This Week in the First Amendment

Have you been following the story of the La Lomita Chapel, in Mission, Texas? It was built in 1865 and today is at the center of a fight over land — more specifically, the Federal government trying to acquire this private land for the purposes of the border wall that some want built there.

The local Roman Catholic diocese doesn’t agree. Continue reading

It May Be Simpler Than You Think

I saw the above tweet yesterday, which prompted me to mull over why we generally think that the role of religion is such a complicated thing to study. It occurred to me that it is complicated (i) if you fail to recognize that there’s been trained scholars of religion out there for well over 100 years who have lots to say on these matters but also (ii) if we buy local accounts of it being some ethereal thing that mysteriously informs the practical aspects of people’s lives.

But if we instead assume it’s no less practical than any other sphere — and, what’s more, if we assume that privileging some features of life by calling them religious is also mundane and highly practical — well, we’d likely approach these topics rather differently.

So a series of tweets resulted. Continue reading

On The Passive Voice and Nonexistent Agency

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Thomas J. Whitley is a Ph.D. Candidate in Religions of Western Antiquity at Florida State University where he studies sexual slander and identity formation in early Christianity. You can read more of his work on his blog and you can follow him on Twitter for the daily minutiae of his life @thomaswhitley.

“C.I.A. Funds Found Their Way Into Al Qaeda Coffers” — so read the New York Times notification I received Saturday. The circumlocution was amusing. “Found their way” — or “ended up” as this NYT article puts it — is about as neutral a way of stating this as possible. The article is careful not to assign blame in its telling of how the money from the C.I.A. was used to pay off Al Qaeda in 2010. Continue reading

It Sticks With You

mgM.G. Proaps graduated from REL in 2013 and then landed in
Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is currently in the application
process for graduate school.

It’s pretty safe to say President Obama gets most things he does scrutinized and what he buys at Christmas time would be no exception. Indeed, among many an article analyzing whether it was Obama’s worst year ever or just worst year as president, what he bought at a bookstore seems like a rather modest topic to do some commentary. As happens when many people do their daily rounds of the news, one article caught my eye: “In Obama’s Book List, Glimpses of his Journey.” It happens that I instantly thought of Roland Barthes. I had the thought of how I should write a blogpost concerning the relationship of how this article is an example of what Barthes had written on what we should not do when discussing the “author.” What I wrote went from one page, to two, and then it hit me, “Lord have mercy,” I said to myself, “You are writing an academic paper! Not a blog post!” Continue reading

Crisis? What Crisis?

t1larg.women.workplaceAn interesting article appeared online at the New York Times‘ site back in June (thanks to a friend for sharing a link to it today), making the following argument:

Picture 2Might the so-called crisis in the humanities be a function of increasing opportunities for women across technical, business, and scientific professions once closed to them, thereby disproportionately forcing female students of the past decades into the so-called more cultured fields thought to be housed in the humanities? A limited option no longer enforced?

I certainly know that my own older sisters, born immediately after WWII, seemed only to have three options (or some overloaded combination of): housewife, nurse, or teacher. That’s hardly the world we live in now.

See what you think of the article.