By Kate Daley-Bailey…I have recently had the good fortune of having various scholars come in and speak with my Religion and Media course. Dr. Russell McCutcheon, noted scholar and head of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Alabama, has recently created a collaborative website dedicated to investigating cultural constructions and identity formation (Culture on the Edge: Studies in Identity Formation). The website welcomes professors currently teaching classes to request a virtual class visit from one of the scholars writing for the site. Given my course title and topic, I knew this website would be a vital resource. Taking Dr. McCutcheon up on his gracious offer to Skype with my class, I took the first step towards integrating Skype into my courses.
By Kate Daley-Bailey…..
While the term ‘hagiography’ may not appear in the average American’s day to day lexicon, this genre of religious literature, a type of spiritual biography of a Christian saint, proves to be an enduringly fascinating corpus. One such hagiography, the life of St. Mary/St. Marinos, stands out for numerous reasons. This saint’s dual names, one feminine and one masculine, might peek one’s interest. St. Mary/ Marinos’ story places her in the company of extraordinary women, a group known as the ‘transvestite nuns,’ holy women who disguised themselves as men in order to enter monasteries. Here is a very brief synopsis of her story:
By Kate Daley-Bailey……I recently found a few remarkable images of memorable Star Wars scenes crafted by Thai artist Chawakarn Khongprasert entitled Star Wars in Medieval Manuscript. These images stood out to me not because of the quality of the art itself, albeit the images are exceptional, nor even due to the ironic blending of pop culture subjects with traditional Christian artistic forms which I so often enjoy. These particular images reminded me of not just any presentations of Medieval Christian art but rather of a very specific style of Medieval Christian art form, Eastern Christian iconography.
Kate Daley-Bailey…..“I’m not really a reader.” I have heard this student claim before and again I let out a sigh of frustration. Telling your college professor you are ‘not a reader’ is like telling your boss you are not ‘really a worker.’ Nope… sorry boss, I’m just not the ‘working’ type. Now before I dump this excuse into the dung heap with the rest of the excrement which gets pedaled to teachers on a daily basis, I would like to briefly reflect on this statement and its implications.
By Kate Daley-Bailey…..My Religion and Media class is currently weeding its way through the thicket of religion definitions which have overgrown the field of religious studies in the last three hundred years. Some of the definitions we are investigating are not blatantly presented by their creators as definitions per se (these ‘definitions’ may be more accurately labeled as descriptions of what that thinker considers ‘religious’).
By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Bulletin…..Amid all these Jesi (my highly technical term for multiple Jesuses), my hope is to drive home to my students that Jesus, much like the concepts ‘religion’ or ‘the sacred’ or even ‘human’, has become somewhat of an empty signifier, meaning so many things to so many people that invoking his name becomes a rhetorical move to claim ownership over a powerful signifier which, ironically, is no longer grounded in any particular content.
Often referred to as Hitler’s theoretician or Hitler’s philosopher, Alfred Rosenberg codified much of the anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-Communist rhetoric which Hitler used to legitimize his political agenda. Rosenberg’s most significant text, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual Confrontations of our Age, was revered, at least superficially, by the Reich as second only to Mein Kampf as embodying the mythical and ideological frame for Hitler’s Germany. According to Rosenberg, for races around the world, blood was fate. Physical, intellectual, and spiritual characteristics were the products of blood. According to Rosenberg, there was no redemption for the ‘lesser’ races… their blood made them the natural enemies of the Aryan Volk… their blood had sealed their fate.
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
I have the perfect gospel for Glenn Beck; a Saxon retelling of the Christian gospel with Jesus as a warrior chieftain written in “song” or epic form in the early part of the 9th century CE and was supposedly used to convert the pagan Saxons, after they had been conquered and forcefully baptized by Charlemagne.
This rendering of the Jesus story is no direct translation of a canonical gospel rather it is an actual retelling of the Jesus story. As an expert on the Heliand, the title of this Saxon gospel, G. Ronald Murphy, J.S. describes the text as “a reimagining of the gospel.” Murphy writes that the Heliand’s author, whose identity is still a mystery, “rewrote and reimagined the words and the events of the gospel as if they had taken place and been spoken in his own country and time.”
Creatures of the Night: In Search of Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves, and Demons by Dr. Gregory L. Reece
Before sparkly vampires like Edward Cullen, before Count Orlok of Nosferatu, even before Bram Stoker’s classic tale of Dracula, there were the vampire tales of European folklore. As Reece suggests, these early prototypes of the vampire are far-less glamorous that the stylized, Gothic vampires of Polidori, Le Fanu, and Stoker. They attack cattle as well as humans, resemble bloated ticks when exhumed, and they more physically favor our conception of a zombie than the modern day vampire. Not only does Reece present a thorough but enjoyable romp through the history of the vampire, he also explores research about various real-life vampire communities, such as work done by Joseph Laycock in Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampires. Perhaps the most fascinating chapter in Reece’s book, according to this reviewer, is his chapter on werewolves, a chapter which plays upon the concepts presented in folktales made familiar by The Brothers Grimm, Perrault, and Paul DeLarue.
By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Nerd…..
The article itself did not surprise me… but the comments from the website’s respondents most certainly did. What I found most intriguing was the theological language being used on this modern media site, one explaining scientifically natural weather phenomena and includes no reference to any theological agenda. Here are just a few examples: “God loves us so much and He is trying to get our attention one more time before He judges the earth. He wants us to live and not die. Wake up, people.” And, “I pray God’s protection during this difficult time. May He give us His peace, comfort, and strength. Romans 12”
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (the Gospel of Luke 10:25-37) is probably one of the best- known parables from the Christian New Testament. In the U.S. the phrase ‘good Samaritan’ is commonly understood to describe someone who has gone out of their way to help another. This phrase has been thoroughly secularized and one need not be a Christian to know its meaning. You voluntarily carry your elderly neighbor’s groceries… you are a ‘good Samaritan.’ You clean up someone else’s litter on the side walk… you are a ‘good Samaritan.’
By Kate Dailey-Baley, Religion Bulletin….
In my two previous Bulletin posts, I discussed the efforts of prominent Nazi intellectuals(such as Gerhard Kittel and Alfred Rosenberg)who, during the 1930s, worked to buttress the German Reich through the appropriation of Christian symbols, images, and narratives. It is worth noting that Rosenberg and Kittel offered competing presentations of a Nazi Jesus and a Nazi Christianity, each of which was intended to unify the German churches and people. For Kittel, this meant the wholesale separation of Judaism and Christianity in hopes of persuading fellow Nazis that the Christian narrative was ideologically compatible with larger Nazi social projects. For Rosenberg, it meant reclaiming the image of Jesus as an Aryan warrior-chief in the age-old battle against Judaism. This present post looks at yet another attempted Nazi Christianity, so-called “Positive Christianity” in the discourse of the NSDAP (The National Socialist German Worker’s Party).
By Kate Daley Bailey….
My family’s religious affiliation is best described as ‘recovering Catholic.’ While we often say this in jest, I find it compelling that although we may be disillusioned with the papal abuses, restrictive doctrines on women in the priesthood, birth control methods, and various other concerns, my family members who have broken with the church still often identify as Catholic. I think of my Catholicism like some Jews describe their Judaism. Judaism is often described as a religion and a culture… and while many people associate Judaism with the purely religious aspects, Jews who no longer practice the religious prescriptions of their religion may still identify as Jewish. My family often gravitates toward other Catholics, recovering or those still within the Church. We might be done with the Catholic Church but we refuse to give up Catholicism.
By Kate Daley-Bailey….
For thousands of years, the Christian Church has identified “usury” as a sin… however various theologians and scholars living within these thousands of years disagreed over exactly what “usury” was and was not. A brief exploration of the term “usury” (and its multiple manifestations) may lead us to a better understanding of what was actually being prohibited by various religious communities, especially Christian ones.