The Beatles’ sojourn in India can seem like a bit of a stunt, as much a rock n’ roll cliché as Led Zeppelin’s trashed hotel rooms or Fleetwood Mac’s coke binges. Easily parodied in, for example, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the band’s turn Eastward looks in hindsight like faddish spiritual tourism.[...]
Perhaps no single person did more to popularize Zen Buddhism in the West than Alan Watts. In a sense, Watts prepared U.S. culture for more traditionally Zen teachers like Soto priest Suzuki Roshi, whose lineage continues today, but Watts did not consider himself a Zen Buddhist.[...]
In 590 AD, Pope Gregory I unveiled a list of the Seven Deadly Sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride – as a way to keep the flock from straying into the thorny fields of ungodliness.[...]
In Mexico on November 2, mortality is approached with music and laughter.
“On the Day of the Dead, when the spirits come back to us,” explains the Dr. Vigil character in the 1984 film of Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, “the road from heaven must be made easy, and not slippery with tears.
Answers to life’s big questions don’t come cheap, but they very often come free, or at least we feel they should. Which answers you find compelling among your available options is up to you.[...]
One reason I’m glad for having had a childhood religious education: it has made me conversant in even some of the most obscure stories and ideas in the Christian Bible, which is everywhere in English literature.[...]
If you’ve been frequenting Open Culture long enough, you’ll know all about the Canadian “geek rapper” Baba Brinkman and his epic raps. The subjects of Brinkman’s raps have included evolution, artificial selection, The Canterbury Tales, and British versus Canadian English.[...]
My first reaction upon learning about Bob Dylan’s brief conversion to Evangelical Christianity may have been something like “What in the hell?” It wasn’t a religious Dylan that surprised me; it was Dylan embracing a faith that can often seem doggedly literal and, well, just a little inflexible.[...]
The political intersection of Ayn Randian libertarians and Evangelical conservatives is a baffling phenomenon for most of us outside the American right. It’s hard to reconcile the atheist arch-capitalist and despiser of social welfare with, for example, the Sermon on the Mount.[...]
The best gospel recordings—by Aretha Franklin, The Staples Singers, The Carter Family, even Elvis—hum with a deep sincerity that can be truly moving, despite the unintentionally funny earnestness of ballads like “He Touched Me” (not to mention some of those album covers).[...]