Meditations on Death, Presence, and Practice

By Sienna Craig According to Tibetan tradition, when we die we enter into the bardo, a liminal realm between death and rebirth. For the forty-nine days after our body returns to the elements from whence it arose—earth, air, water, fire, and space—our consciousness migrates from this lifetime toward another reincarnation. Those who have not died—family, friends, religious attendants—help the dead through this in-between space. For seven weeks, ritual moments mark time, lending shape, sound, even color to grief. People light butter lamps, offer spoken prayers, and focus the heart-mind on the one who has passed. This period is a time […]

The Limits of Science and the Dangers of Scientism: An Interview with Curtis White

“Revolutionary tools will reveal how thought and emotion arise,” proclaims a recent cover of Scientific American, trumpeting the current Century of the Brain. Wrong, says Curtis White in his recent book The Science Delusion—a clear and sharp response to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. What is true? In my interview here with White, we explore this question, the limits of science and the dangers of scientism. Researchers in the biotechnology company Amgen recently revealed that they were unable to replicate the results of 90 percent of the most-cited studies in cancer research.  What are the implications of such revelations (which are not that rare)?  What do they mean for science, society, […]

Jesus Christ Movie Star: A Brief History of Religion and Cinema

By S. Brent Plate In the beginning was the Jesus film . . . The birth of cinema dates from the Lumière brother’s first public screening for a paying audience in a Paris café in December 1895. The following decade saw at least a half-dozen filmed versions of the life and passion of Jesus Christ and a handful of Moses films. Some of these were even made by the inventors of cinema themselves, Thomas Edison and Louis Lumière. Soon after the birth of film, the “father” of Indian film, D. G. Phalke, was inspired by a film of the life […]

An Interview with Shaun Casey, Part Three: Inter-Faith Dialogue and Interdisciplinarity

When Secretary of State John Kerry launched the new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives (OFBCI), he extolled the importance and urgency of religious studies:  “In fact if I went back to college today I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that’s how integrated it is in everything we are working on, and deciding, and thinking about in life today.” The virtue and political utility of religious studies aside, some academics voiced critique and caution about how such an office might be haunted by political agendas, subjected to idealistic visions of liberal democracy, and premised on a particular concept of […]

An Interview with Shaun Casey, Part Four: International Relations and Religion

When Secretary of State John Kerry launched the new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives (OFBCI), he extolled the importance and urgency of religious studies:  “In fact if I went back to college today I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that’s how integrated it is in everything we are working on, and deciding, and thinking about in life today.” The virtue and political utility of religious studies aside, some academics voiced critique and caution about how such an office might be haunted by political agendas, subjected to idealistic visions of liberal democracy, and premised on a particular concept of […]

An Interview with Shaun Casey: Religion and Presidential Politics

When Secretary of State John Kerry launched the new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives (OFBCI), he extolled the importance and urgency of religious studies:  “In fact if I went back to college today I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that’s how integrated it is in everything we are working on, and deciding, and thinking about in life today.” The virtue and political utility of religious studies aside, some academics voiced critique and caution about how such an office might be haunted by political agendas, subjected to idealistic visions of liberal democracy, and premised on a particular […]

Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Heart: Learning About the New Age from After School Cartoons

  By Beth Singler “Captain Planet, he’s our hero, Gonna take pollution down to zero, He’s our powers magnified, And he’s fighting on the planet’s side.” Travel back with me now through the mists of time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth and a much younger version of me returned each day from school to settle down on the couch with a choccy biscuit and that afternoon’s cartoons. On very special days these lyrics—written by no less a musical luminary than Phil Collins himself—would blast out of my television to let me know that I was in for thirty minutes […]

The Bible in Comics: Genesis

  By Beth Davies-Stofka, PhD The Bible was written on scrolls, papyri, and parchment and rendered in languages ancient or dead. For some religious people, it would seem an act of disrespect, if not sacrilege, to translate its stories and lessons into pictures. Yet down the centuries, countless believers have eagerly translated the Bible into art, sculpture, music, and architecture. To encounter the Bible in art is to encounter the reverence, the joy, and even the missionary zeal of the artist. In the most notable examples, we also feel the artist’s curiosity, the will to explore the unexplored dimensions of his […]

The Link between Anti-Gay Church Teachings and the Millennial Exodus

  By Daniel Cox Ask someone born after 1980 whether they know anyone who has left his or her childhood religion and the answer will likely be yes. In fact, many Millennials, adults who are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four, could probably name more than one. Roughly one-quarter (24 percent) of Millennials have abandoned their childhood religious identities and now claim no attachment to organized religion. And this is more than just a life cycle phenomenon; today’s Millennials exhibit a greater propensity to leave their childhood faith than any previous generation. Now, a survey from Public Religion Research Institute sheds […]

Muslim Men: Please Shut Up about Women!

By Amanullah De Sondy A recent Pew Research Center study indicated how “people” in various Muslim countries “prefer” Muslim women to dress. The results are varied from fully veiled dress to no veil at all. There seems to be no turning away from public interest in Muslim women and the flurry of commentaries from public intellectuals has begun. Beyond the polemics of discussions on Muslim women, I’m interested to interrogate the notion of “preference” in this matter and ask, “Who are these ‘people’?” Issues of women and veiling may seem simple at face value, but in fact, they are complex […]