Showing posts with label Religion Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion Related. Show all posts

5 May 2021

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence
Dane Figueroa Edidi (L) J Mase III (R) photo by Michael J. Eckert
Transphobia is rooted in white supremacy. This is what J Mase III & Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, executive producers of the forthcoming documentary, the Black Trans Prayer Book, continuously remind their audiences. 
At a recent workshop for Syracuse University, the two went through a timeline of ways that Trans & Non-Binary individuals have been targeted in North America since the 1500's. Dane spent some time sharing with the audience a poem for one of her biggest inspirations, Mary Jones, a Black Trans ancestor from the 1800's that lived in New York City; Mase did a call and response piece that moved the virtual room through a legacy of Black & Brown Trans experiences via the lens of a platypus. 

As performers and educators, the two have been skillful at combining a robust stage presence with insightful historical analysis and humor. Having co-edited a book published last year, the Black Trans Prayer Book, they have set their sights on producing their first feature length documentary using this text as a framework.

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence
'The Black Trans Prayer Book' - The Book (image via

About 'The Black Trans Prayer Book' - The Book:

The Black Trans Prayer Book is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-Binary people. Often pushed out of Faith spaces and yet still deeply connected to a historical legacy of spiritual essentiality, Black Trans People face unprecedented amounts of spiritual, physical, and psychological violence. The Black Trans Prayer Book is a tool of healing, and affirmation centered on uplifting Black Trans & Non-Binary people and celebrating our place within faith.

What does it mean to have a faith practice that simultaneously challenges white supremacy and transphobia? Where is there a theological framework that centers the most marginalized and creates pathways towards an active spirituality moving alongside social justice? How might a spiritual practice not in tune with these questions cause harm? The #BlackTransPrayerBook, is holding these very questions.
  • Having launched a GoFundMe to call attention to this daring project as well as raise funds for its completion, these two have begun production all while keeping COVID safe. 
When asked what they imagine this film will do, Dane shared she believes it will, "Help build a world free from oppression." While Mase views it as, "the first film of its kind to connect white supremacy to transantagonism, by centering the experiences of Black Trans people."
SOURCE The Black Trans Prayer Book

21 March 2021

History Repeats Itself: From The New Testament To QAnon

History Repeats Itself: From The New Testament To QAnon
Although a product of the current cultural environment, QAnon also reproduces trends and dynamics from the earliest history of Christianity. (Shutterstock)

QAnon’s cryptic predictions read like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel. In the science fiction author’s book, Valis, the protagonist experiences visions he interprets as revelations about alien intelligence, political scandal and secret wisdom. The book was inspired by Dick’s own experiences and contains imagery drawn from early Christian gnostic groups — loosely organized religious and philosophical movements — that claimed to possess special knowledge about the true nature of the universe.

For the followers of QAnon, an equally gnostic vision of reality is unveiled through obscure remarks from their online oracle.

Although debated by modern scholars, the basic premise of the gnostic worldview is that reality is not what it appears. Ancient gnostics believed that the world we perceive is, in fact, a prison constructed by demonic powers to enslave the soul and that only a small spiritual elite are blessed with special knowledge — or gnosis — that enables them to unmask this deception.

A revisionist reading of reality, in which social and political events are only understood by a chosen few, is the basis of the QAnon gospel. Yet, it is also a worldview driven by long-standing religious impulses clearly evident to historians of early Christianity.

QAnon followers today

QAnon followers — predominately Donald Trump supporters and conservative Christians — appear to believe that the real cause of this past year’s crisis was an underground religious war being waged by U.S. soldiers against legions of Illuminati demons.

They believe that these beings torture and abuse children in order to procure a highly addictive drug called adrenochrome used by liberal and Hollywood elites. Building on the Pizzagate conspiracy theory of 2016, this belief has now morphed into a more expansive “end of the world” narrative.

Much of it reads like science fiction.

The QAnon story casts Trump as a kind of radical Christian ruler, deputized by God to wage war against the liberal infidels destroying a once great and holy nation. Followers believe that the former president’s tweets were not chaotic ramblings, but in fact the words of a Christian oracle, the meaning of which only true believers can decipher through online message boards.

QAnon is a curious mixture of sex scandal, anti-government protest, science fiction, biblical religion and military ethos. These ingredients make for a uniquely American religion and manifest the “cult” of Trump in its most extreme form. All of this seems incredible, even amusing, except for that fact that QAnon is tearing apart families and poisoning American politics.

A woman holds up a sign with a QAnon message. (Shutterstock)

A look at the history

Although very much a product of the current cultural environment, QAnon also reproduces trends and dynamics from the earliest history of Christianity.

In particular, the first Christians also viewed their world as a cosmic battleground and struggled to interpret an often violent and chaotic social context. Like QAnon today, some early Christians speculated about overturning their contemporary socio-political order using imagery of demons and holy war. For example, we might look to the Apocalypse of John, the final book of the New Testament and the first surviving early Christian “apocalyptic” text.

Biblical scholars have long understood that this work is an encoded, first century C.E. attack against Roman imperial power, yet, John’s apocalypse has often been interpreted as a scriptural key to how the world will end.

The earliest Christian readers of the New Testament thought that the end of times was imminent and, ever since, Christian groups have periodically arisen to proclaim that the hour is at hand, only to be disappointed.

Usually, such millenarian sects appear in times of crisis and instability, and are often unpredictable. Millenarianism is a recurring belief in religious, social or political groups about the coming fundamental transformation of society, after which “all things will be changed.” In fact, the Apocalypse of John was not widely accepted into the emerging New Testament until well into the fourth century C.E. Many early Christian leaders thought the text encouraged extremist sectarian impulses that the institutional church found difficult to control.

Inevitable immolation

QAnon is not so much a “church” (in a sociological sense) but a loosely connected network of online commentators. Even though it was birthed in a matrix of evangelical fundamentalism and Republican extremism, QAnonners are under no recognizable institutional framework.

They themselves might assert that their so-called “White Hats represent an organized military force carrying out complex operations in an underground war. It is important to recognize that QAnon is more than just a “conspiracy theory” or fringe political movement: it has all the hallmarks of a new religious movement, one that manifests deeply rooted tendencies in sectarian Christianities from the past.

Few religious sects successfully transition to stabilized religions. Most burn themselves out. Unfortunately, the nearly inevitable immolation that occurs often consumes more than just the believers themselves.

About Today's Contributor:

Timothy Pettipiece, Assistant Professor, Carleton University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

24 February 2021

[Blog Tour] "Blood Libel" By M Lynes #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

[Blog Tour] "Blood Libel" By M Lynes #HistoricalFiction #Mystery
Blood Libel - Tour banner

The Book:

Blood Libel
By M Lynes
  • Publication Date: 31st January 2021
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Page Length: 260 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Mystery

The Blurb:

Seville, 1495

The mutilated body of a child is discovered behind a disused synagogue. The brutal Spanish Inquisition accuses the Jewish community of ritual child murder - the
‘blood libel’. The Inquisition will not rest until all heretics are punished.

Isaac Alvarez, a lawyer working for the royal estate, is a reluctant convert to Catholicism who continues to secretly practice Judaism. When his childhood friend is accused of the murder Isaac is torn between saving him and protecting his family. Isaac is convinced that solving the murder will disprove the blood libel, save his family, and protect his faith.

As the Inquisition closes in how far will Isaac go to protect both his family and his faith?
Buy Links: Amazon UKAmazon US

[Blog Tour] "Blood Libel" By M Lynes #HistoricalFiction #Mystery
"Blood Libel" By M Lynes - Front cover

Blood Libel - Excerpt:

The testimony of Friar Alonso de Hojeda

Seville, Torre del Oro, April 1495

Deep in the heart of the night and I am alone in my cell. Sleep will not grace me with its balm. A single candle sputters, its light flickering across this parchment where I transcribe the secrets I dare not share with anyone, except you. I began this testimony two months ago having no one to confide in. The confession stall is far too dangerous. I must finish this entry before Lauds; it might be my last. I’ll discover the verdict of my earthly masters in a few hours. Then I may not have much longer to wait for the heavenly father’s judgment.

If this testimony is discovered whilst I live, I will burn on the cross. Once I depart this benighted world, I hope my testimony is found and that whoever reads it will not judge me harshly. Some might deem my actions sins. I fervently believe they were justified to further the faith. If absolution is not granted me in this life it will come in the hereafter; from the Almighty or from the readers of this account. Perhaps from both Him and you.

Is there one of the seven cardinal sins I have not committed? Pride, greed and envy, surely - but gluttony, anger and sloth are not weaknesses of mine. A tendency to self-pity is. It might not be a sin, but perhaps it should be. To even think that is to put words into God’s mouth. Another sin.

I have not spared myself in this account. I hope it will be viewed as an honest counterweight to the version of the story I fear will be propagated by those with most to lose from the real truth.

I look up at the only adornment on these walls and wonder whether Jesus on the cross looking down upon me forgives my thoughts, let alone my actions. I will get down on my knees and pray on my threadbare mat that he does. And that the Lord will guide me through whatever is to befall me when the sun rises.

[Blog Tour] "Blood Libel" By M Lynes #HistoricalFiction #Mystery
M Lynes

The Author Bio:

Michael is an author of historical mysteries who writes under the pen name of M Lynes. He has a particular interest in early 16th century Andalucia. He is fascinated by the interplay between cultures, globalization and religious intolerance of that period in Spain’s history. The ‘Isaac Alvarez Mysteries’ are set against this rich background. He won a prize for his fiction at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course.

His debut novel ‘Blood Libel’, the first full-length Isaac Alvarez Mystery, was published in January 2021. Isaac, a lawyer working for the royal estate, must solve a brutal child murder to protect his family and his faith from the Spanish Inquisition.

Michael is hard at work on the second novel in the series and planning the third. He is originally from London but currently lives in Dubai with his family.
Connect with Michael: WebsiteTwitterFacebook

[Blog Tour] "Blood Libel" By M Lynes #HistoricalFiction #Mystery
"Blood Libel" - Tour schedule

15 January 2021

US: Fathom Events Celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth With First Film Series This February [Trailers Included]


This February, Fathom Events will launch the company's first Black History Month film series, Fathom Events Celebrates Black History Month, in cinemas across the U.S. 
Movie-goers will have the opportunity to delve into the diverse lives, historic accomplishments and award-winning filmmaking of some of the most influential African American entertainers in modern history. The five-film series includes acclaimed feature films that highlight the lives, experiences and impact of American musical icons, a documentary that explores an entertainer's groundbreaking work with NASA, and a faith-based drama about the importance of family and lifelong faith.

The lineup for the 2021 Fathom Events Celebrates Black History Month film series is:

  • Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA
  • Ray
  • Get on Up
  • God's Compass
  • TCM Big Screen Classics: Boyz n the Hood 30th Anniversary
"Fathom specializes in curating and distributing a wide variety of content for all movie-goers. We are privileged to utilize our platform to honor Black History Month with films that bring important stories to the big screen," said Ray Nutt, Chief Executive Officer, Fathom Events. "We hope this film series will reach new audiences who will learn about the amazing contributions of these entertainers and experience some great movies."
US: Fathom Events Celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth With First Film Series This February
'Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA'

Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA (2020)

  • DATE: Tues., Feb 2
  • CAST: Nichelle Nichols, Ashley Eckstein, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Dorn, George Takei and Pharrel Williams.
  • DIRECTED BY: Todd Thompson

Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA - Trailer:

In 1977, with just four months left, NASA was struggling to recruit scientists, engineers and astronauts for their new Space Shuttle Program. That is when Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek's Lt. Uhura, challenged them by asking the question, "Where are my people?" With NASA's backing, she embarked on a national PR blitz, recruiting 8,000 of the nation's best and brightest, including the trailblazing astronauts who became the first African American, Asian and Latino men and women to fly in space. This is her—and their—story.
ADDED VALUE: Following the feature presentation, fans will be treated to an exclusive behind the scenes documentary about the making of Woman in Motion, which includes additional interviews with Nichols and other notable guests from the documentary, deleted scenes and additional footage from the making of the film.

US: Fathom Events Celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth With First Film Series This February

Ray (2004)

  • DATE: Tues., Feb 9 & Sat., Feb 13
  • CAST: Jamie Foxx, Regina King and Kerry Washington
  • DIRECTED BY: Taylor Hackford
  • SCREENPLAY: James L. White

Ray (2004) - Trailer:

Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls) stars as the one-of-a-kind innovator of soul who overcame impossible odds to become a music legend. Ray is the triumphant and remarkable story of one of America's true musical geniuses, Ray Charles. From his humble beginnings in the South through his meteoric rise to the top of American music charts, Ray's inspirational journey is a tale of hope, redemption and the power of the human spirit. "Ray is Electrifying" hails Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. Witness the incredible true story of a musician who fought harder and went further than anyone could imagine.
US: Fathom Events Celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth With First Film Series This February
Get on Up

Get on Up (2014)

  • DATE: Tues., Feb 23 & Sat., Feb 27
  • CAST: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, and Viola Davis
  • DIRECTED BY: Tate Taylor
  • SCREENPLAY: Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth

Get on Up (2014) - Trailer:

Based on the incredible life story of the Godfather of Soul, Get On Up gives a fearless look inside the music, moves, and moods of James Brown, taking audiences on the journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. Chadwick Boseman (42) stars as Brown, and is joined by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Jill Scott, Craig Robinson, and Dan Aykroyd in the Tate Taylor directed drama.
US: Fathom Events Celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth With First Film Series This February
God's Compass

God's Compass (2016)

  • DATE: Thurs., Feb 25 & Fri., Feb 26
  • CAST: Karen Abercrombie, T.C. Stallings, Jazelle Foster and Joey Ibanez.
  • DIRECTED BY: Stephan Schultze

God's Compass - Trailer:

On the night Suzanne Waters celebrates her retirement, she is faced with a series of decisions that change her life forever. Trusting God's direction, her truth becomes clear as she takes in a troubled teenager, Eli, and her family embarks on the journey of adoption, healing, and renewed faith.
  • 2016 "Best Screenplay" winner - International Christian Film Festival.
ADDED VALUE: An exclusive introduction from beloved lead actress, Karen Abercrombie, as she revisits God's Compass for its special return to the big screen.

US: Fathom Events Celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth With First Film Series This February
Boyz n the Hood

TCM Big Screen Classics: Boyz n the Hood 30th Anniversary

  • DATE: Sun., Feb 28 & Wed., Mar 3
  • CAST: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Morris Chestnut, and Larry Fishburne

Boyz n the Hood - Trailer:

Writer/director John Singleton's acclaimed debut is a graphic and powerful look at life in South-Central Los Angeles as a trio of young men attempt through different means to escape the violence-filled life of the streets.
  • Singleton was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the 64th Academy Awards, making him the youngest person and the first African-American to be nominated for Best Director.
: This special 30th anniversary event includes exclusive insights from Turner Classic Movies.
Tickets for Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASARay and TCM Big Screen Classics: Boyz n the Hood 30th Anniversary are available now at or at participating theater box offices. Visit the Fathom Events website to purchase tickets for all titles in the series which will become available closer to the event date. 
  • Please continue to check the Fathom Events website and sign up for alerts. (theaters and participants are subject to change)
SOURCE: Fathom Events

10 December 2020

Ho Ho Ho! Santa Claus Plans Socially Distant (and Out of this World) Visit to the International Space Station

Ho Ho Ho! Santa Claus Plans Socially Distant (and Out of this World) Visit to the International Space Station
Santa's sleigh flying past the International Space Station on a precise digital twin of the Earth built by Cesium, a Philadelphia-based tech startup.
The North Pole has confirmed that Santa's sleigh will perform a ceremonial fly-by of the International Space Station (ISS) on December 24. The out-of-this world visit will honor the 20th anniversary of continuous life on the ISS, a milestone achieved in November.
The official NORAD Santa Tracker at NoradSanta.Org enables users to track Santa's journey all day on December 24. New for this year, visitors will be able to see the ISS orbiting the planet in its precise real-time location by zooming out on the 3D Santa Tracker app. 

  • Other updates include additions to Santa's traditional garb, including a face mask, and for part of the journey - a space helmet.
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is a United States and Canada bi-national organization that defends North America by tracking objects flying in and around its airspace 24 hours a day using radar, satellites and fighter jets. Each year, it joins corporate partners in taking on a special mission to also track Santa's sleigh. 

  • The app shows Santa's position reflected on a highly accurate digital twin of the Earth provided by Cesium, a Philadelphia-based geospatial software company.
"Cesium is rooted in aerospace, so it's especially meaningful to us that our technology will allow millions of people to enjoy this event in real-time from the safety of their homes," said Cesium CEO Patrick Cozzi.
"The ISS is a spectacular example of what humans can accomplish when we work together," said Hannah Pinkos, lead developer of the app. "2020 has been a tough year, but I think this special trip is Santa's way of reminding us to believe in ourselves."
Ho Ho Ho! Santa Claus Plans Socially Distant (and Out of this World) Visit to the International Space Station
Santa Claus Plans Socially Distant Visit to the International Space Station (Photo by cottonbro)

About Cesium - The Platform for 3D Geospatial:

Cesium has been providing the 3D geospatial platform that powers the NORAD Tracks Santa app since 2012. Born at aerospace software company AGI, an Ansys Company, Cesium became independent in 2019. Its open platform is used across industries to build applications using 3D location data collected from sensors like satellites and drones. By creating precise digital twins of the Earth with Cesium, users can understand the operations of smart cities, measure piles of soil on construction sites from thousands of miles away, and even track the location of Santa's sleigh in real-time as he travels around the globe. 

SOURCE: Cesium

30 November 2020

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes


Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Some Ms. Marvel comic storylines have revealed her as a well-rounded character while others have advanced Islamophobic themes. (Marvel)

Amid the stress of a rising second wave of COVID-19, comic book fans found something to celebrate this September. Marvel Studios announced the casting of its first on-screen Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan, the alter-ego of Ms. Marvel.

Much like Canadian teen actress Iman Vellani who was plucked for this role, Kamala has been a virtual unknown outside of comic fandom despite being a sensation since her series debut at the top of comic book sales charts in 2014.

It should be no surprise then that Marvel Studios decided to capitalize on this success and signed Kamala for her own TV series on Disney+ for an anticipated debut in late 2021 or early 2022.

As a researcher who has examined Muslim superheroes in American comics, I find Kamala to be the most intriguing of all American Muslim superheroes. She has an ability to destabilize stereotypes of Muslims while reinforcing ideas about American exceptionalism. In the hands of different writers in various comic iterations, she has appeared as multi-dimensional and stereotype-breaking, but also as a one-dimensional figure that advances Islamophobic themes.

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani American who speaks Urdu. Panel from Volume 1, digital edition. (Marvel)

Muslim characters post 9/11

It may seem that Marvel Studios is taking a big risk spotlighting a Muslim character when we are living in a time of rising anti-Muslim hatred in the West. But while there has been a resurgence of Muslim superheroes in American comics after 9/11, some of these representations reiterate stereotypes.

Muslim characters underwent a mini-makeover in popular culture after 9/11. Characters emerged from being buffoonish villains to figures who gave off the appearance of depth while simultaneously regurgitating stereotypes. American studies and ethnicity scholar Evelyn al Sultany coined the term “simplified complex representation” to describe this approach in her book, Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation After 9/11.

Certainly, Muslim superheroes were a thing before 9/11. But after 9/11, a spate of Muslim superheroes emerged, including characters like the orientalized Sooraya Qadir (Dust), who appeared in New X-Men in 2002, Simon Baz, member of the Green Lantern Corps featured in Green Lantern, and Josiah X who first appeared in The Crew. This is fascinating to me since superheroes often function as patriotic symbols, and Muslims are regarded as the quintessential “other” because Islam is usually framed as incompatible with the West.

After reading Sooraya Qadir’s debut, it became obvious to me that comics found a new way to sensationalize Muslim representation.

Enter Kamala Khan

To me, Kamala seemed to be the rare glimpse of hope that existed on the other side of the rainbow if we just characterized Muslims — who make up almost one-quarter of the world’s population — as something more nuanced. And she delivered on that front, particularly in her early days.

Readers met her as a Pakistani American that spoke Urdu. This means we saw representation of Muslims in the West escape the frequent stereotypical assumption that all Muslims are Arabs and vice versa.

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
This panel from Ms. Marvel, Volume 1, digital edition, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona, depicts Kamala Khan as a believable character in a possible real-world setting. (Marvel)

Later in Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13, written by the Arab American writer, Saladin Ahmed, the sole focus shifted away from Kamala Khan when an Arab American sidekick named Amulet was introduced.

Successful sales, popularity

In Ms. Marvel’s earlier volumes written by the Muslim writer, and white Muslim convert, G. Willow Wilson, we saw Kamala anointed with her superhero mantle to the tune of Amir Khusro’s poetry. We saw her juggle her schedule between battles and mehendis, and even got a glimpse of her great-great grandmother’s move from India to Pakistan during Partition.

Back then, I remember comic book store clerks telling me how popular Ms. Marvel was with customers. The print collection of the series sold half a million copies alone. As Wilson notes, the first issue had had eight separate printings and its digital edition became Marvel’s best-selling digital comic of all time. Its first volume, released in 2014, was ranked again amongst the top five in sales rankings in September 2020.

I remember thinking that this Urdu-speaking Muslim powerhouse could be the start of a new type of Muslim character. She was proof that creators didn’t need to recycle the tireless oppressed Muslim woman or terrorist Muslim male tropes for sales.

G. Willow Smith discusses Kamala Khan as ‘A Superhero for Generation Why.’

Introducing Islamophobic themes

But following the success of the Ms. Marvel series, Kamala appeared in Marvel’s Champions series about a team of teenage superheroes. Perhaps Marvel intended to further boost the popularity of the already-successful Ms. Marvel series by bringing in Mark Waid, a high-profile non-Muslim white writer, who authored the popular comic series (and award-winning graphic novel) Kingdom Come and others.

In Champions, some tired stereotypes surfaced. In the third issue, the team flies to a fictional South Asian country. There, they rescue hijabi Muslim girls from violent men who conform to stock villain Muslim stereotypes like the terrorists seen in Hollywood movies such as True Lies.

Here, Kamala is effectively used as a racist weapon against brown men and is depicted to suggest proof of western superiority. Sadly enough, I was concerned she could be used this way before she actually was.

I was reminded that such tropes may exist simply because of implicit bias as opposed to profitability.

Celebrate and watch

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Kamala’s selfie with Wolverine, from ‘Ms. Marvel’ Volume 2, digital edition. (Marvel)

For now, we should celebrate the debut of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Muslim superhero. I have hope that the Disney+ series will do her justice as its showrunner is the stand-up comedian and writer Bisha K. Ali, known for incisive commentary.

However, Marvel plans to move Kamala eventually to the silver screen and there’s already talk of a Champions type of superhero team series featuring Kamala.

If anything of the likes of Kamala as a racist weapon to prove western superiority is featured, I can’t say there will be much cause for celebration.

About Today's Contributor:

Safiyya Hosein, PhD Candidate in Communication and Culture, Ryerson University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

5 November 2020

[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress Authors of 'Anke: The Beginning' #HistoricalFiction

[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress Authors of 'Anke: The Beginning' #HistoricalFiction
[Blog Tour] 'Anke: The Beginning' by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress

Guest Post

By Anas Hamshari and Caroline Snodgress

The seventeenth century was an interesting time for Northern and Western Europe. It is known to some historians as the “General Crisis”—a name that emphasizes the widespread turmoil, conflict, and instability of the period. Even if one considers this name to be an exaggeration, or perhaps an oversimplification, it is impossible to dispute the fact that the century was marked with violence, and contained events which would have a huge impact on the years to come.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the century is that of its situation in a post-Reformation world. Before Luther’s Ninety-five Theses in 1517, there were no Protestant nations in Europe. In fact, there was essentially no Protestantism in existence for the people to follow. However, with Luther’s ideas of justification by faith alone, free will, and the condemnation of papal indulgences, the movement quickly began to spread. In 1525, the Duchy of Prussia was the first to formally adopt this Evangelical or Lutheran faith. Within a few decades, the Catholics were retaliating with the Counter-Reformation, and the religious conflicts of Central Europe were in full swing.

Almost exactly one hundred years after Luther supposedly nailed his Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, the Bohemian Revolt broke out. Though religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants had technically been settled before the end of the sixteenth century, tensions were still high. Eventually, the Protestant Bohemian estates became dissatisfied with the rule of the Catholic Habsburgs, and in 1618 they revolted against Ferdinand II, offering the crown to the Calvinist Frederick of the Palatinate instead. Though Frederick’s rule would not last for very long, this revolt served as a spark for the Thirty Years’ War. And, perhaps equally important, it also got countries in Western Europe involved in the conflict, namely: the Dutch Republic, and Habsburg Spain.

The Dutch Republic had its roots in the Reformation and growing anti-Habsburg sentiment of the mid-sixteenth century as well. The Dutch Revolt, essentially the first part of the Eighty Years’ War or War for Dutch Independence, began when Philip II of Spain came to the throne. He was a much more strict ruler than his father had been, and, before long, some of the nobility began to oppose him. This rebellion, combined with the clashes between Dutch Calvinists and Habsburg Catholics, hunger, and economic troubles, soon led to a full-fledged revolt. The Seventeen Provinces began to fight for their independence from the Holy Roman Empire’s House of Habsburg.

Though the revolt began in 1566, it was not until the Union of Utrecht in 1579 that the northern provinces of the Netherlands were unified—essentially serving as the foundation for the seven United Provinces, or Dutch Republic, which would arise at the end of the century, and be formally recognized by Spain at the beginning of the next. At first, Antwerp, the largest city in the Low Countries, served as the provinces’ capital, but in 1585, it fell once more to the Spanish. The population plummeted—a result of violence, and of Protestants fleeing to the north. The Netherlands was split into the independent north and the Spanish south.

The feud between the Netherlands and Spain, between Protestants and Catholics, and between the people and their Habsburg rulers, however, was not concluded by the end of the sixteenth century. All of this tension erupted within the seventeenth. The Bohemian Revolt in the century’s early years gave way to the Thirty Years’ War, which also incorporated the Eighty Years’ War in the Netherlands, the ongoing Habsburg-Bourbon conflict, and a handful of other interconnected wars across Europe. The entire continent was engulfed in violence, and, at the war’s end in 1648, it was a markedly different land. Within the Habsburg Monarchy, Protestantism was mostly eradicated, but Habsburg power as a whole had declined. The religious wars in Europe had essentially come to an end. Meanwhile, Dutch independence, in the north at least, was officially recognized, and Spain ceded all control to the land.

Seven years after the end of the Thirty Years’ War, we find Anke living in Mechelin, a city just south of the once-powerful Antwerp, in the Spanish Netherlands. While Anke herself is fictional, the dynamics which shape her life are not. Like the real people of the Spanish Netherlands at this time, she lives in a land still ruled by the power of the Habsburgs—or, as they are more likely known to her, the House of Austria—and by the Catholic Church. She was born into the war, fifty-one years after the Fall of Antwerp, and has seen the provinces to the north gain independence while her own lands remain a part of the empire. With the river Scheldt closed to navigation by the Dutch in the north, the population of Antwerp decimated, and the prosperity of the Netherlands gone to Amsterdam, Anke lives a life of relative poverty, and without many possibilities.

However, she is not without hope.

While religious tension was growing in Central Europe, around the world the Age of Discovery was flourishing. From about the beginning of the fifteenth century, to Anke’s lifetime in the mid-seventeenth century, European nations such as Portugal began to venture out across the water and set foot in lands previously unknown to them. The conquest and colonization that followed brought great profit and great prestige to many European nations, while simultaneously bringing destruction to the indigenous populations of places such as the Americas, so-called Ceylon, and Siberia. Opinions on the legacy of colonization still vary to this day, but even disregarding the question of morality, one can see that this Age of Discovery was a period which, for better or worse, changed the world as we know it. Religious conflicts gave way to battles over territory, as colonies changed hands, and new cities sprung up in lands across the Atlantic. When Anke lands in New Amsterdam in the autumn of 1655, there is less than a decade left before it will be taken over by the British. Before long, America will begin thinking about a revolution of its own—perhaps taking some of its inspiration from the Netherlands.
The seventeenth century was, without a doubt, a turbulent and bloody time. But it was also a time of change, of people fighting for their beliefs and making a difference in the world around them. It was a time of exploration, of new nations, and, in Anke’s case, of new beginnings.
[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress Authors of 'Anke: The Beginning' #HistoricalFiction
'Anke: The Beginning' - eBook front cover

The Book:

Anke: The Beginning
By Anas Hamshari and Caroline Snodgress
  • Publication Date: September 16th 2020
  • Publisher: Exotic Reads
  • Page Length: 111 eBook / 170 paperback
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

Living in the city of Mechelen, just south of once-prosperous Antwerp, in the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War, Anke Verhaegen, an ambitious nineteen-year-old, is determined to make the most of her life.

When her brother Johan suggests crossing the Atlantic to New Netherland, Anke knows this is her destiny. Together, the two set about attempting to secure passage across the sea. Before long, their plans are in motion, and hopes are high. Yet, with vengeful enemies, secrecy, and danger on the high sea waiting to be faced, will Anke really be able to secure a better life for herself?

Buy Links:

Authors Bio:

[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress Authors of 'Anke: The Beginning' #HistoricalFiction
Anas Hamshari
Anas Hamshari
Anas Hamshari is an established businessman residing in the State of Kuwait, and an author of one personal growth book and two historical fiction novels. Anas has been a lifelong writer and first began creating medieval fiction tales and short stories when he was seven years old. In June 2020, Anas formed Exotic Reads, a historical fiction self-publishing division in one of his main businesses, Exotic Flavor. Exotic Reads will be self-publishing a variety of historical fiction novels in the weeks, months, and years to come.
[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress Authors of 'Anke: The Beginning' #HistoricalFiction
Caroline Snodgress
Caroline Snodgress
Caroline Snodgress is a first-time author but a long-time writer and ghostwriter. As an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia, she is planning to double major in English and History, and is thoroughly enjoying taking as many fiction writing classes as she can fit into her schedule. When not in Charlottesville, she lives with her family just outside of Richmond, reading eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and watching plenty of period dramas in her spare time.

Blog Tour Schedule:

[Blog Tour] Guest Post by Anas Hamshari & Caroline Snodgress Authors of 'Anke: The Beginning' #HistoricalFiction
Blog Tour Schedule for Anke: The Beginning'

6 September 2020

"My Brothers' Crossing" - A Faith Based Film On Racial Reconciliation - Premiers In US Theaters Despite Covid-19 [Trailer Included]

"My Brothers' Crossing" - A Faith Based Film On Racial Reconciliation - Premiers In US Theaters Despite Covid-19
"My Brothers' Crossing" official movie poster. It features Daniel Roebuck, James Black, Marsha Dietlein, Joe Estevez and Eliza Roberts.
"My Brothers' Crossing" is a spiritually uplifting film that depicts a true story about a black pastor that unintentionally has a head on collision with his car into a motorcycle killing a white couple shortly after the Missouri riots in August 2014. 
My Brothers' Crossing is based on the book, "In the Blink of an Eye: Forgiveness in Black and White" and tells the story of the tragic death of motorcycle bikers Bobby and Pam Clark. The story unfolds from the perspective of Bobby's brother, J.T. Clark, of whose on-screen character is played by award-winning actor Daniel Roebuck (The Fugitive, Getting Grace). Clark eventually forgives C.J. Martin, the black man who killed his brother and is played by veteran actor James Black (Godzilla, Days of our Lives).

The story dives deeper than just forgiveness, it also chronicles the journey of J.T.'s salvation during the turmoil of losing his brother. Clark stated that it's like one of those stories you wouldn't believe unless it happened to you.

  • Movieguide gives the movie 3 out of 4 stars and says it's an inspiring story about the power of forgiveness, loving your neighbor and the importance of God.
The movie transcends human forgiveness and redemption, a much needed story amidst the current coronavirus pandemic, protests and economic chaos currently in the US today. Film director Ricky Borba says the film couldn't have come out at a better time.
"The film was initially set to premiere in theaters last fall, but we are very thankful it was delayed and is hitting theaters now when this country so desperately needs healing across all racial lines." Borba went on to say, "I really believe God saved the film to premier for such a time as this."
  • Actor Black was moved by not just the forgiveness element of the story, but also said, "the fact that after the Clark family forgave the Martin family, they loved them unconditionally."
Borba said that he only had about two weeks to prepare for the directing of the movie, where his prior directorial debut faith based film, "The Talking Tree", he had 18 months to prepare. Having such a short period of time to prepare created a unique set of challenges but he said it also created an incredible bond among the crew to work together as a team. Borba beamed that he couldn't be more proud of the performances on screen and behind the scenes.
One thing he couldn't foresee was how many life-saving doors God would open on such short timing during the shoot. Borba's favorite example was when the production crew needed to film at the local courthouse on short notice, and thankfully, the court allowed the crew to use the courthouse without interruption for the day. That allowed them to stay on their shooting schedule without delay. Borba was thankful to the Lord.
The movie was produced by Tony and Edna White, and executive produced by Reverend Samuel Rodriquez, who co-produced the film "Breakthrough" in 2019. Rodriguez says the story of forgiveness is timely in a way that cannot be mere coincidence.
"Especially at a time when we are confronted with the unresolved problem of racism in America, our nation needs to remember that forgiveness can eclipse our racial divisions and heal even our deepest wounds." Rodriquez continued, "I am honored to be part of such a powerful and compelling film, one that shares the hope of transformation for individuals and entire communities through the power of Jesus Christ."

The Trailer:

  • My Brothers' Crossing is being distributed by Atlas Distribution and will open in several hundred Regal and AMC theaters across the US starting Thursday September 3rd.

Tickets for the film can be purchased here:

SOURCE: Ricky Borba

15 June 2020

Should you Invest in a PA System?

Should you Invest in a PA System?
Should you Invest in a PA System? (Photo Credit: cottonbro)
There are many different uses for a PA system these days. A PA system is generally comprised of a system of microphones, amplifiers, speakers and other equipment that is used to provide sound for large venues or even buildings in which a lot of people are congregated, to easily pipe sound into various rooms and areas. The microphone converts the sound into voltage, which is then sent to a mixer or loudspeaker for amplification, and then is fed through the speakers. The higher the voltage, the louder the sound. Different types of businesses, groups and individuals need different levels of sound - some need the most basic amplification for smaller rooms or venues, while others in larger buildings or outdoor events need something much larger and louder. PA systems of various types are used in schools, businesses, concert venues and arenas, bars and restaurants, auditoriums, warehouses, and even on aircraft or ships. Obviously, there are many different types of PA systems and setups out there for various industries and uses, ranging from the very elaborate to the reasonably small and easy to install. It all depends on how much amplification you need.

Do you think a PA system is right for you, your band, your business or school? Chances are the answer is yes! PA systems are a great investment and well worth the money; because they come in so many different types, sizes and setups, you can easily find one that accommodates your needs and is within your price range. Many local musician and electronics shops have staff that will be happy to talk with you about your needs.

If you’re interested in installing a PA system for your business, venue or event you may be wondering what type to get and whether you can set it up yourself. Depending on your size requirements and the type of PA you’re interested in, there are lots of different tutorials out there; for instance, this basic guide for how to set up a PA system. It can definitely save you money to set your own PA system up, just make sure you do it right!

Depending on what you need it for, you might need a specific type of PA system. It’s important to do your research to determine what type is right for your specific location and use. Here’s a few examples:


If you’re a musician who wants to invest in your own PA to carry around to gigs, house parties and recording/practice sessions, you may want to invest in a PA that’s already assembled and easy to transport. Nobody wants to spend an hour or two before a show setting up a PA and installing a bunch of equipment. Luckily, several music supply stores carry ready-assembled basic PA systems that have great sound, are easy to use, and easy to transport, giving you convenience and accessibility so you can focus on the music.

These are also great for other types of performers and those in industries that need to transport their PA for other in-public performances, lectures or events.


Most schools these days, whether it’s a K-12 school or an established university, utilize some sort of PA system to make it easy to communicate with students and faculty, as well as make announcements, amplify assemblies, games and events, and so on.

Most schools have custom PA systems that are installed by a professional, so you’ll likely want to hire a professional in your area to set up the PA system in your school. Take the time to compare costs and look at different PAs to determine which one is right for the size, layout and uses of your individual school.

Wifi PA systems are becoming increasingly popular around the country, with various schools choosing to go with these for the ease of access and how easy they are to install.


If you run a big business with lots of staff that are scattered across a large building, or if you run a warehouse, manufacturing plant or assembly line, a PA system is going to be your best friend. Being able to communicate over speakers to all of your employees is definitely a more efficient and safe way to speak to your employees while they’re working in various parts of the building. Having a PA system makes it so much easier to find a staff member who might be elsewhere in the building or make announcements while people are busy on the floor.

Because so many warehouses are crowded and dealing with heavy or dangerous equipment, having a wireless PA system is really important. Tangled wires, heavy speakers and bulky audio equipment is only going to get in the way and potentially get damaged and/or cause accidents. Luckily there are many great wireless PA systems on the market especially designed for businesses, manufacturers and warehouses. Some can be installed on your own and others may require a professional install.

Churches and Religious Institutions

Many churches and religious institutions are beginning to use PA systems for a variety of needs. They find that having a PA system eliminates the need for their religious clergymen and women to shout and yell across a congregation that may or may not hear them due to hearing difficulties. A PA system adds a little professional polish to a church service while making sermons and meetings more accessible. Many smaller churches choose to go with PA systems that are easy to install and set up on their own, but they sound every bit as good as one that was professionally installed.

These are just a few examples of businesses, groups and people who have a need for PA systems. Setting up your own custom PA system for your individual needs is easier than you think, and you’ll be thrilled with the accessibility and amplified sound that they can provide you. Whether you choose a ready-assembled PA system, a system you install yourself or have an elaborate PA system set up by a professional, you’ll be thrilled when you see how a PA system can improve your business, school, church or band.

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