Hijacked! Conference in Bonn, Germany

Hijacked!: A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of “Good” and “Bad” Religion was a conference held from June 8-10 in Bonn, Germany, at the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft (FIW) at the University of Bonn.  Three members of Culture on the Edge (Merinda Simmons, Vaia Touna, and Leslie Dorrough Smith) attended as participants.

The conference’s aim was to consider the rhetorical strategies that various social groups use to evaluate the role of religion in public life.  In particular, a group of international scholars focused on four different themes (the classroom, the media, the university, and politics, respectively) considered how rhetorics of good/authentic/”real” religion have been juxtaposed with concepts of bad/illegitimate/”fake” religion, and the sorts of political work such rhetorics have made possible. Continue reading “Hijacked! Conference in Bonn, Germany”

Jesus Isn’t “White” but “Light”

Jesus is Light PicBy now we’ve all heard about and perhaps even participated in the debate sparked by FOX news correspondent Megyn Kelly that Santa Claus is white and Jesus is too. Edge member Leslie Smith’s post about this recent tug-of-war of identity claims demonstrated how such conversations are made possible by some highly inventive—even outrageous—ideas. This past week, another assertion that foregrounds the difficulty of taking such outrageous claims seriously posited something curious about what the public outrage reveals or uncovers and what steps we should take next.

Both sides of the debate ultimately rely upon the same tactics and mechanisms that assist Kelly in making such preposterous assertions possible in the first place, suggesting that as much as things have “changed in America,” they also stay the same. Continue reading “Jesus Isn’t “White” but “Light””

When the Stakes are High

SwingLeslie Dorough Smith wrote a post the other day on how we all resort to telling origins stories. As she noted, it’s a common rhetorical technique used when selling products and when talking about ourselves, either as individuals or as group members of nations, religions etc. No doubt we do tell origins stories and create myths to prove our worth: “I was here first!” says the little kid when competing for the swing. Continue reading “When the Stakes are High”