Happy Ostara/Equinox everyone! Today's the first day of spring (by some definitions) but it's also Faithful Friday and we've got a bunch of stories to share with you. Many of our stories today focus on how the modern world and religion (or the lack thereof) intersect, often in some very interesting and surprising ways.

First up is this story from The New York Times which asks if the world-famous TED conferences serve a similar role for the secular world as religious gatherings (like "big tent revivals") do for the faithful. You may or may not agree, but Megan Hustad's case for a "secular religion" is compelling.

St. Patrick's Day passed this week and in case you thought we'd forgotten here's an article at National Geographic describing several sacred wells in Ireland, many of which are tied to holy women like St. Gobnait. While these women are Christian saints, the story does point out how many of them (and the sites where they're consecrated) were probably influenced by pre-Christian Irish traditions.

Lest we forget that we are incapable of harboring hate, Alyxander Folmer at Patheos discusses one of the most recent examples of hate crimes committed by a Pagan, by Ryan Giroux of the Hammerskin Nation. Confronting others' demons is often easier than confronting our own, but that doesn't make the latter any less important.

At Feminism and Religion our own blogger Carol P. Christ asks whatever happened to the Divine Feminine in Christianity. While Christianity undeniably has a strong overarching culture of patriarchy the idea of the monotheistic God possessing a feminine aspect was not always so strange and Carol does an excellent job illuminating how women have struggled to bring it back.

Lastly, The Washington Post details an interesting fact about what makes America different from other (wealthy, service-based countries): we're more religious and more optimistic. Indeed, it looks like you have to reach all the way back to countries with an economy the third the size of America's to find comparable levels of religiosity or optimism.