Checking in at church

Foursquare inventor Dennis Crowley tweeted this link a little after midnight on Christmas morning. It’s essentially a live feed of Twitter search results for anyone who’s checked into a church and become mayor.

If you’re not hip to the Foursquare groove — umm, shame on you — it’s a location-based web/phone application that allows you to compete for badges and the coveted “mayorship” of locations and establishments. The badges are basically a fun acknowledgment of your visits to places. For example, I just “unlocked” the 9 to 5 badge after consistently checking into work each morning.

If you so choose, you can have your Foursquare achievements broadcast to the world by opting to send check-in info to your Twitter followers. That’s how Crowley (@dens) managed to pass along this info. He searched Twitter for a few key terms (church, mayor, foursquare), and an auto-feed of church mayorship wins was born.

Thought it was interesting. I wonder if church check-ins and the promise of badges will coax more Christians off couches and onto pews for mass.

In somewhat related news, there’s an actual Foursquare Church. It has nothing to do with the geo-based phone app, as far as I can tell.

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Santa Claus is buried in Ireland

While everyone else is tracking Santa Claus on NORAD, I’m resting comfortably in my bed knowing that a fat man in a red velour jumpsuit will not be shimmying down my chimney tonight. It’s not that I don’t believe in Santa.

:::SPOILER ALERT:::

Found this imagine on http://www.mudtrap.com

It’s just that Santa is dead. And his body’s buried in Ireland.

Like I said, it’s not that I don’t believe in Santa. I do believe he was a real man — a charitable one who donated much of his fortune to the less fortunate — who is now believed to be buried in County Kilkenny, Ireland.

“It is an amazing story and yet very few people know about St Nicholas’s connection to this country,” Irish historian Philip Lynch told UK’s Mirror last year. “Every year now we get visitors to the site, but still not that many.”

Little is known about the historic Saint Nick. Today, he’s more widely recognized as the gift-giving omnipresent jolly man who sits upon the coolest throne in all the shopping mall. But Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is actually a bit of a mystery.

Saint Nicholas died some time in the 4th century, in what would now be considered part of Turkey. His remains were then transferred to Italy, and again relocated to Ireland about 800 years ago. Saint Nicholas’ final resting place is in Jerpoint Abbey  in Kilkenny, Ireland’s Independent reports. Some of the saint’s relics remain in southern Italy, where they are said to release an oily substance with miraculous medicinal powers.

While you’re going deep into debt buying those Xbox 360 Kinects, it’s probably good to know that you’re giving all the glory to a man who’s buried somewhere in Ireland.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And may he RIP.

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Ricky Gervais explains his atheism & why it should, shouldn’t offend you

Ricky Gervais as David Brent in "The Office" (BBC.co.uk)

“When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, ‘It’s the way God made me.'” -Ricky Gervais

I hadn’t realized Ricky Gervais was an atheist, but now the message is clear. He defended his lack of faith in this Wall Street Journal open letter. Gervais, comedian and mastermind behind my favorite television series, “The Office,” talks about the difference between the existence of god — which he denies — and the existence of faith — which he says is real and undeniable.

“The existence of God is not subjective,” he says. “He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.”

Gervais explains that he’d been a very religious child who attended church to please his mother and stay out of jail. He then goes on to cite a few coincidental statistics: “75 percent of Americans are God-­‐fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-­‐fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.”

I personally like what Gervais is saying and how he’s saying it. Too few atheists have their voices heard. He’s obviously not preaching hate — quite the opposite, it seems. And he makes the point that atheism doesn’t correlate with crime. I’ve heard too many people question atheists’ moral standards because they have no god on which to base their behavior. There’s something admirable about a person who isn’t trying to please a deity — he’s just treating others as he’d like to be treated.

On a related note, has anyone seen “The Invention of Lying”? If you like movies with religious themes, this is a good one to check out. I could do without all the Jennifer Garner screen time, though.

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It’s too early for Valentine’s candy, let alone Easter candy

Word on the street is that some stores are already stocking shelves with Easter candy.

According to this post on the Consumerist (a favorite business blog of mine), a shopper in Indiana spotted Easter candies at a local Kroger store.

Have you seen candy canes and Cadbury Creme Eggs being sold simultaneously? If you have, pick me up some Peeps!

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Committed: “From the church to the club”

Photo from Committed's official Facebook page

Anyone else stuck watching “The Sing Off” because, like me, you live in a snowy tundra — it’s not like I have social interactions planned anyway — and have no cable?

Ah, I am but a loner. But you do watch the show?

How about this group Committed, which Pussycat Doll-turned-judge Nicole Scherzinger described as going “from the church to the club”? They’re an interesting group of young men who began singing together in a church group as a way to “minister to audiences of all kinds,” according to the group’s MySpace page. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did just hear their acappella rendition of “Make Love in this Club”? It’s my hope of hopes that they’re singing this to their chaste-until-marriage future wives…

With that said, what makes a singer or band a Christian one? Is there a point when a gospel-hawking set of vocalists push it too far to the mainstream?

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Break some records at DREIDELPALOOZA

Yeshiva University in upper Manhattan is going to attempt a record-breaker. What record will the student body break?

MOST DREIDELS SPUN SIMULTANEOUSLY.

You spin my right round, baby, right round.

You read it correctly. Want to get in on the action? The school has a webpage dedicated to the event. Here’s the basic info:

What: Dreidelpalooza, the event of the year
Who: Anyone and everyone
When: November 30, 2010. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. record countdown begins at 7:30. Come early to ensure a spot!
Where: Max Stern Athletic Center, Amsterdam Ave. at 185th Street, New York, NY 10033
Why: To help raise Yeshiva University undergraduate scholarship funds while getting into the Guinness Book of World Records!
What should you bring: A friend, or 3!
**Dreidels, jelly donuts, giveaways, entertainment and a good time will be available free of charge!

For those of you not fortunate enough to have ever played with a dreidel, it’s essentially a four-sided spinning top — a particularly popular toy with which Jewish kids play during the eight-day Jewish Hanukkah celebration.

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I’m BAAAAACK, just in time for the holidays. You’re welcome.

Bad blogger! Bad, bad blogger! Sorry to have disappointed my loyal Religionisms readers. It’s been a wild ride these last few months. Pretty much all of autumn was consumed with insanity. And, I must admit, I was pretty lazy a lot of the time. Thanks for welcoming me back.

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