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Status: Fake
Yes, that's Tony Blair on the left and President Bush on the right. In the middle is the Duke of Edinburgh. They're dressed up as the three magi. It's pretty obvious that the picture is fake. Bush and Blair didn't really don these costumes. But it's not fake in the sense of being photoshopped. These are actually dummies (wax dummies, specifically) that appeared in a nativity scene at London's Madame Tussauds last Christmas. (Victoria and David Beckham served as Mary and Joseph.) Church leaders protested the scene, and it was soon shut down after being vandalized. But this picture still seems to be circulating around.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 20, 2005
Comments (4)
Status: Real water, but it's not holy
image This is an odd marketing gimmick. This company is selling Holy Bottled Water. Of course, the label could easily be mistakenly read as Holy Water Bottled. But it's not holy water (in the sense of water that's been blessed by a priest). It's just regular old bottled water. The closest they come to explaining why their water is holy is this cryptic claim:

From the River of Living Water flows 'Holy Bottled Water Inc.' Produced by man under the inspiration of God.

They also make the strange claim that "WATER IS TWICE AS VALUABLE AS OIL" (as if that should make you want to buy their water), but wouldn't that depend on the type of oil? (via J-Walk)
Categories: Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 15, 2005
Comments (4)
Status: True
image Virginia Voiers, a 70-year-old grandmother, has been charged with stealing baby Jesus from a nativity scene in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

"It was a lark, it wasn't any serious stealing,'' Voiers told the Lovely County Citizen newspaper of Eureka Springs. "My granddaughter commented that no one had taken the baby Jesus this year and said, 'Grandma?' I said, 'Oh, what the heck.''' Usually, the baby Jesus is returned by the thief. Voiers said her Saturday caper was the first time she'd taken anything from the nativity. "I didn't know we had a tattletale downtown,'' said Voiers, who is also a Sunday school teacher at a Methodist church.

She got caught because a security camera had been installed to catch pranksters in the act. In other words, the entire theft was filmed. I'd love to see that video.
Categories: Pranks, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (13)
Status: Hoax website
Banner of Heaven is (or rather was) a weblog run by a group of mormons who wrote about their experiences trying to balance the pressures of daily life with the demands of their religion. The cast included:

Jenn: "a perky, 20-something Mormon, seeking an eternal mate in the Big Apple"
Mari: "the shyest character, got her neighbor's package by mistake and was afraid to deliver it to him in case he got mad"
Miranda: "the feminist who is disappointed in her husband's ambitions."
Septimus: "a divorced returned missionary with social anxiety and sweaty hands"
Aaron: "a wannabe prophet who sees God's hand in everything"
and Greg: "who isn't Mormon but hangs out with them."

The blog attracted quite a following in the Mormon community, but as an article in the Salt Lake Tribune reveals, it was a hoax. All the characters were fictional:

The storytellers were planning to out themselves by Thanksgiving. But two weeks ago, a group of readers got suspicious. Folks at offered a free T-shirt to anyone who correctly identified the real people behind Banner's six characters. On Oct. 28, Gibson, Evans and the rest of the Banner gang came clean, publishing groveling mea culpas, apologizing to readers, acknowledging they got carried away. They are sorry for tricking and hurting people or fueling opponents of the LDS Church... Some critics of the LDS Church grabbed onto the Banner of Heaven episode as a parallel for the church's own founding, saying that it was like founder Joseph Smith claiming invented revelations. That is most upsetting to Banner creators who are all believing Mormons, Evans says. "Religion is more than telling a beautiful story, it's about truth."
Categories: Religion, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 23, 2005
Comments (9)
Status: Impersonating a deity
A male police officer in India has declared himself to be the reincarnation of Radha, the female consort of the Hindu god Krishna. Naturally, he dresses the part:

Devendra Kumar Panda, a 1971 batch officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS), presents an odd sight draped in female attire - complete with nose ring, lipstick, finger and toe nails painted red - and singing hymns in praise of Lord Krishna and dancing. "Lord Krishna has himself assigned me the role of Radha and whatever I am doing is in pursuance of his wishes," 57-year-old Panda told IANS.

However, his wife isn't buying any of it:

On Saturday, Panda chose to put up a full-scale performance before a host of TV cameras in his house. "I see nothing wrong with this. After all, I am carrying out the will of almighty Lord Krishna," he said. An unimpressed Veena has declared her husband as "fake" and refuses to believe his claims about divinity. "He is indulging in all other normal activities, and even chats on the Internet. I am sure all this façade is put up by him to find some excuse for remaining in the company of women, whom he describes as 'Krishna's gopis'," she alleged.

As strategies for picking up women go, that's a pretty elaborate one. I wonder if it actually works.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Religion, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 13, 2005
Comments (12)
Status: Real
image is was selling an upside-down Christmas tree for $499.99. (Thanks to Travis for the link--which has now gone dead, therefore I removed it) I'm not religious, but my first thought when seeing it was that it would be a perfect holiday decoration for a family of Satanists, to accompany their upside-down crosses and crucified Santa. I know it's not a joke, or some mistake on Target's part, because Hammacher Schlemmer is selling the same thing for $100 more. I understand these things are supposed to be space-savers, but why not save space by buying a smaller tree? I guess I just don't see the point, or appeal, of an upside-down tree. And why are they so ridiculously expensive?
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 09, 2005
Comments (84)
Status: Pareidolia
image The latest face of a deity to be seen in a random object is the face of Jesus that some people claim they can see in the trunk of a tree on North Clinton Avenue in Rochester, New York. They're now calling it the Jesus Tree. Most of the time, when people start claiming to see the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich or Jesus in an oyster shell, I can at least make out the outline of a face. But in this case I can't see anything at all. Maybe you need to have more faith in order to be able to see it.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 31, 2005
Comments (37)
Status: Real (I think)
image At last you can enjoy your favorite passages from scripture as interpreted by mimes:

Christian Mime Theater brings scripture passages to life through the ministry of pantomime. During the “voice over” reading of the scripture, people come to life in various light pools across the stage, portraying modern enactments of the timeless Word of God.

I'm assuming this is real and not some kind of Objective-Christian-Ministries style parody. After all, it appears that you really can buy the Christian Mime Theater video, and the rest of the site appears serious. But it's still an odd concept. When I think of mimes I usually imagine tortured French existentialist types, not Christian theater.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 27, 2005
Comments (41)
Status: Unlikely (though the people who think it does won't care what I say)
image Along I-75 in Ohio there stands a 62-foot-tall fiberglass and styrofoam statue of Jesus, his hands raised into the air. It's very visible from the highway. Nicknames for it include Super Savior, Touchdown Jesus, Drowning Jesus (because it's located in front of a reflecting pool), and Jeeebus. It was completed last summer, and according to rumor there have been no accidents along the stretch of highway in front of it, although previously many accidents occurred there. Apparently Giant Jesus made the highway safe. Can this be true? According to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it is true that section of I-75 used to be quite deadly:

Officials at the Ohio Department of Transportation say about 87,000 vehicles pass the statue each day, and they agree that it was a deadly section of highway. In 2000 and 2001, the agency’s records show, 14 people were killed.

And since the arrival of Jesus, the deaths have stopped. So interpret that however you want. But the Department of Transportation isn't attributing the declining accident rate to divine intervention:

To halt the deaths, the state spent $1.1 million to install a cable that runs down the median. The cable barrier is designed to stop vehicles before they can cross into oncoming traffic. "Ten fatalities were crossover accidents," said Jay Hamilton, the highway agency traffic engineer who designed the barrier. "It was a highly deadly stretch of Ohio highway. Not anymore."... "I honestly think that Jesus can perform miracles, but I don’t think the statue was the miracle out here," he said. "It was the barrier."
Categories: Places, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 20, 2005
Comments (21)
image A Matrix-style poster depicting a Catholic priest as Neo isn't a spoof. The Catholic Church really is distributing these things. It's part of their new recruitment campaign:

The poster's creator, the Rev. Jonathan Meyer, 28, associate director of youth ministries for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, says pop culture is the key to attracting young men to an occupation that has gotten bad press.
"If we can get high-school youth to hang a picture of a priest in their room, that's huge in helping young men to answer the call to the priesthood," the cleric said. "Anyone who is a 'Matrix' guru looks at the picture and automatically gets it."
Crucifix in hand, Father Meyer posed for the poster, rated R for "restricted to those radically in love with Jesus Christ." Running time is "all eternity," and its title reads, "The Catholic priesthood: The answer is out there ... and it's calling you."

I'm wondering how far the Neo as Catholic priest analogy can be extended. In the second Matrix movie, Neo has sex with Trinity. So how are we supposed to interpret that? In one sense it seems appropriate (priests are dedicating themselves to God, or the Holy Trinity), but in another way it doesn't seem to be the message the Church intended. (via Notes From the Lounge)
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 22, 2005
Comments (364)
A lot of people worry that we may be in the midst of a serious housing bubble. But worry no more. If everyone simply buys a St. Joseph Statue (only $9.95) and buries it beneath their 'for sale' sign when they go to sell their house, they're guaranteed to get full price or more! This is the way to keep the bubble propped up forever. Put the power of miracles to work for you.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue May 24, 2005
Comments (33)
image A raisin that is the spitting image of the current pope is up for sale on eBay:

Yes My Friends, It Is Truly Amazing How This "Unmodified" Raisin Resembles The Pope In Every Way ~ Shape & Form ~ To The Smallest Detail
The Eyes, The Nose, The Ears, The Mouth
It's Like Holding The Pope's Head in Your Hand. But Smaller.

There are four days left to bid, but I think people are hesitant to make an offer because they may not want to interfere with the starting bid of $6.66.
Categories: eBay, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon May 23, 2005
Comments (13)
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