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September 18th, 2014

Stuck in the middle with you

posted by Gregory Starrett

Surely this was not how most of its philosophers wanted liberalism or pluralism to turn out: a world in which steel gates have to be thrown up to protect life and property, and clothing torn off to protect both its wearers and its witnesses. When John Rawls wrote about how to construct political institutions and values able to reconcile social order with “the fact of pluralism,” he counseled us to derive our approach to political justice and fairness from dispositions implicit in everyday interaction rather than from grand theological or philosophical schemes. Only by elevating “fundamental intuitive ideas” of fair play, social cooperation, and common sense to the level of organizing political principles could we avoid either endless bloody strife or—what seemed to him nearly as bad—a mere modus vivendi, a tense and always temporary stalemate in which balances of group and self-interest kept people from each others’ throats while they waited for their own to reclaim the upper hand.

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September 16th, 2014

The multilingual Jewish blogosphere

posted by Ayala Fader

September 12th, 2014

Overlapping senses of salvation

posted by Eric Hoenes del Pinal

September 10th, 2014

Constructing the Jewish public space: Community, identity, and collaboration

posted by Andrew Buckser

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August 22nd, 2014

Making a biblical theme park

posted by James S. Bielo

Ark Encounter will be a $150 million biblical theme park, scheduled to open in summer 2016. Set on 800 acres of Kentucky rolling hills, 40 miles south of Cincinnati, the centerpiece of the park will be an all-wooden re-creation of Noah’s ark, built to “Young Earth Creationist” specs from the text of Genesis 6:9. The completed ark will be built from three and a half million board feet of timber; stand 50 feet tall, 75 feet wide, 510 feet long (about 300 feet shorter than the RMS Titanic); and contain more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. The park is a joint venture between the creationist ministry Answers in Genesis (AiG) and the for-profit Ark Encounter, LLC. Founded in 1994, AiG is the same ministry that opened the $30 million Creation Museum in 2007. From October 2011 through June 2014, I conducted ethnographic fieldwork with the creative team leading the conceptualization and design of Ark Encounter.

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July 8th, 2014

The impossibility of religious freedom

posted by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

In the last week the US Supreme Court has acted in two religious freedom cases (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College v. Burwell) in favor of conservative Christian plaintiffs seeking exemptions from the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Liberals have gone nuts, wildly predicting the end of the world as we know it. While I share their distress about the effects of these decisions on women, I want to talk about religion. I believe that it is time for some serious self-reflection on the part of liberals. To the extent that these decisions are about religion (and there are certainly other reasons to criticize the reasoning in these opinions), they reveal the rotten core at the heart of all religious freedom laws. The positions of both liberals and conservatives are affected by this rottenness but I speak here to liberals.

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Featured discussion

The state of religion in China

This discussion brings together scholars to understand the relationship between the state and religion in China—past, present, and future.

Featured publication

Blood: A Critique of Christianity

Gil Anidjar’s ambitious and daring new book, Blood: A Critique of Christianity, argues that modern concepts such as capital, state, and nation have entirely Western-Christian origins.

Featured interview

American civil religion in the age of Obama

Joseph Blankholm talks with Philip S. Gorski about his forthcoming book on civil religion, Obama’s messianic burden, and the significance of Émile Durkheim.