Derek Webb Beyond Belief

Phillip Luke Sinitiere If folk music historically has been an artform of creative social critique, then analysis of Webb’s musical art and artistic production more generally can serve as a collective lens through which to peer into the complex threads of contemporary religion, culture, and politics in the United States.

7 Questions for Kaya Oakes

Kaya Oakes And yet, there was a real sense throughout doing the interviews that comprise a lot of the book that this was deeply sacred work: holding people’s stories, amplifying them through writing, and engaging in dialogue post publication about this fragile thing we call faith.

American Secularism: Seven Questions

In our interview series, “Seven Questions,” we ask some very smart people about what inspires them and how their latest work enhances our understanding of the sacred in cultural life. For this segment, we solicited responses from Joseph O. Baker and Buster G. Smith, co-authors of American Secularism: Cultural Contours of Nonreligious Belief Systems (New York University Press, 2015). 1. What sparked the idea for writing this book? In delving deeper into the sociology of religion as a subfield, we were struck by an interesting split in the discipline. On the one hand you have numerous classic texts on theory, […]

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

2015: The Year in Religion

Gary Laderman Death. Violence. Carnage. Hatred. Warfare. Demonization.

Bliss. Transcendence. Community. Comfort. Love. Glorification.

Overall, I’d say this year has been a mixed bag for religion. But then again, I’d have to say that every year throughout human history religious acts and beliefs have brought both bad and good to communities of people across the globe. America in 2015 is no different.

American Religion: Less is More

Gary Laderman What do you think? Is religious life fully captured by survey questions, graphs and bar charts? Or do these methods of collecting and displaying data fall short as indicators of the spiritual lives of Americans? Is it time to panic about the supposed decline of religion, or should we look to other metrics and methods to delve into what is really happening on the American religious landscape?

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.

Religion is Dead; Long Live . . . the Sacred

Gary Laderman I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s the end of Religion as we know it.  And I do feel fine.  Bring on the “nones,” the SBNRs (Spiritual But Not Religious for those of you not up to speed), the so-called atheists, freethinkers, humanists, secularists, and the anything goes Unitarians.  Religion as we thought we knew it, is dead, or at least gasping its final breaths. Without going into a long, drawn out historical elaboration of the etymology of “Religion” (though I highly recommend the reader pursue in the relevant literature), I would like to point out that the […]