These essays provoked me in a number of ways, especially with their combined penchant for probing raw nerves. Indeed, I didn’t fully understand how raw—let’s say conflicted—I was about religious freedom discourses and practices until this intervention was staged. In the spirit of therapy, then, we can begin: “Hi, my name is Greg, and I’ve led a carefree lifestyle, all along assuming religious freedom is a good thing. I’ve been drinking this cocktail for years; it has become part of my identity. Thanks to these scholars, I’ve been sober for three days.”Read the rest of Social eugenics, unintended consequences, and dropped balls.
Greg Johnson is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research focuses upon contemporary indigenous religious traditions, particularly as expressed in episodes of legal struggle. He is the author of Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition (UVA Press, 2007), and his current book project, Religion in the Moment: Contemporary Lives of Indigenous Traditions, addresses several unfolding repatriation disputes and theorizes these with reference to significant currents in the postcolonial study of religion. Johnson is currently Chair of the Law, Religion and Culture Group of the American Academy of Religion.
Posts by Greg Johnson:
In Sunday school I learned that the cross points to the empty tomb. Given how easily theological concepts jump the tracks when translated for the benefit of eight-year-olds, this now strikes me as pretty fair representation of a core idea central to most Christianities: the crucifixion makes sense only in light of the resurrection. . . . Moreover, the resurrection conveys a Christian theory of death en nuce and metonymically—for some, of course, it would be better to say metaphorically. In any case, whether by way of vague aspiration, an expected apocalypse, or simply due to a learned literary sensibility, most Christians take the resurrection to be the proper model for death—that is, death is recognized precisely through overcoming it. Celestial destinations are in mind. Terrestrial stopping points—graves—are thus temporary and incidental.
This model of death, as signified by the cross, could not be more different from that held by people indigenous to the U.S., including American Indians and Native Hawaiians.Read the rest of Crossed signals and grave misunderstandings.