By Kenny Smith…As the noted scholar of American religious history, R. Laurence Moore, once wrote, “if you do not commodify your own religion” – that is, if you do not transform its teachings, practices, and material culture, into products to be bought and sold in the marketplace of culture – “don’t worry, someone will do it for you.” Examples abound, most especially when it comes to the religious goods of indigenous peoples, such as dream-catchers or the mystical self-help teachings of shaman. Such religious wares are commonly re-packaged and re-imagined in a strikingly generic form, nicely compatible with the varied preferences of shoppers in the spiritual marketplace.
By Claire Potter, Tenured Radical-The Chronicle of Higher Education
Check out Tim Kreider‘s piece in today’s New York Times about being asked to write for free. This is a gift from heaven. Eight days ago I passed my seventh bloggiversary, and I will soon be writing my 1000th free post. It has been a little over four years since I moved over to the Chronicle of Higher Education, where I continue the Tenured Radical tradition of writing for nothing.
Most bloggers write for free, actually. Want a blog at the Huffington Post? Have your publicist, or your sister posing as your publicist, call them and ask. They will be happy to publish you — for free. They need content, you need exposure. It’s a deal!
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.
Religion, Lately: Biblical Immigration, Heavy Metal Church, Cat Stevens v. Yusuf Islam, and the Religious Complexities of the Culture Wars
By Kenny Smith…Evangelicals are, apparently, quite divided on the issue of immigration reform, and read their Bibles accordingly. Some conclude that because Jesus and the Hebrew Prophets consistently speak of our obligation to care for strangers and the poor, a way to citizenship should be opened up for undocumented workers and their families in contemporary America. Others insist that because in within the Hebrew Bible God warns the ancient Israelites about the dangers of importing foreign ways (e.g., the danger of intermarriage), we need “Biblical Immigration”: walls, not ways.
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…..
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 Dominique Mosbergen, Huff Post Religion …..Billboards emblazoned with images of a heavily tattooed Jesus Christ are causing quite a stir in a Texas city. Part of an ad campaign by Christian outreach group JesusTattoo.org, the billboards show a pictorial depiction of Jesus jesus tattoo billboardwith words like “Outcast,” “Addicted,” “Hated” and “Faithless” stamped on his body. According to the Christian Post, more than 50 such billboards have been erected in Lubbock, Texas, thus far.
By Teo Sagisman…..
This week the Turks are celebrating an age-old tradition, known as Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) in Arabic. Called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish, this tradition is both religiously and culturally important to many Turks. Kurban Bayrami is a long extended holiday, equivalent to the importance and length of the Christmas celebrations in the western world. The 4,0000 year-old story behind the Feast of the Sacrifice is common to all Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but in the modern world, only adherents to Islam commemorate it in a literal way. As the story is told in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, and the Quran, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son.
By Summar Shoaib
In a recent speech at the Values Voters Summit, a conservative political conference, Rand Paul spoke about a “war on Christianity,” citing the Boston Marathon bombing as proof. Acknowledging that some may not see this as evidence, he emphasizes that “they certainly didn’t target a mosque.” Paul utilizes an insider-outsider dichotomy in stressing that Islamic radicals have an agenda “against us as a people, as a Christian people.” Perhaps even more troubling in this sort of us-versus-them rhetoric is the idea that Muslims do not condemn such acts, claiming, “Where’s the rest of Islam? Why don’t they stand up and condemn this?” Muslims have not only condemned such acts of terror, but even published refutations of it based on Islamic religious doctrine.
Huff Post Religion…..Dieters, beware. That slim-down regimen you’re trying may be going against God’s plan. This week colorful televangelist Pat Robertson took aim at popular low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet and slammed such plans as ultimately unhealthy and as violations of God’s principles. The subject was broached during Monday’s episode of Robertson’s “The 700 Club” program on the Christian Broadcasting Network. The segment included a story about Jimmy Moore, a formerly obese man who was able to lose 180 pounds in one year by cutting out carbohydrates like bread and loading up on proteins and fats, like eggs, cheese, butter, coconut oil and bacon.
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.
Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and bin Laden Halloween Anxieties
By Kenny Smith…..What will Pagan religious traditions (such as Wicca, Druidism, and Asatru, among others) look like in fifty years, in 2063? Full-time Pagan clergy, Pagan celebrities coming out of the broom-closet, and a vast array of Pagan-centric media outlets, one writer predicts. Back here in 2013, new Pagan-themed books for children such as “What is Magic,” and “Who is a Witch?,” hit the shelves, Pagan Pride days continue to be celebrated in various cities nationwide, and Pagan communities prepare for Samhain.
By Kenny Smith…My grandparents enforced very few rules at their dinner table, but one they absolutely insisted upon was, “Never talk about religion or politics at the table.” For in their view, “the table” represented a quasi-sacred familial site reserved for eating good food, enjoying good company, and perhaps a late afternoon tea or friendly game of cards, any of which would be readily frustrated by such fractious topics. Not only was this policy a resounding success (their dinner table was almost always peaceable), but those unable or unwilling to comply were clearly marked as “too extreme” in their views.