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A Working Definition of Yawheh

After rattling off the usually long list of reasons why the God of the Hebrew Bible is everything from in a bad mood to gleefully sadistic, Donald Akenson provides one of my favorite paragraphs from any book on the history of religion, and the great difficulties of belief: 122 more words

Religion

Images: The Earliest Stone Buddhas

Among the earliest sculptures of the Buddha, from Heinrich Zimmer’s Art of Indian Asia. Click on each to enlarge:

Religion

Burned as a Witch in Ireland in 1895

From Frazer’s Golden Bough:

In March 1895 a peasant named Michael Cleary, residing at Ballyvadlea, a remote and lonely district in the county of Tipperary, burned his wife Bridget Cleary alive over a slow fire on the kitchen hearth in the presence of and with the active assistance of some neighbours, including the woman’s own father and several of her cousins. 238 more words

Religion/Myth

Joseph Campbell's Hero Sets Out

A piece of the beginning and end of The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

Whether we listen with aloof amusement to the dreamlike mumbo jumbo of some red-eyed witch doctor of the Congo, or read with cultivated rapture thin translations from the sonnets of the mystic Lao-tse; now and again crack the hard nutshell of an argument of Aquinas, or catch suddenly the shining meaning of a bizarre Eskimo fairy tale: it will always be the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with a challengingly persistent suggestion of a more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told. 431 more words

Poetry

Kiyozawa Manshi Chooses the Buddha

From the Japanese Shin Buddhist Kiyozawa Manshi’s “My Faith,” written five days before his death, in 1903:

study finally led me to the conclusion that human life is incomprehensible. 207 more words

Religion

What Scientology Tells Us About How Religions Begin

Lawrence Wright’s recent book on the history of Scientology is an immensely important document for studying how religions begin. While much of it fills the reader with the amusement or horror of a colossal fraud—and a fraud which consciously sought out the money and influence of celebrities—Wright is also honest enough to include sections like the following, where he summarizes a Franciscan friar who has testified in court on behalf of Scientology. 1,194 more words

Religion

"One day the Gestapo hanged a child": God on Trial at Auschwitz

The oldest book about religion on my shelves is Karen Armstrong’s A History of God. The note inside still says that I read it in the fall of 1996, just after I turned seventeen. 466 more words

Religion