Trick or Treat Doctors of Philosophy

Recently on Twitter, I was reflecting about the everyday encounters where the study of religion (and really “religion” as identity formation) becomes a topic of conversation.

In case it’s TL;DR, the long and short is that I’m convinced that there’s plenty of opportunity for scholars to contribute to public discourse if we hold vigilant in our commitment to observation and intelligibility. To me, the minute that we insist upon our expertise at the expense of our willingness to explain our point is when we’ve shifted a potential exchange with someone into an effort to change the other.

A really long essay explaining that "TL;DR" means "too long, didn't read," and advocating readers to "be precise."
A long explanation of what “TL;DR” or “too long; didn’t read,” means. Wikipedia, October 15, 2018.

And while I prefer to see change as a social fact rather than an intrinsically bad thing, there is something disturbing about clearly veiled efforts at affecting change.  They are all well and good when they go unnoticed, like the way I hand my kids a sealed salt shaker when they want to add more seasoning to their food. But when we know how this works, we label these acts differently–manipulation, lying, bait-and-switch, etc.

It’s the trick-or-treat conundrum. Continue reading “Trick or Treat Doctors of Philosophy”

“Anchors Away!: Or, Can the Subaltern Get a Soundbite?”

Something interesting happened when famous comic bad boy Russell Brand showed up for an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and it’s been making the rounds online ever since.  Hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the morning show is made of a roundtable of pundits and talking heads, mostly discussing politics and current events while making daily dips into pop culture.  And while the co-hosts certainly have their soapboxes (Mika has famously made a second job out of railing against obesity, and Joe was a state representative, for crying out loud), they pride themselves on being serious reporters interested in providing a balance of perspectives when talking about an issue. Continue reading ““Anchors Away!: Or, Can the Subaltern Get a Soundbite?””