Beyond the Grave

The Mormons’ Unrequited (But
Contested) Post-Death Conversions

Among the many questions not being asked the Republican Party’s presidential candidates, those concerning religion shouldn’t occupy the front burner and, in fact, so far they haven’t.
But, it’d be fair to expect the same scrutiny about personal beliefs that Senator Barack Obama faced in 2008, on frontrunner Mitt Romney. Will he ever be asked about the Mormon Church’s conversion of dead people?
First, some housekeeping. It’s a established fact that the Founding Fathers of this nation went through great lengths to separate religion from matters of state.
All strident spinning by extremists of all faiths not withstanding, the very First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In fact, religious pluralism and freedom is a basic tenet this country was founded upon and one of the reasons it’s became a beacon to the world. Period.
In practice though, the actual realization of such principles is not as simple. Time and again, attempts have been made to establish a U.S. theocracy based on the preposterous assumption that this or that denomination has the hegemony over faith.
Despite a vibrant non-believer and science-based debate over personal choice and the nature of spirituality, an equivalent to a backwater alley of the thought, the obscurantist, tolerance-averted Continue reading

Checking In

Need a Hotel? Good
Luck Booking These

As vacation season in the north hemisphere approaches, many among the lucky are planning what to do and where to go. Some consider a trip to the Caribbean, while others may finally get to visit Uncle Bob who, since he’s moved to Alaska, no one has ever heard from. Gosh, he hasn’t even met the kids yet.
However you plan your time off, though, there are a few famous hangouts you’ll probably never get to sleep at: the Chelsea Hotel, in New York, and the Stanley Hotel, in Colorado, both celebrated in film and song, the Netherlands’ Divorce Hotel, and the fantasy-themed Balade de Gnomes, in Belgium.
The Chelsea Hotel, which is now operated by a chain and has lost much of its gritty appeal, was the home, temporary and permanent, of some of the most influential artists of the 20th century. You probably know the Stanley by its fictional name, the Overlook Hotel, made famous by Stephen King’s novel, and Stanley Kubrick’s movie, The Shinning.
If you think that none of these are appropriate to take the kids, the brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Jim Halfens is even less so. Advertised Continue reading