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No Gefilte Fish for You

No Gefilte Fish for You

By Heather Abraham…..I have always been fascinated with gefilte fish, though I haven’t yet worked up the nerve to try the strange looking fish balls. I don’t make a point of looking for them, but periodically they appear in special displays at the grocery store. I can’t pass them by without first spending time holding the jar up to the light, trying to discern exactly what they are and what the gelatinous liquid is that holds them suspended. I’ve read the ingredients and yet I can’t help but think there is some secret element that magically holds me in suspension between fascination and fear.

Reading: It's Not Just for ‘Readers’ Anymore!

Reading: It’s Not Just for ‘Readers’ Anymore!

Kate Daley-Bailey…..“I’m not really a reader.” I have heard this student claim before and again I let out a sigh of frustration. Telling your college professor you are ‘not a reader’ is like telling your boss you are not ‘really a worker.’ Nope… sorry boss, I’m just not the ‘working’ type. Now before I dump this excuse into the dung heap with the rest of the excrement which gets pedaled to teachers on a daily basis, I would like to briefly reflect on this statement and its implications.

Loki's Playground: The Hijacking of Religion Nerd

Loki’s Playground: The Hijacking of Religion Nerd

By Heather Abraham…..Religion Nerd had been hijacked. I reacted to the news with indignation but I could not help but wonder—Who and Why? I quickly dismissed monetary gain as a motive as there are no financial transactions associated with the site. Was it possible that Religion Nerd was pilfered in an act of revenge for a post found theologically offensive?
I found the anonymity of my “enemy” disconcerting. The who became more important than the why. I needed to assign an identity to the anonymous miscreant. After all, how can one fight an enemy who remains unknown?

Victims or Conquerors: The Saxon Gospel and Glenn Beck

Victims or Conquerors: The Saxon Gospel and Glenn Beck

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
I have the perfect gospel for Glenn Beck; a Saxon retelling of the Christian gospel with Jesus as a warrior chieftain written in “song” or epic form in the early part of the 9th century CE and was supposedly used to convert the pagan Saxons, after they had been conquered and forcefully baptized by Charlemagne.
This rendering of the Jesus story is no direct translation of a canonical gospel rather it is an actual retelling of the Jesus story. As an expert on the Heliand, the title of this Saxon gospel, G. Ronald Murphy, J.S. describes the text as “a reimagining of the gospel.” Murphy writes that the Heliand’s author, whose identity is still a mystery, “rewrote and reimagined the words and the events of the gospel as if they had taken place and been spoken in his own country and time.”

On Trayvon Martin, Perceived Identities, and Zombie Imaginaries

On Trayvon Martin, Perceived Identities, and Zombie Imaginaries

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.

History of Religious Studies as a Discipline

History of Religious Studies as a Discipline

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Every religious studies major has been caught in the precarious situation of having to answer the “are you going to a preacher” questions from well-meaning peripheral family members and other semi-invested adults. Upon telling someone that you are majoring in, studying, teaching, researching, etc. religious studies, you are usually met with a plethora of confused facial expressions. When you try to explain that the academic study of religion requires a historical and critical approach to world religions as social forces in the world and does not require belief (or disbelief) in any religious system, the previous expressions of confusion turn to judgmental looks and usually include an awkward silence.

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.

Who ‘owns’ religious practice?

Who ‘owns’ religious practice?

Brad Bannon, State of Formation
“The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) reaffirms that Yoga, “an inward journey, where you explore your mind, your awareness, your consciousness, your conscience”, is an essential part of Hindu belief and practice. But the science of yoga and the immense benefits its practice affords are for the benefit of all of humanity regardless of personal faith. Hinduism itself is a family of pluralistic doctrines and ways of life that acknowledge the existence of other spiritual and religious traditions. Hinduism, as a non-proselytizing religion, never compels practitioners of yoga to profess allegiance to the faith or convert. Yoga is a means of spiritual attainment for any and all seekers.”

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.

The Problem of Identity

The Problem of Identity

Originating in the Hebrew Bible, The Ten Commandments were later adopted by the other scriptural monotheists in the Abraham tradition: Christianity and Islam. I Am, more than simply a concept of self, imparts a sense of identity. The concept of identity for the Hebrews, early Christians or Muslims may have been more community oriented, with God being the primary holder of individualistic identity, but in the modern post-Enlightenment world, identity has become multiple and individual.

Battle of the Burqa

Battle of the Burqa

By Heather Abraham Recent news reports and articles concerning France’s attempt to ban the wearing of certain modes of Islamic “veiling” in public is more than just the latest example of Western anti- Islamic sentiment.  As John Sullivan wrote in his Religion Nerd article entitled The Muslims are Coming, this  anti-Muslim sentiment has fallen in with the […]

Europe's Battle of the Burqa

Europe’s Battle of the Burqa

The veil, Islam’s most controversial symbol, is not the primary issue but has come to symbolize the clash between western secular society and the determined attempt of Muslims to push back against secular cultures that are uncomfortable with public and political displays of religious devotion. Let’s face it, the veil makes many of us uncomfortable; especially for those from secular societies.

The Muslims Are Coming!

The Muslims Are Coming!

Whether intentional or not, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” plugged into an already existing anti-Muslim sensibility in America that has been smoldering after its initial wave following 9/11. The issue at the heart of these challenges is identity. For many people, America is a heterosexual, white Christian male. When that image begins to change, people begin to react in opposition to that change, while others embrace it.

Identity: Religion, Ethnicity, Language…..?

Identity: Religion, Ethnicity, Language…..?

Arab identity is much more complicated and cannot simply be defined by a common language. Arabs almost always hold multiple identities at once such as: Syrian, Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Muslim, Christian, Druze, Shia, Sunni, Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Coptic, Jewish, and secular Arab.