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image The latest 'spawn-of-Virgin-Mary-Grilled-Cheese-Sandwich' on eBay is the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus Pretzel. This is a pretzel that may, if you're of the right frame of mind, look kind of like a Picasso-style rendition of the Virgin Mary holding the Baby Jesus. According to the description: "This totally unique and spiritual item was found by a 12 year old girl.  She was eating "Rold Gold" Honey Mustard flavored tiny twist pretzels, when she noticed the Virgin Mother holding Baby Jesus.  We all had a feeling of warmth and spirituality when holding the pretzel." The salty pretzel has been receiving news coverage, and bidding on it has already passed $1,000 with three days to go.
Categories: eBay, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 06, 2005
Comments (32)
A statue of Pope Sylvester II in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran is said to become damp when a Pope is about to die. The statue ain't sweating, so that means things are looking good for John Paul II. The accuracy of the statue as a medical diagnostic tool has been confirmed by "two elderly Italian nuns", so this is a pretty definite thing. (thanks to Gary for the link)
Categories: Death, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 27, 2005
Comments (8)
The latest rumor spreading around that has people up in arms involves an unusual requirement that exam boards supposedly place upon Religious Education students in Britain (this would involve students in the British equivalent of Junior High School). Apparently "The exam board requires that every time Muhammad is written, the letters "pbuh" in parentheses be placed after it. This is shorthand for "peace be upon him". The writer therefore prays a blessing upon him everytime his name is written, as is the custom of Muslims." This has people upset because it seems bizarre to force people who aren't Muslim to pray a blessing upon Mohammed. It would be like forcing Muslims to make the sign of the cross every time they say the name Christ. This rumor was started by some remarks a British teacher, David Holford, made on his blog. Holford has since removed the remarks (he says people were taking them out of context), but they can still be viewed at Little Green Footballs. So is there any truth to the rumor? In a word, no. Posters on the usenet group uk.politics.misc have contacted the British exam board to ask them what the official policy is, and the response was:

They [the exam board] say that they customarily put an Arabic colophon meaning 'peace be upon him' after Mohammed's name in course materials relating to Islam, just as they refer to 'G-d' in course materials relating to Judaism. They do this out of respect to the sensibilities of Muslim or Jewish students and teachers but they most certainly don't expect candidates to do the same.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 18, 2005
Comments (13)
image Pigeon Religion extolls the divine virtues of the oft-maligned pigeon. It's hard to tell if this is meant to be taken seriously. The text seems serious enough. Maybe. But the picture of a pigeon on the cross seems a bit over the top. However, I ran the phone number at the bottom of the page through a reverse phone directory and discovered that it was the number of the Companion Bird Club of Manhattan. Therefore, I'm concluding that Pigeon Religion is quite serious. (via Bifurcated Rivets)
Categories: Animals, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 08, 2005
Comments (2)
I just received this photo in my email. I suppose those stools the women are sitting on are real enough, though I have no idea if the women are really nuns, or if the whole scene was staged. It looks to me like the picture was taken somewhere in Europe, based on the drinks and signs behind the bar.

image image

Update: I added the picture that Charybdis linked to, since it's evident they belong together in a series. It must have been some kind of 'nuns on stools' photo shoot. (click images to enlarge)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 02, 2005
Comments (14)
image Here's another image-of-God-appears-in-food story. The BBC reports that a Swiss bar manager, Matteo Brandi, has found an oyster shell that bears the spitting image of Jesus Christ, though to me it looks more like what I imagine the Sea-God Poseidon should look like. Mr. Brandi said he found the shell when "The oyster stuck to his hand as if God was calling him." He also points out that his oyster shell is unique because, unlike the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich, it is "the work of nature." That's true. A few hundred years ago Mr. Brandi's shell would have been referred to as a Lusus Naturae. Mr. Brandi doesn't need any encouragement to sell his holy oyster shell online. That's already his plan.
Categories: Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 18, 2005
Comments (21)
image I received this email yesterday from an artist requesting my opinion. Feel free to leave your own opinion in the comments:

Being an artist, in August of 1996 I painted a picture.
It was supposed to be a simple picture of a large cross on a white background.
The picture is 24 x 30. The two axis of the cross are 11.5 inches wide.
Roughly 28 x 22.5. The cross was made by taking a pallet of mixed colors of paint and with one vertical and one horizontal swipe nothing more.

When the paint dried you could "I would say" clearly see the face of Christ on the cross. I was so afraid I put the picture away and in the last 8 years have only showed it to several of my friends. Please give me your honest input on what you see in and think about my picture.
You can either call or email me back.

This is no joke.

Warmest Regards,
DiMarcia (Dee) Ancrum

(Click on the image to enlarge it. I had to trim it down significantly because the image file was huge... 3.3MB)
Categories: Art, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 17, 2005
Comments (68)
The Guardian reports that a story has been spreading around Islamic websites about a CIA muezzin school in which the CIA trains agents to pose as muezzins (the men who call Muslims to prayer five days a week times a day from the minaret towers of mosques). Supposedly the CIA feels that muezzins are in a uniquely advantageous position to view everything that's going on in Muslim communities. But in reality, this is another of those satire-mistaken-as-news stories. The story of the CIA Muezzin school originated on the satire-laced website of the The Rockall Times (Rockall is a tiny uninhabited island in the middle of the Atlantic). So this will join the growing list of spoofs taken seriously by Muslim news sources, a list that already includes the Giant Skeleton Unearthed in Saudi Arabia, and the Secret History of the Flying Carpet.
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 11, 2005
Comments (9)
image I, like everyone else, should stop posting about these miracle foods that keep appearing on eBay. It's only encouraging their proliferation. But I just can't stop myself. So here's the latest one: A Miracle M&M. The seller says:

Purchasing a handful of M&M from vending machine, I came across this very special M&M that I believe to be a likeness of Jesus with a crown on his head. This has been a life changing event for me. I am hoping that all of you see what I see.
Categories: eBay, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 09, 2005
Comments (17)
image In the same vein as the crucified Santa urban legend, here's an odd statue that would look great in any front yard. It's the Santa Kneeling by Baby Jesus
Outdoor Statue
. I wonder if they realize that Santa wasn't actually one of those three wise men that the Bible talks about? (via Bifurcated Rivets)
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 17, 2004
Comments (26)
A flurry of news stories last week announced the news that a famous atheist, 81-year-old Antony Flew, had changed his mind. Apparently he now believed that there was a God, of some sort. Except that it looks like the media jumped the gun a bit. In this article in Rationalist International Flew rebuts the rumors, reassuring everyone that "I'm Still an Atheist!" He then proceeds to explain how all the confusion happened, but unfortunately his explanation succeeded in confusing me even more. Something about positive vs. negative atheists (I'm not sure what he means by this).
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 14, 2004
Comments (9)
Numerous bad loans to a polygamist sect that believes the end of the world is nigh has caused the 99-year-old Bank of Ephraim in Utah to go under. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a small Mormon sect a small splinter sect of the Mormon church, unaffiliated with the main church) was spending money like the end of the world was around the corner... because they thought the end of the world actually was around the corner. And happily funding this spending spree was the Bank of Ephraim. They approved loans for one bizarre project after another: a watermelon farm that didn't grow watermelons, a construction company that made a loss on everything it sold (materials, labor). The bank liked giving loans to the end-of-world sect because the end-of-worlders readily agreed to outrageously high interest rates (Why not? If the world ends tomorrow you don't have to pay it back). I'm trying to imagine how the interview to assess credit worthiness might have gone:
-'So you're a member of a sect whose members have sworn an oath to borrow as much money as possible before the world ends and all financial markets collapse. Is that right?'
-'That's right.'
-'Sounds good. You're approved.'
I like the understatement of Utah Banking Supervisor Jim Thomas who simply notes that the bank got in too deep with sect members who "didn't have much to lose".
Categories: Business/Finance, Future/Time, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 08, 2004
Comments (5)
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