Crawlers There Be Monsters: A Warning Friday, August 28, 2015 - By Kelly J. Baker I decided to begin a project on zombie apocalypses, in part because of The Walking Dead’s popularity but also because of burgeoning amount of zombie media, the books, films, products, television shows, memes, and apps that center on zombies. My decision also hinged on the uncritical embrace of zombies by fans, critics, friends, relatives, and my students. Read more...
prayer circle Jewish Umpires and Baseball Chapel Thursday, August 20, 2015 - By Rebecca T. Alpert On February 2, 2008, Murray Chass, a New York Times sports columnist, wrote an essay entitled, “Should a Clubhouse Be a Chapel?” He was writing in response to a phone call he received from Josh Miller, a minor league umpire who had recently been released by Major League Baseball. Baseball rules require that umpires who are not likely to be promoted to the majors serve no more than three years in AAA ball. While Miller was disappointed, he finally felt free to contact the press about a situation that had disturbed him deeply. Read More...   
Wackel-Elvis at Graceland Graceland Graffiti: Elvis Fans as Place-Makers and Memory Agents Thursday, August 13, 2015 - By Derek H. Alderman, Hannah Gunderman and Donna G’Segner Alderman In describing Elvis Presley in Wilson and Ferris’ 1989 Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Stephen Tucker wrote: “Presley is probably the most famous Southerner of the 20th century.” Elvis occupies third place on John Sheldon Reed’s list of the twenty most influential Southerners of the past century, eclipsed by only Martin Luther King, Jr. and William Faulkner. Read more...
Study The Top Five Reasons to Study Religion Friday, August 7, 2015 - By Gary Laderman It's not easy being chair of a religion department. August is an especially cruel month as we close out one academic year and start up a new one, and begin again to struggle with an increasingly vital challenge: recruiting and keeping more majors.  I've been teaching at Emory University for over 20 years, and every August I begin to obsess about a question. . . that's at the center of my intellectual passion and personal livelihood: how do you convince people to study religion? Read More...
Anti-Mosque Protest in NYC “Islam” is Not a Person Thursday, August 6, 2015 - By Hussein Rashid There is an idea of “Islam,” as a signifier of something foreign and threatening, that continues to plague American discussion of the religion. It is part of the shooting in Chattanooga, and it part of the debate around the Iran nuclear deal. This view of Islam has been part of how America has defined itself since the founding of the country. Read More...
Jon Stewart Rally A Moment of Zen: Reflecting on Jon Stewart as a Sacred Figure in the American Television Landscape Friday, July 31, 2015 - By David Feltmate August 6 is coming. Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show. We now know the hour and the day of the reckoning and I do not envy Trevor Noah. He has taken on the most thankless job in American mass media, replacing the much beloved Stewart and trying to endear himself to an audience that has built itself around a charismatic comedic character. Read More...
"Grateful Dead Painting" Friends of the Devil?: Deadheads, Religion and Spirituality Thursday, July 23, 2015 - By Scott Muir In a recent Sacred Matters post, Gary Laderman suggested that the recent widespread celebration of the Grateful Dead represents both a plentiful harvest of the seeds sown in the countercultural upheaval of the 1960s and a harbinger of the future of religious life in a country increasingly disaffiliated from major religious traditions. Earlier this month, I surveyed 147 Deadheads. Read More...
Disney Pixar's "Inside Out" Logo and image of Sadness. An original and transformative work by the editor. What Pixar’s “Inside Out” Teaches Us About Suffering Thursday, July 16, 2015 - By Jonathan Orbell When my wife suggested we go out and see Pixar’s newly released Inside Out, I agreed, albeit reluctantly. “I’ll be asleep within 20 minutes,” I thought. Suffice it to say, I’m not really a “kids movie” kind of guy; more of an “old soul.” I was in for one hell of a surprise. Inside Out consists of two parallel storylines. The first, occurring in the “real” world, tells the story of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old Minnesotan girl whose family moves out to San Francisco. Read More...
McFarland opening sequence Institutional Racism: Anywhere, U.S.A. Thursday, July 9, 2015 - By Luís León The horrific events in Charleston recently have prompted a robust and much needed conversation on race and the privileges and disadvantages that adhere to it. While conceding that racism continues through individual animus, the political right advances the mythology that institutional racism has ceased, ignoring social inequities such as economic disparity, educational opportunity, incarceration rates, and even life expectancy. Read More...
Fare Thee Well The Future of Religion Is…. The Dead Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - By Gary Laderman I have seen the future of religion... and it looks a lot like a Grateful Dead concert. With all of the hype and hullabaloo surrounding the Dead's 50th anniversary and recent concerts, it is easy to discern some features of America's new spiritual landscape in the testimonials and commentaries pervading the media coverage of this historic moment. Read More...
2538415572_7054251894_o For Believers, Fear of Atheists is Fueled by Fear of Death Thursday, June 18, 2015 - By Corey L. Cook and Sheldon Solomon Skepticism about the existence of God is on the rise, and this might, quite literally, pose an existential threat for religious believers. It’s no secret that believers generally harbor extraordinarily negative attitudes toward atheists. Indeed, recent polling data show that most Americans view atheists as “threatening,” unfit to hold public office and unsuitable to marry into their families. But what are the psychological roots of antipathy toward atheists? Read More...
Japanese shrine Tongue in Cheek, Just in Case Saturday, June 13, 2015 - By Jolyon Baraka Thomas Few people would think that the essence of Japanese religion could be encapsulated in an advertisement for antivirus software, but then again few people outside of Japan have seen this video. Read More...