More than two hundred schoolgirls, ages 12-17, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria two weeks ago, have been sold as wives to Islamist fighters abroad for $12 each.
187 are still being held hostage.
“The attack was one of the most shocking in Boko Haram’s five-year uprising in which thousands of people have been killed across northern and central Nigeria. …
Boko Haram’s name translates as “western education is forbidden” and it has repeatedly attacked schools during an insurgency aimed at creating a strict Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria.
The Islamists have set schools on fire, massacred students in their sleep and detonated bombs at university campus churches.”
"Mr. McKeever, a lawyer and part-time youth minister at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, had prepared for worse when he committed to wearing the jumpsuit for Lent. After years of providing both spiritual and legal assistance to the poor and formerly incarcerated, it was time to do something more visible to call attention to the nation’s prison crisis, and to the obstacles inmates face on returning to society. But 40 days is a long time to dress like a convict, especially in Texas. “A couple different people said, ‘I hope you don’t get shot!’ ” …
Mr. McKeever, who grew up three hours west in Abilene, has worn prisoner’s clothes while delivering sermons, shopping for groceries, strolling the San Antonio River Walk and taking his daughter to the movies. He has kept a blog reflecting on his experiences (Day 6: “Stares, questioning glances, avoidance”) and on the politics of mass incarceration.
Engaging with those politics is the essence of his Christianity. ‘We follow a condemned criminal!…That’s very much at the heart of our faith. So I try to bring that in.’ …
Among other efforts, he has pushed employers to stop asking about a job applicant’s criminal history — an effort known elsewhere as ‘Ban the Box.’ But as a native Texan, he’s sensitive to tone. ‘I call it a fair-chance hiring policy…It’d be hard even in a conservative place not to get behind something called a fair chance.'”
An Orange jumpsuit for Lent
“The wearing of the hijab is enforced in part by a volunteer citizens’ militia, the Basij, as well as what are called the ‘guidance’ police. They roam the popular streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, monitoring religious observance.
Improper dress code, including insufficient coverage of a woman’s head, shoulders and chest in public is officially illegal and can incur arrest and fines. Though Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, whom many see as a moderate and a reformer, has said publicly that guidance on women’s dress code should be encouraged through education rather than enforced by the police, secular Iranian women continue to face censure for insufficiently modest dress.”
Hossein Fatemi | NYT
“Yes, there is always a good moral Christian reason to tell everyone you meet to fuck off and die.”
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understood as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Richard Dawkins on Bill Maher
“[T]he process of ascertaining which of the thousands of skeletons belonged to a martyr was a nebulous one. If they found “M.” engraved next to a corpse, they took it to stand for “martyr,” ignoring the fact that the initial could also stand for “Marcus,” one of the most popular names in ancient Rome. If any vials of dehydrated sediment turned up with the bones, they assumed it must be a martyr’s blood rather than perfume, which the Romans often left on graves in the way we leave flowers today. The Church also believed that the bones of martyrs cast off a golden glow and a faintly sweet smell, and teams of psychics would journey through the corporeal tunnels, slip into a trance and point out skeletons from which they perceived a telling aura. After identifying a skeleton as holy, the Vatican then decided who was who and issued the title of martyr.”
Paul Koudounaris documenting how the bones of Christian martyrs were transformed into bejeweled relics and displayed in European churches in Heavenly Bodies.
“To begin with, the findings of science entail that the belief systems of all the world’s traditional religions and cultures—their theories of the origins of life, humans, and societies—are factually mistaken. We know, but our ancestors did not, that humans belong to a single species of African primate that developed agriculture, government, and writing late in its history. We know that our species is a tiny twig of a genealogical tree that embraces all living things and that emerged from prebiotic chemicals almost four billion years ago. We know that we live on a planet that revolves around one of a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, which is one of a hundred billion galaxies in a 13.8-billion-year-old universe, possibly one of a vast number of universes. We know that our intuitions about space, time, matter, and causation are incommensurable with the nature of reality on scales that are very large and very small. We know that the laws governing the physical world (including accidents, disease, and other misfortunes) have no goals that pertain to human well-being. There is no such thing as fate, providence, karma, spells, curses, augury, divine retribution, or answered prayers—though the discrepancy between the laws of probability and the workings of cognition may explain why people believe there are. And we know that we did not always know these things, that the beloved convictions of every time and culture may be decisively falsified, doubtless including some we hold today.”
When Buddhists Go Bad | TIME
“The spectacle of faith makes for luminous photography. Buddhism, in particular, lends itself to the lens: those shaven heads and richly hued monastic robes; the swirls of incense; the pure expressions of devotees to a religion whose first precept is “do not kill.” But as photographer Adam Dean and I discovered when traveling through Burma and Thailand from May to June, Buddhism’s pacifist image is being challenged by a radical strain that marries spirituality with ethnic chauvinism. In Buddhist-majority Burma, where communal clashes have proliferated over the past year, scores of Muslims have been killed by Buddhist mobs, while in Thailand and Sri Lanka the fabric binding temple and state is being stitched ever tighter.
The godfather of radical Buddhism is a monk named Wirathu, a slight presence with an outsized message of hate. Adam followed Wirathu, who has taken the title of “Burmese bin Laden,” around Mandalay in central Burma, as he preached his loathing of the country’s Muslim minority to schoolchildren and housewives alike. In March, tensions detonated in the town of Meikhtila, where communal violence ended dozens of lives, mostly Muslim. Entire Muslim quarters were razed by Buddhists hordes. Even today, anxiety churns. One late afternoon as Adam walked near Wirathu’s monastic compound, a monk hurled a brick at him. Burgundy robes cannot camouflage inborn hostility.”