WWDS?

atheistssignPerhaps you’ve caught the news about a recent Supreme court decision in the U.S. in which (by a slim, but sufficient, 5-4 majority) local town meetings that begin with prayer were held to be constitutional — so long as religions were not actively excluded from the opportunity. The majority (read the decision, and various commentaries, for yourself here, linked under “Opinion”) concluded:

All that the Court does today is to allow a town to follow a practice that we have previously held is permissible for Congress and state legislatures.

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Description as Reduction

CE Jewish prayerWhat is the nature and benefit of prayer? That question is at the heart of an exchange last month between Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of the New Republic, and Tanya Luhrmann, a Stanford University professor of Anthropology. In “Dumbing Religion Down in the New York Times,” Wieseltier critiques Luhrmann’s contributions concerning prayer and speaking in tongues. Continue reading “Description as Reduction”

Why is a Praying Atheist Newsworthy?

This week, several media outlets (Washington Post and Huffington Post) have highlighted an atheist who advocates prayer. The man has blogged that when he started a twelve step program he began praying regularly to a being he created (without believing in the existence of a deity), which changed his life for the better. Last summer, I pondered a somewhat similar hypothetical scenario in which a self-identified atheist maintained a belief in god in order to illustrate, as my colleagues here at Culture on the Edge have been saying, that identifications are strategic, not intrinsic. That blog post received pushback from some friends asserting that atheists, by definition, cannot believe in god. Continue reading “Why is a Praying Atheist Newsworthy?”