Religion

Sundance Docs ‘Going Clear’ and ‘Prophet’s Prey’ Ask: Religion or Cult?

PARK CITY, UT: Late in Prophet’s Prey, Amy Berg’s provocative
and powerful documentary case against FLDS church head Warren Jeffs, author Jon Krakauer says this about the church’s continued dedication to a man who is clearly a monster: “It speaks to something disturbing about human nature. Once you believe something, it’s very, very difficult to give that up completely.” That simple yet undeniable truth lies at the center of not only Prophet’s Prey but Going Clear, Alex Gibney’s already controversial look at the history and methodology of the Church of Scientology. Both films use extensive documentation, buried tapes, and testimony from departed members to paint portraits of organizations that would call themselves one thing (church), while most sensible people would call them another (cult). … Read More

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22 Cultural Icons on Spirituality

The icons we admire in the pop culture sphere are often quiet about their religious and spiritual lives, determined to keep one piece of themselves away from prying eyes. But every now and then, these cultural icons open up to us about their deepest beliefs. After learning about a lecture series on Buddhism by Jorge Luis Borges on Open Culture, we decided to get metaphysical. Here’s what our culture’s most talented and keen have to say about their inner lives — stances on the spiritual, religious views, and more. … Read More

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Your Holiday Helping of Home Cooked Food (and Sex Robots): Links You Need To See

Calories are not the first thing on my mind during the holidays—but maybe they should be. The “average” amount of calories the “average” person should eat daily is approximately 2000; younger people should eat more than older people, and men typically need more calories than women. At The New York Times‘ blog The Upshot, Claire Cain Miller, David Leonhardt, and other writers put together the multimedia story “What 2000 Calories Looks Like” to give you a better idea of just how much you’re consuming every day. To be honest, Shake Shack isn’t as bad as I thought. … Read More

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Christian Bale Defends Ridley Scott’s Use of White Actors in ‘Exodus’

Director Ridley Scott has received plenty of criticism for his use of mostly white actors in his biblical epic Exodus. Christian… Read More

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35 Susan Sontag Quotes on Art, Writing, and Life

Susan Sontag’s prose style captivated readers, and her assertive critical stance never failed to invite controversy. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the author’s passing, and the documentary Regarding Susan Sontag airs on HBO tonight. In honor of both occasions, we revisited her journals and books to find some of Sontag’s most thought-provoking quotes on everything from relationships and art to war and pop… Read More

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HBO Hires 160 Lawyers in Preparation for Release of its Scientology Documentary

HBO will soon be releasing its documentary on Scientology, Going Clear, based on the book of the same name by… Read More

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Christopher Owens on the Children of God and His ‘New Testament': “It’s My Own Take on Pop”

The video for Girls’ “Hellhole Ratrace” was released in June of 2009, throwing the band’s frontman, Christopher Owens, into the indie-rock spotlight. Owens was perhaps too willing to talk about everything in his early days, detailing his time spent in the Children of God cult, his since-kicked opiate habit, and his years spent with the late Amarillo art pioneer Stanley Marsh III. Girls had three excellent, critically acclaimed releases — two full-lengths, one EP — with influences that ranged far and wide: surf music, old-school country, King Crimson, Randy Newman, Felt, the Everly Brothers, and somehow others. And then, citing “heartbreak” from the band’s constant turnover of members, Owens called it quits in 2012. … Read More

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Powerful Portraits of Modern-Day Witches

Polish photographer Katarzyna Majak celebrates the alternative and unconventional spiritual paths of women in her home country, which is predominantly Catholic. Modern-day witches, Druids, healers, and others are featured in her series, Women of Power, each subject empowered by her talisman of choice. Majak’s “fascinating journey from woman to woman (the youngest in her early 30s, the oldest in her late 80s) led her all over her native land as she sought female wisdom and the plurality of spiritual paths hidden within Poland’s mono-religious society.” For some of the women, whose photos we first spotted on Beautiful/Decay, this is the first time they have gone public to reveal their beliefs. Take a closer look in our gallery, and visit Majak’s website to learn more. … Read More

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Fascinating Photos of Mexican Faith Healers

A curandero is a faith healer or native shaman who treats any number of maladies, including mental and spiritual “illnesses” that are more commonly handled by a clergyperson or psychiatrist in the United States. Photographer and documentary filmmaker Scott Dalton, whose work we first saw on Beautiful Decay, has captured the life of the curandero during healing sessions and pilgrimages across Mexico and Latin America. While some faith healers rely on herbs and natural cures, others use Catholic elements, such as idols, paintings, and holy water. Dalton’s visually striking photos reveal a beauty and vulnerability shared between the curandero and the people seeking healing and guidance. … Read More

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10 Takes on the Pontiff in Pop Culture

You needn’t be Catholic to know a new Pope was elected earlier this week. The 266th pontiff is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has taken the name Francis and is best remembered for washing and kissing the feet of AIDS patients. Meanwhile, human rights activists (and the Internet) are criticizing Pope Francis for a possible link to Argentina’s Dirty War in 1976 and his stance on same-sex marriage. Yesterday, we also reported that Bruno Ganz has been cast in Showtime’s upcoming series The Vatican as the fictional Pope Sixtus VI. Inspired by the lingering white smoke, we wanted to look back at the hilarious and fascinating ways the Pope has been portrayed in pop culture. Head past the break for more guys in funny hats. … Read More

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