I’m writing this post during the office hours of my first REL100 course, “Introduction to the Study of Religion.” During the term, my 150 students were introduced to something they clearly did not expect: the study of religion. What did they expect? Something about this… Continue reading
I made a promise during the inaugural seminar on the Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion that met last week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion: to apply Bruce Lincoln’s theses on method to the philosophy of religion.
The seminar itself has the objective of producing a new philosophy of religion textbook that”thoroughly integrates non theistic religious philosophies and critically engages the methodological and theoretical issues of religious studies.” Why? As I have written elsewhere, a review of the TOCs of any group of introductory philosophy of religion textbooks, from any time period, reveals a stunning degree of conformity of topics and issues that fall squarely within the confines of theism. Thus, an organization with the title “Center for Philosophy of Religion” is no outlier when its mandate includes, “to encourage the development and exploration of specifically Christian and theistic philosophy.” Continue reading
As the Faculty Technology Liaison to the College of Arts and Sciences at UA, I am part of a Mac Administrators forum. I was surprised to notice the exclusion of deities from emoji eligibility while glancing over an update notice. After some investigation, I was surprised to learn about the selection factors of the Unicode Consortium.
In fact, the Unicode Consortium has produced a very detailed report, “Emoji and Symbol Additions – Religious Symbols and Structures,” for which “The objective has been to have symbols and structures of major belief systems worldwide represented with an emphasis on filling up existing gaps in the encoded symbol repertoire.”
The report is an excellent “common sense inventory” for what ready-to-hand assumptions exist for thinking about the study of religion. For example, the emoji for “place of worship” is that of a person kneeling in prayer under a roof. What does this representation include or exclude from considerations about religion?
Last week’s conclusion of the Canadian federal election marks another milestone in the exercise of democracy. Ballots were cast. A new party obtained a majority (of seats). The election is now over.
I did not take part in that election. Despite being a Canadian citizen, I live outside the borders of the country, and I do not plan on moving back at a definite time in the future. Therefore, at least according to my reading, I am ineligible to participate in that democratic process.
My situation brings into relief Étienne Balibar’s observation about the undemocratic constitutive element of democratic nations: borders.
“They are, in sum, the point where, even in the most democratic of states, the status of a citizen returns to the condition of a “subject,” where political participation gives way to the rule of police. They are the absolutely nondemocratic, or “discretionary,” condition of democratic institutions. And it is as such that they are, most often, accepted, sanctified, and interiorized.” (author’s emphasis; We, the People of Europe: Relfections on a Transnational Citizenship. 2004, 109)
One of the hot-button issues of the election, that of policing “barbaric cultural practices,” also brings Balibar’s observation into acute focus. Every now and then, democratic societies express the wish to recognize their borders more clearly. They ask that border-control practices circulate among themselves in order to secure their perception that their society is sacrosanct.
At such points in time, the absolutely nondemocratic condition of democracy comes into full view. And then, oftentimes in the denouement of a democracy’s crisis – the acceptance speech after an election in this case – the conditions of democracy slip into the shadows.
Look up! Waayyyyyy up! It’s election time in Canada and Canadians are talking about values. And it’s not because of battle flags flying over places of government or off the backs of pickups trucks. No, it is about “barbaric cultural practices.”
The crux of the matter, like so many things, plays on the oh-so-blurry situation created by discourses about beliefs or values and actions. Note that each of these are definable to varying degrees: the former remain invisible (although they can be talked about) while the latter can be made visible (by laws, for example). In the name of what Canadians profess to belief and value, the government is asking permission to restrict what people do both within Canada and abroad (thus also blurring where the nation-state picks up and ends off, too!). Continue reading
The American Academy of Religion recently held a consultation with its membership about “Responsible Research Practices: A Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct for AAR Members.” A grand total of four scholars responded to the statement on the AAR’s website. A online quick search for responses elsewhere returned nothing, other than a series of posts by Russell McCutcheon. Unless members of this scholarly association are just waiting for the session at the AAR’s annual meeting where further discussion will be held, the response to the Statement seems to be mostly crickets. Continue reading
Yesterday, I read an interesting report from Educause about “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment.” The report starts by criticizing the now-conventional Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are deployed with ubiquity by higher education institutions. Some see LMSs as essential to education and LMS services are projected to be a $7.83 billion dollar industry in 2018.
The other day, Jesse Stommel tweeted about public work not being counted for tenure, and that the qualifications for awarding tenure should be changed.
I was told recently, "your public work doesn't count for tenure." I find myself more compelled to change tenure than my work.
— Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) January 30, 2015
The conversation of tweets that followed included an elaboration, stating that we need to “think more broadly about the locations of scholarship. Public, open-access should be seen as rigorous.” Continue reading