“I Can’t Believe It”

whattha

Sometimes ordinary language tells us far more about social life than we at first realize.

For example, take two common phrases:

“I can’t believe it”

and

“Let it sink in…”

What’s going on when we say that? Or, better put, when do we say that? And what does it tell us about the word “belief” — a word we usually use as if it names some pristine interior realm that’s only secondarily projected out and expressed in public. Continue reading

What It Gives With One Hand….

timeenoughI found this over at the Huffington Post this morning — an announcement for a new HarvardX (part of edX) course on religious literacy.

The course is described as follows: Continue reading

Forms and Dimensions and Manifestations — Oh My!

sociologyofreligion2sociologyofreligionSo opens the Wikipedia article on the sociology of religion (presumably poaching the text straight from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research), echoing the language of the US’s Association for the Sociology of Religion (their journal Sociology of Religion — now in its 76th year — is published by Oxford University Press) whose members, as stated in its Constitution, study:

religion in all its social and cultural dimensions.

Continue reading

Of Prepositions and Conjunctions

Picture 4

The following is slightly adapted from the REL webpage’s
description of the Department motto.

Although it may seem to some to be a rather minor thing, and therefore something easily overlooked, our department’s motto — Studying Religion in Culture — italicizes the preposition “in” (not something we’re able to note here in the WordPress blog title, though). We’ve written it this way for close to 15 years, to draw attention to the fact that the conjunction in the more common version — Religion and Culture — carries with it a series of often undisclosed and, we think, troublesome assumptions that we hope our students will learn to scrutinize. Continue reading

Religion on the Television (Part 2)

2a Scandal

The depiction of Southern Christianity is limited somewhat on Nashville (see previous entry). It also makes a small but significant appearance on another popular prime time TV show: Scandal. Part The West Wing, part Homeland, Scandal develops in two locations, primarily: the Oval Office of the White House and the Office of Pope and Associates. The main characters of the show are Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a manager of political crises, and Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (Tony Goldwyn), the President of the United States and Olivia’s sometimes lover. There is much that could be said about the show; for those unfamiliar with it, a good place to start is the Scandal homepage with its featured “OMG Moments” (something of a nod to religion?). Continue reading

Bargain Experiences

consciousnessLike many scholars of religion in the US (or North American, or maybe even the world?), I got a personalized mass email this morning (you’d think that would be a contradiction in terms, no?), about one of (if not the, as an editor for one of the large publishers once phrased it to me) bestselling world religions textbooks that’s been on the market for the past decades: the 9th edition of the $135.20 (SRP*) Living Religions (now with the Oxy-boost learning power of MyReligionLab). I don’t know much about the author, Mary Pat Fisher, other than that she is a writer who travels (find some info on her here — scroll down), but she has the uncanny ability to — as the above email phrased it — capture the “personal consciousness” of devotees in the amber of her textbook’s pages. Who needs credentials when you can pull off that trick? Continue reading