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.
Craig Martin, Religion Bulletin…..I am growing increasingly suspicious of this idea that people come to blows or “clash” over differences in belief or faith. I am of course in full agreement with the many anti-essentialist criticisms of the “clash of civilizations” thesis: there are no monolithic civilizations, and as such there can be no monumental “clash” between them (the last chapter of Chiara Bottici’s A Philosophy of Political Myth contains a particularly good version of this criticism). But this is not what I’m angling at here. What bothers me is the very idea that people fight over “beliefs” at all, monolithic or not.
By Manesh Shrestha, for CNN…..A Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a famous Buddhist shrine in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, police said, becoming the latest Tibetan to adopt this harrowing form of protest over Chinese rule. The man, believed to be in his early 20s, came out of a nearby restaurant doused in petrol and set himself alight in front of the revered Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, said Keshav Adhikari, a police spokesman. “The whole of his body is burnt,” Adhikari said, adding that the Tibetan was not able to communicate when he was taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities are still trying to identify the man.
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.
By Alec Degnats….
Recently the British newspaper The Telegraph reported on a growing scandal involving the Olympics and religion. At the 2012 games (as with every Olympics) a “faith badge” was designed and given to religious leaders of different faiths as a means of official credentials. This year though the London Olympic committee decided to remove all religious symbols from the badges in a move to be politically correct. This exclusion of religious symbols from the “faith badge” has become a bit satirical as religious leaders have become outraged over the committee’s decision. The Olympic committee contends that “not all religious believers would feel “comfortable” wearing symbols of other faiths.”
By Alex Johnson ….
Galileo Galilei once said that, “There is no event in nature, not even the least that exists, such that it will ever be completely understood by theorists” (Drake 91). This is certainly true for natural phenomenon, even though they are constantly available to us for observation, but sadly, we find that this statement is often true of historical phenomenon as well, because they can only be observed through the surviving records. Despite this, or perhaps, in spite of this, we are in constant pursuit of an understanding of the past. The Galileo Affair is a prime example of this. Every facet of this event has fascinated historians and scholars of religion for almost 400 years. What happened? Why, and what does it all mean for us today?
By James Dennis LoRusso, Religion Bulletin….
Were you to travel one segment of the Eisenhower Expressway in Illinois this morning, you might discover a curious billboard. The display features a mugshot of Ted Kaczynski, the self-confessed “Unabomber,” coupled with the question, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?” The new billboard campaign lining various commuter routes is the latest initiative of the Chicago-based conservative think tank, the Heartland Foundation, to call into question prevailing scientific consensus around climate change.
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.
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.
By Kenny Smith, Religion Bulletin….
In his recent comments on the Fox News Channel’s FOX & Friends morning show, Geraldo Rivera claimed that the shooting of Florida teenager Treyvon Martin wasequally the result of (i) an “overzealous and irrational” neighborhood watchman (George Zimmerman) as well as (ii) Treyvon Martin’s ethnicity, gender, and attire. By appearing in public as a dark-skinned and hoodie-cloaked male, Rivera suggests, Treyvon unwittingly (and unwisely) presented the neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, with a highly ambiguous object. On one hand, Treyvon was merely a boy (age 17, though in fact he appeared considerably younger) eating Skittles while walking home; on the other hand, he was a black male donning garb associated “with robberies, muggings, and confrontations,” which sensible others (read middle-class whites) seek to avoid.
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.
Maureen Dempsey, RNC-OB….
This morning, on the Huffington Post, the first story to catch my eye was this: “David Albo, Virginia Lawmaker, Says Wife Wouldn’t Have Sex Because Of Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill.” As I clicked on the headline, I thought, this is going to be good. And the gentleman from Fairfax didn’t disappoint me. I watched a three-minute video of Mr. Albo describing to his fellow delegates how he tried to seduce his wife with a combination of red wine and the Redskins on big screen television. They were on the sofa, he was snuggling up to her while changing the channel, things were heating up…when he inadvertently stopped on MSNBC and saw his name plastered across the 46-inch screen and heard his colleague, David Englin, repeatedly using the term “trans-vaginal.” After a few minutes of this, his wife excused herself and went to bed alone.
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.
By Joanna Brooks, Religion Dispatches….
Patrick Mason is the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and author of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South(Oxford University Press, 2011). He is the nation’s leading scholarly expert on anti-Mormonism. I spoke with him this morning about the controversy surrounding Mormonism at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit.