Category Archives: religion

Happy Passover!

http://www.msu.edu/user/avniassa/passover/whowhowho.html

To all my Jewish bretheren and sisteren: dried fruit!!!

Coaching the right way?

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts.  They were clearly the better team in Super Bowl XLI last night.  In the first Super Bowl played in the rain, they executed all the plays they needed to, converted first downs at ease, and wore down a Bears defense known for wearing down offenses.

The Colts defense dominated the line of scrimmage, forcing Rex Grossman to make snap decisions.  Unfortunately for the Bears, their quarterback either 1) made bad decisions or 2) there were no good plays available.  This loss wasn’t Rex’s fault alone, but there are 11 players on the field and he was their leader.

My big problem with the night came after the game ended. 

Colts coach Tony Dungy (who is perhaps the most-deserving coach this side of Marty Schottenheimer to win a Super Bowl) held up the Vince Lombardi trophy and addressed the crowd about the character of his team. 

He then talked about how proud he was to be a Christian coach and to coach “the lord’s way.”  And that’s where he lost me.

I have nothing but respect for Dungy and the way he conducts himself in a respectful, professional manner at all times.  He has more self-control in his pinky finger than most of us do in our entire bodies.

But to say that he coaches “the lord’s way,” to me, mixes too much together.

It’s safe to say (and the ratings numbers back this up), that football is the secular equivalent of religion in America, and the Super Bowl is the most important gathering of the year.  No other event accrues the massive viewership numbers in the days of Tivo, On Demand, Digital Cable, iPod, and every other form of distraction.

Therefore, one can conclude that the Super Bowl brings together the nation like no other event can even dream of doing. 

Watching that speech unfurl last night, it felt more dividing than uniting.

Let me reiterate, I have nothing but respect and admiration for how Coach Dungy lives his life. 

But the words he said sounded to me like he was holding Christians who coach football at a higher plane than non-Christian coaches. 

The closest most football coaches generally get to the Bible is spewing fire and brimstone rhetoric generally seen in the Book of Revelations (Check out the Jew knowing the New Testament!).

If all people are G-d’s creation, wouldn’t that mean Dungy and Ditka would be on the same level?  Even if one uses “curse” words and one doesn’t?

Four-letter words may be viewed as obscene, but are they SINFUL?  Are you a bad person for using language that some segment of society deems “dirty?” 

I am no religious authority (although six years of orthodox Jewish Day School and six years of conservative 3-nights-a-week Hebrew school have given me a good background), so I won’t even try to answer those questions.

What I will say is this: The Super Bowl is not a religious pulpit.  You may have won the NFL’s championship trophy, which is the ultimate team sport prize in our era.  But don’t use that platform to spread any gospel.  I know it’s America, and we have the right of free speech.  But there is a time and a place.  You had me as part of your captive audience.  Then you lost me.  

Again, congratulations to the Colts, who deserve (and get from me) unlimited respect on and off the field as football players and human beings.  Just the wrong place and the wrong time to send the message that was sent.

Zeus is Loose (and Hulkamania runs wild!)

Zeus makes a comeback in Greece

POSTED: 6:24 p.m. EST, January 21, 2007

var clickExpire = “02/20/2007”;

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A clutch of modern pagans honored Zeus at a 1,800-year-old temple in the heart of Athens on Sunday — the first known ceremony of its kind held there since the ancient Greek religion was outlawed by the Roman Empire in the fourth century.

Watched by curious onlookers, some 20 worshippers gathered next to the ruins of the temple for a celebration organized by Ellinais, a year-old Athens-based group that is campaigning to revive old religious practices from the era when Greece was a fount of education and philosophy.

The group ignored a ban by the Culture Ministry, which declared the site off limits to any kind of organized activity to protect the monument.

But participants did not try to enter the temple itself, which is closed to everyone, and no officials sought to stop the ceremony.

Dressed in ancient costumes, worshippers standing near the temple’s imposing Corinthian columns recited hymns calling on the Olympian Zeus, “King of the gods and the mover of things,” to bring peace to the world.

“Our message is world peace and an ecological way of life in which everyone has the right to education,” said Kostas Stathopoulos, one of three “high priests” overseeing the event, which celebrated the nuptials of Zeus and Hera, the goddess of love and marriage.

To the Greeks, ecological awareness was fundamental, Stathopoulos said after a priestess, with arms raised to the sky, called on Zeus “to bring rain to the planet.”

A herald holding a metal staff topped with two snake heads proclaimed the beginning of the ceremony before priests in blue and red robes released two white doves as symbols of peace. A priest poured libations of wine and incense burned on a tiny copper tripod while a choir of men and women chanted hymns.

“Our hymns stress the brotherhood of man and do not single out nations,” said priest Giorgos Alexelis.

More than a mere re-creation

For the organizers, who follow a calendar marking time from the first Olympiad in 776 B.C., the ceremony was far more than a simple re-creation.

“We are Greeks and we demand from the government the right to use our temples,” said high priestess Doreta Peppa.

Ellinais was founded last year and has 34 official members, mainly academics, lawyers and other professionals. It won a court battle for state recognition of the ancient Greek religion and is demanding the government register its offices as a place of worship, a move that could allow the group to perform weddings and other rites.

Christianity rose to prominence in Greece in the fourth century after Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion. Emperor Theodosius wiped out the last vestige of the Olympian gods when he abolished the Olympic Games in A.D. 394.

Several isolated pockets of pagan worship lingered as late as the ninth century.

“The Christians shut down our schools and destroyed our temples,” said Yiannis Panagidis, a 36-year-old accountant at the ceremony.

Most Greeks are baptized Orthodox Christians, and the church rejects ancient religious practices as pagan. Church officials have refused to attend flame ceremony re-enactments at Olympia before the Olympic Games because Apollo, the ancient god of light, is invoked.

Unlike the monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the old religion lacked written ethical guidelines, but its gods were said to strike down mortals who displayed excessive pride or “hubris” — a recurring theme in the tragedies of Euripides and other ancient writers.

“We do not believe in dogmas and decrees, as the other religions do. We believe in freedom of thought,” Stathopoulos said.

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So are they talking about this guy:

Anyone else remember him?  He teamed up with the Macho Man Randy Savage to face the Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.

Check out the end of the match:

Much more on Zeus later!