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Boy George, the lead singer for Culture Club, a British pop group in the 80’s with hits like “Karma Chameleon,” recently released a new album that includes the song “My God”. (As you can see in the video below, he looks different now, though he continues to maintain a unique style.) “My God” contrasts two mirrored narratives. In the first, a person hands Boy George a religious tract and tells him, “Jesus loves you, don’t you know.” In the second, Boy George is in the opposite position, telling another person, “Jesus loves you, don’t you know.” In both cases, the recipient’s response is to shake his head. Continue reading “What Does God Mean?”
The recent fad of Flappy Bird, and its removal by the independent game creator, has raised some significant angst. Why has such a simple, low budget video game enraptured people so much that they consume hours of their day trying to beat their high score, like a movie buff with a limitless supply of popcorn? If you have not experienced its addictive power, this homage to Flappy Bird can give you a sense of its power. (It certainly made writing this post take longer than it should have.) Continue reading “The Curious Case of Flappy Bird”
[M]y intent is not to critique Doniger but to critique the tendency across the field to define religions in ways that give preference to one group over another, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally….
The controversy surrounding Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History reemerged today with word that Penguin India has agreed to withdraw and destroy copies of the book in India to settle a lawsuit alleging that Doniger’s book hurt the religious sentiments of “millions of Hindus”. (The full text of the legal complaint is available online.) The response from scholars in the United States has been anger and shock over Penguin’s decision and concern over the freedom of expression in India. While much can be said on many issues, what intrigues me here is the shifting assumptions in the contested definition of Hinduism. Continue reading “Reversing Roles in the Definition of Hinduism”
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A video that focused on religion among the urban middle class in India a couple of years ago illustrates what happens when people discuss problems with applying the category “religion.” The journalist quotes Ashis Nandy, an internationally recognized scholar, who brings up the problems applying the category “religion” to the context of India (starting at 3:52). Continue reading “Whose Interests Are Served?”
Let me begin with a confession. I do not watch the BBC scifi series Doctor Who regularly. After hearing colleagues rave about Doctor Who, I watched one episode that left me underwhelmed. We can make sense of the discrepancy between my response to Doctor Who and the responses of some of my colleagues through a comparison. Perhaps my limited mental acumen in comparison to these colleagues leaves me unable to appreciate fully the multiple levels on which they find Doctor Who intriguing. Perhaps the difference reflects my preference for more stimulating activities than passive consumption of mass media. Both comparisons, as attempts to organize difference, reflect the interests of whomever selects what elements are relevant to the comparison and what elements are not, specifically anything that undermines the desired organization of difference. Continue reading “The Incomparable Doctor Who”