Truth from the Trenches and Religions

I. Ludwig Wittgenstein responded to the outbreak of World War I by joining the Austrian Army as an artillery corpsman. Twenty years later, he abandoned teaching at Cambridge University to enlist as a hospital orderly, while his colleagues (some of them) toiled at desks in British Intelligence. In his twenties, he was true to his Austrian roots and later he was true to his recently grafted British roots. He had a primitive, non-intellectualized hold on some truth he should be true to, something that was real to which he should witness. He lacked any articulate basis for regarding that witness […]

Secularity and Secularism, Islam and Muslims: A Conversation between Daniel Martin Varisco and Hasan Azad

Hasan Azad:  Do Muslims belong in the West? This is a question that is being asked with increasing force in Euro-America. Central to the way in which this discourse is being constructed are discussions about secularism. I’m interested in exploring notions of secularity and secularism and how such ideas—as they are articulated within a Euro-American context—are imagined in opposition to Islam and to Muslims. In other words, I wonder to what extent Islam and Muslims are politicized within Euro-American discourse as a means of expressing notions of secularism and secularity. Daniel Martin Varisco:  The term “secular” has been expanded beyond […]

Sacred Spinebusters, Transcendent Toe Holds, Part Two: The Confluence of Religion and Professional Wrestling

By Dan Mathewson Ask any wrestling aficionado about the greatest wrestlers from the last quarter century and one name you will consistently hear is “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, the wrestler discussed at the very end of part one of my series on the intersection of religion and professional wrestling. With the charisma of The Rock, the wrestling skill set of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, the masochistic daring of Jeff Hardy, the microphone skills of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and the eye-candy good looks of Chris Jericho, Michaels was the proverbial total package, possessing in abundance every trait of the superlative […]

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 […]

Sacred Spinebusters, Transcendent Toe Holds, Part One: The Confluence of Religion and Professional Wrestling

By Dan Mathewson Professional wrestling: oh, how I love it! I love its glitz, its glamor, its over-the-top, in-your-face bluster. I love that it presents itself as a hyper-masculine testosterone-fest, and yet its wrestlers prance around in bedazzling costumes, wear more makeup than Tammy Faye, and play-act in melodramas too outlandish for even the daytime Soaps. Above all, I love the skill, artistry, and even beauty of its violent faux-fighting. Now, I understand that a declaration of love for professional wrestling is probably not something many would expect from a college professor with a PhD in Religion. It’s sort of like […]

An Interview with Shaun Casey: Religion and Presidential Politics

When Secretary of State John Kerry launched the new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives (OFBCI), he extolled the importance and urgency of religious studies:  “In fact if I went back to college today I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that’s how integrated it is in everything we are working on, and deciding, and thinking about in life today.” The virtue and political utility of religious studies aside, some academics voiced critique and caution about how such an office might be haunted by political agendas, subjected to idealistic visions of liberal democracy, and premised on a particular […]