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Dudeism – The Religion Based on The Big Lebowski

When Jeff Bridges starred as ‘The Dude’ in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, I bet he didn’t know that his character would one day inspire a whole new religion. Seven years after the film’s release, Oliver Benjamin was watching it with a large group of people in Thailand, when he says he was ‘transformed’. Soon, the Church of the Latter-Day Dude was born in the hip resort town of Pai; a modern-day hippie-style religion, where it’s okay to do pretty much as you please. Today, Dudeism has over 100,000 ordained Dudeist priests all over the world, and Benjamin is the Dudely Lama. It’s interesting to note that over 75 percent of the followers are male.

One look at the religion’s official website, and you’re bound to think it’s a joke. But it isn’t, the Dudeists are actually pretty serious about being ‘cool’. Dudeism also borrows some of its philosophy from Chinese Taoism, and their idea is pretty simple: Just take it easy, man. Life is short and complicated, they say, and nobody knows what to do about it. So, don’t. Sounds pretty good, but I do wonder if it’s really that easy to be chilled out all the time. I suppose it’s for people like me that they even have a ‘Take it Easy Manifesto’ written by Arch Dudeship Rev. Dwayne Eutsey.

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World’s First Park and Pray Chapel to Open in Austria

With the launch of the new Park and Pray Worldwide Chapel Network, it is now possible for you to pray anywhere in the world, by simply stopping your car wherever you see  the Park+Pray sign.

The new concept is revolutionary in terms of making places of prayer available to all Christians, regardless of their confession. At places where the Park+Pray sign is displayed, one can find a chapel or church, a devotion or prayer room that all believers are welcome to make use of. Prayers will be provided with anonymity and privacy so you can comfortably make contact with God. The first chapel of the Park and Pray Network will open its doors to the public in August this year.

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Reverend Opens Tattoo Parlor inside Church to Attract Parishioners

If this doesn’t bring people to Church, what will? A Church in Michigan has opened a built-in tattoo parlor, and the Reverend himself sports two tattoos.

Rev. Steve Bentley opened a small place called “Serenity Tattoo” in “The Bridge”, a church located inside a shopping center in Flint Township. The move was made in an effort to reach out to people who are uncomfortable with traditional places of worship. According to Bentley, mainstream religion is now irrelevant to most people and has actually become ineffective. So he came up with this unique solution to reach out to a few people who would otherwise never step into  a church.

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File Sharing Becomes Official Religion in Sweden

Kopimism – a belief in the sacred right to share files – has been recognized as an official religion in Sweden, at the end of last year.

“Information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains, and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organisation and its members.” This is how Kopimism is described on the official website of the Missionary Church of Kopimism. Apparently, ever since 2010, a groups of self-confessed file-sharing pirates have been trying to get file sharing recognized as an official religion. After having their claim denied several times, they’ve finally seen their dream fulfilled in late December 2011, when Kompimism was officially acknowledged as a legal religion. The Church hopes its new sacred status will remove the legal stigma  associated with file sharing.

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Ancient Documents Claim Jesus Lived to Be 106 and Died in Japan

There have been bizarre claims before that Jesus Christ lived and died in India, with his tomb located in the state of Kashmir. In what can only be a testament to his omnipresence, another claim has been made to Christ’s whereabouts before his death, this time by the Japanese.

So the story goes like this – Christ visited Japan between the ages of 21 and 33. Of course, this is conveniently supported by the fact that the Bible skips over large periods of Christ’s early life. He spent this time studying the native language and culture, before returning to Jerusalem. What about the Crucifixion, you ask? Well, it wasn’t Christ that was crucified at all. According to this theory, it was his younger brother Isukiri, who took his place on the cross. In the meantime, Christ fled to Siberia. After a few years, he traveled via Alaska and arrived at the port of Hachinohe, 40km from the village of Shingo. He lived the rest of his life in the village, where he married, had three children and died at the age of 106.

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Twitter User Gives Modern Twist to the Nativity Story, Gains Massive Following

A Twitter user has taken on the identity of Joseph of Nazareth, to give us a perspective of what he might have been going through during the birth of Jesus Christ.

The work of an anonymous tweeter from Germany has attracted thousands of followers on social networking site Twitter. He goes by the pseudonym Joseph Von Nazareth. His profile page, joseph_von_naza, is aimed at re-inventing the nativity. He writes “We have heard the story a thousand times, but nobody has ever thought about how Joseph felt about the whole thing.” The tweets began on Dec 1 and are written in German. The tweeter intends to continue until Christmas, narrating the nativity in 140-character messages right until then. For now, his tweets are focused on his girlfriend Mary and her pregnancy. He has been in a state of turmoil ever since he found out about it.

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Swedish Church Uses Techno Music to Attract the Young

Last Friday, a church in Stockholm, Sweden turned into a 90s disco, during a techno Mass priests hope will draw young people closer to religion.

Instead of listening to the sermon and praying silently, the congregation inside the All Saints Church, in Stockholm were throwing their hands in the air, busting dance moves and singing to the lyrics of music, during the second ever techno Mass organized by the Swedish church. Special lighting installations, the techno sounds and raving crowd made the place look more like a dance club than a place of worship, but priests of the Lutheran church say this was just a successful attempt of making religion and attending church interesting for young people.

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Malaysians Sleep in Coffins for Good Luck

Most people would prefer to stay out of a coffin for as long as possible, but for devotees at the Looi Im Si temple, in Penang, Malaysia, sleeping in a coffin is the best thing that could happen to them.

The Taoist temple located in Jelutong worships deities linked to the afterlife, like Xiao Xian Bo, one of the two guards responsible for bringing the dead to the other side. Chu Soon Lock, the temple’s secretary, claims his grandmother founded the temple after receiving instructions in a dream, from hell deity Di Fu Bao Zhang. As the years went by the temple started worshiping various other deities like Ji Gong, Si Da Jin Gang and Mile Buddha. The weirdest part of the story of Looi Im Si temple started in 2007, when the spirit of Xiao Xian Bo arrived at the holy place and began addressing his devotees through the body of Chu Soon Lock’s brother.

Chu Soon Chye says he doesn’t know a word of Teochew, yet he speaks the dialect fluently each time he is possessed by Xiao Xian Bo. Back in 2008, when he was in a trance, Soon Chye instructed temple devotees to place five coffins within the temple, and only allow people with serious problems caused by bad luck to sleep in them. Only one of the five coffins is used, because the other four are apparently too small to fit into.

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Teenage Demon Hunters Travel the World Conducting Exorcisms

Most girls their age spend their time at malls, shopping for clothes, trying on make-up and flirting with boys, but these teenage graduates of Bob Larson’s school for exorcists are only interested in casting out demons.

While they may look like average teenagers, these girls are actually seasoned exorcists who have traveled all over the world casting out Satan and his minions. Savannah Schurkenback, Jess Shurkenback, Christina Massih, Melanie Massih and Brynne Larson, aged 15 to 19, decided to answer the call of evangelist Reverend Bob Larson of Spiritual Freedom Churches International, when he announced the number of possessed people was on the rise while the number of trained exorcists had fallen. They joined his exorcism school, where they study everything there is to know about fighting demons and dealing with the possessed.

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India’s Ram Ram Bank Gives Whole New Meaning to Banking

It has no guards, no locks, offers no interest or credit schemes, and doesn’t event deal in money. Still, India’s unusual Ram Ram Bank, in New Delhi, serves over 5,000 happy customers, with more signing up every day.

Ram Ram Bank was established 25 years ago, by Tewari, a retired school teacher from Sitapur, who quit his job in 1983, after his guru advised him to devote his life to Lord Ram. He got the idea of opening a bank where people could deposit their “Ram naam” (pieces of paper with the Lord’s name scribbled hundreds of times). He didn’t need any security, since the writings were of no use to mere mortals, and all he had to do was deposit them and ocasionally take them to be displayed at a temple in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Ram.

Scribbling Ram naam notes has always been very popular in India. Some people say it helps them connect with God, others say the faith helps them work harder to achieve their goals, but all of them claim that writing Ram’s name just makes them feel better. In the past, everyone who wrote these holy notes traveled to Ayodhya themselves and deposited them at the temple, but in this day and age fewer people find the time to do it anymore. That’s where the Ram Ram Bank comes into play. All a person has to do is write his Ram naams every day and send them straight to the bank, or hand them over to one of the many volunteers around the city, at their own convenience.The pieces of paper are deposited in a small room, and taken to Ayodhya every six months.

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Couple Claim They Are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene

A couple who claim they are reincarnations of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene have recently set up camp in Queensland’s Bible Belt, joined by 30 – 40 followers.

Australian cult watchers are concerned about a new organization known as Divine Truth, led by Alan John Miller and Mary Suzanne Luck, who claim they are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. According to The Courier Mail, the two rely on donations made by their followers in order to sustain themselves, and authorities fear they could be taking advantage of the vulnerable.

Mr. Miller, 47, was born in Luxton, South Australia, and is the father of two children from a past marriage, which ended when he began remembering details from his past life. He seems to believe this is his 22nd life and that he has the amount of divine love in his heart accumulated in 22 life cycles. Now he and his soul mate, 32-year-old Mary Magdalene, real name Mary Suzanne Luck, are reunited and have created their very own little cult, in Wilkesdale. Miller first bought 16 hectares of land in the area, and his followers soon followed his example just to be close to their charismatic spiritual leader.

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The Hill of Crosses – A Man-Made Christian Miracle

Covered with over 100,000 crosses of different sizes, Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses is both a symbol of the country’s nationalism and an international pilgrimage site.

Located 12 kilometers north of the small industrial city of Šiauliai, the Hill of Crosses is believed to date back to the 14th century, during the occupation of the Teutonic Knights. The tradition of placing crosses began as a symbol of the people’s fight for independence and their fight against foreign invaders, and evolved into a struggle of Lithuanian Catholicism against oppression. During the peasant uprising that lasted between 1831 and 1863, people erected crosses on the hill, in protest, and by 1895 there were around 150 of them on the site. By 1940, the number of large crosses grew to 400, surrounded by many other smaller ones.

Occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, Šiauliai and the Hill of Crosses suffered significant damage when the Soviets took over, at the end of the conflict. The communist regime repeatedly removed all the crosses and leveled the hill three times, in 1961, 1973 and 1975, burning the wooden crosses and turning metal ones into scrap metal. The area was covered with waste and sewage to discourage locals from returning, but the Hill of Crosses was a symbol of Lithuanian nationalism and the pilgrims from all over the country quickly came back to the hill after each desecration, to place even more crosses. Many of them risked their lives sneaking past armed guards and through barbed wire fences to show their commitment to national struggle. The Soviet’s finally got the message and in 1985, the Hill of Crosses was finally left in peace, and its reputation rapidly spread throughout the Christian world.

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Russian Cult Worships Female Cartoon Character

I’m sure we can all agree Gadget Hackwrench is an adorable character, but do you like her enough to worship her like a goddess?

If you’ve never heard of the cute Gadget Hackwrench, she is a Disney character from the Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers cartoon series. This female mouse was the team’s pilot, mechanic and inventor. That’s all pretty impressive, but she’s hardly worthy of her very own cult, don’t you think?

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Crucified Jesus Made of Toast

British artist Adam Sheldon recreated Jesus’ crucifixion using some pieces of burned toast and a scraping knife. His work of art is now on display at the Anglican Church of St Peter, in Lincs.

33-year-old Adam Sheldon took on the project at the request of his mother, who worships at St. Peter’s Church. Before starting work on his 1.8 ,meters long, 1.1 meters wide masterpiece, Adam scraped the Last Supper on three pieces of toast, to perfect his technique.

He used a regular toaster to burn the pieces of bread, then dried and flattened them so they would fit in a giant frame. Using a scraping knife he managed to create the lighter parts of the artwork, and darkened the background with a blowtorch.

At first, the reverend and parishioners were stunned by Sheldon’s creation, because they didn’t expect something this…original, but now they’re thrilled to have such art on the walls of their church. The artwork was so skillfully scraped, some believed it was actually painted on tiles, before realizing the tiles are really pieces of bread.

The toast crucifixion of Jesus will be on display at the Anglican Church of Saint Peter until January 30, if the rats don’t get to it by then.

toast-Jesus

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Kalofer Men Celebrate Epiphany

The Bulgarian men of Kalofer celebrate Epiphany, an important Orthodox holiday, by performing a traditional dance in the freezing waters of Tundzha river.

On January 6, the small town of Kalofer, located 200 km east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, was the scene of an unique event. The men dressed in traditional costumes and, carrying national flags, headed for the neighboring Tundzha river. Here they entered its freezing waters and performed the customary Horo dance.

During the Epiphany ceremony, an Orthodox priest throws a metal cross in the water and young men plunge in to retrieve it. Whoever finds it first is said to stay in perfect health throughout the entire year. After a swim like this, I have my doubts…

Kalofer-Epiphany

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