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Roy Moore, Redidivus

Roy Moore, Redidivus

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post Religion…..
On one extreme, we meet Tea Party activists who recognize virtually no legitimate role for centralized federal government (apart from the Pentagon and the definition of marriage); de-regulation, states’ rights, and local control of government institutions is their mantra. On the other, slightly more fictional extreme, we meet French-style statists who think the vast majority of social networks are best handled in a centralized and top-down manner; centralization and government regulation is their rallying cry.

The Wisdom of Youth

The Wisdom of Youth

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
The last week of classes at many Italian schools is now past, and the stressful season of final exams—a one-week battery of written exams, followed by intensive oral follow-ups—began this next. But the last week of classes was also a time of culmination, the week for the presentation of the extracurricular theatrical productions some of these same students have been preparing all spring. I had the singular pleasure of seeing one such production in the Roman seaside township of Fiumicino a week ago on a late Monday afternoon, and was amazed by the sophistication of the entire production.

Entitled “2012: An Odyssey in Space and Time,” the show was conceived, written, choreographed and produced by a remarkably creative group of more than thirty students ranging in age from eleven to fourteen, and supported by some remarkably generous and far-sighted teachers who do this all voluntarily, in addition to their already extensive professional duties.

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
President Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, put it this way: “The President believes that everyone who serves the American people by working for this government needs to hold themselves to the highest standards of public service.” Mitt Romney was pithier; he said he’d “clean house.” A thoughtful US citizen might well wonder what they were referring to, sadly enough, because there are so many scandals to choose from.

ROY MOORE, REDIVIVUS

ROY MOORE, REDIVIVUS

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
One of the dangers in reporting on the Republican presidential primaries, and now the looming presidential election season, is that national issues and agendas drown out any real connection to more local issues and concerns. I was reminded of this again last week as I drove through heavily wooded back roads of Alabama, and saw signage on trees relating to the primary election they held in back mid-March. Over and over again, I saw the name: Roy Moore.

Good Friday Christianity

Good Friday Christianity

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post….
The consensus view is that Paul’s letters were written in the mid-to late 50s, whereas Mark’s Gospel was written right around 70 C.E., after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by centurions very much like the one he describes observing Jesus’s death. Some important implications of this dating are the following. It could be the case that Mark was responding directly to Paul’s claims in this letter. It could be the case that he had never heard Paul speak, nor ever read this letter. It could be the case that Mark was responding to the kind of beliefs articulated by Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, whether Paul was the original author of such views or simply one especially vocal proponent of them.

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Religion Dispatches….
On November 2, 1984, Velma Barfield became the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1962, and the first to be executed in the State of North Carolina after the nationwide moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976. She was 52 years old. For those of us who had worked on her clemency petition, it was a devastating blow. Then-Governor Jim Hunt was running for a seat in the US Senate against arch-conservative Jesse Helms. Inexplicably, Barfield’s clemency hearing had been scheduled just six days prior to the election. Helms made it a campaign issue, of course, suggesting that, were the Governor to grant Barfield clemency, then his true liberal stripes would be clear to everyone.

LINSANITY IN NEW YORK

LINSANITY IN NEW YORK

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
Enter David Brooks who, in a column drafted after the Knicks’ VaLINtine victory, curiously referred to “the Jeremy Lin Problem”. Brooks refers to “a religious person in professional sports” as an “anomaly,” which seems rather odd to anyone who has witnessed the prayer circles before and after most professional football games, or the finger-to-the-sky salute after most home runs in baseball, but let that lie. It is the reasons Brooks finds the marriage of religion and sport “anomalous” that are worthy of consideration. For Brooks, there is an inescapable moral tension between what he calls “the ethos of sport” and “the ethos of faith.”

Whose Church?

Whose Church?

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
And it suddenly hit me: these people invoke saint’s names the way Protestants invoke denominations. The Church of Saint George, the Church of Saint Spyridon, the Church of Saint Stephen, the Church of Saint Catherine, the Church of the All Holy Mother of God… all Orthodox churches, and all different too. On a casual drive through any major American metropolis, you’ll see a similar string of various and varying Christian churches. I’ll take my home city of Atlanta as an example. If you drive down the central section of Ponce de Leon Avenue, a Lutheran Church is followed by a Mormon Church, then a Melkite Church, then a Presbyterian Church, and then an Antiochene Church, all within under a mile.

No Sport For Old Men

No Sport For Old Men

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
The Super Bowl continues to be one of the most visible and influential cultural events in the United States. For that very reason, it always warrants a closer look. This year was no exception, but what the look reveals is unexpected. Two years ago, the big story was not about the game, but rather about the advertising. The family of Tim Tebow was alleged to be involved in an anti-abortion advertisement that would suggest that they had considered aborting Tebow, in order to put a face on the loss of potential represented by abortion. The ad proved to be pretty benign, but the controversy lingered. The whole debate was shot through with religion.

A Further Note on Cronus and Chronos

A Further Note on Cronus and Chronos

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University…..
I recently published a piece at “Religion Dispatches” about the Roman winter festival called Saturnalia. A commentator noted that I had inadvertently confused (or rather, conflated) two very different divinities in that piece: namely, the Greek figures of Cronus and Chronos. I was grateful for the opportunity this provided to say what I should have said then with a bit more care and clarity, and the detail of these reflections seems perfectly suited to the non-at-all nerdy audience at “Religion Nerd.” So here goes. Greek and Roman religions were religions without canonical scriptures; their mythology is notoriously complex and, to modern eyes, often contradictory.

Duty Down Under

Duty Down Under

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable. Since nature and the military both abhor a vacuum, the recent announcement of the military draw-down in Iraq almost inevitably meant that we’d soon be re-deploying our military forces somewhere else. Still, the northern coast of Australia came as something of a surprise. President Obama announced yesterday that 250 US Marines will soon be shipping off for rotating six-month tours at an Australian military base on the north central coast of the island, near a city called Darwin. Their numbers are expected to escalate to 2500 in fairly short order, along with military equipment and long-range aircraft.

RICK PERRY: THE REPUBLICAN JUDAS?

RICK PERRY: THE REPUBLICAN JUDAS?

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
In an essay I recently published at “Religion Dispatches,” I used Gary Laderman’s fascinating concept of “Republicanicity” as the launch-pad for the suggestion that what separates developments in the Republican Party from anything happening among the Democrats is simply this: the Republican Party is undergoing a battle to define its orthodoxy, a battle that has no direct parallel to arguments and power-struggles taking place on the political left. In short, a plurality of voices, sharing little more than a name in common, is currently in the process of sorting out a platform to which all bearers of the name might reasonably agree.

IS WHO A CHRISTIAN?

IS WHO A CHRISTIAN?

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable that the evangelical push-back within the Republican Party would eventually make Mormonism an issue, no matter how hard the Republican establishment tries to make it go away. And now it’s come at last–an entire week of Republican presidential hopefuls being asked point-blank if they think a Mormon (read: Mitt Romney) is a Christian. Only the fierce insistence that last night’s debate be limited to economic questions kept this pot from boiling over again (though Jon Huntsman couldn’t resist one quick snipe at Rick Perry, who appeared befuddled all night anyway, and Michelle Bachman couldn’t resist the suggestion that Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, if turned upside down, becomes the number of the Beast).

TROY DAVIS, AFTER

TROY DAVIS, AFTER

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University…..
At the same time that the US Supreme Court issued a second stay of execution in one week in the state of Texas, it permitted the execution of Troy Davis to go forward in the state of Georgia. And at 11:08pm on Wednesday, September 21st, some four hours after his scheduled 7:00pm execution time, Troy Davis was indeed killed by a state-administered lethal injection. The range of emotions and the swirl of debates generated by this confusing juxtaposition are layered and complex: a white Army recruiter accused of rape and murder is spared, at least for now, while a black man accused of killing a police officer is not. Both men insisted on their innocence throughout their circuit of appeals.