By Jeff Sharlet
Following are links to my favorite religion stories of 2008. It’s a long but not all-inclusive list that favors my interests and some publications — I live in New York, and I read locally — while sleighting others I should have read but didn’t (sorry, Chicago media). You surely have your own ideas. So share them. Send your nominations to the dot revealer dot at nyu dot edu, and in the new year The Revealer will publish a list of reader recommendations.
My list of 2008’s most interesting books and other media, along with lists by several other Revealer editors — Kathryn Joyce, Peter Manseau, Angela Zito, S. Brent Plate, and Julia Rabig — can be found over at Religion Dispatches. Now, on to the best of the pulps:
The Revealer prize for best story of the year goes to “Turning Away from Jesus: Gay rights and the war for the Episcopal Church,” by Garret Keizer in Harper’s
The rest follow in roughly chronological order.
“Chateau Sociology,” by Dana Goodyear in the New Yorker
“In These ‘Times,” by Debbie Nathan in The New Republic
“Eat, Pray, Loathe,” by Maureen Callahan in The New York Post
“Euphemism and American Violence,” by David Bromwich in The New York Review of Books
“Wright Ex-Factor,” by Diana Butler Bass on Beliefnet
“Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School,” by Andrea Elliott in The New York Times
“Moral Ambitions of Grace: The Paradox of Compassion and Accountability in Evangelical Faith-Based Activism,” by Omri Elisha in Cultural Anthropology
“Project Trinity: The perilous mission of Obama’s church,” by Kelefa Sanneh in The New Yorker
“Towering Silence,” by Meera Subramanian in Search
“Teflon Televangelists,” by Mark Pinsky in Harvard Divinity Bulletin
“Hitler-admirer Received by King,”, by Tore Gjerstad in Dagbladet
“Religion is Media”, by Angela Zito on The Revealer
“Persecution Complexes: Identity Politics and the ‘War on Christians'” by Elizabeth A. Castelli in Differences
“The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism,” by Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker
“The Betrayal of Judas,” by Thomas Bartlett in The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Dancing the Night Away, With a Higher Purpose,” by Neela Banerjee in The New York Times
“The Greatest of These is Change,” by Mollie Hemmingway on Get Religion
“John Hagee: ‘Jews Have Dead Souls’,” by Bruce Wilson on The Revealer
“Immigrants Find Solace After Storm of Arrests,” by Samuel G. Freedman in The New York Times
“Life After Death,” by Ira Glass with David Maxxon on This American Life
“Why Does Barack Obama Hate My Family?” by Kevin Alexander Gray on Counterpunch
“Obama and the King,” by Adele Oltman in The Nation
“A Teacher on the Front Line as Faith and Science Clash,” by Amy Harmon in The New York Times
“A Niche of a Prayer in a Vulnerable Place,” by Stephen Prothero on Killing the Buddha
“Christian Reactions to Obama’s Victory,” a media “poem” by Patton Dodd on Beliefnet
“The Fall of the House of Rubashkin: As the nation’s largest kosher empire implodes, Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jews begin to break ranks,” by Elizabeth Dwoskin in the Village Voice
“A Hard Choice: A young medical student tries to decide if she has what it takes to join the diminishing ranks of abortion providers,” by Patricia Meisol in The Washington Post Magazine
“Marilynne Robinson,” by Sarah Fay in The Paris Review
Favorite new religion blog, media crit: Diane Winston’s Knight Chair in Media and Religion. (Which also takes the prize for worst title, unfortunately. Give this site a name by which we can praise it!)
Favorite new religion site: Religion Dispatches.
Favorite new religion site, egghead division: Immanent Frame.
Favorite resurrected religion site, pop division: God Spam.