Amidst growing tension between conservative factions in Washington, Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced his intention to resign from Congress in October, leading some to speculate on whether yesterday’s remarks from Pope Francis played a role in Boehner’s decision.Read the rest of John Boehner resigning.
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The belief that scientific worldviews provide sufficient information and motivation to galvanize widespread action on environmental issues is gaining adherents both within and beyond the academy. The turn to science for materials from which to construct a new cosmology is evident in a variety of emerging movements that call for an evidence-based global story and a common ethic. Implicit or explicit in these movements is a conviction that existing religious traditions are too parochial (lacking global appeal) and too far removed from scientific realities and contemporary environmental concerns. Proponents of the new cosmology believe that the physical and biological sciences reveal the distinctly storied nature of our cosmos—a story that belongs to all—and that this new cosmology thus invests science with mythic, revelatory power; far from disenchanting our world, science is celebrated as a primary vehicle for restoring wonder, meaning, and value.
Can—and should—a scientific account of the universe function as a global myth? If so, what is the likely impact of contemporary scientific cosmologies on established religious traditions and environment-related beliefs and practices?Read the rest of Cosmology and the environment.
At Arc of the Universe, Daniel Philpott draws from the recent New York Times article, “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape” and the earlier Atlantic article, “What ISIS Really Wants,” to add to the long-running debate on the universality of religious freedom, and emphasizes the importance of political theology.Read the rest of The religious roots of ISIS.
Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. Unsurprisingly, debates on the meaning and future of marriage have not subsided, but have taken on new directions. Among the hottest topics of debate are how American Muslims should respond to the ruling and whether polygamy will be the next battleground.
Read the rest of Coalitions and slippery slopes: The same-sex marriage debate continues.
In a just-published edited volume, Politics of Religious Freedom, editors Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter Danchin ask contributors: what is religious freedom, why is it being promoted, and how are we talking about it?Read the rest of Politics of Religious Freedom.
As part of a joint project between The Immanent Frame and Religion Dispatches, RD contributing editor Austin Dacey has written a series of posts on religious freedom in the United States. His latest piece tackles Winnifred Fallers Sullivan’s “The impossibility of religious freedom” and potential alternate regimes for legislating religious freedom in the United States.Read the rest of Religious freedom at Religion Dispatches.
Until last month’s attack, Charlie Hebdo was little known beyond France. In the wake of the massacre, however, it was quickly valorized as a symbol of freedom of expression and French secularism, and the hashtag #JesuisCharlie (“I am Charlie”) spread rapidly across social media. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared a “war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity.” On January 11, 2015, more than a million people, including 40 of the world’s political leaders—not all of whom are otherwise known for their support of free speech—marched together in Paris.
The week after the massacre, Charlie Hebdo’s “All is forgiven” issue featured a cover depicting the prophet Muhammad in tears, holding a sign that read “Je suis Charlie.”
The violence, and responses to it, have raised a slew of questions. Is it helpful, or even accurate, to characterize these killings as religiously motivated? How have the attack and responses to it helped to construct or entrench the identities said to be in conflict? Should the events be understood in the context of France’s history of satire or its history of colonialism? Can the two be separated in this case? What is the significance of the willingness of many not only to affirm free expression, but also to identify themselves with the magazine? Are there limits to the freedom of expression?Read the rest of Values and violence: Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo.
What can the study of prayer tell us about social life, religious institutions and practices, ethical self-formation, and our concepts of communication, both shared and unique? The Social Science Research Council’s Program on Religion and the Public Sphere announces Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer, a two-day gathering that will showcase the work of over 30 scholars and journalists who have explored these questions and more.Read the rest of Conference: Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer.
The Department of Religious Studies at Connecticut College has an opening for a visiting assistant professor.Read the rest of Opportunity at Connecticut College.
Happy New Year from The Immanent Frame!Read the rest of A new year at The Immanent Frame.
On Wednesday, January 7th, two masked assailants stormed the Paris headquarters of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, killed 12 people, and wounded 11 others. Police quickly identified 3 suspects—the shooters and a suspected getaway driver. The following day, in a suburb of Paris, a masked gunman (later linked to the brothers suspected of carrying out the magazine massacre) fatally shot a policewoman. By Friday, all three gunmen had been killed in separate hostage situations, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying that they were intended to teach the French “that the freedom of expression has limits and boundaries.”Read the rest of The Charlie Hebdo shootings.
The Social Science Research Council’s program on Religion and the Public Sphere announces Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer (February 6-7, 2015).Read the rest of Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer.
In a book out next month, James K. A. Smith offering readers in a world of secularity what the author calls a “hitchhiker’s guide to the present.”Read the rest of How (Not) to Be Secular.
We are proud to announce that Reverberations, the site on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative, has been selected as one of five nominees for a Webby Award in the Religion and Spirituality Category.Read the rest of Reverberations is nominated for a Webby!.
On March 7-8, 2014, Harvard University will be hosting an international conference entitled “Theorizing Religion in Modern Europe.”Read the rest of Theorizing religion in modern Europe.
On November 7th, 2013, on the heels of a heated public debate about the role of religion in public life, the government of Quebec tabled its controversial Bill 60, “Charte affirmant les valeurs de laïcité et de neutralité religieuse de l’État ainsi que d’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes et encadrant les demandes d’accommodement” (Charter affirming the values of state secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests). The legislation, introduced by Bernard Drainville, the minister for Democratic institutions and active citizenship, seeks to affirm the religious neutrality of the state, specifically by prohibiting public sector employees—including those working in hospitals, schools, daycare centers, and universities—from wearing “signes ostentatoires” [conspicuous religious symbols], examples of which include hijabs, kippas, Sikh turbans, and “large” crucifixes. The legislation also proposes to amend Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, in order to enshrine the equality of men and women as the highest human right, to which other rights (e.g. freedom of religious expression) would be subordinated.Read the rest of The Charter of Quebec Values.
The Social Science Research Council seeks a Program Officer/Director for its Anxieties of Democracy program.Read the rest of SSRC job opening: Anxieties of democracy.
In an essay published at the Atlantic online, TIF editor-at-large Steven Barrie-Anthony urges politicians and pundits to pay closer attention to “spiritual but not religious” voters as a potentially influential bloc.Read the rest of Engaging the “spiritual but not religious” vote.
In conjunction with the launch of its new Digital Culture Initiative, the Social Science Research Council has adopted a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License for all content published on or after January 1, 2014, on the SSRC’s public website and related SSRC sites, including The Immanent Frame and other SSRC digital forums.Read the rest of Creative Commons and The Immanent Frame.
A lively interdisciplinary discussion about cognition and culture has emerged from Reverberations, the new digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative. The NDSP grantees share their thoughts about the study of prayer, interdisciplinary methodologies, and the nature and complexities of their research.Read the rest of Reverberations of cognition and culture.
Scott Korb, who teaches at the New School and New York University, recently published a book, Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College, that describes the founding of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.Read the rest of Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College.
As the fall semester gets underway, we have again invited a number of contributors to The Immanent Frame to reflect on what they’ve read these past few months on the broad topic of secularism, religion, and public life. We asked: What are the best books and essays you’ve come across this summer? What are you most looking forward to reading in the near future?
Read responses by Courtney Bender, James S. Bielo, Anderson Blanton, John D. Boy, Wendy Cadge, Simon During, Omri Elisha, M. Christian Green, Martin Kavka, Tanya Luhrmann, John Schmalzbauer, and Jeff Sharlet.Read the rest of Reflections on summer reading.
Political scientist Jocelyne Cesari‘s recent book, Why the West Fears Islam: An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies, analyzes the Muslim experience in the context of international politics.Read the rest of Why the West Fears Islam.
This past week, the US Department of State announced the creation of a new office that “will focus on engagement with faith-based organizations and religious institutions around the world to strengthen US development and diplomacy and advance America’s interests and values.” Citing widespread religious persecution and violence overseas, proponents of the new office of “religious engagement” hope to further institutionalize an official US commitment to globalize religious freedom, marginalize extremism, and promote interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance. Yet this initiative also raises concerns regarding the intersection of religious freedom, religious establishment, and foreign policy.
What are the prospects for the new office, and what are the potential implications of its efforts for the politics of religious diversity, both locally and transnationally? What assumptions about “religion” underlie these efforts, and what are the implications for civil society, including organizations and associations that do not self-identify as religious?Read the rest of Engaging religion at the Department of State.
In Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives, editor Anders Berg-Sørensen compiles works from leading scholars to provide an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to the debate of religion and secularism in the public sphere.Read the rest of Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives.
Three recent articles have drawn attention to plans at the U.S. Department of State to create a new “office of religious engagement.”Read the rest of The State Department and “religious engagement”.
In his new publication, The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable, Robert Wuthnow conducted more than two hundred interviews with people of various faiths in order to analyze how middle class Americans juggle the relationship between faith and reason.Read the rest of The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable.
In their recent publication, No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education, Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen discuss how religion has increasingly become more intertwined with the work higher education as well as how the “religious” and “secular” are blending together.Read the rest of No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education.
Does the election of Francis I signal a major shift in Vatican policy, structure, or doctrine? How significant is Francis’ status as an “outsider” to the Roman Curia, especially his background as a Latin American and a Jesuit? Is this status likely to position him as an agent of change within the Church, or do his theological continuities with his predecessors and the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy guarantee that any reform he initiates will be largely cosmetic?
Read responses by Michele Dillon, John L. Esposito, Jeffrey Guhin, Cecelia Lynch, James Martin, S.J., J. Michelle Molina, and Sarah Shortall.Read the rest of The Vatican Spring?.
The SSRC’s Religion and the Public Sphere program is currently accepting applications for a summer semester internship which would focus on its ongoing projects and digital forums.Read the rest of Religion and the Public Sphere internship at the Social Science Research Council.
On September 27-29, 2013, the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington will host a conference entitled “Religious Studies 50 Years after Schempp: History, Institutions, Theory.” Conference organizers have issued a call for papers.Read the rest of CFP: Religious Studies 50 years after Schempp.
We are pleased to announce the launch of Reverberations, a new digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer initiative. Reverberations will serve as a hub for communication among participants in the New Directions in the Study of Prayer project, a platform for a broader set of academic and public engagements, and a space within which a wide range of resources and materials related to the practice of prayer will be compiled, curated, studied, and explored.Read the rest of Introducing Reverberations.
A central source of support for the Social Science Research Council’s program on religion and the public sphere (including ongoing support for the efforts of The Immanent Frame), the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs “seeks to deepen understanding of religion as a critical but often neglected dimension of national and international policies and politics.” […]Read the rest of Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs.
In Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration, editors Anna C. Korteweg and Jennifer A. Selby gather a multidisciplinary group of academics to tackle the challenge of promoting diversity while protecting religious freedom and women’s equality.Read the rest of Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration.
On Monday afternoon as Hurricane Sandy threatened landfall, President Obama warned reporters gathered at the White House that the storm would be a difficult one, and urged a collective, unifying response. In the wake of the storm, Obama has often shifted away from the polarized rhetoric of the campaign trail to a message reminiscent of the candidate circa 2008, employing hopeful metaphors of American unity and healed fracture.
Many scholars who initially saw in Obama the possibility of a reinvigorated prophetic civil religion have since been disappointed. Now, on the eve of the election and as the waters recede across New Jersey and New York City, we have a moment to reflect on the rhetoric and symbolism that Obama has employed during this disaster.
What, if anything, is new about the rhetoric and symbolism he is employing, and how should we understand the relationship between this rhetoric and his governing style? What does it suggest about the arc of American civil religion, about shifting and multiple visions of national solidarity, and about the election and the political climate to follow?Read the rest of After Sandy: Presidential rhetoric and visions of solidarity.
Religion and the Political Imagination is a volume, edited by Ira Katznelson and Gareth Stedman Jones, that brings together a group of historians and political scientists to take a new look at the theoretical and constitutional aspects of relations between religion and political institutions since the Enlightenment, in particular the theory of secularization that arose during this period.Read the rest of Religion and the Political Imagination.
As The Immanent Frame’s five year anniversary is soon approaching, it is important to take time for reflection, and consider what we has been doing well, what needs improvement, and how we can better engage our audience.Read the rest of Survey for The Immanent Frame.
In his new publication, Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa, David Chidester explores South African indigenous religious heritage and the meaning and power of this religion in a changing South African society.Read the rest of Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa.
The protests in the Middle East and North Africa, and the ensuing political changes, were intended to transcend the old military-Islamist dichotomy, which in Egypt was a legacy of the army-led Egyptian Revolution almost exactly 60 years ago. Yet following a long and contentious electoral season, Egyptians were again left with a choice between Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Ahmed Shafik, a military man and the last Prime Minister under Hosni Mubarak. Nevertheless, despite the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ heavy-handed actions and subsequent protests by Brotherhood supporters and other advocates for a civil and democratic state, Egypt has, for the first time, a democratically elected president.
To what extent do current depictions of the Egyptian situation reproduce the simplistic narrative of the “Brotherhood” versus the “Army” as the only options worth discussing? How does this binary either illuminate Egypt’s cultural, political, and religious dynamics or obscure its more complex realities?Read the rest of Egyptian elections.
In her new publication, The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age, Martha C. Nussbaum discusses the growing issue of intolerance and analyzes the fear that fuels this problem.Read the rest of The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age.