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Gold’s Gym & Scientology in an Age of Authenticity

Gold’s Gym & Scientology in an Age of Authenticity

By Kenny Smith….
Gold’s Gym and the Church of Scientology have recently featured some very interesting commercial videos on their websites, videos that have also (to some degree) ventured out into the broader culture. This leads to a rather intriguing question: why does Gold’s Gym employ precisely the sort of language that Scientology avoids?

The World Ended: Didn't You Get the Memo?: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Allegorical Zombie, Part II

The World Ended: Didn’t You Get the Memo?: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Allegorical Zombie, Part II

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Kate Daley Bailey continues her exploration of AMC’s The Walking Dead, “the latest embodiment of the apocalyptic zombie phenomena in American popular culture.” In Part I of The World Ended: Didn’t You Get the Memo?, Kate explored rapid globalization, economic anxiety, cultural and religious pluralism, and moral relativism. In Part II, Kate explores the American zombie phenomena as symbolic of the realities of physical decay, mortality, and the ethics of war.

So, Is Wal-Mart A Religion? A Review of Bethany Moreton’s, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise

So, Is Wal-Mart A Religion? A Review of Bethany Moreton’s, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise

By Kenny Smith……
But Wal-Mart also offered its customers “full fledged identity politics,” a sense that it was “preserving a version of America that its constituents felt was endangered.” (41) Through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Wal-Mart stores increasingly instantiated mainstays of rural, white, evangelical culture, such as country music, a patriarchal family structure, the “purging” of morally objectionable cultural media (e.g., music and magazines with sexually explicit content), and the “blending” and “intermingling” of evangelical worship and retail sales, for instance, hosting live in-store performances of Christmas devotional music to promote increased holiday sales.

Tea Parties, Totems, Taxation, and Tyrannies: Religion and the Tea Party, Part II

Tea Parties, Totems, Taxation, and Tyrannies: Religion and the Tea Party, Part II

Now, even though no “church” of the Tea Party exists, its participants arguably believe in the sacred nature of things, namely the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Founding Fathers of the nation. Further, these representations of the sacred seem to provide an anchor with which these adherents form a single moral community. Thus, Durkheim’s definition illustrates how the Tea Party movement resembles other social groups that we more readily recognize as religious.

Stories and Signals - My Morning with Robert Jensen’s All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice

Stories and Signals – My Morning with Robert Jensen’s All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice

Recently, I sat down with Jensen’s newest book, All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice (Soft Skull Press, 2009). This is truly an ambitious work, one that hopes to integrate two often antagonistic perspectives not only within Jensen’s intellectual life and lived experience, but contemporary American society: the secular, even atheistic, social critic who has no interest in religion (and who may see religion as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution); and the visionary, prophetic voice deeply grounded in religious community.