Today’s post is about religion. One of the two things you are never supposed to talk about in good company. And since the other is politics and since I cover that here frequently, let’s just go all in, shall we?
FiveThirtyEight has an interesting piece about religious diversity and a corresponding lack of religiousness. From a graphics standpoint, the central piece is this chart below.
What I would love, however, is for the plot to be interactive. It would be great to let people check out their own individual home states and see how they compare to the everyone else.
Credit for the piece goes to the FiveThirtyEight graphics department.
Sometimes when you are reading something, what you really need is context. Personally, I prefer visual context over textual, but not everybody is so thankfully we can do both. Last week a crane collapsed during inclement weather in Mecca and fell upon the Grand Mosque. I knoew that it was a large crane, but it was not until I saw this piece from the Washington Post that I truly understood just how large. People can write so many feet or this many feet all day long, but the visual juxtaposition of the crane against the Washington Monument is far more impactful.
I’m Irish—my ancestors were from the southern part—and so I grew up Catholic and I went to Catholic schools. So I know some of my Jesus stories. There’s that one story about how at the end of some guy’s life he looks back at a beach—I have no idea what life means being on a beach—where he walked. He sees two sets of footprints and asks Jesus, “Bro, why are there two sets?”
“Dude bro, that’s me.”
“Whoa, then why are there sometimes only one set?”
“That’s when I carried you.”
My interpretation of Jesus speech notwithstanding, it’s one of those stories that is supposed to teach you that you are not alone. Probably because the thought of being a random event in the entire series of random events in the universe(s?) frightens people. Anyway, Randall Munroe over at xkcd took a look at the footprints story. Happy Friday, all. (And you too, bro. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Jesus.)
The Olympics opened in Sochi this past weekend. Many of us may well be familiar with photographs of urinals without piping, or unfinished hotel rooms, or many other infrastructure problems, but there is a bigger issue facing Sochi. It exists on what the New York Times terms the edge of a war zone. Their overall piece is more text-heavy than graphic-heavy, but several maps lend context to this complicated region of the Russian Federation. If you’re curious to better understand the region, this is a good primer.
Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.
As the conclave in Rome is almost ready to begin, likely sometime next week, cardinals are gathering in Rome to discuss the affairs of the Catholic Church and then elect a new pope from within their ranks. Many outsiders talk about the time for a pope from outside of Europe, that the papacy has been an office for Europeans—namely Italians—for too long.
However, the preponderance of Catholics outside of Europe is, in the 2000-year history of the Church, a relatively recent phenomenon. Explosive growth in Latin America, Africa, and Asia combined with a decline in European Catholics means that it is only in the last few decades that Europeans have fallen from being nearly 2/3 of the global Catholic Church.
As my infographic attempts to explain, despite this demographic shift, the early Catholic Church chose popes from the distant corners of its territory before it contracted. That historical consolidation in Europe—Italy in particular—has led, however, to a disproportionate weight of cardinal electors, i.e. the cardinals who elect the pope, in favour of Italy and Europe. And as the cardinals typically choose from among their own, it is far more likely that the next pope will come from Europe if not Italy.
For the first time in centuries, a sitting pope is to resign. Typically most popes have served until their death. The question for many will now be who will be the next pope. Will it be a cardinal from Latin America? From Africa?
I looked at the origins of the all the popes since Peter. (Although the earliest few centuries are sketchy at best with not a whole lot of data.) As it turns out, there have already been probably three popes from Africa. Granted, they all lived during the Roman Empire, but still…that has to count for something…right?…No?…okay. Fine. Well in that case, you have plenty of Italians, in particular Romans to serve. (At least historically speaking.)
There are two things one is not supposed to discuss in mixed company, and let us face it, the internet is some rather mixed company. One of those things, politics, I frequently mention and bring up on this blog. The other, religion, I do not.
Until now. (I think.)
From the National Post comes this work on the size and distribution of the world’s religions.