Teaching True Believers

Jolyon Baraka Thomas The religious studies classroom is a strange place. Whether one teaches in a public university or a private one, the subject matter demands that students set aside personal commitments in order to engage with religion both critically and respectfully.

Literary Antecedents and Contemporary Reflections of Thomas Dixon’s “The Clansman”

Carolyn M. Jones Medine As The Clansman demonstrates, the Ku Klux Klan was a structure within which white men acted out their vision of southern society and through which they used terror to enforce those visions. The KKK may have been the United States’ first cellular terrorist structure: it was and is covert, local and de-centered, mobile, and opportunistic, multiplying by opportunity and interpersonal connections.

A Dreadful and Improbable Creature: Race, Aesthetics, and the Burdens of Greatness

Judith Weisenfeld The plot of The Birth of a Nation features two intertwined narratives: a political story that moves from national unity to division in war and back to unity, and a romance in which a couple unites despite the obstacles the war presents. The Birth of a Nation is also, of course, a story about the subjugation of people of African descent, a process director D. W. Griffith frames as carried out by honorable white men who had no choice in the face of social chaos.

Cutting up “The Birth of a Nation”

S. Brent Plate Cut up D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and it bleeds a little. Rearrange the pieces, as Griffith so expertly cut up film sequences, and put them together in new ways. Splice it into histories, the stories of photography, race, literature, the KKK, bodies, film technique, and it comes out looking different. But it’s gonna bleed. The following articles, are such cuts, such incisive interventions.

Birth of the Klan’s Nation

Kelly J. Baker At midnight on November 25, 1915, seventeen men climbed to the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia with a large wooden cross. On that Thanksgiving night, they lit the cross on fire and pledged allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, American ideals, and “the tenets of the Christian religion. Read More…

Sacred Matters of Coen

Elijah Siegler For years the debate was whether the Coens had any serious background or interest in religion at all. Certainly it was there in their movies—but was religion just one more element in their ironic postmodern mix of genre, American folklore, and popular culture? Religiously minded viewers could have been reading too much into it.

What Star Wars Taught Me About the Bible

Jonathan Homrighausen Apocalyptic has always been one of my least favorite biblical genres. First, it can make for very tedious reading, with its densely symbolic accounts of battles and political turmoil. And second, I’ve always struggled with the black-and-white moral dimension of it. To me the world just doesn’t work like that. . . . But then I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and, oddly enough, it helped me understand the Bible better.

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.