Marie Griffith has an article at Religion & Politics on the firing of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan. What makes the story relevant to Griffith’s publication (and ours)? She writes:
…these events shed a searing light on the political pressures facing state universities across the United States. More specifically, they show the impact current conflicts are having on so-called “non-revenue-generating” entities, chiefly in the arts & sciences—where, incidentally, subjects like religion and politics are researched and analyzed.
The study of religion is not a notable revenue generator, and in hindsight it seems almost pointed that, in a strategic plan presented to the Board in early May, President Sullivan praised religious studies at UVA as one of “the fields that bring [the University] the greatest distinction” while also noting it is not among “those in which most people would today invest.” Sullivan was right on point: religion has historically played, and continues to play, an extraordinary role in the social and political life of virtually every culture we know anything about; and a thoroughgoing liberal arts education should include immersion of the sort offered by the UVA religious studies faculty.
As expected, the Southern Baptist Convention has embraced pastor Fred Luter Jr. as it’s new leader. He fits the SBC’s delegates to a T, right down to the anti-gay. Except Luter’s black. So there’s that.
At The Scoop, Richard Flory writes about Fight Church and other forms of “muscular Christianity,” hell-bent on “De-Sissyfying Jesus”:
Evangelical Christians have a long history of co-opting popular cultural forms, giving them a nice (and wholesome) Christian gloss and turning them into tools to help convert the masses—or at least to get them into the pews at the local megachurch.
Pew-fillers, meet mixed martial arts, patriarchy and brutal buff. Our own Ashley Baxstrom wrote about Fight Church last week. You can read her piece here.
The Anglican Church has elected a new Archbishop of Uganda.
One of the best headlines of the week comes from the AP: “Philly priest case highlights conscience-versus-obedience debate in Catholic church, society.” All that Religious Freedom talk the church is putting out (read the USCCB’s “Frequently Asked Questions on Religious Liberty” here)? It’s only for those who agree with church leadership. From the article:
“The Catholic church hierarchy certainly thinks there’s too much discussion in the U.S. about conscience, that people use it to justify any kind of proclivity,” said Mathew Schmalz, a religious studies professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “But in this case, there are some really deep issues about when do you stand up to the actions of those superiors.”
Mennonite leadership is still not having any of that same-sex marriage stuff, sort of. In the wake of two marriage ceremonies performed in Mennonite churches, the Executive Board released a statement that confirms marriage as between “one man and one woman,” but concludes with this:
The national church does not have the authority to control the discussion or decisions at [congregation and area conference] levels. Congregations decide on their members and conferences decide on member congregations. Ministerial credentials are held at the conference level and thus minister’s accountability is to the area conference rather than the national conference. We are aware that our polity creates some differences in the practice of church discipline from conference to conference.
Run out right now and get yourself a copy of the latest CrossCurrents, edited by Revealer contributor S. Brent Plate. His piece, “The Skin of Religion: Aesthetic Meditations of the Sacred” can be found here and an excerpted sentence here:
I don’t mean the stories people tell of so-called im-mediate, mystical experience of the gods and goddesses, but rather of the sensual sacred experiences of the human in her/his physical spaces.
Oh Ross! At Religion Dispatches Jerome E. Copulsky reviews Douthat’s Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. He writes that Douthat is having 1950s nostalgia. It’s a common affliction, we retort, based on the false idea that times were better and simpler when everybody did what they were told, believed the same thing, and didn’t fall in for those fake (read: bad) Christianities. Corpulsky on Douthat’s premise: “Not unbelief, but the prevalence of heretical Christian beliefs, lies at the root of our nation’s decline.” In other words, Douthat is making a case for one true, authentic Christianity. The rest of you (he’s talking to you, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, but also presumably anybody who doesn’t agree with Douthat), you bad citizens, all the challenges of modern American culture, economics and politics are your fault!
Whattayaknow?! Mormons live longer (or maybe just not as much?).
If you’re on twitter, make sure you’re following Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) as he travels through Kenya with other journalists (Irin Carmon!, Amie Newman!) looking at issues of health and reproductive rights. More on the project here. Jeff’s writing a number of reports for us so check back.
We sure wouldn’t mind getting a review copy of “The Mummy’s Curse” in the mail!
Hey Geri Folk, feel like the AARP is curbing your religious freedom by supporting horrors like The Affordable Care Act? Take your ball and leave the elder advocacy organization game! The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), the “pro-life” AARP, has a stance on key issues that was cribbed from the GOP and they claim to have over a quarter million members.
(h/t Adam Becker, Angela Zito, my Catholic conscience)