med Seven Questions for Jeff Wilson Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - Jeff Wilson The really interesting thing is that mindfulness can be simultaneously religious and secular, spiritual and scientific, not only for different people but even for the same persons.  This demonstrates just how much the category of “the sacred” is in flux in today’s society. Read more...
skull2 Mortality Now: Top 5 Reminders of Death for Aging Baby Boomers Saturday, April 23, 2016 - Gary Laderman Memento Mori. Remember, you will die. Not a pleasant thought, yet one that has universal application because it is an unavoidable truth. The vanity of life, the nature of impermanence, the transient quality of existence. You get the point. Read more...
birth Cutting up “The Birth of a Nation” Thursday, April 14, 2016 - S. Brent Plate Cut up D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and it bleeds a little. Rearrange the pieces, as Griffith so expertly cut up film sequences, and put them together in new ways. Splice it into histories, the stories of photography, race, literature, the KKK, bodies, film technique, and it comes out looking different. But it’s gonna bleed. The following articles, are such cuts, such incisive interventions. Read more...
Three people 'kowtowing' to an altar, by the Wellcome Library, London. Available via Wikipedia under Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0 Seven Questions for Eric Reinders Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - Eric Reinders Then I read Foucault’s Discipline and Punish about the making of the soldier’s body and I thought, yes, there might be a way to talk about monastic discipline in a new way. Read more...
ED The Kids Are Alright With Religion Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - Gary Laderman Now here is the punch line: these were 8th graders! My usual audience is college kids at Emory University, but this was a guest lecture at a nearby middle school, and it was for the “comparative religion” section of their curriculum. These students were getting a carefully designed introduction to the study of religion. In 8th grade. In Georgia even. Read more...
Human faces with digital board overlay by Pixabay user geralt. Common license by CC0 Public Domain. From Bodily Resurrection to Spiritual Machines: Being Human in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Part 2 Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - Sylvester Johnson In a letter to new converts in Corinth, the provincial capital of Achaia, the messianic Jewish preacher Paul of Tarsus affirmed for his followers that they were assured a respectable existence in the afterlife. As an astute Platonist, Paul appreciated the ‘common sense’ that dictated material entities—the human body, in this case—could not participate in eternal economies of the spiritual plane. Read more...
Umberto Eco. Image by Abderrahman Bouirabdane, 2010. Available via Flickr 
CC BY-SA 2.0 The Wisdom of Umberto Eco Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - Ed Simon If the loss of Eco is both a loss of a genuine public intellectual who saw no shame in celebrating complexities, then it is also the loss of a scholar who transcended the boring culture war debates that bifurcate all experience into the religious and the secular. He understood the undeniably sacred nature of the written word, where all interpretation must in some sense be exegetical. Read more...
Apocalyptic Scene. Available via Pixabay. Doomsday Politics Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - Kelly J. Baker In 2008, some conservative evangelicals declared on email, websites and forums that the future president, Barack Obama, was not a Muslim in hiding, but decidedly more dangerous. They compared Obama to the charismatic Anti-Christ of the of the Left Behind series, Nicolae Carpathia. Read more...  
Screen capture from "No Country for Old Men" Sacred Matters of Coen Friday, March 11, 2016 - Elijah Siegler For years the debate was whether the Coens had any serious background or interest in religion at all. Certainly it was there in their movies—but was religion just one more element in their ironic postmodern mix of genre, American folklore, and popular culture? Religiously minded viewers could have been reading too much into it. Read more...
Image via the University of Wyoming's EPSCoR program. Seven Questions for Lerone A. Martin Friday, March 4, 2016 - Lerone A. Martin During my research, I discovered that most scholarship on religious media focused primarily on the mediums of print, radio, and television. Moreover, these historical accounts almost exclusively detailed the experiences of white Protestants, while simultaneously ignoring race as an analytical category. This led me to write my dissertation and ultimately Preaching on Wax: an interwar narrative that de-centers whiteness and radio in the history of American religious broadcasting by explaining how black clergy, largely marginalized from radio on account of racial discrimination, made the phonograph a vital medium of religious broadcasting, a phenomenon I have dubbed phonograph religion. Read more...
Michael Bolton Barcelona Religion Around Michael Bolton: A Modest Proposal Thursday, February 25, 2016 - Mark Hulsether To the Editors of the Religion Around Series: It has come to my attention that your press has initiated a series of short books about how religious or quasi-religious themes relate “around” creative artists. But it seems that, in practice, most such “prominence” could be translated into an idiom of highbrow tastemakers valorizing artists who enjoy universal acclaim—or even a language of reproducing elite hegemonic cultural capital. Herewith, I submit a modest proposal for a book more attuned to making the series pluralistic and representative of the everyday lived tastes of subaltern listeners: the manifold religious dimensions of Michael Bolton. Read more...
"Stormtrooper Reading Star Wars." Image by Flickr User Musgo Dumio_Momio, 2011. Available via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. What Star Wars Taught Me About the Bible Thursday, February 11, 2016 - Jonathan Homrighausen Apocalyptic has always been one of my least favorite biblical genres. First, it can make for very tedious reading, with its densely symbolic accounts of battles and political turmoil. And second, I’ve always struggled with the black-and-white moral dimension of it. To me the world just doesn’t work like that. . . . But then I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and, oddly enough, it helped me understand the Bible better. Read more...