Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry was the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a now-dormant site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He was the Editor-in-Chief of two Manhattan-based magazines until he decided to give up commercial publishing for professional photography... with a lot of blogging on the side. These days, he lives in an old seaside farmhouse in Maine with his wife, three kids, and two big dogs.
A Buddhist retreat in the desert would seem like a place of peace, and ordained monk Michael Roach’s commune in Arizona’s Apache Highlands was just that — if you discount the jealousy, the backbiting, the domestic abuse, and the knife attack. Rolling Stone has a long piece on the peculiar goings-on in Roach’s mystical cult. Journalist Nina Burleigh was brave for writing it, as Roach is a man who, according to his followers, …can walk through walls, see into the future and, some believe, cast powerful spells against those who cross him. This may be the most entertaining paragraph in Burleigh’s article: To underscore the importance of one’s teacher, Roach’s acolytes consumed dutsi, pills that supposedly contain bits of symbolic scatological material going back to Buddha (a secretive practice among Tibetan Buddhist initiates). “People worked for free in order to catapult their karma out of the prosaic shitter,” says Morris [a source]. “So you had a lot of people eating shit, literally and figuratively.” If you’d like to make your own, start with a non-constipated cow. And for Shiva’s sake, don’t let the cow doo-doo hit the ground, ’cause that would make it impure. [Click headline for more…] Read more
How would this be for an appeal to foreign students? “Come to America for language immersion classes! Bonus: Free lessons in Christianity!” I wouldn’t have the slightest problem with that — the cards are on the table, after all, so people can make up their own minds about whether or not the offer is attractive to them. But that’s not not how it worked for almost three dozen Chinese students who’d traveled to the U.S. for English immersion classes. Neither they nor their parents were informed that the curriculum would involve a serious dose of Christianity, and that a Christian church was the main host for the program. Instead, the trip was pitched as a chance for the teenagers to practice English while immersed in American life. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Cracked’s J. Wisniewski just published an entertaining article headlined 5 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About Ancient Civilizations. Lie #3 is the tale of Christians being thrown to the lions by hard-hearted Roman emperors. In truth, There are zero authentic accounts of Christian martyrdom in the Colosseum until over a century after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. In fact, not a single legitimate record exists of the Romans executing any Christians in the Colosseum. Zip. Zilch. Nada. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Yesterday, I briefly highlighted three cases of ex-convicts who got jobs as Christian pastors. The trust of their flock was the only protective cloak they needed to rape and murder again; so rape and murder they did. In the case of Michigan pastor John D. White, who killed a young woman and is believed to have had sex with her dead body, the congregation that hired him knew he had a rap sheet full of violence. But White had embraced Jesus. No more was needed. His conversion and ordainment quelled all suspicion, worry, or second thought. An actual minister would never do anything truly bad, would he? Forgiveness is always available from God — damn the consequences. Christians think of redemption as a feature of their faith. But what if it’s a bug? To the Almighty, nothing is unforgivable. Let that sink in. Nothing. You can be a genocidal maniac who eats crushed-up infants on toast during snack time… and still go to heaven if you eventually repent. [Click headline for more…] Read more
This kid, Ali Ahmed, is amazing. He speaks with poise and clarity and reason, and his arguments really do seem to come from deep within, rather than being a collection of learned-by-rote platitudes. The Arab world does not have to devolve into a pit of fundie misery. If it doesn’t, this young man — and other brave, brainy whippersnappers like him — will be the reason why. Read more