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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The life of Martin Luther [timeline]

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther posting his ninety-five theses on the door of All Saints’ Church and other churches in Wittenberg. Whether he actually did post the theses publicly has long been disputed, however his influence on Christianity hasn’t.

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Gottschalk: a ninth-century heretic, dissenter, and religious outlaw

“Just as a dog returns to its own vomit, so a fool reverts to his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). Thus did medieval church officials condemn unrepentant heretics and those who recanted, but later allegedly returned to their crimes. The typical punishment — burning at the stake — purged the offenders’ pollution from the church. This familiar image of burning heretics shapes today’s popular and scholarly perspectives of the European Middle Ages.

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George Romero, Game of Thrones, and the zombie apocalypse

When George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, died on 16 July, the world was gearing up for the season opener of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones owes its central storyline—the conflict between the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers—and a great measure of its success to Romero, as do other popular and critically-acclaimed versions of the story, whether television, film, fiction, or comics.

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10 facts about the Mormon religion

Especially to those outside the faith, the beliefs and practices of the Mormon religion are largely unknown, and this has led to caricatures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Below are 10 facts about Mormonism taken from Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis by Terryl L. Givens.

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Which Celtic goddess are you?

Although most people have heard of the Celts, very little is known about their customs and beliefs. Unlike the Ancient Greeks and Romans, few records of their stories exist.

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The origins of the juggernaut

People deploy the word juggernaut to describe anyone or anything that seems unstoppable, powerful, dominant. The Golden State Warriors, the recent National Basketball Association champions, are a juggernaut. National Economic Council director Gary Cohn is a “policymaking juggernaut.” Online retailer Amazon is also a juggernaut. Tennis player Roger Federer is a juggernaut at Wimbledon.

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10 facts about spirituality

What does spirituality really mean? Is spirituality distinct from religion? Why is spirituality becoming increasingly popular and how has the term evolved and used today from its Christian roots? Philip Sheldrake, author of Spirituality: A Very Short Introduction, talks about what he thinks are the top 10 facts everyone should know about spirituality.

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Winter is coming: the zombie apocalypse on TV

But maybe the greatest horde of zombies these days is on television, from cult shows like iZombie and Santa Clarita Diet to two of the most popular shows on the planet, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. The Walking Dead has recently wrapped its seventh season, but Game of Thrones is getting ready to ramp up for its final two seasons, with the world premiere of its Season Seven coming tonight.

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How did the Jews survive? Two unlikely historical explanations

How have the Jews survived over the centuries? This is a question that has intrigued and perplexed many. While powerful world empires have risen and fallen, this miniscule, largely stateless, and often despised group has managed to ward off countless threats to its existence and survive for millennia. In seeking to answer the question, a wide range of theological, political, and sociological explanations have been proffered.

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Dogs in ancient Islamic culture

Dogs in Islam, as they are in Rabbinic Judaism, are conventionally thought of as ritually impure. This idea taps into a long tradition that considers even the mere sight of a dog during prayer to have the power to nullify a pious Muslim’s supplications. Similar to many other mistakenly viewed aspects of Islamic history, today both most Muslims and non-Muslims think that Islam and dogs don’t mix.

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Marc Chagall, religious artist

One hundred thirty years after the birth of Moishe Shagall, as he was known in his small Hasidic neighborhood on the outskirts of Vitebsk, and thirty-two years after the death of Marc Chagall, as he came to be known in the modern art world, we are starting to understand his vision.

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Ezra’s executive order

In one form or another, executive orders have long been issued by the highest office in the land to implement policy or highlight priorities. In theory, an executive order is not new law, yet a controversial aspect is the power of an individual to control the laws of the land with the stroke of a pen and the net effect may be an actual change in law.

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How well do you know the foods of Ramadan? [quiz]

Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Muslim calendar and a period of 29 or 30 days each year in which practicing Muslims fast during daylight hours. The morning meal, suhur, must be finished before dawn, and iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast (sawm), cannot occur until after dusk. While the commitment to prayer and hours of fasting build community, so do the extensive preparations for the breaking of the fast with friends and family at iftar each night.

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How well do you know Swami Vivekānanda [quiz]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honors Swami Vivekānanda (born Narendranath Datta, 1863–1902) as their Philosopher of the Month. Born in Calcutta under colonial rule, Vivekānanda became a Hindu religious leader, and one of the most prominent disciples of guru and mystic Śri Rāmakṛṣṇa.

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Divine powers

What do we think of when we think of ‘God’? Any answer to this question will include the idea that the divine is powerful. God creates, God is in charge of the world. If we think that the concept of God doesn’t make sense, that may be partly because the concept of God’s power doesn’t make sense: how can a good God be powerful whilst the world contains this much suffering?

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