Monthly Archives: September 2012

Drafts of the First Amendment

A couple weeks ago, in my introductory survey of American religious history, we discussed the creation of the First Amendment’s religion clauses, which I’m requiring students to memorize. Do you know them?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. has posted the drafts of the First Amendment that were debated in the House and the Senate before the final language was arrived at. It’s intriguing to see what didn’t make it–that is, to see what alternative language some delegates wanted but weren’t able to get enough other delegates to sign onto. To my eyes, this explodes efforts to appeal to “the Founders’ intent,” since the legislative history makes clear that “the Founders” were divided; they were able to arrive at a compromise in the end, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they all understood the negotiated phrasing to mean or imply the same thing.

For example, the House wanted to protect “the rights of conscience,” but the Senate rejected that language. I’m guessing this was because some senators foresaw–and feared–the possibility of protecting the rights of atheists.

Congress shall make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of Conscience be infringed.

One version considered by the Senate went like this:

Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another.

It’s especially intriguing that this language did not pass, because this is basically what some religious conservatives today maintain was the intended meaning of the establishment clause: it’s not that there’s to be a wall of separation between church and state; it’s not that we have to reject the notion of America as a Christian nation in a general sense; government just isn’t supposed to privilege one particular denomination (i.e., of Christianity) over the others. Some “Founders,” it seems, would have agreed with that position–but not enough of them to pass muster.

Eventually, the Senate agreed on this language:

Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

That’s a more precise, and narrowly defined, version of an anti-establishment clause than what we actually have now, apparently because the House wouldn’t agree to the more precise and narrowly defined language. Instead we got a broader prohibition on Congress passing any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” I’m curious to know why that language change was necessary–who had what issues?

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Jesus warns of terror attacks

I’m guessing that I received this email because Mark Brander found me listed on the website of my university’s religious studies department. I’m not sure if that means he thought I might be receptive to the message, or if it means he thought I particularly need to hear its warning. I’ve only skimmed this, but I saw enough to wish I had time to read it with more leisurely fascination. It’s a form of charismatic Christianity-cum-paranoid ultraconservatism I rarely come into actual contact with. One of my former teachers, Jason Bivins, was fascinated enough, and worried enough, to write a whole book on this sort of Christianity–although this particular artifact comes from somewhere farther out in the ideological boonies than Jason was looking at.

I’m copy-and-pasting the email below for those who might also enjoy a skim read (and who Mark Brander may not yet have been able to contact; he probably has to email us one by one to avoid spam filters, which I imagine must be tedious work). The spirit speaking in this oracular revelation has not learned how to communicate its message with the brevity favored in modern media.

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Our Saviour has warned several prophets that terrible things are going to happen in America this fall. The prophecy included here is one of the most frightening I have read. See the info following this prophecy for confirmation of this word.  Mark B

 (excerpt) For many years, I have pleaded with you, oh America, through the mouths of My prophets, through the mouths of some of My preachers, I have pleaded with you to repent! I have extended My grace! I have extended extra time also by dragging out My works of Revelation Twelve. But what have you done with the time, oh America? What have you done with the added grace, oh America?


Now, My Blessed Child, I tell you about My house! I tell you about My house in this nation! For, I called you, oh House of Israel, from the distant lands to which I scattered you! I kept My promises to you, oh House of Israel, that even as I scattered you, I would bring you together again! But, even as I blessed you and made you great above all nations, I shall now debase you and I shall make you the shame of all nations! Many will lament you, oh America; for they have idolized you! They have thrived on your vanities and they have sucked up your decadence!


The land of the whores and whoremongers!

Yes, you, My people of America, oh House of Israel, have dropped your skirts and your trousers for every whore and for every whoremonger, that came along! You have perverted yourselves with every sin of the flesh! You have trampled what is holy and you have idolized every vain thing.

The Idols of America!

Oh, Yes! You have your idols and you have created them all: movie stars; cars; houses; televisions; movies; cell phones; internet phones; video games; lavish vacations; money, and all that it can buy; and sexual perversions of all kinds! Yes, you have glorified bizarre and kinky sex! You have idolized glamour, and clothes, and every new hairdo and every new kind of make-up and all that pertains to this wicked world!

You whorish woman, America, you have put Sodom to shame! Sodom and Gomorrah, two wicked cities! But, you, oh America, you have surpassed these wicked cities with your decadence, and through your movie industries, and through your perverted music, you have polluted the hearts and minds of the people all over the world.

Unbridled Greed!

And, through your unbridled greed and lusts for more and more of this, or that, you have arisen in your military might to conquer every nation on earth! And, you have laid snares for the various leaders of many governments all over the world, that you might enter in and subdue them, take over their governments and trample the rights of the people!

The Unbridled Greed for Oil!

The Gulf Oil Disaster,

We keep on paying, and paying, and paying!

You are sleeping, oh you wicked woman of America! And, while you have slept your statue of liberty, your symbol of freedom has fallen down into the Gulf of Mexico, even as I showed My true servant (A.A Allen) many decades past. Yes, with the poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico and with the destruction of the Gulf currents, your liberties fell and you will not recover your liberties!

Oh, Father, will You tell me more about this last paragraph?

Yes, My Little One, I will further explain. Firstly, with the massive oil eruption and with the massive release of poisons and toxic chemicals and gases amidst the oil and the following spraying of the poisons into the air and water around the Gulf, and over the Gulf, the Gulf of Mexico has been poisoned and is now unable to sustain healthy sea life. It was poisoned and continues to be poisoned! Therefore, many fish and other marine life have died and will continue to die! (Note: there is now a vast fish kill along the Texas Coast, just one of many, many, which have hit the Gulf Coastal areas!)

You also remember well, My Little One, that due to your cries, I sent giant geographical angels into the great crack, which lies on the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico; and I sent these angels to subdue the flow of oil, to lessen it, so that this flow could be somewhat controlled, though it has never been fully under control. For, there has remained the continual seepage of oil from the ruptured seabed. (Great is the mercy of our Mighty God.)

However, at this time, My Blessed Child, as you know, I have removed the geographical angels from the Gulf floor, who have guarded this great crack in the seabed. And, now many poisonous gases are emptying all along the coastal regions of the Gulf, and under the Gulf of Mexico. (Search for information about the great release of gases in Assumption Parish Louisiana and the giant sinkhole, which recently developed there.)

Also, with the poisoning of the water and with the poisoning of the air, many humans have become terminally ill and you will never know the true extent of the great illnesses, which have been caused by all of these poisons. (Search for the ‘blue plague’ in the search engines.)

So, My Little One, the fish from the Gulf, are greatly contaminated and anyone, who eats them, is subject to being poisoned to some degree!

Furthermore, the vast quantity of oil, which rests on the sea floor has interfered with the flow of the Gulf Stream, as you know, and well understand. But, what many do not understand is that the Gulf Stream has steadily brought copious amounts of moisture not only to the states, which border the Gulf, but to the heartland of America.

Therefore, you, in your great greed, have not only poisoned yourselves, you have cut off much of the rain, which you would have received through the Gulf currents. For, this vast amount of oil has surely crippled the flow of the Gulf stream in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Note: the comments in Italics are mine, ln)

Our Saviour’s great anger against the Bible Belt Churches!

But, even so, this is part of My great judgment against those in the Gulf states and in the heartland of the USA, particularly My great judgment against the putrid churches in the Bible Belt!

To you wicked, perverted, rotten, lukewarm people, who sit in the greatest numbers of the churches in the Bible Belt, who do you think I am? A dog? That you should serve Me rotten, putrid, and maggot-filled meat! I hate your raucous praises! You will do better to find a saloon, or a bar, and to go there and to throw out your loud, discordant and whorish music to those, who thrive on it!

My house is to be a House of Prayer, you raucous and rowdy bunch! I will not hear your decadent praises, and I will not accept the prayers, which come from lukewarm and sin-filled hearts.

I am wroth with you, you Bible-belt preachers, and if you do not repent in great numbers, I will surely divide the New Madrid fault in such a way that I split this nation into two parts; and I will set a great gulf of water in the middle part of this nation and I will cause the Gulf of Mexico to move inland until I have sufficiently removed you from My sight!

The Lord’s wrath against the Bible Belt Churches!

Overwhelmingly, you preachers in the Bible belt do not have My Spirit. You teach a pre-digested word, one, which will gain you favor with your congregations, and you will not cause My people to repent! Therefore, My wrath is being poured out upon you, oh Bible belt churches, and I will only increase My anger; for I am wroth! And, through this great disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I am beginning to strip your pride, oh America!

The Great Famine is Coming!

Through the lack of rain to much of this nation, which would have come to you through the Gulf Stream, I will take away your independence, oh America; and soon you will grunt and struggle to find, even the grains, which were once plentiful in your nation!

For, my eyes are set upon you, oh America; and My heart is set upon you, oh America, to take away your liberties. And, yes! The lady of liberty has fallen in the Gulf of Mexico. For, not only have you derived much of your food from the Gulf of Mexico, you have derived much of your rain and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico!

Our Saviour’s great warnings to the Bible Belt Churches:

Repent, or perish!

In no nation on this earth are there more churches than in America, particularly in the Bible belt of America. You are an affront to Me, you filthy and perverted bunch; and I have set My sights on you! Therefore, you will either repent, or perish!

I have warned you, oh you arrogant preachers, for years, even through the words that I have given to My servant, Linda Newkirk. Yes, she has written My words and I have raised up helpers through the years, to help her to get My repentance messages to you! And, Yes! You have received these messages! Vast numbers of you in these churches have received these messages, and vast numbers of you preachers have received these messages!

But, you have not repented! You did not repent when you received the repentance messages and you did not cause My people to repent! And, furthermore, you have not repented, even to this day!

But, you throw your putrid meat and your sour milk into My face! Therefore, I am against you, you harlot churches, and I shall bring you down!

For, now you see droughts and soon you will see the results of the droughts! For, famine shall surely come upon you like a thief in the night!

The Coming Economic Collapse!

And, as the calamities hit you, your dollar, in which you put so much faith, will also begin to burn! And, it is even now burning, losing value on very front!

But, I tell you one thing that some of you may not know: the Wall Street Bull is caught in a snare! He is in a very great snare and he cannot extricate himself from this snare!

The only reason that the bull has not fallen and you have not yet fallen as a nation is I! I am that Reason! Through My great mercies to you in this nation, I have extended time!


A nation, who will not repent!

For many years, I have pleaded with you, oh America, through the mouths of My prophets, through the mouths of some of My preachers, I have pleaded with you to repent! I have extended My grace! I have extended extra time also, by dragging out My works of Revelation Twelve. But, what have you done with the time, oh America? What have you done with the added grace, oh America?

I tell you what you have done, you wicked woman, America! You have prided yourselves in your self-sufficiency. You have whored yourself with your many perverted lovers! You have lifted up the sodomites and you have lauded the unnatural act of same-sex marriage! You cowardly ones have bent down to every perverted demand; for you do not care about any right, or moral codes of ethics, which I have set up among you! You care about this wicked world and every perverted and violent act!

The Invasion of the Foreign Troops!

The Sexual Assaults!

Therefore, as you love perversions, I will send many foreign troops into your midst! They will rape you and your children; and they will carry many of you away to be their sex slaves and sex toys!

The Violent Assaults!

Furthermore, as you love violence, any kind of violence, and idolize violence in movies and fill your homes with violence through movies and television, I will send great violence upon you! I shall raise up foreign armies and I shall send a band of armies upon you! They will invade your nation by air, by sea, and by land and they will rain violence down upon you until few of you are left! They will haul you away in vast numbers and will exterminate you violently! They will shoot you down; for they are cold blooded killers; or they will cut off your heads, for you will die violently in great numbers!

The Violent Mind Control Camps!

But, some of you will be sent to mind control camps and you will suffer much violence as your wicked captors break your will and as they break your minds through violent programming!

The Great Killing of America,

The Great Dying!

What will you do, oh America? For, foreign troops are already within your borders. Your demise is being carefully plotted! Your wicked leaders are ready to begin the spreading of the poisonous gases in great measures. They are ready to spread the terrible and incurable plagues among you, for which there are no remedies! They have gained control of your health care and your hospitals will become massive execution camps! Drugs will be willfully withheld from any and all of you, who find yourselves in their care, so that they might hasten your deaths at will.

America, you will eat!

Your plate is full, oh America! Your plate is full and overflowing with your rottenness and with your decadence. Now, you will eat! Yes! You will say, “We will not eat!” But, I tell you that you will eat!

Violence breeds violence! You have loved violence, oh America; and now violence comes to you! You will now reap it, you harlot daughter! You will reap violence in your streets! Violence in your neighborhoods! Violence in your cities! Violence everywhere! Violence all across this nation as people fight for food, as they fight for water, as they fight for sustenance of any kind!

America, the Wicked!

The Wolf is Within!

For, I tell you this: there is not one small crack in your whole economic structure! There is a giant abyss! This great economic gap is irreparable! Therefore, soon it will be everyone for himself, or herself! The whole world will see My punishment upon America, The Wicked!

Hear Me in this, you decadent nation! The wolf if not just at your door! The wolf is within your gates and the wolf is already devouring America!

I have warned you that the rumors of the great numbers of foreign troops within your borders are not rumors, but truths! These foreign troops, who have been invited into this nation by your Satanic president and his Satanic allies, will soon accelerate in their assaults against a sleeping nation. These wicked foreign troops will be used to attack you, oh America, in any and every way possible, from weather wars against you, to the gassing of the cities, to subtle and not so subtle attacks on the infrastructure of this nation, from one side of this nation to the other. You are on the way down, oh you arrogant nation of America! Now, you will surely repent or perish!

I am your Father, Yahweh, yea Jehovah, Most High God, yes even your Saviour, and besides me there is NO GOD, and besides Me, there is NO SAVIOUR!

As witnessed, dictated and recorded this 6th day of August, 2012,

Linda Newkirk

For information about the events of Revelation 12 and other important Tribulation events visit Linda’s website Prophecies Org 

For numerous testimonies confirming that foreign troops are indeed now operating within America, do a search with the following… Russian Troops Infilltrate USA  click on the article at beforeitsnews There is a lot of important background information in the artcle about Obama as well that you need to be, very aware of.

For further confirmation of these events and timing look up the two recent prophecies from Brother Marcus at the Steve Quayle website, they both mirror what you have just read.

Mark Brander

An excerpt from AA Allen’s legendary vision of the biological and or poison gas attacks that are coming…….

It seemed that what I saw was the entire North American continent, spread out like a map upon a table with this terrible skeleton-formed cloud arising from behind the table. It rose steadily until the form was visible down to the waist. At the waist the skeleton seemed to bend toward the United States, stretching forth a hand toward the east and one toward the west–one toward New York and one toward Seattle. As the awful form stretched forward, I could see that its entire attention seemed to be focused upon the United States, overlooking Canada at least for the time being. As I saw the horrible black cloud in the form of a skeleton bending toward America, bending from the waist over, reaching down toward Chicago and out toward both coasts, I knew its one interest was to destroy the multitudes.

As I watched in horror, the great black cloud stopped just above the Great Lakes region and turned its face toward New York City. Then out of the horrible, great gaping mouth began to appear wisps of white vapor which looked like smoke, as a cigarette smoker would blow puffs of smoke from his mouth. These whitish vapors were being blown toward New York City. The smoke began to spread until it had covered all the eastern part of the United States.

Then the skeleton turned to the west and out of the horrible mouth and nostrils came another great puff of white smoke. This time it was blown in the direction of the west coast. In a few moments’ time the entire West Coast and Los Angeles area were covered with its vapors.

Then toward the center came a third great puff. As I watched, St. Louis and Kansas City were enveloped in its white vapors. Then on they came toward New Orleans. Then on they swept until they reached the Statue of Liberty where she stood staggering drunkenly in the blue waters of the gulf. As the white vapors began to spread around the head of the statue, she took in but one gasping breath and then began to cough as though to rid her lungs of the horrible vapors she had inhaled. One could readily discern by the coughing that those white vapors had seared her lungs.

What were these white vapors? Could they signify bacteriological warfare or nerve gas that could destroy multitudes of people in a few moments’ time?

Then I heard the voice of God as He spoke again: “Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty and maketh it waste and turneth it upside-down and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled, for the LORD hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away. The world languisheth and fadeth away. The haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant; therefore, hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:1-6)

As I watched, the coughing grew worse. It sounded like a person about to cough out his lungs. The Statue of Liberty was moaning and groaning. She was in mortal agony. The pain must have been terrific, as again and again she tried to clear her lungs of those horrible white vapors. I watched her there in the gulf as she staggered, clutching her lungs and her breast with her hands. Then she fell to her knees. In a moment she gave one final cough, made a last desperate effort to rise from her knees, and then fell face forward into the waters of the gulf and lay still as death. Tears ran down my face as I realized that she was dead! Only the lapping of the waves, splashing over her body which was partly under the water and partly out of the water, broke the stillness.

Suddenly the silence was shattered by the screaming of sirens. The sirens seemed to scream, “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” Never before had I heard such shrill, screaming sirens. They seemed to be everywhere–to the north, the south, the east, and the west. There seemed to be multitudes of sirens; and as I looked, I saw people everywhere running, but it seemed none of them ran more than a few paces, and then they fell. And even as I had seen the Statue of Liberty struggling to regain her poise and balance and finally falling for the last time to die on her face, I now saw millions of people falling in the streets, on the sidewalks, struggling. I heard their screams for mercy and help. I heard their horrible coughing as though their lungs had been seared with fire. I hear d the moanings and groanings of the doomed and the dying. As I watched, a few finally reached shelters, but only a few ever got to the shelters.

Above the moaning and the groaning of the dying multitudes, I heard these words: “A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth, for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations. He will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth, and the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” (Jeremiah 25:31-33)

Then suddenly I saw from the Atlantic and from the Pacific and out of the Gulf rocket-like objects that seemed to come up like fish leaping out of the water. High into the air they leaped, each headed in a different direction, but every one toward the United States. On the ground the sirens screamed louder, and up from the ground I saw similar rockets beginning to ascend. To me these appeared to be interceptor rockets although they arose from different points all over the United States; however, none of them seemed to be successful in intercepting the rockets that had risen from the ocean on every side. These rockets finally reached their maximum height, slowly turned over and fell back toward the earth in defeat.

Then suddenly the rockets which had leaped out of the oceans like fish all exploded at once. The explosion was ear-splitting. The next thing which I saw was a huge ball of fire. The only thing I have ever seen which resembled the thing I saw in my vision was the picture of the explosion of the H-bomb somewhere in the South Pacific. In my vision it was so real that I seemed to feel a searing heat from it.

As the vision spread before my eyes and I viewed the widespread desolation brought about by the terrific explosions, I could not help thinking, While the defenders of our nation have quibbled over what means of defense to use and neglected the only true means of defense–faith and dependence upon the true and living God–the thing which she greatly feared has come unto her! How true it has proven in Psalms 127:1: Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Then as the noise of battle subsided, to my ears came this quotation: “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand. 2. A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains, a great people and a strong, there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. 3. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth; the land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness, yea, and nothing shall escape them. 4. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. 5. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. 6. Before their face the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. 7. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war, and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks. 8. Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path; and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. 9. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall; they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. 10. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark,, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. (Joel 2:1-10)

Then the voice was still. The earth, too was silent with the silence of death.

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Rosh Hashanah and Zen

In recognition of Rosh Hashanah, I’m posting a selection from a 2007 interview with “JuBu” psychotherapist Brenda Shoshanna, author of the book Jewish Dharma. The interview was conducted by psychologist Bernard Starr for Religion and Spirituality. Read the complete interview here.

While I’m interested in this exchange for the synthesis of Orthodox Judaism and Zen Buddhism, the fact that we have psychotherapists positioning themselves as experts on spirituality is itself an intriguing cultural phenomenon–arguably a kind of hybridization–about which more could be said.

Q. Brenda, aren’t the High Holy Days mostly about repentance? How does that relate to Zen?

A. Yes, Rosh Hashanah is a time for repentance — but also for return. Teshuvah, the Hebrew name for repentance, also means to return to the source of your being. This is precisely what we do in our hours of silence during zazen. We turn away from the phenomenal world, with its endless demands and distractions, and return to the essence of ourselves and G-d. [. . .]

In zazen practice we naturally and inevitably become aware of all that is going on within, often feel sorrow and remorse, and through the cleansing process of sitting, breathing and awareness, correction naturally arises.

Q. In the Rosh Hashanah service there’s a great deal of emphasis on praising G-d — or what you have referred to as “The Coronation of the King.” But Zen is non-theistic, so how do the two fit?

A. A main theme of Rosh Hashanah is to declare G-d King over us — to declare and affirm that we are G-d’s subjects and servants. The question of what it means to truly serve G-d is like a Zen koan (a statement that defies rational understanding) that we sit with continually. By practicing zazen we give up our egoistic ways of being, our selfish needs and desires and become simple — we surrender to our true nature. Zen does not speak or theorize about G-d, but instead directs us to experience G-d directly, to “taste for ourselves and see that G-d is good.”

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Innocence of Muslims

Insanity all around. I’m so upset, I don’t trust myself to say more than that.

Analysis: Film at heart of Libya attack may be fake” (Jerusalem Post)

Sam Bacile and his low-budget anti-Muslim movie: Is it all a hoax?” (International Business Times)

Libya attack may have been planned and organized” (Chicago Tribune News). The story includes this encouraging piece of information: “Later Wednesday, a U.S. official told Reuters that the U.S. military is moving two destroyers toward the Libyan coast, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets.”

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I hate the fact that because we call the attacks of September 11, 2001, “9-11” (rather than coming up with some other name for it), the anniversary can never come around on the calendar without our having to take notice of it. We continue to be held captive by this date, and therefore by the memory of the event, in a way that must please both, on the one hand, the Islamist militants who launched the attack and, on the other hand, political or business interests that benefit from Americans feeling threatened by terrorism or Islam.  (Examples: Pamela Geller. Whoever profits from the manufacture of those full-body scanners in airports.)

The anniversary made me wonder whatever became of the Park51 Islamic community center (a.k.a. the “Ground Zero mosque”). Popping online, I was surprised to learn that the center has opened, as of September 22 of last year.

Ann Hermes, Christian Science Monitor

“Amazed” would be an overstatement, but I really am very surprised (albeit pleasantly) that the center opening managed to slip under the radar–especially opening 11 days after the 10th anniversary of 9-11! I would have expected that the same people who were outraged about the center’s geographical proximity to Ground Zero would likewise have been roused by the chronological proximity.

Seth Wenig, Associated Press

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The book of Moron

A friend emailed this “bumper sticker sighting” to me. If I’m reading this correctly, it seems to be a Republican response (possibly a Mormon Republican response?) to insinuations that Romney’s Mormonism is weird or stupid–the response being in the vein of “Same to you, but more of it.” Political discourse from the schoolyard.

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Death of Sun Myung Moon

I just saw the news that Sun Myung Moon has died. This is an important transition for the Unification Church.

Photo from Unification Church News

I’ve taught about the church in a superficial way in a couple different courses: I briefly covered it in New Religious Movements, and I once had students perform an Eliadean analysis of a blessing ceremony (mass wedding) in Introduction to Religious Studies. I don’t know as much as I’d like to about the movement’s most recent history, but what I have read has left me with the impression that Moon is not as powerful an authority in the U.S. church as the “cult” image would incline people to imagine (an image sustained by incidents like Moon’s 2004 self-coronation in the Senate Office Building).

Moon is unquestionably a charismatic figure–the Messiah, the True Father. For a glimpse of that charismatic role, read this very recent speech by his daughter In Jin Moon, who is president of the church in the U.S. (She makes some interesting moves in her speech by way of legitimating Moon’s wife as successor and preparing members to make theological sense of Moon’s imminent death.) On the other hand, I see signs that there’s at least a limited, but well-placed, intelligentsia within the American movement who maintain some critical distance from the founder. Witness this article from the Religion News Service, which quotes Tyler Hendricks, the most recent past president of the church’s seminary in New York, saying that Moon “is always expanding even his own theological definitions and challenging those around him. . . . He doesn’t always speak clearly or logically.”

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the church in the wake of the founder’s death. RNS gives its coverage a juicy, conflictual ending: “Despite Moon’s intense focus on happy families, the handover to his heirs has been riven by internecine strife. Some of his children have split from the church, abused drugs and fought bitterly for control of the church’s business empire. With Moon’s death, the fighting is expected to intensify.” Likely enough. But I have a hunch that enough Weberian routinization has occurred–administering the church’s businesses would require that, no?–to allow the church to press on in the modest way it has been.

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Ramadan scam

Today I checked in on an email account I rarely use anymore and found this, dated July 21. I’m surprised these kinds of scams still circulate. I suppose that means people still fall for them occasionally enough to make it worth the scammers’ while.

From: “Mrs. A’idah Abdul Jabaar” <>

Re: Holy Month Of Fasting

I am Mrs. A’idah Abdul Jabaar, an ageing widow suffering from long time illness; I am currently admitted in a private hospital in Abidjan Ivory Coast.

I inherited huge sum of money from my late loving husband Mr. Abdul Jabaar Yaqoot which I need a very honest and Allah fearing person that can use this funds for the less privileged children and widows in this Holy Month Of Fasting.

More information’s will be disclosed to you as soon as I hear from you.

Mrs. A’idah Abdul Jabaar

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