Candomblé Reconsidered: A Sacred Matters Interview

Dianne Stewart In the twenty-first century, increasing populations are becoming aware of the presence of African-heritage religions in the diaspora but we have still much to learn from and about these religions.

Hell House

Kelly J. Baker I want to go to a Hell House, the evangelical Christian alternative to the ubiquitous haunted houses that pop up every October. I say this almost every year, but I’ve yet to attend one. I’ve only had near misses. When I was in high school in the 1990s, local churches took their youth groups to a Judgement House, the kissing cousin of the Hell House, in Dothan, Alabama. The ride was about 90 minutes round trip, but Judgement House’s message about dangers of the modern world were apparently worth cramming boisterous teens into buses and church vans.

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. 

Why Susan Sontag Matters

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. For anyone who is interested in religion and the arts, Susan Sontag’s (1933-2004) work remains essential. She burst upon the New York arts scene in 1966 with the publication of her collection of essays, Against Interpretation. The book was a tour de force examination of everything from second rate horror films to Critical Theory. Her primary interests were the performative arts, photography and film.

The Weight of the Guru: A Review of Kumaré

By Anandi Leela Salinas In Sanskrit, the term guru is defined as: “important,” “valuable,” “respectable,” and “heavy,” in addition to the definition that finds more currency in 21st century America: spiritual teacher in a general “Eastern” tradition. There have been a number of recently published works analyzing the role of the transnational spiritual guru in modern day America (Gurus in America, Transcendent in America, and Homegrown Gurus to name a few), but ethnographies of transnational South Asian religious movements in the United States have yet to explore the experience of joining, belonging, and reflecting within these communities from the perspective of the devotees. The 2012 film […]