Pagan Studies Conference a success
Pagan scholars discussed “Building Community” on Jan. 22 and 23 at the 7th Annual Conference of Current Pagan Studies in Claremont. More than 70 Pagans gathered to hear the ideas and results of research by the 27 Pagan scholars, researchers and leaders who came from greater LA as well as from other areas of the country.
They gathered to discuss issues that relate to the Pagan community at large. It is important to that community’s health and growth to meet and learn from one another. It’s also important for all Pagans to be involved in the public arena and have their voices heard. With an estimate of over a million Americans now self-identified as Pagan, the Pagan religion is coming of age. And it is feeling, now more than ever, the need for trained leaders and clergy to build stronger Pagan communities that also see themselves as a part of a larger community. Read full story from examiner.com
Rabbis warn Rupert Murdoch: Fox News and Glenn Beck ‘using’ Holocaust
Four hundred rabbis, including the leaders of all the main branches of Judaism in the US, have signed an open letter calling on Rupert Murdoch to sanction the head of Fox News and one of the channel’s most famous hosts for frequent inappropriate references to the Nazis and the Holocaust.
The rabbis chose a poignant place to make their protest: they took out an advert costing at least $100,000 in one of Murdoch’s own newspapers, the Wall Street Journal. The advert was printed today – the UN-designated Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In the letter, the Jewish coalition calls on Murdoch to take action against Roger Ailes, the bombastic president of Fox News, as well as against Glenn Beck, the channel’s most notorious rightwing commentator. “We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course, can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News,” the letter says. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Do You Need an Exorcism? Take the Quiz!
Anthony Hopkins portrays Father Lucas Trevant, a veteran exorcist, in the new film The Rite, which opens Friday. The story follows Trevant as he teaches a younger priest how to tell if a person is possessed by a demon, and what to do if that is indeed the case.
Many religions claim that humans can be possessed by demonic spirits, and offer remedies to address this inconvenience. The Bible recounts six instances of Jesus casting out demons, while voodoo and Catholicism proscribe elaborate rituals and cleansings to remove spiritual stains.
The Vatican (which, as the film accurately notes, offers courses on exorcisms) accepts only a small percentage of demonic possessions as “authentic,” which of course suggests that there are a lot of unauthentic cases of possession out there. The Vatican issued official guidelines on exorcism in 1614, and revised them in 1999. Read full story from discovery.com
Popularity of vampires spawns subculture, scholar says
(Reuters) – They work as doctors and lawyers by day but lurk as vampires by night. While they may not wish to suck your blood, there are plenty of willing victims on tap, according to a top U.S. scholar on a subculture that emulates the undead.
Idaho State University sociologist D.J. Williams, newly hired as a consultant for a proposed television documentary about “self-identified vampires,” said true modern acolytes of Dracula seek consensual blood-sharing relationships.
The popular fascination with vampires dates back to the 1897 publication of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, and later books such as Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles.”
But it exploded in recent years with the best-selling “Twilight” series of novels by Stephenie Meyer and movie adaptations. The seductive vampire character Edward Cullen in the movie, played by actor Robert Pattinson, became a teen idol and made vampires cool. Read full story from reuters.com
Woman claims literal witch hunt in dead cats case
A Jackson County woman charged for keeping more than 100 dead cats in a freezer says she is being persecuted because she practices the Wiccan religion.
Gabriella Bernabei, 46, and her husband, Robert J.A. Grassi, 56, are charged with child neglect, 16 misdemeanor counts of intentional mistreatment of animals and a felony count of animal mistreatment.
Grassi has reached a plea deal with prosecutors that calls for probation. Bernabei has vowed to fight the charges.
“It’s a total all-out assault with everything that’s got to do with my religion, with my cats and how I look,” Bernabei said. “It’s a witch hunt.” Read full story from lacrossetribune.com
New course reconnects students with nature
A new 12-credit learning community will focus on the importance of reconnecting with nature. The series, which is now open to students eligible for advanced registration, will consist of three different courses that meet different requirements for the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree in ecology, religion and political science.
Jerry Hall, a retired faculty instructor, spearheaded the program’s creation. Hall, a Native American, offers a cultural perspective central to the themes within the sequence.
Stan Taylor, chairman of the Lane Peace Center, teaches the Environmental Politics course in the module said that students studying in learning communities have a very unique learning experience. “Students in learning communities form lasting relationships. The experience for many is very transformative,” Taylor said.
Clif Trolin, who teaches the Nature, Religion and Ecology class, said the course of study includes a Native American perspective and has both a scientific and cultural view that fits well with his religion class. Read full story from lcctorch.com
Filmmaker Psychs Out Psychics and ET Believers
Many of us have given a few bucks to some alleged psychic to tell us stuff we already know, but what if you spent your entire life savings looking into the future, attempting to contact ghosts and protecting yourself from aliens?
That’s the premise behind filmmaker Blake Freeman’s newest documentary, “Gawd Bless America,” in which he travels across America with a 69-year-old “believer” named LeRoy Tessina who’s gone bankrupt after years of buying into fraudulent fortune-tellers and alien-protection devices.
In hopes of setting Tessina straight, the duo set out on a weird cross-country adventure to debunk self-proclaimed psychics, healers, alien-abduction experts and ghost hunters. Read full story from aolnews.com
“The Rite” stuff: interview with exorcist Fr. Gary Thomas
Since priests and demons frighten me, my colleague Peg Aloi, who in addition to being a fine critic and writer is also a practicing Wiccan, agreed to conduct this interview with the exorcist who inspired the new film “The Rite,” which opens Friday.
Here’s Peg’s story:
Father Gary Thomas is the subject of Matt Baglio’s book “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist” (Doubleday Religion), which was the inspiration for Mikael Hafstrom’s film “The Rite,” opening in theatres January 28, 2011. I spoke with Father Thomas on the phone last weekend, and excerpts from our conversation appear below. Read full story from thepheonix.com
U.S. missionary in Mexico fatally shot
(CNN) — An American missionary was fatally shot in Mexico on Wednesday, police said.
The preliminary investigation indicated that Nancy Davis, 59, and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando, Mexico, when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, the Pharr Police Department in Texas said in a statement. San Fernando is south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.
“The gunmen were attempting to stop them and the victims accelerated in efforts of getting away from them,” the police statement said. “At a certain point the gunmen discharged a weapon at the victim’s vehicle and a bullet struck the victim Nancy Shuman Davis on the head.” Read full story from cnn.com