Monday, June 16, 2008

Man Changes Name to "In God We Trust"

A bus driver from the town of (go figure) Zion, Illinois has legally changed his name to "In God We Trust." He says it's a testament to the hard times God has seen him through. I suspect it's a thinly veiled attempt to become a viable form of U.S. currency. Mark my words -- in a few years, we'll be paying for everything with bus drivers.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are Celebrities the New Greek Gods?

The other day, while Googling myself (oh, come on, like you don't do it), I came across a link to one of my articles on Godlike Productions, a site for "UFOs, Conspiracy Theories, The Lunatic Fringe." The article in question was an interview with Jake Halpern, author of Fame Junkiesan amazing and under-acknowledged book on the American obsession with celebrity. In the interview, we discussed the bizarre nature of celebrity worship:

What makes someone pick Jennifer Lopez over Jesus as a dinner date?
I think a lot of it has to do with loneliness. The kids who described themselves as lonely and underappreciated were more likely to pick Paris Hilton or 50 Cent. The kids who were less lonely mostly picked Jesus.

Is celebrity worship the new religion? You profile a woman in the book named Marcy who lives and dies for Rod Stewart, but is also a born-again Christian.
Right, and I argue that she has different spiritual needs that are met by Jesus and by Rod. There's that great line where she says, "Jesus loves me just the way I am, whereas Rod loves the tall blondes." I think that what celebrities offer is a charismatic leader you can follow. You can make pilgrimages to their houses, to their concerts — there's a group of followers, zealots, who you can bond with. Marcy was getting a lot from Rod to fill a sort of spiritual void. The problem was that, as she pointed out, sometimes Rod didn't acknowledge her, and she'd feel crushed, whereas God is always around.

The "lunatic fringe" at Godlike Productions interpreted this to mean that Americans are unspeakably shallow and moronic. I interpret it as evidence of the powerful place religion holds in our psyches. But please, decide for yourself -- read the book, or check out the interview here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

He's Not That Innocent

This handsome fellow here is Abdullah "Aa Gym" Gymnastiar, popularly known (according to the Jakarta Post) as "the Britney Spears of Islam." How did he earn that name, you might ask? Does he chant Quaranic verses in a red pleather jumpsuit? Does he make a yearly hajj to Las Vegas to marry somebody sketchy? Is there an Islamic Kevin Federline in his life with a stash of Marlboros rolled into his keffiyah?

Nope. He just wrote some self-help books. Who knew the bar for Muslim Britneys was set so low?

Friday, June 6, 2008

We Hereby Nominate Fred "Mister" Rogers for Sainthood

Many visitors to God Spam comment on my bio, which describes me as a Christian who does not suck. If there were a Kinsey scale of Christian suck-to-not-suck ratio, designed in MS Paint, it might look something like this:

That's because Mr. Rogers is one of the best models of Christianity that pop culture has ever offered up. In "real life," he was a Presbyterian minister who considered his children's show his ministry. He had a passion for this calling, as you can see in this clip of him (successfully) urging the US Senate to maintain funding for PBS:

He also practiced what he preached to children on his show: love, tolerance and an appreciation for the good in people. Mental Floss has compiled a list of inspiring Mr. Rogers factoids, including a great story about the night he struck up a lifelong friendship with a chauffeur by inviting him up to the fancy dinner party he was hired to drive him to.

"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes." -- Fred Rogers

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Locke, Nooooo!

Warning: spoilers.

LOCKE: It's not an island. It's a place where miracles happen.
JACK: There's no such thing as miracles.

We're happy to see Lost take us back to the faith-versus-reason debates we loved so much in the first season, even if things ended on a bad note for Team Faith. Still, as Locke said, The Island is a place where miracles happen. And if it can heal the lame and cause an infertile couple to give birth, couldn't another Biblical miracle be close behind?

The littlest Locke fan hopes we'll be seeing a resurrection.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Color Your Own Crucifixion

With the Holy Heroes "Road to Calvary" coloring book, you can use your crayons to illustrate all fourteen stations of the cross. Make Jesus look Mauvelous as he stumbles from pain, and Radical Red as he's stripped of his garments! Should the nails in his hands be Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown or Robin's Egg Blue? Christianity + Crayola = endless possibilities!

Download your free sample page here!

(Coincidentally, Holy Heroes is also the name of this lovely blog about superheroes and religion.)