Religiosity for the rest of us

    There’s a lot to be said for mayhem. Some of the greatest things on Earth have been the products of chaos or poor planning: The creation of penicillin and Velcro; the discovery of America; Britney Spears bringing buzz cuts back onto the scene. In keeping with that spirit, The Junk Pile is a found-objects column for the Northwestern student – a series of seemingly random discoveries, observations and diversions on campus and the Web. There is absolutely no concurrent theme or agenda. We find it; you try it.

    Even in college, you can’t get away from God. A couple of weeks ago, the Muslim-cultural Student Association put on Islam Awareness Week. (Props to them for turning that into a rap battle.) Mitt Romney’s Mormonism totally sucks for him, since he bit the big one and can’t even drown his sorrows in anything but a Shirley Temple. Hillel’s got pink signs everywhere asking me “big” questions when all I want to know is how to pronounce “tuchus.” If you’re tired of all that, here are a few more funny and unexpected places where religion has been popping up:

    BUILDING-BLOCK BIBLEAlthough it’s the best-selling book ever, not many kids kick back each day to flip through the Bible. That could all change with The Brick Testament. This Web site hosts comic strip-like chapters of the whole shebang, Old and New Testament, illustrated in LEGO scenes. I swear to God a little, yellow Darth Vader pops up during Exodus. The Brick Testament also comes with warnings of violence, sexual content, cursing and — wait for it — nudity. There’s no way to prepare yourself for the bizarre vulgarity that is full-frontal LEGO Adam and Eve. If creator Rev. Brendan Powell Smith didn’t deserve enough credit for making a Gandalf doppelganger convincingly play the role of the Lord, his epic Ark sequence and brilliant casting of a mummy as Lazarus may be enough to make the Holy B one of my new go-to online habits.

    Andy Samberg might come to Hillel. That’s clearly a religious activity that trumps B.J. Novak. Sorry Office fans, but the man wrote “Dick in a Box.” Thanks, Jewish cultural center!

    Aside from buggies and a corner on the rocking chair market, the Amish hold one of the coolest of religious traditions: a temporary break from their strictly limited lifestyles when teenagers get to try all of the debauchery they had been missing out on, like buttons and haircuts. And you know, raves, hard drugs and mindless reality television. You can make a legit effort to learn about this by watching Devil’s Playground, a documentary about the extremes of Amish life. Or you can visit the glorious Web comic, which this week featured an Amish kid wearing a t-shirt and holding a bong. Viva la resistance.

    This isn’t exactly a new development, but on a whim I checked out the Scientology web site this week. A quick perusal revealed the oft-ignored Electropsychometer, a “pastoral counseling device” used regularly by practicing Scientologists. It looks remarkably like the time machine in Napoleon Dynamite, except you don’t have to put anything in your crotch. When you hold the two handles, an auditor reads the E-meter to locate “areas of spiritual distress.” And to think, the only thing Catholics get is a beaded necklace.


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