” she added. “What made more sense, they reasoned? The approaching apocalypse. Of course.” Read full story from redorbit.com
What we Muslims can learn from converts
If Muslims have a bad reputation – and they do – converts to Islam have it even worse. Among their dreadful alumni are such characters as the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, the 7 July bomber Germaine Lindsay, and Nicky Reilly who tried to blow up a restaurant in Bristol with a nail bomb. And Lauren Booth. Yet despite these poor recruiting sergeants and in spite of the overwhelmingly negative media depiction of Islam, the number of people converting to Islam seems to be rising.
A report this week suggested the number of converts had doubled in the past 10 years from about 60,000 in 2001 to up to 100,000 with around 5,200 people converting to Islam in the UK last year. These figures come with a health warning – they are estimates derived from extrapolations – but if we accept that increasing numbers of British men and women are turning to Islam, it does lead to questions of why: why are people voluntarily signing up to a faith that is, if you believe what you read, a cesspit of misogyny, violence and hate?
The growth in conversions in the past decade is partly a reflection of social and geopolitical changes in Britain and the world during the past 10 years. Prior to 11 September 2001 there was relatively little press attention given to Islam. Following the attacks there was an understandable rise in focus on the faith, which led non-Muslims to want to find out more about the religion that was now so often in the news. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Mainstream Pakistan religious organisations applaud killing of Salmaan Taseer
The increasing radicalisation of Pakistani society was today laid bare when mainstream religious organisations applauded the murder of Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, earlier this week and his killer was showered with rose petals as he appeared in court.
Taseer was buried in his home town of Lahore. The 66-year-old was assassinated yesterday by Mumtaz Qadri, one of his police bodyguards, after he had campaigned for reform of the law on blasphemy.
Qadri appeared in court, unrepentant, where waiting lawyers threw handfuls of rose petals over him and others in the crowd slapped his back and kissed his cheek as he was led in and out amid heavy security. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Ancient practice: Why I’m pagan
I am pagan. I make no excuses for this. I am not ashamed of my decision to follow a spiritual path that strays from the mainstream. I would be happy to explain my beliefs to anyone who is curious. However, I find that most are not willing to know my beliefs, as though the mere mention of a pagan ritual should send them scrambling to the nearest confessional to repent for the remotest ounce of curiosity for something so evil and fiendish. Why are pagans discouraged from celebrating our faith in the open?
Upon my decision to become pagan, I did my homework in the form of purchasing books, surfing the internet, and joining online groups with like-minded individuals. One common theme was clear: Informing those you know of your new religion choice should be viewed as if you were coming out of the closet. If you wouldn’t tell someone that you were gay, you probably shouldn’t tell them that you’re pagan. Read full story from newsreview.com
Core tradition returns to Herefordshire
ONE of Herefordshire’s strangest customs will return to an orchard near Hereford this evening (Thursday).
Families and cider drinkers have been invited to join a wassail in Tillington.
The ceremony dates to Pagan times and involves greeting an apple tree on the twelfth night to promote a good harvest.
Participants often sprinkle cider around a tree, hang toast from its branches and light fires nearby to ward-off evil spirits. Read full story from herefordtimes.com