The many rallies in Paris and elsewhere yesterday provide an intriguing example of the malleability of unity as a symbol. The crowd in Paris, according to reports, was both enormous and diverse, including a range of foreign dignitaries and political leaders. In addition to various European leaders from Russia, Germany, and Britain alongside the President of France, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas both participated. The Guardian described the Paris march,
This was a nationwide outpouring of grief, solidarity and defiance. Parisiens of all ages, religions and nationalities turned out en masse not only to show their respect for the victims but their support for the values of the Republic: “liberté, égalité, fraternité” – freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Continue reading “Rhetorical Unity”
Tennis fans may know that Venus Williams lost in the U.S. Open yesterday. What I found interesting during a weekend report from her post-match interview, was a turn of phrase that I’ve heard many times in sports — in fact, in an interview from the same day, when he advanced but only after a surprisingly close match, Roger Federer said pretty much the same thing in his post-match interview. Continue reading “Victory in Defeat”
NPR ran a story the other day based on a Daily Beast article about the disappointing reality that a lot of popular craft whiskeys that cater to the discerning consumer with an appreciation for the finer things are actually not produced in artisanal small batches at all but instead hail from the large Midwest Grain Products (MGP) factory in Indiana. How to tell you’re getting the “real thing”…? Check whether the product is “distilled by” or “bottled/produced by” the company—a big difference when looking for the origins of the whiskey you’re consuming. Continue reading “Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That…”
I assume you’ve heard plenty of news from the Hamas/Israel conflict that’s happening right now, particularly the back and forth over the innocent civilians who are either being terrorized by rocket attacks into Israel or the innocent civilians being killed daily in Gaza. Or, to rephrase, maybe you’ve heard the arguments for why it is or is not improper to consider certain people as civilians, i.e., arguments for why so-called non-military targets are as legitimate as any and not just the unfortunate (or perhaps inevitable) “collateral damage” that comes with war. Continue reading “War of Words”
I saw a friend on Facebook post the following story (click the pic to read it):
…, along with the following comment:
Well this is interesting. Ah, and “ancient wisdom” once again rears its questionable head.
Which made me think of this classic commercial from the 1970s:
I’m not sure if there could be a better way to start thinking about the rhetorical uses in the present of the discourse on the past than this commercial — for, if you ask me, this is what’s going on every time you hear the discourse on origins or antiquity being used.
Coz there’s always some hot shot trying to sell something. And sometimes, if we make it sound dusty and yellowed in just the right way, there’s always someone willing to buy it.
Looking for an example of how not to study religion? Then consider the case of hypocrisy that recently swept through the internet. Continue reading ““Come and See the Contradictions Inherent in the System””
The media here in the U.S. is currently filled with stories marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre of scores of the minority Tutsis in Rwanda, at the hands of dominant Hutus. Begun after the deadly April 6, 1994, attack on President Habyarimana‘s plane — a Hutu himself — 800,000 Tutsis (the number usually reported) were scapegoated in the following weeks, many killed by neighbors or hacked to death with machetes…, an atrocious event by any measure, no doubt. Continue reading “Making the Familiar Grotesque”
Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America
What sparked your initial interest in exploring what drives the “political power” of the New Christian Right (NCR) and Concerned Women for America (CWA)? How are such groups commonly approached and analyzed in scholarly discourse and the larger public imagination?
As with many scholars, I suppose, my interest in politically active conservative Christianity (a.k.a, the NCR) is at least somewhat autobiographical. I grew up in a social environment steeped in conservative evangelicalism, and so the claims made by these groups – namely, the valorization of the entire spectrum of conservative politics, including a religiously-rooted patriotism, traditional gender roles, and the superiority of the heterosexual, nuclear family – were not new to me. In a very direct sense, then, my interest in these groups began when, as an undergraduate religious studies major, I was seeking to better understand the appeal of conservative evangelical ideas and their political impact. Continue reading ““New Books on the Edge” with Leslie Dorrough Smith”
Did you catch the news stories about U.S. President Obama meeting Pope Francis earlier today? While I have trouble imagining that the so-called “leader of the free world” meets with just anyone, given his hectic schedule, it’s interesting how far the press goes, in a curiously coordinated effort, to reproduce the rhetoric of simplicity that is so important to reproducing the authority of the Pope — all the while ensuring that we also know he’s important enough (and equipped) to entertain world leaders, of course. Continue reading “Simple Men with Simple Needs”
If you happen to think that all social life — including our emotional responses to situations — is, for lack of a better word, manipulated to one degree or another, whether by intention (e.g., another social actor’s rhetoric) or non-agential structures in which we live and move (e.g., the rules of grammar, class relations, nationalism, etc.), then a headline like “How Elevation Church, Pastor Furtick produce ‘spontaneous’ baptisms” will probably strike you as curious for reasons far different from how many others read it. Continue reading “Runnin’ Away With Me…”