• Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

    A blog that tries to find intelligent things to say about religion and related subjects.


  • Accidental Abortion

    Accidental Abortion

    There comes a time in life when you realize that if a small town you know makes it into the news headlines, it is likely tragic. Read more

    Posted on 09 December 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Read Ban


    Someone in the Greenville County Library doesn’t get out much. The LA Times reported this week that a surprised parent got a look at Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, a... Read more

    Posted on 08 December 2012 BOOKS
  • Spirituality Sampler

    Spirituality Sampler

    Sometimes you read a book and wonder if somehow the author got into your head and fished around for material. Although I’m not Jewish, at least not that I know... Read more

    Posted on 07 December 2012 RELIGION
  • Jolly Saint Nicholas

    Jolly Saint Nicholas

    Each December the Princeton University Chapel Choir performs a free holiday concert in the impressive university cathedral (actually, it is a chapel, but given... Read more

    Posted on 06 December 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Rock Hard Cafe

    Rock Hard Cafe

    At first glance it may not appear to be much. A small chunk of rock, probably limestone. Hardly large enough to be used in a sling against a giant in a pinch.... Read more

    Posted on 05 December 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Old Lies


    Much of my exposure to literature has come through my daughter. I didn’t really grow up in a literary family. We had a prominent television and not much money... Read more

    Posted on 04 December 2012 BOOKS, CULTURE, POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Seeking Sava Savanovic

    Seeking Sava Savanovic

    According to the Associated Press, Sava Savanovic seems to have risen from the grave again. In the world of professional vampirologists, I am a mere hack, but... Read more

    Posted on 03 December 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • The Last December

    Last December

    December 2012—it is supposedly the last month in the world. Yesterday did dawn with the date being 1212012, but since the local tree farm opened its gates... Read more

    Posted on 02 December 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Saving Sin


    Although it makes little sense, I have always tended toward a monastic outlook. When I see something I want my first impulse is not to get it. I will sometimes... Read more

    Posted on 01 December 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Bible-Landia


    It takes a mighty powerful stimulus to get the media to pay attention to biblical scholars. It is no surprise, therefore, when the Society of Biblical Literatur... Read more

    Posted on 30 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Creature Feature

    Creature Feature

    Gregory L. Reece’s Creatures of the Night is a strangely profound book. I picked it up to read on the plane home from Chicago and I wasn’t disappointed. Read more

    Posted on 29 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Theology of the Apes

    Theology Apes

    “Alter what you believe to be the course of the future by slaughtering two innocents, or rather three now that one of them is pregnant? Herod tried that and... Read more

    Posted on 28 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Ruby Tuesday

    Ruby Tuesday

    If you’re reading this, you survived Cyber Monday. Not that I personally remember the Middle Ages—I have no desire to return to them—but there was a time when... Read more

    Posted on 27 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Au Fait in the Manger?

    Fait Manger?

    On Friday CNN ran a story about the Pope’s new book “debunking” myths surrounding Christmas. The headline certainly looked intriguing, but it turns out that... Read more

    Posted on 26 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Phantom Prayers

    Phantom Prayers

    Religion and theater have much in common. I suspect that this is one reason several religious traditions initially protested against the secular theater. Read more

    Posted on 25 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Prayers in Space

    Prayers Space

    Science with heart. That’s one way to characterize Mary Roach’s writing. Uninhibited is another. I began reading her books when I saw Spook on the science... Read more

    Posted on 24 November 2012 BOOKS, RELIGION, SCIENCE
  • Hallowed Be Thy Kane

    Hallowed Kane

    Watching the alien burst from Kane’s distended abdomen as he appeared to have eaten too much seemed somehow appropriate on Thanksgiving. Read more

    Posted on 23 November 2012 ENVIRONMENT
  • Holy Gobblers

    Holy Gobblers

    I wonder if this is how religions get started. Yesterday President Obama continued the lighthearted tradition of pardoning two turkeys prior to Thanksgiving. Read more

    Posted on 22 November 2012 POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Gonad Make Disciples

    Gonad Make Disciples

    The funny thing about authority is that when it counts those who have it are often afraid to use it. So yesterday the “mother church” (if that honorific still... Read more

  • Under the Influence

    Under Influence

    A news story over the weekend—when oddball stories of religion are welcomed by the media—revealed that a judge in Muskogee County, Oklahoma sentenced a youth... Read more

    Posted on 20 November 2012 RELIGION, SOCIETY