Spiritual Surf: Sundance takes down Mormons; Kitty Kelley takes down Oprah; Tu Beshevat (the tree of life) and St. Paul
Utah not only hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival; in the 2010 edition of the film fest, the state’s (unofficial) church has a starring role in the line-up of movies.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is taken down in a documentary about the 2008 initiative that successfully banned gay marriage in California.
Another irony: the film, 8: The Mormon Proposition, is directed by a former Mormon. It details the counter-revolutionary intervention Mormons poured into passing Proposition 8.
Why the focused animosity toward gay marriage from this one-time cult? A central tenet of Mormonism is eternal marriage between men and women who, like God, need each other to populate their own planets with children. Tangentially, it’s one reason that Mormons have led the U.S. in geneological research, and that the website Ancestry.com is based there.
Kitty Kelley has written a new unauthorized biography on Oprah. The self-help media queen has not commented on the biography, and her staff has issued a statement that Oprah has not read the book. Speaking of an expose, nineteen-year-old Bristol Palin, in an interview with Oprah, says she won’t have sex again until she’s married! Stating that her pregnancy was a hard lesson (no pun intended), Bristol has now committed herself to learning from her mistake and showing that it is never too late to learn. But, then again, didn’t someone once say “Experientia docet stultos” (“Fools learn from experience”)?
Jewish communities this week celebrate the annual birthday of trees. Tu Beshevat (literally “the fifteenth of Sheva”) is celebrated in a variety of ways, one in particular is the planting of trees.
After the earthquake in Haiti, world attention has focused on the Haitian economy and treatment of the environment, specifically the vast clearing of trees on the western half of Espanola. This holiday is timely because Tu Beshevat’s reminds us that though the environment is ours to use, natural resources must be conserved and renewed (such as the planting of trees).
Even Givenchy is “getting religion” as demonstrated during Paris Fashion Week. Models donned a variety of spiritual attire, from a gold crown of thorns around a finely sculpted neck, to black monastic style hoods. In a postmodern age where religious beliefs and practices are openly traded and exchanged as spiritual commodities, a religious fashion show may show how religion is becoming more of an aesthetic affair, where spirituality is a matter of beauty.
Pope endorses using new media. . . as long as it’s used to proclaim the word of God. The Vatican is continuing a campaign for using the latest in internet media for preaching the Gospel. Priests are encouraged by the pontiff to become better acquainted with contemporary social media, allowing for a new level of connectivity.
Communication has come a long way from Paul’s letters and travels on Roman roads, but, as the Vatican holds, the message is essentially the same.
Speaking of Paul’s epistles, this week Christians celebrate St. Paul’s famous journey on the road to Damascus. According to the New Testament, Paul of Tarsus, who was initially an early opponent of the newly-formed community of Christians, was traveling from Jerusalem to the city of Damascus until a blinding light knocked him off his ass. The light, according to the account, was Jesus, calling upon Paul to stop persecuting Christians. Paul heeded the divine message, traveled the eastern Mediterranean preaching the Gospel, and wrote several influential letters.
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