Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'religion'

A Koan for Our Times

April 10th, 2013 · No Comments

Apologies for the sporadic posting these last couple of weeks. I’m neck deep in a million things as the book nears publication, including those all-important updates on Skyjacker of the Day. Fear not, though, this enterprise still lives, and posts shall be issuing at more traditional rate starting early next week. For the moment, though, […]

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Respectful Enemies

June 15th, 2012 · No Comments

Rampok macans were Javanese ceremonies which centered upon the slaying of tigers, perhaps as a symbolic way for humans to confirm their dominance over nature. The tigers were not sacrificed, per se, but rather forced into combat that virtually guaranteed their deaths—either against spear-wielding humans or, far more spectacularly, water buffalos. An eyewitness described the […]

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America’s Penchant for Reinvention

April 24th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Our vast nation’s architectural history boasts few curiosities more delightful than the Nuwaubian pyramids of Eatonton, Georgia, captured here in drive-by video. Some approximation of a backstory is available in this Macon Telegraph story; suffice to say that one must always be wary of religious leaders who were once aspiring musicians. (See also: Koresh, David; […]

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Biblical Wisdom

April 19th, 2012 · 1 Comment

I highly recommend this set of Papua New Guinea images, by the Australian photographer Ben Bohane. The one posted above (larger version here) is a personal favorite for the way it juxtaposes the firearm with the quote from Psalms. I read that quote as so sinister in this context, but alternate translations give quite the […]

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Bending the Rules

February 21st, 2012 · No Comments

Far be it from me to shed a tear for a murderous scoundrel whose various scams increased the price of everything in my adopted hometown. But did John Gotti get a raw deal when the Catholic Church denied him a funeral mass? A scholar makes the case here (PDF), arguing that the Church broke its […]

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“Today’s Most Devastating Polemicist”

December 16th, 2011 · No Comments

I was reluctant to read my first Christopher Hitchens work, a thin volume that bore the decidedly loaded title The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. I figured the flap copy told me all I needed to know about the author’s point of view, and that he’d written the polemic more as an […]

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Managing the Bloodshed

November 16th, 2011 · No Comments

While heading to Microkhan Jr.’s preschool the other day, I heard a dreadful squawk emanate from courtyard of an apartment building. It took me a moment to realize that someone was killing a chicken for supper—a bird likely purchased from one of Queens’ many live poultry shops. I had no problem with the violence, as […]

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What Would Buddha Do?

August 24th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I do not believe the prince who renounced the world in order to attain Enlightenment would approve of these copyright shenanigans in Taiwan: The funeral industry has been rocked by a lawsuit filed by a music company that accuses funeral homes of intellectual property right (IPR) infringement for playing Buddhist chants and pop music during […]

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Tempting, But…

June 20th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Banging out these words from the new global headquarters in Sunnyside, having left Harlem in the dust after seven wondrous years. As Microkhan Jr. and I headed for the 125th Street subway stop for the very last time, we passed one of the neighborhood oddities I’ll truly miss: the ATLAH World Missionary Church, infamous for […]

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Powerless

June 3rd, 2011 · 1 Comment

The last time we checked in on Papua New Guinea’s efforts to counter its epidemic of sorcery-related killings, the country was considering making changes to its Sorcery Act of 1971 in order to make it easier for authorities to punish both witchcraft practitioners and those who murder them. Unfortunately, those legal reform efforts seem to […]

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We’ve Been Here Before

May 20th, 2011 · 8 Comments

I’m scheduled to begin a long journey to the southwest Oregon coast tomorrow, and thus have spent a good deal of the morning getting ready for the trip. While making sure that my digital recorder had enough battery juice to serve me well, I had an unexpected twinge of worry: What if the nutters handing […]

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Pilolevu in the Sky with Diamonds

December 13th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Somewhat lighter-than-usual posting these next three days, as I hack through yet another killer Wired deadline—the last major work task of an exhausting 2010. I was tempted to just toss up a few YouTubes between now and Thursday morning, but that wouldn’t be very sporting. So I will instead offer some quick hits about topics […]

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A Clear Conscience

December 7th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Whenever my work involves looking at rolls of decades-old microfilm, I inevitably stumble across a handful of tremendous yarns that have been lost to time. Such was the case this past Saturday, as I whiled away the hours scrolling through old copies of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Lazily panning across the pages in search of […]

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Soul Points

November 17th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Even by the most conservative estimates, Tonga is the most intensely Mormon nation on Earth. The official estimate is that roughly 15 percent of Tonga’s population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Mormons adherent place the figure much higher—typically around 32 percent, and sometimes even higher. This is par for […]

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Heaven to the Kaliai

November 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Staying on the near-death experience theme from yesterday, I went and dug up one of my all-time favorite papers on the topic: Dorothy Counts‘ 1983 study of NDEs in New Guinea. Of particular note were the visions described by the Kaliai, a people who inhabit West New Britain. When they hallucinate about the Great Beyond […]

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Here There Be Monsters

October 11th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Columbus Day brings to mind all the various explorers who are more deserving of modern recognition than the dour Genoan you either love or loathe. One such admirable icon is our namesake, St. Brendan, who allegedly sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in the sixth century A.D. True, there is zero physical evidence to prove that […]

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The Magnificient

September 28th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Given my longstanding fascination with North-East India, one of the primary settings for my 386-page labor o’ love, I’ve been following Mary Kom’s boxing career for a good while now. The 27-year-old mother of twins just won her fifth world championship, a feat that earned her a true hero’s welcome in her native state of […]

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Eternal Students at Bovine University

September 20th, 2010 · 3 Comments

According to the criteria laid out by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his celebrated Four Freedoms speech, life is a mixed bag for millions of Indian cows. On the plus side, they are not confined to grim facilities that exist solely to turn their bovine inmates into hangar steaks. But though free-roaming Indian cows are spared […]

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Demanding Satisfaction, to a Young Nation’s Detriment

August 20th, 2010 · 5 Comments

It doesn’t take much imagination to mock Kentucky’s oath of office, which contains this gloriously anachronistic bit of verbiage: I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of […]

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Before They Were the Enemy

August 13th, 2010 · No Comments

Okay, so maybe our species doesn’t really kill 100 million sharks per year, as is so widely reported. But even if the true figure is closer to 26 million, that’s still a heckuva lot of fish—and far out of proportion to the number of humans who annually perish in shark attacks. Blame Jaws if you […]

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Someday Our Prince Will Come

August 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

It takes a hard heart indeed not to be intrigued by the intricacies of a Vanuatuan cargo cult, especially one as puzzling as the Prince Philip Movement. The small sect believes that Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, a native of Greece known primarily for his verbal gaffes, is actually a Vanuatuan spirit in disguise, and that […]

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The Leaf of Allah

August 6th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Whenever Somali Islamists have managed to carve out some measure of political influence in the Horn of Africa, one of their first legal maneuvers has been to outlaw the chewing of khat. Their stated rationale is simple: Khat causes pleasure, pleasure leads to decadence, and decadence is the enemy of piety. It is exactly the […]

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Rastafarians and Quakers

July 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) I’m usually averse to attending egghead confabs, but I’d certainly make an exception for the upcoming Inaugural Rastafari Studies Conference, which will mark a half-century since the publication of the first academic treatise on the religion. Like all young faiths that manage to outlive their founders’ generations, Rastafari is now grappling […]

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Satan’s Salad Dressing

July 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments

We’re in the process of trying to find an insightful passage to read at a pal’s forthcoming wedding. (Suggestions welcome, by the way.) It’s taking us much longer than anticipated, in large part because we keep getting sidetracked by old favorites we’ve discovered while ransacking our overstuffed bookshelves. Case in point: Lawrence Wright’s Saints and […]

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Pax Upon Him…Perhaps

May 19th, 2010 · 3 Comments

If the whole Richard Blumenthal saga has taught us anything, it’s that the brazen mendacity of public figures is relatively easy to detect, provided that someone is willing to put a little elbow grease into the search. Of course, that search requires resources, specifically time and money. Microkhan is short on both, alas, so we […]

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Bulletproof: The Lumpas

May 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments

As long promised, we’re finally bringing back The Bulletproof Project, our series on mass movements that instructed their followers that magic could counteract modern weaponry. Today’s entry is one we’ve been researching for ages: Northern Rhodesia’s Lumpa Church, a messianic Christian movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s headed by a woman named Alice […]

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The Original Mormon Mauler

April 30th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Upon bumping into this list of famous Mormon wrestlers last night, we were immediately intrigued by the story of Don Leo Jonathan, who grappled under thenom de sport “The Mormon Mauler.” Yet as we hacked our way into Jonathan’s sweaty tale, we came to realize there was a more intriguing narrative thread to explore—namely, the […]

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Spellbound

April 26th, 2010 · 3 Comments

True, some small measure of sanity may soon prevail in Saudi Arabia, where a Lebanese man convicted of witchcraft seems increasingly likely to escape execution. But the anti-sorcery sentiment remains strong in the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain looks set to join the House of Saud in outlawing the dark arts. Could this be a sign […]

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The Liver Knows Best

March 25th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Of all the various methods that mankind has devised to foretell the future, none is quite as bizarre as the reading of entrails. We have no idea who first came up with the idea that a deceased animal’s innards could cast light on upcoming events, but the practice certainly dates back to the heyday of […]

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“You’ll Talk About Him Forever”

March 19th, 2010 · 7 Comments

In reading about Universal’s decision to nix P.T. Anderson’s The Master, a movie obviously inspired by the founding of Scientology, we found ourselves heartily agreeing with several of The A.V. Club‘s commenters: Perhaps what the world needs isn’t a flick about L. Ron Hubbard’s quasi-religious scam, but a Hollywood-style biopic about the even more fascinating […]

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