Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Pop Culture’

The National Church of Bey: Official Commercial and Indiegogo Campaign

May 28th, 2014 No comments
Share

A few weeks ago I posted about an Atlanta area church purportedly worshipping music superstar Beyonce Knowles. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, and this appears to be one of those times. Or is it? This morning I followed up with the Church’s activities on social media feeds and was delighted to find some new video additions to their portfolio.

Firstly, the official commercial:

I’m still at a loss to explain how the Church is able to use her likeness and brand.  By all accounts Beyonce hasn’t endorsed the Church. The next video, however, has me questioning whether this isn’t some sort of publicity stunt.

At the very least, it’s made the Church of Bey lose any shred of legitimacy it had as a religion, IMO anyway.

Yeah, I know. You’re probably asking yourself ‘how could she even consider The Church of Bey a religious organization?!’ Truth is, I am rather liberal in what I can reasonably accept as a legitimate religion.  Religion is far too complex for rigid definitions. I didn’t feel comfortable suggesting that they shouldn’t be considered a legitimate religion, particularly with the scant information I had available to me. Who am I to judge what another person deems sacred and worthy of worship?

Having said that, the fact that they have managed to start an Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds for a ‘Goddess’ clothing line suggests, to me, that their intentions fall far from divine. I’m not sure how buying t-shirts and bags emblazoned with a giant ‘B’ is going to ‘make a difference.’ There is the idea of religion as commodity, but this seems almost the reverse phenomenon: commodity as religion, perhaps? At any rate, I’m still waiting for the Beyble to be offered to the public.  Now THAT I would be interested in buying. Something tells me though, that it’s going to be full of copyrighted material, and hence will probably never get off the ground.

Bottom line is that I’ve crossed The Church of Bey off as a legitimate religious organization. I’m still not sure if this is a publicity stunt, satirical commentary, or a money-making scheme. I honestly don’t know, but if they are receiving taxpayer funding as a not-for-profit/religious organization, I hope some good citizen takes up the investigation to determine whether that really is a good use of public funds.

M. xo

 

Share

The National Church of Bey (That’s Beyonce, For the Unindoctrinated)

May 4th, 2014 No comments
Share

Whether serious or satire, this is certainly a curious piece of news circulating the religion feeds. It also highlights the complexities of defining religion (and perhaps, how not-for-profit religious organizations are granted such status).

Sometime last year, a group of about a dozen Beyonce Knowles fans in Atlanta (GA) formed a church dedicated to Her worship. Practicing what adherents dub, ‘Beyism,’ worshippers meet weekly; sing Her songs; seek spiritual meaning from Her lyrics; and generally worship Her (purportedly also seeking out transcendent assistance with the use of certain herbal aids, cleverly named: ‘Beyha’).

The Church is led by self-titled ‘Minister Diva,’ Pauline John Andrews and is reportedly a registered non-profit organization. A note posted to The National Church of Bey website last month responded to public criticism:

“We are very disappointed in the failure of the public to recognize the existence of a divine Deity walking among them. Deity’s often walk the Earth in their flesh form. Beyonce will transcend back to the spirit once her work here on Mother Earth has been completed.”

The statement goes on to address some misconceptions about the beliefs of ‘Beyists':

“As our congregation continues to swell, we ask that you consider what is more real; an invisible spirit on high, or a walking, talking, breathing Goddess who shows you her true form daily. Beyonce’s spirit is entrancing. We know that she was sent to this place to spread love, peace, and joy. While we do not believe Beyonce to be the Creator, we recognize that she still sits among the throne of Gods. There is a lot of false information being spread about our beliefs, but we will correct all of the vicious lie-tellers. As Beyonce spreads her gospel through song and dance, her message provides uplifting, loving, and many times real-life happenings. We humbly ask you to respect our beliefs, just as you want those to respect yours. Open your mind to new possibilities and you will see, just as we did, that Bey is a true higher power.”

Despite the limited amount of information available on the website regarding the Church’s beliefs, a recent posting suggests that Her divine word will be made available to the public shortly. The Church is organizing the production of a ‘Beyble’ (get it?).

One final note, it’s important to point out that Beyonce Knowles herself has not endorsed this newly minted Church. She may not even be aware of its existence. That doesn’t dissuade Church members from hoping that Queen ‘Bey’ herself might someday preach at one of their sermons.

Want more information on The National Church of Bey?  Check out their website and view their promotional video below.

M. xo

P.S. Please note, that I took liberties in capitalizing the word ‘Her’ when referencing the divine.

P.P.S. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the ‘Beyble’ for sale online.  If you’re looking for other ‘Bey’ inspired items, check out:

 

 

Share

Reality TV gets Religion

May 22nd, 2013 2 comments
Share

Earlier this month, I read an article that credited the Archbishop of Canterbury with suggesting that reality television should start including religion into its programming.  Part of his reasoning was so that people could learn more about other religions.  Now I don’t know if the Archbishop and I have a different definition of what constitutes reality television, but I’m pretty sure that reality television has already got religion, and it hasn’t always been the most flattering portrayal.

Some of the more well-known reality shows that have a religious angle include: Sister Wives, Breaking Amish, and 19 Kids and Counting, all of which are featured on TLC.  Religiosity may not necessarily be front and centre; however, it’s hard not to watch any of these shows and think about the religious paths that have influenced these people.  Yes, to some degree viewers are ‘educated’ about the different faiths followed by the show’s participants, but this ‘education’ comes with a huge dose of sensationalism.  On Sister Wives, viewers follow a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon family, while on 19 Kids and Counting the lives of a devout, fundamentalist Baptist Christian family who have (you guessed it) 19 children are showcased for viewers.  Breaking Amish diverts from showcasing a family, and instead follows a group of Amish and Mennonite young adults who leave their isolated communities and experience life in the big city.  Along the way, various mishaps and questionable adventures ensue.  Is this what the Archbishop had in mind?

Perhaps the new crop of religiously inspired reality television might prove less sensational.  Judging from the titles and reviews, I’m guessing that reality television has a cozy place in Hell waiting for it.  The Sisterhood which premiered early this year, follows the lives of several preachers’ wives as they interact with their communities.  I have yet to watch this series, but if reviews are any indication, it’s not as wholesome as it outwardly appears.  Sure to trump the aforementioned in the sensational department is the upcoming Divas for Jesus.  Described as a show that “follows a group of fabulous Christian women whose faith consists of guns, God, gossip and great wine,” you can bet this show is going to raise some eyebrows.  The recently premiered Preacher’s Daughters follows the lives of three preachers’ families and their teenage daughters.  It’s already been given a parental advisory rating.

Perhaps the most interesting reality show I came across in my research, is one originating from Turkey.  It’s called Penitents Competeand its premise is shocking (at least to this blogger).  Each week a rabbi, monk, priest, and imam (I think I’ve heard this joke before) attempt to convert ten atheists.  Any atheist that converts wins a free trip to one of four holy sites.  I can’t help but wonder how this show would be viewed if the roles were reversed.  You know, each week four atheists attempt to ‘convert’ ten religious people.  How’s that for sensational (or, I suppose, rational – depending on who you’re asking)?

I appreciate the Archbishop’s comments about people learning more about other religions, but there are much better ways to educate oneself than reality television.  One thought comes to mind – reality itself.  You know, go out and talk to real people about their religious perspectives.  Visit a mosque, church, synagogue and talk to the community.  You can’t get any more real than that.

Have you seen any of these shows?  Do you know of others that I haven’t included here?  Let me know.

M. xo

 

Share
Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

Saying Good-bye to 2012

December 30th, 2012 No comments
Share

I’m finally emerging from my self-induced holiday coma.  The holidays were splendidly relaxing.  Good thing too, because I always feel like I need to recharge as the end of the year approaches and a new one beckons on the horizon.

Since I’m still feeling the effects of the holidaze, I haven’t been up to the task of writing something provocative, informative, or even all that interesting, but I didn’t want 2012 to slip by without imprinting the InterWeb with one last message for the year.

So, what to write about?  I could write reflective lists highlighting memorable people and events from the past year.  Or I could publicly profess my resolutions for the upcoming year (which incidentally would have little impact on whether I actually stick to them).  Perhaps I could regale you with my thoughts on the apocalypse phenomenon that pervaded much of 2012, or maybe even the much ballyhooed discontinuation of Twinkies in the United States.  I could contrast the darkest incidents of 2012 with the brightest and most heart-warming.  Yet none of these messages would convey what I’d want to pass on.

Simply, best wishes to you and yours.  Happy New Year!

M. xo

P.S. Cool video alert!  2012: What Brought Us Together.

 

Share

NRMs: Jediism

October 23rd, 2012 No comments
Share

Temple of the Jedi Order symbol

I’ve wanted to write about this new religion for a while now.  Mostly because it was inspired by one of the greatest movie franchises in the history of cinema, but also because I keep company with various geeks, freaks, and assorted fanboys/girls who I thought would appreciate this post.  That being said, let’s chat about Jediism.

Now before you start snickering, I’d like to point out that on January 12th, 2009 the Canadian government officially recognized Jediism as a religion.  This past March, the United States followed suit and recognized Jediism as a nonprofit religious organization.  This may have been the result of a grassroots movement in 2001 to encourage people to write down Jedi as their religious affiliation on national censuses.  The movement was so successful that 21,000 Canadians indicated their religion as Jedi.  In other countries, the numbers were much more impressive.  For instance, in 2001 New Zealand had the highest per capita population of reported Jedi followers, even eclipsing those who identified with two major world religions – Buddhism and Hinduism.

Certainly, the movement has had its critics – particularly those from the irreligious persuasion who believe that their own numbers are being under-recorded due to non-religious folks indicating Jedi as a joke or novel answer to the question.  Make no mistake – practitioners of this religion are serious about their faith.

Jediism, like many other religions, has different variations between groups.  Most groups draw inspiration from the Lucas films, such as the belief in the Force and possibility of interaction with the Force.  The manifestation of this belief appears to take on different contexts.   Perhaps most interesting about this NRM is the drawing from a wide variety of religious beliefs.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jediism, there are several sites you can visit.

The Temple of The Jedi Order purports to be the first international church of Jediism.  Quoting from their website, “We are real Jedi.  We believe in Peace, Justice, Love, Learning and using our abilities for Good. We are not fictional Jedi, nor are we role playing. We live our lives according to the principles of Jediism and work together as a community to both cultivate and celebrate.”

The Order of the Jedi, is a Canadian-based organization; however it considers itself a worldwide Order.  A description of a Jedi taken from their Web site, “[…] is someone who believes in an energy that surrounds, binds, penetrates, and encompasses all living things. A Jedi believes in the greater good, and always tries to follow the light or positive energy. Jedi do not discriminate, all are welcome.”

As I stated previously, Jediism isn’t without its critics.  Members have also been subject to some highly publicized religious discrimination.  In the video posted below, a news station provides coverage of a Jedi follower who was asked to remove his hood at a job center.  He was subsequently escorted from the premises when he refused to comply.  Self-proclaimed Jediism founder, Daniel Jones is also interviewed in this segment.

May the Force be with you…

M. xo

Jedi follower discriminated against & Jediism Founder interviewed:

Image Source: Temple of the Jedi Order

Share

Religion as commodity

May 14th, 2011 2 comments
Share

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, so I’m glad that I’ve started writing it now – even though I’m not sure if it’ll be published sooner rather than later. It was a trip to the grocery store that bore the seeds of this post. In particular, a meander through the organic and health foods aisle that popped up this gem of a cereal:

 

I’ll be honest – I was very amused (hence, why I got out my phone and snapped this pic). And yet, a part of me felt that perhaps it was going a bit too far. Clearly, this cereal was targeting a very specific market. I found it curious, because by displaying this blatantly religious tone on their packaging, they were alienating a large percentage of the market. Surely, atheists, agnostics and other “free-thinkers” were just as likely to want to eat healthy as the “People of the Book”. With so many of these whole-grain, organic cereals on the market, you’d think a business wouldn’t want to alienate consumers. Perhaps, that isn’t the point though. Maybe the company has some corporate policy to provide products to a specific demographic, regardless of the effect on the bottom line (a refreshing change, indeed).

But, I digress from the point of my post…

Question: If the sacred becomes commodified, does it then fall into the realm of the profane? Religion has surely become big business and it appears that the commodification of religion is being widely accepted and even propagated. Take, for example, a line of t-shirts that combines edgy humour with religious themes.

I’ve seen these shirts worn by both extremely religious and anti-religious folks alike. So, what message is that sending? Are these items meant to attack the sacred or are they intended to revere it? Perhaps it has more to do with the idea that pretty well anything can be turned into a product for mass consumption. I’m sure some of you would agree that mass production isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Another thought – is it considered idolatrous to consume these products (strictly speaking to the religious)? Surely there will be those religious adherents that find products such as these blasphemous; however, there is another segment of religious adherents that would likely deem these products as harmless – perhaps even an homage to their faiths.

For now, I’m left thinking that the great prophets of “the Book” probably would have regarded any attempt to commodify the sacred as counter to the values of their faiths. It seems to me that once the sacred enters the realm of the profane, then it becomes regarded as ordinary. Maybe – just maybe – the commodification of religion is a reflection of our society, suggesting that the sacred may be just another average, ordinary part of our humdrum lives.

M. xo

Share
Categories: Religion Tags: , , ,