Masculine Christianity, Praying Ballplayers, & Satanist Discrimination

A fan who fell 30 feet from the second tier of the stadium inspired prayers by players in the Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers game Tuesday night. The fan who fell and those he landed on will be okay. Controversy surrounded a sacred Italian horse race when its prize banner featuring the Virgin Mary was designed by a Muslim.

Is music religion? Maybe house music is. And then there’s this report on Prince—musician and Jehovah’s Witness.

The Dalai Lama turned 75 on Tuesday with a celebration full of dancing and music. The Huffington Post’s Jonathan Green says the Dalai Lama has a message of peace, prosperity and human rights for the West. Beijing is claiming that the Chinese central government will approve the nomination of the next Dalai Lama. Though the current Dalai Lama doesn’t see himself going anywhere anytime soon: “Even at this age, I find time for my Buddhist studies that give me strength, peace, happiness and keep me in good health.”

Two deaths of note: Nasr Abu Zayd, an Egpytian scholar known for his liberal and critical approach to the Qu’ran, passed away on Monday at the age of 66. Zayd applied a literary-critical method of study to the Qu’ran that often ran afoul many more conservative Muslim leaders. Painter of famous scenes from the Book of Mormon, Arnold Friberg, died in Salt Lake City at the age of 96 last week. Meanwhile, one New Yorker found a tombstone on the sidewalk and began a quest to find its rightful owner.

HBO’s new documentary No One Dies in Lily Dale details the lives of Spiritualists in the town of Lily Dale, New York. Spiritualism arose in the nineteenth century among women mediums who channeled messages from the dead. Then, as now, the tradition has been dominated by women and was a chance for women to have a public voice in the midst of the Victorian cult of domesticity.

Have no fear, though, for good ole fashioned masculine muscular Christianity survives—literally. Bear Grylls, the host of Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel does what every guy named Bear would do, he puts himself in impossibly difficult environments and relies on his wits to survive. But Grylls is doing it for the Lord. “It’s about being strengthened. It’s about having a backbone run through you from the Person who made you. It’s about being able to climb the biggest mountains in the world with the Person who made them.” In theaters, Twilight continues to thread Mormon themes into vampire romance.

A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed 42 people in an attack on a Sufi shrine in Lahore. The attack comes as more militant Muslims continue to pressure more moderate strands of Islam in the country. Meanwhile, over at On Faith, Chris Seiple offers a look at the morals at stake in the continued violence of the Afghanistan war.

Two new books on anti-Semitism prove that it is still a relevant topic. And philo-Semitism is still around as well. Fundamentalists and other conservative Christians unite with conservative Jews in Zionist hopes and millennial visions. On the other end of the Jewish specturum, another bridge builder, Rabbi Peter Knobel, retires at age 67.

Quince Mountain details sexuality, desire, and church camp over at Killing the Buddha. While Salon offers a look at a Nevada megachurch that continues its support of those promoting the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill. Is the Church of England going to get its first gay Bishop? Maybe. Spain is getting its first LBGT church. The Metropolitan Community Churches will open a congregation in Madrid later this year and will be the first Spanish church to celebrate same-sex marriages.

Spain is also home to the annual Moors and Christians festival where Spaniards in the town of Moraira get back to their “Moorish roots” by reenacting 13th century battles over the local castle. Here in the United States, Muslims continue to run into difficulties expanding and building mosques. New American mosques are larger and offer amenities on par with Christian megachurches. As one Muslim spokesman put it, “They have gone over to the Baptist church model… If you have a gym, if you have a basketball court and maybe even a swimming pool or other facilities, this will be more attractive to young people.” The building of a new mosque near New York’s Ground Zero is becoming a political football in that state’s governor’s race.

Discrimination is also a problem for Satanists—or, for one particular Satanist, at least. Irving Davis, a convicted murderer, argues that his conviction be thrown out because his foray into Satanism should not have been revealed to the jury. Hearing the appeal, Judge Michael Keasler disagreed: “I mean, come on, boil it all down, the Church of Satan? You’ve got to be kidding me as to how that’s good, because Satan himself, at least as far as Christian doctrine is concerned, is the epitome of what evil is. If somebody chooses to align themselves with something like that, it certainly would seem relevant.”

Religious identity poses a problem for Mitt Romney. It’s unclear if his Mormonism will hamper support among conservative evangelical Christians in a bid for president. Others looking for help navigating issues between religion and the workplace can turn to this handy guide from the New York Times’ Career Couch.

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