Following the recent Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby, this image — created by a conservative young woman who wanted to signal defiance to American liberals — received a lot of attention:
One response was to point out that this is little different from other forms of “religious fundamentalism.” The story — posted by a friend of mine on Facebook with the comment “Checkmate” — posted a photo comparison with commentary: Continue reading “Can a State Be Fundamentalist?”
Well, I’ll take that challenge.
So, here goes… Continue reading “More Questions than Answers”
A recent article by historian Randall Balmer making the rounds of social media presents a useful, and for some seductive, counterpoint to the standard narrative of the Culture Wars and abortion. The gist of the article is the unmasking of the ideological interests generating the opposition to abortion, particularly the fear of interference in segregated private religious schools in the aftermath of public school desegregation. Whatever an individual’s feelings about abortion or the role of conservative religious groups in contemporary politics, the article’s title, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right,” alone should give one pause, based on the critiques of rhetoric that we have been presenting at Culture on the Edge. The language of “real origins” suggests the construction of a narrative to promote a particular vision of the world, not simply a description of what happened. The line following the title doubles down on this. “They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.” Continue reading “A Seductive Tale of Origins”
What’s in a name? In “How Algorithms Shape Our World” (a Ted Talk from 2011), Kevin Slavin describes the mysterious work of algorithms to determine prices on Amazon, recommend movies on Netflix, and control institutional buying and selling in the stock market, sometimes even beyond human control. In the midst of these issues, he makes a general statement about the context of naming (beginning at about 6:00 in the video below), “And they do what we’ve always done when confronted with huge amounts of data that we don’t understand — which is that they give them a name and a story.” Continue reading “A Name and A Story”
You should follow @idendefying on Twitter.
Have you seen this really cool optical illusion now making its way around the internet? Continue reading “Now You See It…”
Are you following what’s now unfolding in the US state of Oklahoma? No? As just reported in The Huffington Post:
For scholars of religion this is just too rich an example not to grab hold of and ride as far as it will take us. Continue reading “Not Just Anything Goes”
I’m continually fascinated by the manner in which scholars claim to be historically-inclined — thereby distinguishing themselves from mere amateurs or wannabes — in the very moment that they sprout wings and transcend history. For example, my own interest for some time has been the history and use for the category religion — i.e., what’s socially, politically, etc., at stake (for good or ill) in naming something as religion (or as faith, as spiritual, as tradition, as experience, etc.) and then treating it as such, presuming it shares some hidden link with other things so named. Many people now claim to work in this area, making such a focus on the category religion seem something other than cutting-edge. Continue reading ““But…, I Can Hear the Ocean””
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Monica Miller, of Lehigh University and member of Culture on the Edge, recently delivered the inaugural Day Lecture in Tuscaloosa, AL. Merinda Simmons, also of the Edge and a professor at the University of Alabama, sat down and talked with Monica, about her work and the field of the study of religion.