Tag: Definition

Putting the “Religion” in “American Religion”

Craig Prentiss is a professor of religious studies at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of, Staging Faith: Religion and African American Theater from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II (NYU 2014).   On Thursday, June 4, I took a flight from Kansas City, Missouri to Indianapolis to attend the Fourth Biennial Conference on Religion American Culture hosted by the the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at IUPUI. Though it was the […]

Read More from Putting the “Religion” in “American Religion”

Points of Contact

Do you know that painting? It’s detail from Norman Rockwell’s 1951, “Saying Grace,” which sold for $46 million a couple years ago. It came to mind after an exchange that I had over on Twitter the other day, in which I wrote the following: The painting nicely illustrates the point — that classification is the trace of a social situation in which difference and similarity are being worked out. For, to break it down to it’s simplest, I’d argue that […]

Read More from Points of Contact

What is Cool?

Reading about Steve Quartz, who studies what happens when people experience something “cool,” made me think of our department, not because we are cool (although that is a reasonable connection), but because the label “cool” has no set definition, much like the category “religion”. People assume that they know it when they see it, but no consistent definition is possible. […]

Read More from What is Cool?

“Well I Guess the Biggest Question Would Be Why…”

“It is the fact that we have been preoccupied for a long time with finding in this seamless web of human activities the capacity to break one out and say ‘When they’re doing that one they’re doing religion’…” Watch the video here: This interview with Prof. Smith was conducted by Prof. Alfred F. Benney, of Fairfield University, while attending the annual AAR/SBL in Boston, MA, on November 21, 1999. […]

Read More from “Well I Guess the Biggest Question Would Be Why…”

I Know You Are But What Am I?

By Cara Burnidge Cara Burnidge, Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, teaches Religions of the World and researches religion in U.S. foreign relations. She also tweets and, along with her students, curates a Flipboard magazine dedicated to religion in international affairs. Readers beware: this blog post is not about religion. It is a reflection on some of the issues involved in defining an object of study.* This past week, Rachel Maddow kicked off her show with […]

Read More from I Know You Are But What Am I?

Apparently, It’s Everywhere

The curious thing about the discourse on religion is that the category purports to be a completely totalized notion, all-inclusive of everything, inasmuch as it is often used as if it names some deeply human yearning or sentiment/experience, making it synonymous with “the human condition” or maybe even “culture” itself. Thus, the category has to be applicable to everything it is that we do or produce — after all, if baseball can be religion, then what can’t? […]

Read More from Apparently, It’s Everywhere

Caution: Technical Terminology Ahead

I see posts like this on social media all the time (click it if you’re dying to find out what those 22 words are); what I think drives them is a general failure on the part of many to understand language as a tool used by groups to achieve a variety of social ends and not a universal medium in which we all just naturally swim. For only if we assume the latter would we be shocked to find out […]

Read More from Caution: Technical Terminology Ahead


The 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.) […]

Read More from Misdirection

That’s not a “REAL” Religion

By Cynteria Jones Cynteria Jones is a senior majoring in English with a minor in Religious Studies. She is from Dadeville, Alabama. Though she has not selected a school thus far, she plans on attending law school in the Spring of 2015. Do you ever find yourself questioning religious beliefs that differ from your own, or simply feel as if yours is, somewhat, better? This is definitely the case concerning Satanism and other non-mainstream religions that exercise beliefs opposite of […]

Read More from That’s not a “REAL” Religion

Renaming Our Boats

Christopher Hurt graduated in 2008 with an REL major and a minor in Creative Writing. Now living in Los Angeles and training dogs at The Zoom Room (he’s been working with dogs for 3 years), he is pursuing a career in music: recently singing and playing Hammond Organ in the Jamestown Pagans. Like many people, from what I read, I have been obsessed with HBO’s “True Detective” lately…. […]

Read More from Renaming Our Boats