Monthly archive July, 2011

Remapping Space in the Wake of Violence

by Gordon Lynch Part of the shock of recent events in Norway is the contrast between the atrocity of the killings with the civilized, civic life of Oslo, and the beauty and peace of Utoya. The violence creates a rupture between the old, familiar meanings of these places, and the meanings they have today as places...

Taking Scientology Seriously

An interview with Janet Reitman, author of Inside Scientology: The History of America’s Most Secretive Religion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 2011) By Amy Levin
It was fifteen minutes of fantastic and totally outlandish claims, and yet each testimonial was presented in such a reasonable way that in spite of myself, I felt kind of hopeful. ~ Janet Reitman,...

Analyzing Oslo

Some fantastic reporting is finally debunking what initial reports told us about the bombings in Oslo, specifically about the suspect, Anders Breivik.  Islamic terrorist?  Not at all.  Here are some links to great reporting: Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches Charlie Brooker at The Guardian Chip Berlet at Talk to Action Michelle Goldberg at Daily Beast Also,...

Fans of Action: How Harry Potter Inspired a New Generation of Activists

by Abby Ohlheiser Weeks after the earthquake in January, 2010, five planes, filled with medical supplies, flew to Haiti. One plane was named DFTBA, which stands for Don’t Forget To Be Awesome, an acronym popularized by the nerdfighters. The other four were named Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore, after the most familiar and beloved characters...

The Religious Uses of Marshall McLuhan

by S. Brent Plate In the midst of media hoopla about another technology being laid to rest--namely the end of the space shuttle program--there was a lesser-told story in the news this week about the centenary of one of the more technologically engaged and provocative thinkers of recent years: Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980). Coming from a background...

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Goes to Washington

Amy Levin talks to Robert Barnett about HHDL's visit. Prayer flags and American flags are flying side by side as His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL) continues his second week of the Kalachakra, a festival for “world peace,” from July 6-16 in our nation’s capital. The calendar of events began with a celebration of...

Media’s Muslim v. Christian Paradigm

Abby Ohlheiser:  The State Department has weighed in on the case of Iranian Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, who was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to death for apostasy.  He'd be the first executed for that reason in Iran since 1990.  But this month, the Iranian Supreme Court offered him a way out: they've overturned...

Shamed Media:
News Corp, the Sacred and the Profane

by Gordon Lynch One of the striking features of the current crisis engulfing News International is the prevalence of religious language. There is talk of News of the World, including all of its former staff, having been offered as a sacrifice, and speculation whether Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News International, should have been offered up...

As Goes Iowa: Asking Presidential Candidates the Right Religion Questions

by Andy Kopsa Every four years the national political eye shifts to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.  With the 2012 presidential election only 15 months away, the campaign frenzy in Iowa has already begun.  Local and national media are eagerly following Republican presidential hopefuls as they glad-hand farmers, eat local delicacies and stump, flanked by American flags, through...

Atheism vs Religion:
Take 253: Matthew Chapman’s The Ledge

by S. Brent Plate Before you've even heard of this film, Bill Donohue has, once again, given it a ratings boost by rebuffing it on the Catholic League website. In between press releases on "Bishop Blasted over Gay Marriage" and "New York Times is Gay Crazy," is a little piece blasting Matthew Chapman's film The...

Be The Next Jesus. Or L. Ron Hubbard.

Amy Levin: Huffington Post Comedy recently ended a short and perhaps not-so-sweet competition called “Create Your Own Religion.” Though curiously lasting only three days, the call ushered in 906 submissions, including 113 (and counting) featured in a slideshow. The contest was open to anyone with enough free time to send in a catchy name,...

Fashion Faux Pas as Resistant Force in France

Kathryn Montalbano: NiqaBitch, a YouTube video released shortly after France's September 2010 April 2011 official ban of face-covering head apparel, provides interesting if not deceptively complex social commentary expressed via the most fundamental medium for communication possible: the body itself.  Although the video is set to what commenters call "vulgar" rap music (in...