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Pagan News Beagle: Faithful Friday, February 12

Women in Africa are segregated as accused witches. The reign of terror of a Russo-German to Buddhism is remembered. And the relationship between the divine, artificial intelligence, and the ego is examined. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment on faiths and religious communities from around the world. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Women accused of witchcraft continue to face persecution throughout the world. One such place were accusations of witchcraft remain relatively common in Ghana, in West Africa. Vice takes a look at the women who stand accused and their plight within segregated communities throughout the country.

Today, the image of a violent, repressive, and ideologically zealous army sweeping over a nation torn by civil war evokes the image of Daesh, the Salafist militant group claiming dominion over much of Syria and Iraq. But just under a century ago that description might have more easily fit the army of Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, a brutal Russo-German warlord who established his rule in southern Siberia and northern Mongolia with the dual goals of restoring the Russian Empire and propagating his twisted version of Vajrayana Buddhism.

What exactly does a religious reformation entail? And is it something we necessarily want to embrace? These are the questions Connor Wood considers when reviewing the claims among many in the West for a "Muslim Reformation." But while many Westerners may not be comfortable with Orthodox Islam, she reminds them that the Protestant Reformation from which they take their model was a bloody, terrifying affair and that extremist movements like Salafism have more in common with it than do moderate or progressive Muslims.

Science fiction writers have long been fascinated with the idea of artificial intelligence and many have used stories about AI as a way to consider questions traditionally reserved to metaphysics or theology: what does it mean to be human, what would it be like to encounter an intelligence greater than that of humanity, etc. In his evaluation of the film Ex Machina, Martin Robbins considers these question and how the concepts of God and artificial intelligence intersect.

Muslims in America find themselves frequently avoided at best or openly persecuted at worst. But despite that, many are proud of both their religious heritage as well as their country. This article from The Washington Post examines how one Muslim woman in America, Maira Salim, navigates her dual identities.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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