It’s occurred to me that I’ve collected far more links than I have time to write about, so here’s a batch of things I did want to bring up at some point but never did. I may flesh out some of these at some point, though. Time will tell.
1. The Codex Gigas:
Lore behind the codex suggests the book was the effort of one monk’s labor in a single night. After breaking the rules of the monastery, he’d been sentenced to a slow death – he’d be walled up in a room of bricks. The night before his sentence would be executed, the monk decided to write his last work, an evil book written on animal skins. He realized that finishing the book before imprisonment would be impossible, so he made a Faustian deal at midnight with Lucifer to finish the book, with the devil signing the document by painting a portrait of himself on the 290th leaf.
2. A pastor’s controversial book on sex:
The book was written by Driscoll and his wife, Grace, to, in Mark’s words, “compel married couples to have important conversations about important things.”
In the first half of the book, the Driscolls discuss their own sexual issues using the lessons they learned to discuss how to reignite a marriage whose flame may have gone out. The book’s second half, which is getting most of the negative attention, discusses sex in detail.
In response, religious scholars and writers have blasted the Driscolls’ work on a number of grounds ranging from the logistical to the biblical.
3. Apocalypse tourism:
The Mexican government is expecting 52 million tourists to visit the five regions — Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche, over the next 12 months, says the Latin American Herald Tribune.
According to goverment reports, the boom is part of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s tourism campaign: “Mundo Maya 2012,” to promote Mexico as a unique destination.
4. Ancient document claims dozens visited Jesus, not just three:
The translation of the mysterious ‘Revelation of the Magi’ describes how the three wise men actually numbered over a dozen and came from a faraway land, possibly China.
(Since the bible never specifies how many wise men visited, I don’t see this as news, personally. Straight Dope dealt with this years ago.)
5. “Miracle” survival of a kid with flesh eating disease:
The pope on Monday signed a decree authenticating the miracle, clearing the way for Tekakwitha to be canonized as America’s first Roman Catholic indigenous saint.
“There is no doubt in me or my husband’s mind that a miracle definitely took place,” Jake’s mother, Elsa Finkbonner, told msnbc.com on Tuesday. “There were far too many things that could have and should have gone wrong with his illness. The doctors went through every avenue they could to save his life and he survived. It’s a miracle that all of the other things that could have gone wrong, didn’t.”
6. Utah’s festive season vs atheist billboards:
“We’re glad to share the Christmas season with Christians, but they have stolen Christmas, and it is not the birthday of Jesus,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based organization. “It’s a natural event, the winter solstice. … The shortest day of the year has been celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere with decorations and lights and celebrations. We just think it’s important to celebrate reason and celebrate reality.”
She added that the foundation has heard there’s a feeling of claustrophobia among non-Mormons and nonbelievers in Salt Lake City. “There’s a great dominance there, so we want to be there, too.”
7. Evidence from Dead Sea dirt may verify some bible tales:
Ben-Avraham, head of the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center at Tel Aviv University in Israel, noted that this is important because, when it comes to earthquakes, the last century in the Middle East was unusually quiet.
“People don’t take this into consideration,” Ben-Avraham said, “but we have mighty earthquakes.”
Looking farther back, one of the seismically active eras revealed by the core samples appears to have been about 4,000 years ago, he said.
“If you believe the biblical chronology, this is roughly [the time of] Sodom and Gomorrah,” he said. During this period, according to the Book of Genesis, God “rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed all.”
8. British PM and Dawkins disagree on need for faith schools:
David Cameron has said atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins “just doesn’t really get it” on the issue of faith schools.
The Prime Minister made the comments as he answered questions from well-known figures for a Guardian newspaper article. Mr Cameron said he thinks faith schools are “very often good schools” and he noted that the church had provided “good schools long before the state got involved”.
Dawkins would rather see more schools promoting secularism and critical thinking instead of traditions and indoctrination.