Do You Eat Them for Dessert?

tomatoFile this story under “Classification Matters”: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

I’ve used the Nix v. Hedden 1893 US Supreme Court decision in intro classes for quite some time, to illustrate the point that identity is the product of negotiations within practical conditions. Such as winning the right to count carrot marmalade as “fruit” for the purposes of trade within the European Union, perhaps? (Search for “carrot” in the following PDF document.)

Even when it comes to defining religion, let alone defining toys.

Your Authentic is Illusory, of Course

nprchurchListening to a radio story this morning, on a church in Denver that prides itself on being diverse and on the social/political edge — one that, predictably, aims to “create an authentic Christian experience without the pretension that can come with church” — it occurred to me just how deeply reductionist, materialist theories of religion have seeped into daily life. For, despite how dangerous these theories are seen to be by some (when they’re applied to their own lives, that is), they’re surprisingly easy for people to draw upon when accounting for other people’s behaviors and institutions. Continue reading

I’ll Be Watching You

elfDid you spot this essay online? Maybe you already know about the phenomenon known as The Elf on the Shelf — if not, it’s creepy. Or at least that’s what we’re told — a story book and accompanying toy elf that sits quietly, watches and listens, and reports back to the North Pole. Continue reading

Nones Panel Response and Discussion

killen pic

Did you miss the panel “Discussing the Nones: What They Say About the Category Religion and American Society” at the American Academy of Religion meetings in Baltimore last month? Our own Prof. Steven Ramey joined Chip Callahan (Missouri), Sean McCloud (UNC Charlotte), Monica Miller (Lehigh University) and Patricia O’Connell Killen (Gonzaga) for a lively panel discussion that is now available for your viewing pleasure. Steven and Monica have already written about their responses to the panel here. Now you can watch it for yourself, with a new segment posted each day this week. Continue reading

Talking on the Nones at the AAR

mon panel

Did you miss the panel “Discussing the Nones: What They Say About the Category Religion and American Society” at the American Academy of Religion meetings in Baltimore last month? Our own Prof. Steven Ramey joined Chip Callahan (Missouri), Sean McCloud (UNC Charlotte), Monica Miller (Lehigh University) and Patricia O’Connell Killen (Gonzaga) for a lively panel discussion that is now available for your viewing pleasure. Steven and Monica have already written about their responses to the panel here. Now you can watch it for yourself, with a new segment posted each day this week. Continue reading

Discussing the “Nones” at the AAR

Did you miss the panel “Discussing the Nones: What They Say About the Category Religion and American Society” at the American Academy of Religion meetings in Baltimore last month? Our own Prof. Steven Ramey joined Chip Callahan (Missouri), Sean McCloud (UNC Charlotte), Monica Miller (Lehigh University) and Patricia O’Connell Killen (Gonzaga) for a lively panel discussion that is now available for your viewing pleasure. Steven and Monica have already written about their responses to the panel here. Now you can watch it for yourself, with a new segment posted each day this week. Continue reading

Teach English, Celebrate Diwali, and Drink Tea

Kinnaur monasteryby Hannah Etchison

Hannah Etchison, a graduating senior majoring in Religious Studies with a minor in Asian Studies, spent six weeks of this fall in India, staying primarily at a monastery where she learned from the women staying there and helped them with their English. This is her last post on her India trip (at least for now). Don’t miss her previous posts about her experiences (Hannah Goes to India 1Hannah Goes to India 2iPhones, Monks and the Images We ConstructImmediate Relativism, Bonding with a Himalayan Spider).

Besides the all-too-frequent visitations from (supposedly harmless) Himalayan spiders, I spent my days in roughly a schedule as follows:

6-8am: wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, make bed, exercise, prepare lesson. It’s really cold in the morning.

8-9am: Breakfast. Normally spicy ramen noodles with fresh chapatti, or dahl (bean or lentil soup), or vegetables. Served with sweet tea and therefore my favorite meal. Continue reading

Finding or Fabricating?

pyeMichael Pye, the onetime General Secretary of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR), and respected specialist in the study of Japanese religions, recently presented a keynote lecture — “Digging for Theory” — at a conference at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Continue reading