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The Truth About Religion

The Truth About Religion

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.

Bieber, Beliebers and Anne Frank

Bieber, Beliebers and Anne Frank

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.

The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture?

The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture?

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By Kenny Smith…..
In the case of both Jediism and Dudeism, entirely new religious traditions have been created wholesale from the cloth of popular culture. In other cases, key elements are borrowed from popular culture and grafted onto pre-existing religious traditions, resulting in equally innovative and to some degree “new” versions of these traditions, which their critics typically regard as humorous or horrifying.

RICK PERRY: THE REPUBLICAN JUDAS?

RICK PERRY: THE REPUBLICAN JUDAS?

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
In an essay I recently published at “Religion Dispatches,” I used Gary Laderman’s fascinating concept of “Republicanicity” as the launch-pad for the suggestion that what separates developments in the Republican Party from anything happening among the Democrats is simply this: the Republican Party is undergoing a battle to define its orthodoxy, a battle that has no direct parallel to arguments and power-struggles taking place on the political left. In short, a plurality of voices, sharing little more than a name in common, is currently in the process of sorting out a platform to which all bearers of the name might reasonably agree.

Religion Lately: Islamic Jediism, “Fuck It” Spirituality, Michelle Bachmann’s 2006 End Time Vision, & A Pagan Policeman

Religion Lately: Islamic Jediism, “Fuck It” Spirituality, Michelle Bachmann’s 2006 End Time Vision, & A Pagan Policeman

By Kenny Smith…..
Australians debate the validity of religions based upon popular culture, such as Jediism and Matrixism (based upon the film, The Matrix), and the blending of new and old traditions, such as “Islamic Jediism,” as the 2011 census approaches this August. Also in Australia, The Dali Lama appeared as a surprise judge on the TV cooking show “Masterchef.” Sadly, while quite friendly, the Tibetan spiritual leader proved somewhat of a judicial disappointment, stating: “As a Buddhist monk, it is not right to prefer this or that food.”

The Nonpocalypse as Postmodern Ritual

The Nonpocalypse as Postmodern Ritual

By Kenny Smith ….
An enormous investment of cultural energies was on display this past weekend, most clearly evident in the nation-wide soul-saving efforts of “Camping-ites,” that is, devotees of the Family Radio preacher, Harold Camping, who predicted that this past Saturday, May 21, would see the return of Jesus of Nazareth and the Rapture of all true Christians. The Advent and Rapture, Camping further insisted, would be presaged by a series of terrible earthquakes unlike anything humanity had ever witnessed. They would sweep, tsunami-like, across the globe, starting in the distant South Pacific island of Kiritmati (also known as Christmas Island) at 6:00pm Kiritmati time, reaching each earthly time-zone as local clocks tolled 6pm.

The Super Bowl As Epic

The Super Bowl As Epic

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
No, this year the story really was in the game. That seems relevant to anyone interested in the curious and complex trajectories of the sacred in contemporary American culture. As Gary Laderman has argued, in his book Sacred Matters, professional sports, to the degree that they contribute to our contemporary cult of celebrity, are bearers of profound spiritual resonance. But they are also highly complex choreographed events, what the student of religion is trained to see as ritual.

The Economy is Sacred, Stupid

The Economy is Sacred, Stupid

By Gary Laderman, Religion Dispatches….
This Christmas, the haunting spector of impending economic calamity will compete with the candlelit nativity scenes representing the glorious birth of Christ. Indeed in this light, the recent “shellacking” of Democrats—as President Obama put it—in the midterm elections points to an obvious yet underanalyzed dimension of political life today: the economy is sacred, and “free enterprise” is a religious commitment of the highest order to most Americans when the chips are down and the recession is deep.