Divine Pests

If Our Saints Are Thugs,
Your Angels Must Be Insects

Let’s face it, there are way too many saints around. If one is not careful, it’s easy to get carried away and lose sight of who they are or whether they are prayer-worthy. Yet, the very choices that some exercise in the matter may be reason for concern.
Take Venezuela’s Holy Thugs, for example. They wore baseball hats, jeans barely covering their behinds, and high-caliber weapons on their belt. They are also dead, but still command a huge following in a country with arguably the highest murder rates in the world.
And who can blame John Coltrane worshipers? He too commands a hefty following. Thank goodness, his weapon was a jazz saxophone.
Now, heard the latest about angels? They can’t be vertebrates, some say, since they have wings, which are technically extra limbs.
At the end of the day, there are people who’d put anything on an altar and begin to pray. A few years back, Argentinian soccer great Maradona also had a church founded in his honor. Probably because at that time, the man was a walking death-defying act.
Not for us this business of kissing someone’s er picture, and ask for guidance. No easy job either, mind you. The cult of miracles as a path Continue reading

Global Favela

Shantytowns With Natural
Light and Striking Views

The other day we showed you how Rio de Janeiro is trying different ways to cope and do away with its favelas, as the city and Brazil prepare for two major global sports events, the World Cup in 2014, and the Olympic Games two years later.
We also told you about the criticism over such projects, because of their perceived aim at only covering up cosmetically the eye sores that Rio’s shantytowns represent to the city, rather than addressing the deeper causes that make them exist in the first place.
In the past few weeks, though, two other neighborhoods, as impoverished and miserable as any found in Rio de Janeiro but both outside Brazil, made the world news cycle, and not for the depressing reasons such stories usually convey.
Liter of Light, an idea that seems to have originated in Brazil Continue reading