Religion and Culture Web Forum Archive 2014

 

July-August 2014

The Bible in America, America in the Bible

By Seth Perry (PhD'13), Princeton University

Seth Perry investigates "Americanized bibles" – bibles that include an array of extra-scriptural material emphasizing the Bible's importance to America.  These bibles participate, Perry argues, in a "longstanding tradition of American biblicism: emphasizing the singular efficacy of the bible while heavily supplementing, summarizing, and explaining the Bible."  

Read The Bible in America, America in the Bible.

Read the invited response by:

David Swartz (Asbury University).

 

Image: The American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America, edited by Richard G. Lee (Thomas Nelson 2009).

 


Update, May 2014: A new response to David Nirenberg's "To Every Prophet an Adversary": Jewish Enmity in Islam (October 2013) is now available from Fred M. Donner (University of Chicago).


 

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Endings Without End: When Prophecy Fails and the Rise of New Age Spirituality and Cognitive Dissonance

by Betty Bayer (Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Martin Marty Center Senior Fellow 2013-14

Martin Marty Center Senior Fellow Betty M. Bayer explores the history of the renowned 1956 book When Prophecy Fails and its place in the longer and larger history of debate amongst religion, psychology, spirituality and science on the soul or psyche.  She writes, "To pursue this history into the modern subject is ... to sound a dissonant tone, the kind intended to stir up new hearings of old compositions, to hear anew the constituent relation amongst science, psychology, religion and spirituality in that larger pursuit of asking what does it mean to be human, what’s it all about."

Read Endings Without End: When Prophecy Fails and the Rise of New Age Spirituality and Cognitive Dissonance.

Read the invited response by:

Kathryn Lofton (Yale University).

 

 


 

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A Disenchanted Exile: Secularism and the Islamic Revival among Second-Generation Palestinian Immigrants in Chicago

by Loren D. Lybarger (Ohio University; Martin Marty Center Sr. Fellow)

In this month's Religion and Culture Web Forum, Martin Marty Center Sr. Fellow Loren Lybarger describes ideal-typical varieties of secularism among Palestinian Muslim immigrants in Chicago. Lybarger's fieldwork demonstrates that Muslim immigrants "do not necessarily identify primarily in religious terms," and that "secularization, which creates distinctly non-religious milieus, and religious revitalization, which seeks to re-sacralize society, are interactive and mutually constituting processes"  Furthermore, Lybarger argues, the persistence of secularism among Palestinians reveals "the capacity of secularism to reproduce across generations either through its own institutional mechanisms or as a consequence of the contradictions intrinsic to regimes of piety."

Read A Disenchanted Exile: Secularism and the Islamic Revival among Second-Generation Palestinian Immigrants in Chicago.

With invited responses by:

Louise Cainkar (Marquette University); 
Naomi Davidson (University of Ottawa); and 
Alain Epp Weaver (Mennonite Central Committee).

 

Image: The Mosque Foundation, Bridgeview, Illinois; from Wikipedia.


 

April 2014

Community Conflict and Collective Memory in the Late Medieval Parish Church

by Kristi Woodward Bain (Northwestern University)

"What role does conflict play in the formation of community identity? And how do powerful, even violent, moments sustain that identity throughout centuries of change and transformation? Questions such as these galvanize this present study, which undertakes to illustrate the vibrancy of parish life in late medieval England by examining fifteenth-century monastic-parochial disputes, that is, when parishioners fought against monks with whom they shared their church buildings."

Read Community Conflict and Collective Memory in the Late Medieval Parish Church.

Read the invited responses by:

John Craig (Simon Fraser University); and
Katherine French (University of Michigan).

Image: Wymondham Abbey, Wikimedia Commons


 

March 2014

A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects

by S. Brent Plate (Hamilton College)

"Religious history is incomplete if it ignores the sensing body, and the seemingly trivial things it confronts," argues S. Brent Plate in this month's Religion and Culture Web Forum.  "Beginning with our incomplete half-body," Plate discusses "five types of objects that humans have engaged and put to use in highly symbolic, sacred ways: stones, crosses, incense, drums, and bread."  

Read A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects.

Read the invited responses by: 

Lisa Bitel (University of Southern California); and
Jonathan H. Ebel (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

 

**Plate's essay is adapted from his book, A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses, now available from Beacon Press.


 

February 2014

Religions of Iran: Pool Theory as a Non-normative Approach

by Richard Foltz (Concordia University, Centre for Iranian Studies)

In Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present, Richard Foltz seeks to understand the diversity of Iranian religious history by applying "Pool Theory," which "posits that religion/culture is best understood not in terms of essential features, but as a set of possibilities within a recognizable framework, or 'pool.' (xiii)."  From Foltz's book, we feature his methodological discussion and two chapters, "Mithra and Mithraism" and "Two Kurdish Sects: The Yezidis and the Yaresan."   

Read Religions of Iran.
Endnotes for the book can be found here.

Read the invited responses by:

Carlo G. Cereti (Sapienza--University of Rome); and
Eszter Spät (Central European University).

**The selections from Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present are presented with the kind permission of the publisher, Oneworld Publications.  © Richard Foltz 2013.


 

January 2014

The Sexuality of Christ in Byzantine Art and in Hypermodern Oblivion

by Matthew J. Milliner (Wheaton College)

Leo Steinberg's controversial 1983 book, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, argued that Renaissance artists depicted Christ's genitalia in order to underline his full humanity.  Steinberg's argument invoked Byzantine art as a foil: the absense of Christ's penis from Byzantine art reflected according to Steinberg a "puritanical ethos."  Byzantine artists managed to "decarnify the Incarnation itself."  In this month's Religion and Culture Web Forum, Matthew Milliner uncovers the theological motives behind the Byzantine refusal to depict Christ's penis--a refusal "grounded in the comparatively less essentialized Eastern view of gender."  "[I]f Steinberg's Renaissance penises 'regained for man his prelapsarian condition,'" Milliner argues, "the exact same rationale" lay behind "Byzantine demurral."  On the other hand, according to Milliner, the Byzantines did offer a "somatic highlight to drive home the humanity of Jesus," but one shared by men and women--namely, the foot.

Read The Sexuality of Christ in Byzantine Art and in Hypermodern Oblivion.

The referenced images may be viewed by clicking here.

Read the invited responses by:

Rachel Fulton Brown (University of Chicago);
Robert Nelson (Yale University); and
Glenn Peers (University of Texas at Austin)*.

     *Images referenced in Dr. Peers' response are available here.

Image: Panagia tou Arakou, Lagoudera, from Wikimedia Commons.