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Massive Fire Engulfs Historic Church on Orthodox Easter

“For this to happen on such a holy day, I don’t know what to say,” said Alex Velic, a 31-year-old churchgoer, as enormous fireballs erupted from the shattered windows of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street.

“To see it burning like that is such a shock. It’s just so sad,” he said. “I can’t think of the words to express how I’m feeling.”

A force of 170 firefighters responded to the fire, which started shortly before 7 p.m., FDNY officials said. Church officials and the FDNY both said there were no reports of major injuries, though three firefighters and a church caretaker had minor smoke inhalation.

“Nobody is hurt, everyone is safe,” explained Father Djokan Majstorovic, dean of the cathedral.

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Photo: Peter Gerber

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said there had been 700 people inside the church earlier in the day for the Orthodox Easter service. He added that the cause of the fire at the historic house of worship is still under investigation.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

“It’s a very sad day today,” Nigro said. “They had their Mass at 10 a.m. and then a luncheon. The good news is that there was no one inside when the fire started and there are no injuries. One man is being checked out for smoke inhalation.” Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Donald Trump & Barack Obama go up in flames as Easter effigies burned in Mexico

It may have only been a paper effigy of the Republican Party presidential hopeful, but for the onlookers it was the high point of the traditional burning of Judas during the culmination of Holy Week celebrations.

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Mexican’s set fire to an effigy of US president Barack Obama in Mexico City during Holy Week celebrations

Trump is extremely unpopular in Mexico after he said some Mexican immigrants crossing into the US illegally were “rapists” and “criminals,” and pledged to build a “beautiful” wall on the Mexican border.

Mexican’s set fire to an effigy of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Mexico City during Holy Week celebrations

An effigy of US President Barack Obama and one representing the Islamic State group (IS) were also burned.

Each year, eight districts compete to create the loudest, brightest and most elaborate effigy, or “Shimo”.

Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Doris Day with Easter Bunny

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John Wayne as The Easter Bunny

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How Have We Depicted Madness Throughout History?

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Even in an age of science, we cannot escape lunacy’s long history of frippery and superstition

 Modern psychiatry seems determined to rob madness of its meanings, insisting that its depredations can be reduced to biology and nothing but biology. One must doubt it. The social and cultural dimensions of mental disorders, so indispensable a part of the story of madness and civilization over the centuries, are unlikely to melt away, or to prove no more than an 61uJxeANx6L._SL250_epiphenomenal feature of so universal a feature of human existence. Madness indeed has its meanings, elusive and evanescent as our attempts to capture them have been.

[Check out ‘s book “Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine at Amazon.com]

Western culture throughout its long and tangled history provides us with a rich array of images, a remarkable set of windows into both popular and latterly professional beliefs about insanity. The sacred books of the Judeo-Christian tradition are shot through with stories of madness caused by possession by devils or divine displeasure. From Saul, the first king of the Israelites (made mad by Yahweh for failing to carry out to the letter the Lord’s command to slay every man, woman, and child of the Amalekite tribe, and all their animals, too), to the man in the country of the Gaderenes “with an unclean spirit” (maddened, naked, and violent, whose demons Christ casts out and causes to enter a herd of swine, who forthwith rush over a cliff into the sea to drown), here are stories recited for centuries by believers, and often transformed into pictorial form. None proved more fascinating than the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty king of Babylon, the man who captured Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple, carrying the Jews off into captivity all apparently without incurring divine wrath. Swollen with pride, however, he impiously boasts of “the might of my power,” and a savage and jealous God has had enough: driven mad, he “did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagle’s feathers, and his nails like bird’s claws.” The description has proved irresistible to many an artist: above, an unknown German artist working in early fifteenth-century Regensburg provides a portrait of the changes madness wrought upon the sane.

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Disease was rife in the ancient, medieval, and early modern world. It was often interpreted through a religious lens, and the spread of Christian belief through pagan Europe was often facilitated by the use of miracles and wonders to demonstrate the power of the Christian God. The ability to cure sick and tortured souls was increasingly brought about by the intercession of saints and martyrs, whose relics were believed to have miraculous power to heal the sick, reanimate the halt and the lame, and restore sight to the blind. The tombs of saints like St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Dymphna of Geel, who had both been beheaded, were popular choices for those seeking relief from mental distress, as was the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket, whose murder in Canterbury Cathedral is here shown in a mid-thirteenth-century codex. The saint’s blood was thought to cure insanity, blindness, leprosy, and deafness, not to mention a host of other ailments.

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Naturalistic accounts of madness, those that saw its roots in the body, had an ancient lineage as well. Though many in classical Greece and Rome still embraced supernatural accounts of mental disturbance and had recourse to the temple medicine of the god Asclepius, with its purification rites, charms, and spells, others were attracted to the humoral model of disease embraced by the followers of Hippocrates and later systematized by the Graseco-Roman physician Galen—a model of illness, both mental and physical, that would survive in Europe into the nineteenth century. Hieronymus Bosch’s satirical painting of The Cure of Folly: The Extraction of the Stone of Folly, which dates from c. 1494, suggests that skepticism about medical claims remained widespread despite physicians’ best efforts. A doctor dressed in a dunce’s cap uses a scalpel to draw forth the supposed cause of madness from the scalp of a patient.

L0077037 Advert for the psychiatric drug Thorazine

Though religious interpretations of mental disturbance persisted in both polite and popular circles well into the eighteenth century (and among hoi polloi even longer than that), medical models of mental disorder gradually became the dominant and then almost the only legitimate interpretation of the sources of mental distress. The eighteenth century saw the rise in England, the first consumer society, of a private trade in lunacy. Mad-doctors, as they were then called (the double entendre would later cause specialists in the management of lunacy to search for a more respectable name), marketed their madhouses as ways to save affluent families from the travails and potential disgrace of keeping a lunatic at home, and over time began to claim the ability to cure as well as immure the insane.

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The technological inventiveness of the Industrial Revolution was soon extended to devices intended to shock and startle the mad back to their senses. Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, suggested a swinging chair, and soon a variety of such devices were marketed, one promising that by “increasing the velocity of the swing, the motion be[ing] suddenly reversed every six or eight minutes … the consequence is, an instant discharge of the stomach, bowels, and bladder, in quick succession.” Others promoted a variety of devices designed to simulate drowning—though sometimes, unfortunately, the drowning proved all too real. And the American mad-doctor, Benjamin Rush, created a special chair, one that “binds and confines every part of the body … Its effects have been truly delightful to me. It acts as a sedative to the tongue and temper as well as to the blood vessels. I have called it a Tranquillizer.”

ranz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Franz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, while three gentlemen wait in line. Coloured lithograph by E.H., 1825. 1825 By: E. H.Published: 1825

Franz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, while three gentlemen wait in line. Coloured lithograph.  By: E. H.Published: 1825

Aristotle had seen the heart as the seat of the emotions and the intellect. By contrast, the Hippocratics saw the brain as their center. The anatomical investigations of the late seventeenth-century Oxford physician Thomas Willis (the man who coined the term neurologie) had given new impetus to the study of the role of the brain and the nervous system, and by the early nineteenth century, few medical men doubted that the etiology of insanity could be traced to disorders of the nerves and the brain. Among the most talented early nineteenth-century anatomists of these organs were the Austrian physicians Franz Gall and J.G. Spurzheim, who viewed the brain as a congeries of organs, each region corresponding to particular psychological functions. They asserted that the relative size of a particular organ was indicative of the strength of a particular mental function and that its size could be increased or decreased through mental exercise, rather as muscles can be developed or can atrophy. As the cranial bones developed, they allegedly conformed to the underlying comparative development of the brain’s different parts. Thus, a person’s mental capacities could be deduced from the confirmation of the head. Phrenological claims to provide a guide to human capacities and a somatic account of the origins of insanity soon became the butt of ridicule (as can be seen in this caricature, where Gall himself examines the head of an attractive young woman, while three gentlemen wait their turns to have their own characters read). Yet Gall’s underlying doctrine of cerebral localization enjoyed a long half life in neurology.

V0016653 Seven vignettes of people suffering from different types of

The handful of profit-making madhouses that emerged in the eighteenth century were dwarfed by the Great Confinement of the insane that marked the nineteenth. States all across Europe and North America embraced the asylum solution, prompted in part by the assurances of the medical men who soon monopolized the running of these places that they were architectural contrivances uniquely suited to the management and cure of the mentally disturbed. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] Vintage: Posing with Easter Bunny

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Vintage Easter Bunny Photos


Resurrection of Christ, by Dürer

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Print: Resurrection of Christ by Dürer – 


JFK’s Final Easter holiday, Palm Beach, 1963

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[PHOTO] Easter in Manhattan, circa 1956 ~ Representing the Three Crosses on Calvary

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Easter: Illustration by George Petty, 1939

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[VIDEO] Bugs Bunny Cartoon: ‘Easter Yeggs’


Memo to New York Times’ Dean Baquet: Don’t Piss On Us And Tell Us Its Raining

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NYT-swearing

Mollie Hemingway writes:

…It’s absolutely not true that the New York Times cares one whit about the religious (or otherwise) sentiments of peaceful families in Brooklyn. If they did, they wouldn’t run so many depictions of anti-semitic caricatures in stories about anti-semitic caricatures. Or of blasphemous anti-Christian art in stories about blasphemous anti-Christian art. Or of gross ethnic and racial stereotypes in stories about gross ethnic and racial stereotypes. When the New York Times wrote about Catholic outrage over an art exhibit that featured a “black Madonna with a clump of elephant dung on breast & cutouts of genitalia,” that story featured a color photo of the art in question. Heck, it still does. Right there on the web site.

Read the rest of this entry »


Report: China on Course to Become World’s Most Christian Nation within 15 years

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The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America.

Speaking with our Hong Kong Bureau Chief yesterday about the often overlooked historical role of the post-reform Christian church as an incubator of enlightened self-governance and radical reform (try to imagine the civil rights movement without it) I was left with the impression that Communist China’s effectiveness at resisting reform and discouraging dissent would almost guarantee that Christianity’s future in China is not hopeful as it might appear. With Maoist China’s record of hostility to Christianity, and current success at containing or crushing competing ideologies, is this report–predicting an uninterrupted rise of Christianity in China–drawing premature conclusions?

Note the reverse image in the mirror: the decline of Christianity in the west. And consider the more troubling historical reverse: the persecution, slaughter, and displacement of Christians around the world.

Liushi, Zhejiang province – For the Telegraph reports: It is said to be China’s biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross.CIM_Gospel_Tract

“It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence.”

The 5,000-capacity Liushi church, which boasts more than twice as many seats as Westminster Abbey and a 206ft crucifix that can be seen for miles around, opened last year with one theologian declaring it a “miracle that such a small town was able to build such a grand church”.

“It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”

The £8 million building is also one of the most visible symbols of Communist China’s breakneck conversion as it evolves into one of the largest Christian congregations on earth.

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“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”

“It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence,” beamed Jin Hongxin, a 40-year-old visitor who was admiring the golden cross above Liushi’s altar in the lead up to Holy Week.

Read the rest of this entry »


Gosnell Movie Crosses the Million-Dollar Mark

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Phelim McAleer and Ann McIlhenny, filmmakers of Not Evil Just Wrong and Frack Nation want to tell the story of Kermit Gosnell, whom they describe as “the worst serial killer in American history,” but they need to raise funds to shoot the TV movie. Phelim and Ann are halfway through their IndieGoGo crowdfunding push for their Gosnell Movie project, and passed the $1 million level in fundraising yesterday:

Abortion Clinic Death_CalaDear Supporters,

We have just passed $1,000,000 and want to say very special thank you to all of you who have contributed to get us this far, it’s a really big milestone. We are so grateful to you.

Thank you and a Happy Easter

Phelim

Ann

Magdalena

Just to remind everyone about the Gosnell case, here’s Ann reading part of the grand jury report:

(read more) Hot Air


He is Risen! What Christians Believe About Easter, and Why

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“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

—Luke 24:5–6 (ESV)

For Breitbart.com writes:  “He is risen!” For centuries, it was proclaimed in the streets on Easter morning. It was a way that Christians identified each other on this day, as another Christian hearing it would respond, “He is risen indeed!”

Easter was the hope of an eternal existence, and one that has baffled scholars for centuries to explain. It’s hard to come up with a theory that explains it all away.

There was a sizeable group of men and women, whose leader claimed to be divine. They saw their leader arrested, tortured with a series of savage punishments that often proved deadly in their own right, nailed to a wooden cross through his hands and feet by professional executioners who crucified convicts on a regular basis, hung on that cross for hours until he was dead, then one soldier thrust a spear into his chest to confirm his demise before taking him down. The soldiers involved in this process would themselves be executed if a person handed over to them for termination was let go alive, so they tended to be thorough. After that point, his body was wrapped in burial clothes and he was put in a tomb under guard. His followers fled in fear and despair.

Then three days later they say they saw him, and spent time with him over a period of days. They said they spoke with him, ate food with him, and walked with him. Then they say he was taken up before their eyes into heaven. And for the rest of their lives, they would travel the known world heedless of any dangers, talking about Jesus Christ and writing the New Testament of the Bible. They were persecuted and executed one by one, yet still continued with unabated zeal for decades until their last breath. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] 10 Old-School Playboy Bunnies, Because, Easter

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Since adults can’t get excited about the Easter bunny anymore, (spoiler alert: he’s not real!), there are certain types of bunnies those over the age of 18 can legally get excited about.

Here are 10 old-school Playboy bunnies, because it’s Easter, and they are dressed like rabbits…(read more)

 The Daily Caller


Children’s Hospice Easter Appeal Gets Unexpected Flock of 6,300 Knitted Chicks


April Fools Day Facts: How Pranks Are Going Viral

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A classic April Fools’ Day prank in France is to stick a paper fish onto an unsuspecting passerby. PHOTO BY JACK GAROFALO, PARIS MATCH VIA GETTY

 Today is April Fools’ Day—the prankster’s favorite day of the year.

Taryn Salinas writes:  We talked to Alex Boese, curator of the online Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego, California, to get the lowdown on this quirky holiday and how it has changed over time.

Boese said he has never been much of a prankster; his family didn’t participate in April Fools’ Day pranks at all. But as a science historian and recognized “hoaxpert” (hoax expert), the more he’s studied humorous pranks and hoaxes, the more he enjoys it. (See “April Fools’ Day: Nature’s Wildest Masters of Deception.”)

In recent years, Boese has noticed that the number of pranks done in the home and at the office seems to have decreased in the United States.

“A hundred years ago, most people played pranks at home, on the street, or in the office. It was considered a nuisance holiday. Today we lack the street culture to encourage [and get away with] pranks on strangers in public.”

Pranks of a personal nature have been replaced by large institutionalized media hoaxes. Viral marketing has caused a sea change in how advertising is approached, and Boese says April Fools’ Day has been a huge driver of it. (Related: “April Fools’ Day Special: History’s Hoaxes.”)

“In the last five to seven years we’ve seen an explosion of spoof ads by mainstream companies and organizations like the U.S. Army.”

Because of sites like YouTube and Twitter, content can go viral instantly, and April Fools’ Day provides a legitimate excuse to produce a fresh and funny video, in the hopes of earning widespread exposure.

“Companies feel enormous pressure to create these humorous videos, fearing that if they don’t come out with one, they’ll be considered unfunny or irrelevant,” said Boese.

“I don’t get sick of it at all,” he said. “People love consuming humorous content, and April Fools’ Day is a holiday specifically about this.”

Boese is a little sad about the loss of personal participation, but he’s delighted that the Internet has become such a great resource for humor. Read the rest of this entry »