The Kids Are Alright With Religion

Gary Laderman Now here is the punch line: these were 8th graders! My usual audience is college kids at Emory University, but this was a guest lecture at a nearby middle school, and it was for the “comparative religion” section of their curriculum. These students were getting a carefully designed introduction to the study of religion. In 8th grade. In Georgia even. 

Doomsday Politics

Kelly J. Baker In 2008, some conservative evangelicals declared on email, websites and forums that the future president, Barack Obama, was not a Muslim in hiding, but decidedly more dangerous. They compared Obama to the charismatic Anti-Christ of the of the Left Behind series, Nicolae Carpathia.

Under-the-Radar Religion for Nones: Björk’s ‘Vulnicura’

Mark Hulsether If there is any part of our culture where the (typically noxious) idea of trickle-down influence actually makes sense, Björk is a good place to look. She ranks amid an extremely select handful of musician’s musicians whose creative innovations especially matter. This year her superb record, Vulnicura, flew less under the popular radar than some of her earlier work, since it was coordinated with an exhibit showcasing her fashion innovations at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and features in the New Yorker and New York Times Magazine

Progressive Priests and Pastors in Recent Popular Media

S. Brent Plate But I am interested in the complexity of human identity, and the ways these complexities allow a variety of practices, beliefs, and behaviors. Simply for the sake of accuracy, it is important to represent diverse channels of human character. Religious identities intersect with sexual, ethnic, racial, gendered, and national identities, and none of these are monolithic. In spite of what we might think based on media representations, not all Christians are conservatives, and not all Christian clergy are narrow-minded, abstaining teetotalers in ignorant servitude to some “Church,” some tradition.

Giving up the Ghost?: Being Human in the Age of Intelligent Machines (Part I)

Sylvester Johnson For several centuries now, at least, a thriving humanities tradition has been established on the notion that being human is in large measure predicated on the ability to think and reason. In contemplating the nature of human ontology, Rene Descartes (1596–1650) famously quipped that the human subject can be known to exist precisely because of thinking, which requires a thinker as subject—Cogito ergo sum

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.

Peace, Love, and World Religions?

Brian Pennington In 1893, Presbyterian minister John Henry Barrows opened the inaugural World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago by inviting the first-ever assembly of religious leaders from across the globe to join him in a “act of common worship” and to sing Isaac Watt’s Trinitarian re-write of the 100th Psalm. This less-than-catholic invocation, which concludes with the call to “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” was followed by a similar gesture when Cardinal James Gibbons recited the Lord’s Prayer, which Barrow declared the “universal prayer” that would open each of the Parliament’s seventeen days.

When God Won’t Let You Do the Assignment

Briallen Hopper It’s back-to-school season. Pumpkin lattes are here, school supplies are on sale, and thousands of students are showing up at college and trying to figure out what religion means in their lives. For some students, figuring out faith in college will be a relatively straightforward process that might involve taking a cool-looking religion class, joining a religious student group, or blithely deciding to prioritize sleep over worship services.