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Michael Gilmour
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Michael Gilmour teaches English and biblical literature at Providence University College in Manitoba, Canada. He is the author of Eden's Other Residents: The Bible and Animals (Cascade, 2014), The Gospel According to Bob Dylan: The Old, Old Story for Modern Times (Westminster John Knox), and Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s Popular Music (Baylor University Press). Follow him on Twitter @michaeljgilmour

Entries by Michael Gilmour

The Bible Is For The Birds

(1) Comments | Posted June 27, 2016 | 6:38 PM

It is routine to "de-beak" newly hatched chicks raised on factory farms, which means cutting and cauterizing the upper part of the beak. No anesthesia. A chicken's beak has nerves so the process inflicts pain.

Male chicks hatched at intensive egg-producing operations are surplus and so dispensed with, often in...

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Will Heaven Be Boring?

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2016 | 9:59 AM

In a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon, a man in heaven sits on a cloud wishing he brought a magazine. The heaven of pop-culture cliché--white robes, angel wings, pearly gates, harps--tends to assume a complete break with present experience, with no sign of the material world remaining. No more mud,...

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My New Course on the Bible in Popular Music

(2) Comments | Posted July 12, 2015 | 11:52 AM

Truth be told, I usually don't relish the thought of a new school year. September is a hectic month for faculty in universities and colleges. But much to my surprise, I'm rather enthused this time around, heading into my eighteenth year at Providence University College (Manitoba, Canada). This coming fall...

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Mourning a Pet and Noah's Rainbow

(5) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 9:59 AM

My cat died this morning. Her name was Guiness, named after the stout. Black body with a white head. (Yes, spelled incorrectly. I realized that later but the single 'n' stuck in all her paperwork). She was 15 and pretty much everything one hopes for in a cat. Gentle, affectionate,...

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Animals and the Church?

(1) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 1:38 PM

Some churches recently marked the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4) by integrating animals into their worship. Though many Christians find the practice strange at best, if not inappropriate, there are reasons why some communities of faith answer the question 'Who is my neighbor?' in such an...

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Snake Handling and the Gospel of Mark

(1) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 5:05 PM

The curious sectarian-Christian practice of handling deadly snakes is the stuff of news headlines and reality tv these days. This strange early twentieth-century expression of religious faith is not widespread -- confined to a small number of churches in the southeastern United States -- but has...

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Alicia Keys, Joni Mitchell, and Some Women of the Bible

(4) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 10:07 PM

This is a sweeping generalization, but when the narrators of popular songs represent the male perspective, allusions to sacred imagery are often part of an effort to seduce. To win over the object of desire, the singer often flatters the woman, describing her as an "angel" or some equivalent, looking...

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The Song of Songs and a Sexual Mystery in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose

(14) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 5:37 PM

The English translation of Umberto Eco's debut novel The Name of the Rose (Italian 1980) first appeared thirty years ago, and it continues to delight and surprise, even after multiple readings. On the occasion of this anniversary, I offer a few reflections on one of the many mysteries Eco presents...

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Surprised by C. S. Lewis Fifty Years After His Death

(7) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 9:09 AM

C. S. Lewis died fifty years ago, on November 22, 1963. Not surprisingly there are several tributes planned marking the occasion, including the unveiling of a memorial stone honouring Lewis in the famous Poets' Corner of London's Westminster Abbey. There are also conferences examining his life...

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Why Won't My Dog Be Raptured to Heaven?

(130) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 11:51 AM

As I sip coffee from a favorite mug, a question stares back at me: "If The Rapture Happened Right Now, What Would Happen To Your Pets?" A friend bought me this mug as a joke after I posted remarks on Facebook about the business After the Rapture Pet...

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Reading Revelation Realistically

(239) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 5:22 PM

At one point in Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace," an interpretation of the Book of Revelation captivates Pierre Bezukov. He calculates the numerical value of L'Empereur Napoléon (where a=1, b=2, c=3, etc.) and discovers the sum is 666. This is clear proof to him that Napoleon is the beast from...

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10 Observations About Jehovah's Witnesses and the Book of Revelation

(139) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 12:14 PM

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's "Revelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand!" is a fairly substantial commentary of John's Apocalypse (319 pages) that claims wide distribution, with apparently 16.6 million copies in its various incarnations printed in 51 languages by the time of the 1988 edition in my possession...

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John Lennon, U2, Larry Norman and a Trilogy of God Songs

(16) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 10:54 AM

John Lennon's debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), includes the remarkable "God." The former Beatles' well known distrust of religion is on display in this album as he announces "There ain't no Jesus gonna come / from the sky" ("I Found Out"), likens Jesus and Paul with junkies...

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Metamorphoses, Transformations and Other Terrors of Impermanence

(5) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 7:15 AM

Stories involving metamorphoses of people into new states of existence are ancient and widely represented in literature -- at least since the Latin writer Ovid (43 B.C.E.-17 C.E.) gathered up his collection of tales about "bodies ... transformed into shapes of a different kind" -- and they remain surprisingly commonplace...

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William Bartram's Bible, Early American Environmentalism and Animal Advocacy

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2012 | 7:39 AM

The American naturalist William Bartram published his account of travels in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and East and West Florida in 1791. His book Travels is a remarkable text combining scientific reporting, complete with Linnaean taxonomies of excruciating detail, and surprising poetic flourishes. One quickly grows accustomed to reading...

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Top 10 Zombie Scenes in the Bible

(44) Comments | Posted July 5, 2012 | 7:20 AM

Zombies loom large in popular culture these days. Max Brooks' "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" (2006), the Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith mashup "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2009), and Melissa Marr's "Graveminder" (2011), to name but a few recent novels, enjoy a wide readership. There...

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Is That Biblical Dog an Angel?

(4) Comments | Posted June 20, 2012 | 6:25 PM

The charming and occasionally humorous Book of Tobit appears in the Greek Septuagint and has a place in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox (Greek and Russian) canonical traditions. The setting of this fairy tale-like romance is Nineveh in the late eighth and early seventh centuries B.C.E. where the titular character...

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Judging THE Book By Its Cover

(6) Comments | Posted May 9, 2012 | 12:43 PM

Gerard Genette's "Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation" (1997) calls attention to an aspect of reading not often considered, namely those elements of books separate from the text proper that contribute to, and even shape a reader's experience of the work. He coins various terms to help identify extra-textual items found on...

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U2, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Prophet Jeremiah

(2) Comments | Posted March 5, 2012 | 12:54 PM

During the 2011 leg of U2's 360 tour, Burmese activist, author, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1991) and long-time political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi greeted audiences by video, thanking them for their support. Aung San Suu Kyi has fought tirelessly for human rights and the restoration of democracy...

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Anne Brontë's Religious Imagination

(2) Comments | Posted February 6, 2012 | 3:03 PM

Anne is that other Brontë, easily and often overlooked next to her better-known sisters Charlotte and Emily, the authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights respectively. For readers interested in the intersections of theology, the Bible, and creative writing, however, Anne Brontë's two novels, poetry, and correspondence offer a wealth...

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