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.
By Gina Ryder, Huff Post Religion…..Does anyone love me? Is there a point to all this? We all tend to ask ourselves these questions time and time again. For a person coming out of jail, these questions seem to have even more weight. Does anyone love me after what I’ve done? Where is my life going after being behind bars?
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 Gary Laderman, Huff Post Religion …..
We have fundamentalist atheists on one side of the spectrum wanting to get rid of religion and all of its toxicity; on the other side are religious fundamentalists looking to purify the world of all the false religions. The rest of us in the middle — Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Nones — are learning to live with the unavoidable fact that multiple religious perspectives and communities must learn to live together if not harmoniously than at least with a minimum amount of respect and toleration.
Philip L. Tite and Kelly Baker, Religion Bulletin……Much of the reaction about the Klan and zombies comes from assumptions about what is properly religion, and I’ve already had my say about this in my piece on evidence for the Bulletin for the Study of Religion. Why are some scholars so avidly policing “religion”? What does this tell us about how “religion” is defined and deployed? Resurrected corpses, in this instance, become a problem. When I use zombies as data, it causes discomfort because it suggests that maybe religion is not as familiar or as easily identifiable as we think it is. Maybe, we would have to admit that J.Z. Smith is right about religion being constructed by scholars in every use. Maybe, we would have to note that our interlocutors also construct religion in every utterance of the word.
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.
By Gary Laderman, Huff Post Religion…..Imaging Anne Frank as a “Belieber,” taking her out of her horrific and incomprehensible historical circumstances and placing her in the pop world of contemporary entertainment, especially in the fandom surrounding a mediocre teenybopper-cum-serious young adult performer, is a profanation of the worst kind to many critics. She is an icon, a heroic figure who figures so prominently and nobly in the histories and popular imagination associated with the rise of Nazis and the extermination of Jews. For Bieber to “belieb” this about Frank, to even think the thought, is both outrageous and offensive.
By KATE BLANCHARD, Religion Dispatches…..One recent scientific study draws a link between mental illness and lazy spirituality—and some atheists scorn others for not having the courage to come out and admit what they really are. “Today’s secularists must do more than mount defensive campaigns proclaiming that we can be ‘good without God,’” writes one author;
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Reuters….
People with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group in a new study of the size of the world’s faiths, placing after Christians and Muslims and just before Hindus. The study, based on extensive data for the year 2010, also showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths mostly likely to expand in the future while Jews have the weakest growth prospects.
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.
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 John Blake, CNN Belief Blog….
You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation. And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”
By Matt Sheedy, Religion Bulletin….
A recent article posted on the Scientific American website entitled, “NASA Crushes 2012 Mayan Apocalypse Claims,” provides a good example of what is wrong with common secular approaches to religion in the public sphere. The article features a three-minute video put out by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where spokesperson Don Yeoman discusses “false claims about the Mayan apocalypse,” including fears that we will fall prey to solar flares, tidal effects or, even more fantastically, that the “imaginary planet Nibiru, will collide with earth,” a premise that, he notes with a chuckle, is impossible, for if it were true “we would have seen it long ago.”
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”