Tongue in Cheek, Just in Case

Jolyon Baraka Thomas Few people would think that the essence of Japanese religion could be encapsulated in an advertisement for antivirus software, but then again few people outside of Japan have seen this video.

Who’s Afraid of the Tooth Fairy?

Kelly J. Baker My six-year old’s smile is missing yet another tooth. She lost her second incisor three weekends ago, and all that remains is a gaping hole where it used to reside. Since the start of Kindergarten, she’s lost four teeth in total. Her adult teeth are crowding into the small gaps left behind. The teeth that she fiercely cut as a baby are disappearing one by one, and now, she spends much time wiggling her loose teeth to determine whether they are ready to pull out. Wiggle, creak, wiggle, creak, wiggle, creak. Eventually, she cajoles me into offering a second opinion on a tooth’s looseness.

Don Draper: Dharma Bum, Priestly Sage

S. Brent Plate In episode 9 of the final season of Mad Men, Don Draper sits in his empty Manhattan penthouse, having lost his wife and all his domestic possessions. A few episodes later he is driving his Cadillac through the western states with nothing but a bag of belongings. In the ultimate scene of the penultimate episode he gives his car to a local grifter. These final episodes turn Don into a Dharma Bum, some modern-day bodhisattva eliminating attachments through carefree wandering. He’s straight out of Japhy Ryder’s vision in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel Dharma Bums.

Jesus Never Tapped Out: A Review of “Fight Church”

Kelly J. Gannon “Can you love your neighbor as yourself, and at the same time, knee him in the face as hard as you can?” So asks Fight Church, a new film by directors Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel, that looks at a growing trend in evangelizing ministries that brings mixed martial arts (“MMA”) into the church. The film follows the MMA ministries of several men who are both pastors and fighters. Are fighting and Jesus diametrically opposed? Or is MMA a way to bring “tough guys” to Jesus? These are the main questions that drive Junge and Storkel’s project. 

The Altar of Taylor Swift

By Kelly J. Baker

The patron saint of awkward, idealistic (white) girls lives in my home, a part of our soundscape. The kids and I dance to her music. I place the toddler on my hip and grab the six-year-old’s hand. We shake off our concerns and frustrations together. We laugh at our silly dance moves. We sing along. This is a moment, in which we let everything go and enjoy ourselves. 

Funereal Choices

Gary Laderman  “What do you want done with your body when you die?” This is a question I never fail to get from undergraduates in my college Death and Dying course. I’ve taught the class at Emory for roughly twenty years, and after a semester spent exploring attitudes toward death and mortuary practices over time and around the globe, students are most curious about this: the ultimate questions—not in theory, but in real life. My real life.

Modern Greece and the Politics of the Sacred

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. Edmund Burke (1729-1797) referred famously to “the consecrated state.” G.W.F Hegel (1770-1831) spoke of the modern democratic state almost as if it were a “temple” dedicated to human freedom. Both men came to their startlingly spiritual views of modern politics and the modern state by reflecting critically on the French Revolution and its aftermath.

An Interview with Frans de Waal Part 1: Culture and Religion in Primates

  Frans de Waal is an eminent primatologist renowned not only for his many publications in scientific journals, but also for several widely read books, including Chimpanzee Politics and, more recently, The Bonobo and the Atheist. In the latter work, Professor de Waal explores how non-human primates, even in the absence of anything we might call “religion,” have a profound capacity for empathy and social cohesion in a way that may serve as a basis for morality in the case of humans. Speaking with John Dunne of Emory University, Professor de Waal reflects on these and other issues, such as the notion of “culture” […]

The Christian cross, Texan identity, and “Tex-ianity”

  By Ken Chitwood Crosses come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. They are ubiquitous in homes across the United States and pepper the abodes of people throughout the world. Odds are, you have one hanging in your home whether you are religious or not. The art of the cross is a wide and diverse stream with the cross being transformed and translated throughout the ages to speak in new ways to new people in many contexts. Crosses are both religious and civil symbols, co-opted by various cultures and movements as articles expressing deeper realities and worldviews. In Peru, Jesus is […]