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 […]

Religion is Dead; Long Live . . . the Sacred

Gary Laderman I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s the end of Religion as we know it.  And I do feel fine.  Bring on the “nones,” the SBNRs (Spiritual But Not Religious for those of you not up to speed), the so-called atheists, freethinkers, humanists, secularists, and the anything goes Unitarians.  Religion as we thought we knew it, is dead, or at least gasping its final breaths. Without going into a long, drawn out historical elaboration of the etymology of “Religion” (though I highly recommend the reader pursue in the relevant literature), I would like to point out that the […]

Religion, Nationalism, and “Ancestral Homelands”

By Shalom Goldman In June of 2001, George W. Bush famously claimed that he had looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and “found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy, and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.” This month, after Putin’s speech on the Russian claim to Crimea and his subsequent annexation of the peninsula, Bush’s comment about Putin (dubbed by the late Christopher Hitchens as “one of the stupidest things a president has ever said”) was recalled by many news commentators. For not only had Bush said in 2001 […]

Why I Still Love Disney, or, Imagineering Religion

  By S. Brent Plate This is the sign that hangs over the entrance to Disneyland, less than an hour from where I grew up in Southern California. I realize some people save up for years to drive the kids in the family truckster to Orlando or Anaheim to see such a place, but I got to go there all the time. Friends and friends of friends always seemed to have passes and we’d go to explore, as well as create a little mischief, even if for just a few hours in an evening. Today, I could draw a quite […]

Introducing Sacred Matters

Sacred Matters is a web magazine of public scholarship that undercuts conventional understandings of religion and reimagines the boundaries between religion and culture. It is designed with the “nones” in mind, the fastest growing segment of the American religious landscape over the last ten years. These are individuals who prefer not to claim a specific, singular religious identity on surveys, who are unaffiliated, and who are mostly young Americans. But while they claim no religious affiliation, they are still not completely removed from the sacred. Sacred Matters features articles and commentaries that bring the sacred beings and things of society […]