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 […]

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 […]

Sanctifying the Senses: Thoughts on Beyoncé as Liberative Praxis

By Alexis S. Wells If accepting imperfections and eschewing insecurities are a female rite of passage, then in her self-titled visual album, Beyoncé establishes herself as one of pop culture’s preeminent guides. Since its surprise release through iTunes, the collection of fourteen songs and seventeen videos has inspired a firestorm of conversation on topics ranging from the revolutionary potential of her audiovisual format, to the ethics of a sound bite sampled from the space shuttle Challenger. From academics, to bloggers, to NASA, everyone seems to be talking about Beyoncé. A compilation of fans’ most provocative responses, aptly titled “The Best […]

Why Do Americans Seem So Religious?

By E. Brooks Holifield Many Western Europeans think of Americans as hopelessly, bafflingly, and dangerously religious. Many Americans think of Western Europeans as distressingly, inexplicably, and unrelentingly secular. In 2009, the German sociologist Hans Joas observed that “it is widely accepted that the United States is far more religious than practically any comparable European state.” And he noted Western European puzzlement: “The more secularized large parts of Europe became, the more exotic the religiosity of the United States seemed to European observers.” So why are Americans, compared with Western Europeans, seemingly so religious? And are we as religious as we […]