By Lauren Cooper, Georgia State University…I love books. Specifically, I love works of speculative fiction that are concerned with a dystopian near-future and the creation of new religious traditions in the face of a deteriorating human culture. But hey, who doesn’t love that kind of stuff, right? This is why I suggest that everyone read Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. In these three novels- Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam- Atwood creates several new Christian traditions that are so realistic to the point of being a little creepy. I think this is because they seem recognizable, almost as if you have heard of them before, on the news or in school or something.
By Lauren Cooper, Georgia State University…..The world of high fashion is simultaneously interesting and frightening to me. Designers often send outlandish creations down the runway that elicit oohs and aahs from those select few that “get it.” I have to confess, I usually don’t get it. I have difficulty seeing clothing as art. I tend to see clothing as functional, above all, and I think many people tend to agree with me. However, when I came across images from Alexander McQueen’s pre-fall line, I had to stop and think about it.
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.
By Lauren Cooper, Georgia State University….Last week a friend posted a link to a rather interesting article on my Facebook wall—it was an article about a restaurant in Chicago called Kuma’s Corner that is serving a burger called The Ghost. Generally speaking, I’m not usually interested in what eateries in Chicago are serving their patrons, but this particular burger caught my attention immediately.
By Lauren Cooper…..Across the world, the image of the Virgin Mary is an iconic one, easily recognizable regardless of one’s religious affiliation. It goes without saying that many Christians view the likeness of Virgin Mary as sacred, and yet it is not unreasonable to suggest that this reverence for the virgin mother’s image extends beyond Christianity. It is an image universally held in high esteem because of its association with the sacred, regardless of whether or not there are beliefs attached to this association.
By Joel McDanal, Georgia State University…..So, when my mother suggested going to the Flora-Bama lounge, at first I thought she was joking. To call the Flora-Bama a beach bar is really underselling it. It is a Redneck Riviera institution. Heck, Jimmy Buffett has even sung about it. Come to find out, my mother wanted to go to church. Worship @ The Water it’s called. For two years now, every Sunday morning the Flora-Bama has provided the space, and, Perdido Bay United Methodist Church has provided the service. A large tent lined with beer flags and a small stage that probably featured live music and late night revelry just a few hours earlier has been transformed into a sanctuary. Rows and rows of chairs have been set up and supplied with copies of The Honky Tonk Hymnal.
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 Joseph Laycock….
On August 30, eBay officially discontinued the sale of “metaphysical” goods and services on its online market. Spells and divination services have been available on eBay since the site’s inception in 1995. Before Thursday, eBay shoppers could select from more than 40,000 spell listings and 15,000 offers of tarot card readings. The new policy has put an entire class of online magicians, fortune-tellers and potion-brewers out of business. Some claim to be sincere practitioners while others have admitted to being frauds. Many have sought to relocate their shop to Craigslist and other parts of the online marketplace.
By Catherine Schmidt, Georgia State University….
Mary Magdalene, I argue, needs to be rediscovered by popular culture. She needs to no longer carry the role of prostitute and be rediscovered as the apostle of the apostles: first to witness and announce the resurrection. She must be rediscovered in order to be wiped clean of the ancient “mud-slinging job” and “smear campaign.” For over fourteen hundred years she has been portrayed in legend, art, sermons, novels, theater, film, music videos, musicals, and comic books as something that she was not. Mary needs to be seen as equal to the other apostles. Women need to be seen as equal to men. If popular culture depicts Mary not as a whore, but as what she really was—apostle of the apostles—society will be one step closer to equality and gender pluralism
A Brave New Book: Kelly J. Baker’s Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930
By Kenny Smith….
Dr. Kelly J. Baker is a lecturer in Religious Studies and Americanist Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Seemingly indefatigable, she has written for numerous academic and popular publications, has two additional books and several scholarly articles currently in the works, serves an editor for the award-winning American Religious History blog, oversees panels and groups within the American Academy of Religion and American Studies Association, all the while teaching a full-load of university-level courses each semester, raising a young daughter, and encouraging aspiring graduate students at other institutions. A glance at her resume suggests a broad range of teaching and research interests: world religions in America, apocalyptic and Rapture-oriented movements, the figure of the zombie in contemporary culture, religious in/tolerance in the South Park series, and of course, the early 20th century rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and its relationship to “mainstream” American religion and culture, precisely the focus of her new book, Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930
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.”
By Mark L. Movsesian, CLR Forum ….
The Donation was a purportedly an imperial decree, signed by the Emperor Constantine, granting the entirety of the Western Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester I and his successors. Constantine supposedly made this gift ingratitude for Sylvester’s actions in miraculously curing him of leprosy and baptizing him in the Christian faith. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Donation was taken as authentic, and it played a major role in justifying papal assertions during the investiture crisis that Harold Berman famously described in Law and Revolution. By the Renaissance, however, scholars within the Church had begun to have doubts.
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.
By Alec Degnats….
These noble truths not only outline the tenets of the practice, but also outline the problems that Buddhism is trying to both address and solve in the lives of its followers. Buddhism’s application of alleviating suffering and its ability to adapt to different cultures have helped it endure throughout the millennia. This ability to adapt is one of the reasons Buddhism was successful in China, and why Chan Buddhism was able to rise and flourish. By examining the importance of relationships and the teachings of Bodhidharma, we can highlight an important difference between Chan Buddhism and traditional Buddhism.
Traditionally, enlightenment and the release from duhkha is reached individually, after many generations and cycles of rebirth.