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.

7 Questions for Eric Reinders

Eric Reinders Then I read Foucault’s Discipline and Punish about the making of the soldier’s body and I thought, yes, there might be a way to talk about monastic discipline in a new way. 

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.

Orientations, Comparison, History

This is a three-part conversation. Kathryn Lofton and Tomoko Masuzawa, two of the leading lights in the study of religion, cover a variety of topics, including secularism, critical theory, history, comparison and more within the field. It is an engaging and wide-ranging conversation, for your enjoyment and illumination.

Training The Religious Memory

Jolyon Baraka Thomas There is nothing quite so touching (or quite so irritating) as having a total stranger slump against you in a deep sleep on a Tokyo train. Like the Internet, Tokyo trains are equally intimate and anonymous. They are spaces where one encounters fellow Tokyoites in all their wacky fashion, their frenetic mobile phone gaming, their inane conversations, their drunken abandon. Tokyo trains are raucous in the evenings and eerily silent during the day. They are often uncomfortably crowded, but they are nevertheless a place to temporarily let down one’s guard. I’ve actually boarded the Yamanote circle line and ridden it all the way around the city just so I could sneak in an hour-long nap.

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.

Reflections on Mujeres de Maiz

Lara Medina While the majority of Chicanas and Latinas participate in religious traditions that continue to attempt a male monopoly over the sacred, many others turn to traditional Indigenous ways that honor the sacredness of the universe, of women, and the ancient Mesoamerican tradition of communicating with the divine through the arts and through community. But while these women are returning to a traditional path, they are also creating a new one in response to societal marginalization, neocolonialism and ongoing racial, gender and sexual oppressions in and beyond Chicano and Latino communities.

Theater as Religion: Luis Alfaro’s “Mojada” at The Getty

Luís León At a time when the bombastic politics of Donald Trump are dehumanizing and vilifying Mexican immigrants, Luis Alfaro’s new play gives audiences a much-needed human perspective on migrants in Los Angeles. Alfaro brings into sharp relief the tragedies undocumented workers face, and the sacrifices they make in order to work in the United States.

Corporate Profit Through Buddhist Kitsch

Jolyon Baraka Thomas My wife and I stepped into a home furnishings store in Arcata, California, this past May. We weren’t necessarily looking to buy much, but with an upcoming move to Philadelphia we were checking out furniture styles and seeking decoration ideas for our new home. We were on vacation and needed a bit of a break between brunch and a hike, so a little idle consumerism seemed like an appropriate midday activity.