Religion Around Michael Bolton: A Modest Proposal

Mark Hulsether To the Editors of the Religion Around Series: It has come to my attention that your press has initiated a series of short books about how religious or quasi-religious themes relate “around” creative artists. But it seems that, in practice, most such “prominence” could be translated into an idiom of highbrow tastemakers valorizing artists who enjoy universal acclaim—or even a language of reproducing elite hegemonic cultural capital. Herewith, I submit a modest proposal for a book more attuned to making the series pluralistic and representative of the everyday lived tastes of subaltern listeners: the manifold religious dimensions of Michael Bolton.

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

Friends of the Devil?: Deadheads, Religion and Spirituality

Scott Muir In a recent Sacred Matters post, Gary Laderman suggested that the recent widespread celebration of the Grateful Dead represents both a plentiful harvest of the seeds sown in the countercultural upheaval of the 1960s and a harbinger of the future of religious life in a country increasingly disaffiliated from major religious traditions. Earlier this month, I surveyed 147 Deadheads. 

The Future of Religion Is…. The Dead

Gary Laderman

I have seen the future of religion… and it looks a lot like a Grateful Dead concert. With all of the hype and hullabaloo surrounding the Dead’s 50th anniversary and recent concerts, it is easy to discern some features of America’s new spiritual landscape in the testimonials and commentaries pervading the media coverage of this historic moment.

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. 

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 […]