Hyper-Weirdness by World Wide Web
Religion and Spirituality
``I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven newsgroup hierarchies which are in Usenet; unto comp.*, and unto misc.*, and unto news.*, and unto rec.*, and unto sci.*, and unto soc.*, and unto talk.*.''
from the Revelation of Clarence Thomas IV
The distinction between "Religion and Spirituality" and "Strange Sects" is, admittedly, a touch arbitrary. Piety in Rangoon is blasphemy in Tulsa, and Marrakesh thinks ill of both. All, however, are united in hushing up the fact that their daughter has run off to become a priestess of Baal; and this chapter therefore takes the most generous possible view, in including any faith which is orthodox somewhere.
Table of Contents, or, Click Me!
See Also: Philosophy, Strange Sects.
Exist on meditation, gnosis.
Baha'i, Jain, Rosicrucian, etc., as well as the King James Bible, the Qu'ran and other old reliables.
is home to the ``the contemplative life mailing list''.
The Electric Mystic's Guide to the Internet:
A Complete Bibliography of Networked Electronic Documents Online Conferences, Serials, Software and Archives Relevant to Religious Studies, by Michael Strangelove.
is available via ftp
[in PostScript, WP5.1, "low ascii" forms"].
Social Scientific Study of Religion (SSREL-L)
Contact email@example.com. Moderated by Donald R.
Religions Discussion Group (RELIGION)Historical and comparative studies of religion, ``sponsored by the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions.'' Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moderator: Tim Bryson .
The Religious Studies Publications Journal - CONTENTS
an electronic journal that disseminates table of contents, abstracts, reviews and ordering information on new and recent print and electronic publications of relevance to Religious Studies.
Contact: email@example.com. Send inquiries to
the director, Michael Strangelove (441495@Acadvm1.Uottawa.CA)
A collection of scriptural stories and sayings of the Buddha, among them the Eightfold Way, in plaintext from the ERIS project. (The translator from Pali is not given, but it feels rather old).
Applied Zen Buddhism
is the subject of the mailing-list zendo. Subscriptions.
[``Master, to what does one apply Zen?''
``How does one apply Zen?'' ``With broad even strokes, allowing five to ten minutes for drying between coats.'' CRS]
Buddha-l Scholarly in orientation, high in traffic. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forum on Indian and Buddhist studies Listname BUDDHIST?. Write email@example.com.
coombs.anu.edu.au has the electronic buddhism archives, with the sub-directories:
``The Journal of Buddhist Ethics is the first academic journal dedicated entirely to Buddhist ethics, and is innovative in adopting a totally electronic mode of publication. In most other respects, however, it will function as a traditional scholarly journal. Research articles as well as discussions and criticle notes submitted to the journal will be subject to blind peer review.''
Fascinating, but not for bliss-ninnies. [CRS]
The ERIS project has currently the
Laws of Manu and the Bhagavad Gita, the latter
in English blank verse.
Agnosticism, Atheism, Free Thinking, Secular Humanism and similar varieties of unbelief.
Various public domain works by freethinkers, mostly Americans writing with truly Puritan ernestness.
Secular Humanist Mailing List Moderated. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Thompson),
or contact email@example.com, home of ``Stompin' Tom Paine,''
(who is rumored to be the author of the ``Rant of the Atheistic Secular Humanist'').
The natural irreverence of unbelievers has led to everything from ``Top Ten Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than Jesus'' to Anatole France's Revolt of the Angels (as well as his rather more heavy-handed
Penguin Island). Also worthy of a chuckle or seven are
The Darwin Fish, The Joy of Sects and HAMIT --- ``Hi! We're Heathens and Heretics at MIT. :) Burn us at the stake, impale us on spears, stone us in the village square we don't care!'' Maintained by ``The Whore of Babylon,'' no less!
[While we're on the subject, can anyone help me find the on-line edition of Norman Douglas's South Wind? I'm sure I first saw it on the net, but now it is nowhere to be found. Surely I didn't hallucinate a 400 page e-text? CRS]
``Your Guide to Kooky Kontemporary Kristian Kulture.'' Fun, but it a tease for
the Realized World journal. [CRS]
A curious sport has developed among unbelievers, primarily, I suppose, in this century, of
baiting the religious, or at any rate the more egregiously devout, by attending their meetings, joining their organizations, posting to their newsgroups, and the like. In much of the world this remains a suicidal proposition, and many find it ethically questionable; or in poor taste; or unsporting. The interested are referred, however, to the Recreational Christianity FAQ by one ``Psycho'' Dave. [CRS, who finds himself growing tame in his old age.]
A mailing list with an archive. Currently chartered for only Christian and Jewish feminist theology. [Are there Muslim feminist theologians? CRS]
A Salutation Speech from the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth taken down in shorthand by Mark Twain
``I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chow, Manchuria, South Africa and the Philippines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and a towel, but hide the looking-glass.''
[Signed] Mark Twain
New York, Dec. 31, 1900.
King James Version and others.
of net resources relating to both Judaism and Christianity.
"Not Just Bibles - Guide to Christian Resourcs on the Internet"
There's a plaintext version and an HTML version. It's also available by email: mail the "NJB TEAM" with subject line "NJB" if you just want the current edition, and with subject line "NJB SUB" if you want future revisions mailed to you as well. [MP]
A Christian list may be run by firstname.lastname@example.org.
is the best collection of devotional works on the Net --- interesting, well-formated texts and a very ecumenical reach --- Loyola and Calvin both. (Well, maybe those two aren't so far apart, now that I think about it.) St. John of the Cross and Thomas a Kempis (The Imitiation of Christ) are particularly worthwhile.
A collection of the responses generated by posting
``I need help with sex sins.
in a Christian newsgroup. Words don't do it justice, #3 especially. [CRS]
``This list's purpose is to discuss visions, prophecies, dreams and spiritual gifts in a charitable and Christian context. Nonchristians are welcome to subscribe, but postings are monitored, and offensive messages will not be posted.''
A mailing list for Christians in science. Seems to be sincere, and not a Creationist front.
``Bringing the net to its knees since 1994.''
So he was a bit of a crank. So he prayed to God to ``give me chastity, but not yet.'' So he abandoned his consort to the joys of single-motherhood. He is an official Saint, the author of Great Books of the Western World, and a very important and curious person. [CRS]
``I have been struggling with pornography and other sex sins since I was fourteen years old. I am now twenty eight years old, with a wife and baby, and I have found that they are only getting worse. I have tried to stop cold turkey, and other ways but am overwhelmed. If there is anyone who has or is going through this before with any suggestions, please mail me any suggestions, or add to this message.
was a very impressive character. Having immersed himself thoroughly in classical culture (especially Cicero), he went off into the desert in Palestine to mortify himself and write letters praising virgins of noble birth while the empire collapsed about his ears. (An excerpt from his Against Jovinian, dealing with marriage and virginity, is on-line.) The mortification seems less than entirely successful --- he used to dream of Cicero, and regret it in the morning. According to legend, wild animals gathered meekly around him (vide this huge but splendid Dürer.) (But that's nothing. Ask me about Saints Mary of Egypt and Maël some day.) Rather more importantly, he translated the Bible into extremely impressive Latin --- common, or vulgar, Latin, as opposed to the classical Latin of Cicero, hence ``the Vulgate.'' It was not the most accurate translation in the world, but it served for a thousand years or so, and the language is splendid.
The Jesuits are famously supposed to claim, ``Give us a child until he is five, and he is ours forever''. Even if this is true, and not a piece of anti-Catholic propaganda on par with Awful Disclosures, the astonishing number of Jesuit-trained atheists (including all the more notorious philosophes) leads to very odd conclusions about what the Jesuits are. (I believe Maturin remarks on this in one of Patrick O'Brian's novels, but I can't find the quote.) In any case, you can read the spiritual exercises recommended by the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola, or various works of merit in Jesuits and the Sciences, 1600-1800. (The latter does not mention their eugenic experiments in South America.) [CRS]
A beautiful exhibit from the Library of Congress of manuscripts and other Renaissance treasures of Vatican Library. Makes up for any number of tyrants into poison and incest. Speaking of which, there's
with a list of the popes, and explanation of papal infallibility, writings from the pontiff, etc. Unfortunately the authors do not know that no one has been born X Cardinal Y, at least since the Borgias.
Fathers of the Orthodox Church, in public domain English translation.
St. Cosmas of Aetolia
is the supposed author of a piece which calls itself
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR. [CRS, who is pretty sure he wasn't named for that St. Cosmas.]
The Book of Common Prayer is on-line as a plaintext, along with tracts by Newman.
There is a general mailing list (subscribe
There is also a mailing list for gay Mormons - write email@example.com for details.
You can read the original95 Theses (in Latin), or take comfort in the thought that A Might Fortress Is Our God (in English translation).
New from (where else?) Gutenberg: a dual-language edition of the 95 Theses, the The Smalcald Articles (``Articles of Christian Doctrine which were to have been presented on our part to the Council, if any had been assembled at Mantua or elsewhere, indicating what we could accept or yield, and what we could not'') and the Ausburg Confession, by Luther's right-hand man Philip Melanchthon. His Table-Talk is unavailable, nor any source for his throwing the ink-pot at the Devil.
Luther, with all his bluster, stubbornness, outbursts, arrogance, scatology and humor, is human. Calvin is not. Calvin has weighed the human race in the balance, and found it wanting:
Through the Fall and revolt of Adam the whole Human race made accursed and degenerate... Man now deprived of Freedom of Will, and miserably enslaved... Every thing proceeding from the corrupt Nature of Man damnable...Justification by Faith... The boasted merit of Works subversive both of the Glory of God, in bestowing Righteousness, and of the certainty of Salvation.... Of the Eternal Election, by which God has predestinated some to Salvation and others to Destruction.... Election confirmed by the Calling of God. The Reprobate bring upon themselves the righteous destruction to which they are doomed
No, not human at all.
A New England preacher of the 18th century who, on the 8th of July, 1741, preached a sermon on the text ``Their foot shall slide in due time.'' This sermon, known as ``Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,'' is barbarically inhumane, and one of the treasures of American literature: arguably half of everything we write is a variation on its theme.
``They are now the objects of that very same ANGER and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
Jack Chick writes Christian comic books. ``So what?'' you say. Dear Reader, you are obviously not familiar with what lurks in the lowest reaches of the American religion. I first
encountered Chick's work as an undergraduate at Berkeley --- someone had been passing them out on the main campus square, and one of them found its way to the physics society. This classic was entitled Big Daddy? and the cover was graced by a grinning chimpanzee eating a banana. It told the story of the conflict between a born-again Christian high school study (who looked like a Hitler Youth recruiting poster) and his science teacher (who looked, not to put too fine a point on it, remarkably ``Jewish''). The science teacher attempted to indoctrinate his class with the vile doctrines of secular humanism, an old earth and evolution: but the stalwart young man stood firm, secure in his God and his faith, and finally confuted him with the nucleus of the atom. Here, he said, were all this protons, of like charge, bound together: but don't like charges repel? What holds them together? The teacher is bereft, sweating, without answer. The youth triumphantly says, ``Our Lord, Jesus Christ,'' and cites an epistle to the Corinthians. The class is converted; I forget what happens to the teacher. Most of us were taking nuclear physics at the time...
``So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.''
Mr. Chick has been turning out this stuff since the '60s, and beneath the intense ignorance, anti-Catholicism, creationism, blood and gore, homophobia, sadistic fantasies about Hell, paranoid fantasies about Satanism, drugs and the apocalypse, and vicious resentment of others' prosperity (the only thing missing is explicit anti-semitism) --- or perhaps, because of all that --- there's a great deal of unintentional humor. It's an acquired taste, I admit.
The Worldwide Church of God
This began as a rather strange sect, founded by one Herbert W. Armstrong, which believed in
an imminent Apocalypse (of course), but also (if memory serves) that the European Union is the Whore Babylon of Revelations, bar-codes are the Mark of the Beast and Anglo-Saxons are the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel and the true Choosen People. They promulgated these doctrines in a magazine called Plain Truth, which you could get free in the Washington, D.C. subways, at least when I lived there. In the last few years, it seems, the church has gone through a crisis of doctrine, and what used to be written here only really applied to the old W.C.G., an error which caused a great deal of annoyance. The official body has evolved to a more orthodox (I will not say reasonable) sort of Christianity, and the latest (February 1996) issue of The Plain Truth carries an article on ``How to Avoid Being a Spiritual Weirdo,'' which is a far cry from the old days. On the other hand, a large portion of the church (one very angry correspondent put it at 30-40%) has clung to the older beliefs, and produced a large number of splinter groups. The Churches of God, Assorted Flavors page seems to be close to comprehensive, and, as it were, ecumenical. The World Ahead magazine has something of the feel of the old Plain Truth. [CRS]
A Christian sect which originated in the USA with a prophet named Miller in the 1830s. Miller predicted that the world would end on a certain day in 1843, and when that passed without incident named 22 October 1844 as The End. This date is now known to the faithful as the ``Great Disappointment.'' One section of the Millerites, under the leadership of Ellen G. White (1827--1915), became the Seventh Day Adventists. While they're careful not to give out dates - unlike, say, the Jehovah's Witnesses --- they still think the End is coming ``soon.'' They follow the Mosaic Law and abstain from alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. They are active missionaries, and have done much good work in bringing modern medicine to the Third World. (They have also done questionable work in bringing breakfast cereals to America, but that is another story.)
an Adventist school, maintains a directory of
Adventist resources on the net.
A moderated list for and about Seventh-day Adventists. Anyone may post or subscribe.
Mail c/o Steve Timm.
Were kicked out of the Seventh Day Adventists sometime in the '30s for being altogether too weird. A particularly lunatic section, under the leadership of one David Koresh, established themselves in Waco, Texas, where they were killed in 1993 at the end of siege by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. BATF says Koresh was stockpiling weapons and generally round the bend; many people say they were slaughtered by the BATF for reasons which vary from conspirator to conspirator. The recent bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City was on the second anniversary of Waco; the building housed the local offices of BATF.
The Witnesses also descended from the Millerite Great Disappointment, but they are an
altogether lower form of religious life than the Adventists --- obsessive, cultish, resentful, and generally reading like a page from the works of Nietzsche or Norman Cohn. There are some rather interesting files on this sect from the talk.origins archive,
one on the Witnesses in general, the other specifically about their doctrine
Faith healing over the net, from the Reverend Lazlo Jones. I really can't tell if they're serious: but, recalling the fate of ELIZA, it might not matter. [CRS]
Copts (a.k.a. Monophysite heretics)
I had a whole page on the Coptic religion in my notes, and I absolutely cannot find it. If anyone can help me find it again, I'd be most grateful. [CRS]
Jan Hus was the Rector of Charles University in Prague, whose religious views prefigured, somewhat, those of Martin Luther and other leaders of the Reformation. His doctrines were declared heretical and their attempted suppression lead to decades of civil war in Bohemia. Hus himself, however, was treacherously seized and edifyingly executed.
There are currently 287 students in various forms of study in the Hussite Theological Faculty of Charles University.
The Qu'ran and Hadith
The Qu'ran (or Koran, depending on how you render Arabic into English) is available in both
plaintext and hypertext with a topic index.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
It is surprising how many non-Muslims still believe Muslims worship the Prophet (pbuh) as Christians do Christ. (Admittedly, there are vulgar and superstitious practices which come rather close for my grandfather's comfort.) Still, the ``veritable traditions'' (hadith) of his sayings and practices carry considerable authority --- and understandably, therefore, many of them are verydubious indeed. One collection is on-line ---
``Sahih Bukhari is a collection of sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), also known as the Sunnah. Bukhari lived a couple of centuries after the Prophet's death and thus had to work extremely hard to collect this information. Each report in his collection was checked for compatibility with the Qur'an, and the veracity of the chain of reporters had to be painstakingly established. Bukhari's collection is recognized by the majority of the Muslim world to be one of the most authentic collections of the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). It is important to realize, however, that Bukhari's collection is not complete: there are other scholars who worked as Bukhari did and collected other authentic reports.''
apparently the brainchild of one Mr. Yaakob Abdullah, has set itself up as the Islamic Resources site on the web, and as such offers propaganda, announcements, contact information for charities, etc. This is also a home for Mas'ood Cajee's CyberMuslim, which seems to list everything relevant to Islam on the net.
of net resources relating to both Judaism and
Chabad - Lubavitch in Cyberspace
From an unsolicited letter to Mitchell Porter:
``I am taking this opportunity to invite you to take a look at our `electronic site' which has its own `gopher' and WWW/MOSAIC areas on the Internet....
[Scare quotes in the original.]
``Chabad - Lubavitch in Cyberpsace
`` `Spreading Judaism via Computer Networks'
Though their web page is singularly ill-suited to explaining themselves, they seem to be a messianic Jewish sect, ``moshiach'' being the Messiah. They do have an explanatory pamphlet tucked away in their gopher site. [CRS]
Peppermint-soap-salesman Bronner, secretly famous for unreadably-small poetic soap-labels extolling virtues of Essenic lifestyle, is not actually on Internet, but this All-One-Web-Page will teach Human Race the ABC of Dr Bronner's God-sent style! [MP]
There is a mailing-list, automatically gatewayed to soc.religion.bahai on Usenet. (The subscription
address is firstname.lastname@example.org, if you need it.)
The Religious Society of Friends, a.k.a. the Quakers
There is a moderated mailing-list on
Quakerism. (Subscriptions.) Moderators:
Bruce Dienes and Steve Thompson
The Steps of Zion Universal Life Church
can tell you everything you'd want to know about this one. [MP] [These are the people who will ordain just about anyone. I've always meant to get myself ordained one of these days. CRS]
ERIS has a space for Egyptian texts,
which at last report held only the Papyrus of Ani i.e. the Book of the Dead.
The closest I can come to canonical texts are
Ovid (not the
Fasti, worse luck) and
Mythology is not to be altogether despised. For
newsgroups and such, see under Strange Sects. [CRS,
long a devotee of Pallas Athena.]
Some of our readers say the Taoists should be listed here, some say under philosophy. Rather than take sides in a clear ``four in the morning and three in the evening'' argument, they now have their own section --- so follow that link.
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