Big R and Little r

upperandlowercaseI recently wrote a review essay on the current state of scholarship on the category “religion” for the European history of religions journal, Numen (which comes out in 2015, I gather). It was fun to write, since its been 20 years since I first wrote a review essay on the same topic — “just how far have we come?” now becomes the question. Continue reading

Misdirection

Picture 4The blogosphere is lighting up in response to yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that some “closely held” corporations can be considered to have “sincerely held religious beliefs” (i.e., those of their owners, of course, and not those of their employees) worth protecting — and, voila, some corporations can now be exempt from certain aspects of federal law due to religious exemptions. (Read the so-called “Hobby Lobby” decision here.) Continue reading

Self-Help Jesus in America

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel

By Allie Rash
Allie Rash is a rising senior double majoring in Mathematics and Religious Studies. She hails from Franklin, TN, but calls North Carolina and Kansas home as well.  This Spring Allie completed an independent study with Prof. Mike Altman on ideas of self-help in American Protestantism. In this post she reviews the final book they read together, Kate Bowler’s Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. This post originally appeared on Allie’s independent study blog, Self-Help Jesus.

The final book we read for this semester is called Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler. And, as the title assures, it made for a beautiful finish to my quest. In my first post I laid out three questions I would try to keep in mind during this semester and they were: Continue reading

Religion on the Television (Part 3)

3 grace florrick

Kate Burton also plays attorney Victoria Adler on the series The Good Wife, and to that show I would now like to turn. The Good Wife‘s central character is Alicia Florrirck (Julianna Margulies), a woman estranged from her politician husband, Peter Florrick (Chris North), whose misdeeds force him to be removed from public office as Cook County state’s attorney. A recording of Peter’s adulterous affairs is aired endlessly on all forms of media; on account of his political crimes, he is incarcerated in the Cook County Jail for a time during which Alicia, who had been a housewife for the last decade or so, realizes she must make her own way in the world. She eventually lands a job as a first-year intern in the prestigious law firm of her former Georgetown classmate (and subsequent lover) Will Gardner (Josh Charles). Continue reading

It Was Just My Imagination

Picture 5I just saw this New York Times blog post, thanks to The Religious Studies Project’s post on its Facebook wall. The photographer, Jim Estrin, is quoted as follows:

“The challenge for me is capturing the essence of an invisible event”… Continue reading

We’re All Rugged Individualists

Cultural Studies:  Bane of the Humanities 1

A friend a Mizzou just sent me the link to this article today, in which Culture Studies is blamed for some of the problems currently confronting the Humanities — that we’re now all plodding through “jargon-infested jungles of heavy theory,” as this author puts it, while wielding his critical thinking machete. Continue reading

Eliade Has Not Left the Building

25447_791556831875_4996207_nThere’s been lots of buzz, over the past decade or so, about material religion or embodied religion, as if this apparent emphasis on the empirical, the contingent, the historical, somehow gets us out of what many now see as the old rut of studying disembodied beliefs alone. Continue reading

Critical Thinking Begins at Home

excellenceA letter came out recently from the President-elect of the main U.S. professional society for scholars who study religion concerning the conference theme for the 2014 meeting in San Diego: “Climate Change and the Coming Global Crisis: Religions and Responses” (read the full letter here [PDF]). Taking the letter as one’s object of study–since we, as scholars, are just as human, and thus our artifacts are just as interesting, as those we usually study, no?–provides an interesting moment in just how far critical thinking can take us when it comes to our own practices as scholars. Continue reading