In the ten years since 2001, every September has brought with it calls to remember the attacks of September 11. This week, a ten-year anniversary and the completion of memorials in New York and elsewhere have inspired a swell of such calls. Standing out this year, however, have been petitions to, in the words of Jeremy Walton, “remember differently.”Read the rest of Remembering differently.
Daniel Vaca is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University's Center for the Study of Religion. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. A historian of religion and culture in America, his current research explores interactions between cultures of Christianity, media, and commerce. His dissertation and in-progress book manuscript is entitled "Book People: Evangelical Books and the Making of Contemporary Evangelicalism." It traces the history of evangelical book culture from the end of the nineteenth century to the present, explaining how the contemporary evangelical book industry and the contemporary evangelical public helped bring each other into being.
Posts by Daniel Vaca:
In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Russell Shorto takes a long look at the Texas textbook controversy. Shorto comes to this journalistic party a little late, but his article is noteworthy both for its detail and for the way that he spins the article out into a discussion of the “Christian nation” debate.Read the rest of “How Christian Were the Founders?”.
At Washington Monthly, Mariah Blake comments on the ongoing controversy over Texas’s once-in-a-decade revision of its textbook standards. With standards for such subjects as English and science already revised, the current debate centers on Texas’s social studies standards. As Blake notes, textbook battles are “nothing new, especially in Texas.” But the current situation is unique in two ways.Read the rest of The strange case of Texas’s textbooks.
A number of blogs recently have criticized David Brooks for his response to the earthquake in Haiti. Noting that Haiti’s extreme poverty has turned an unexceptional earthquake into a catastrophe of staggering scale, Brooks accounted for Haiti’s poverty by explaining that “Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences.” While Brooks largely blames Haitians themselves for their poverty, his critics look more to structural and historical inequities. Over at Savage Minds, Kerim Friedman remarks that Brooks’s response is “much more insidious” and altogether worse than Pat Robertson’s much-lampooned suggestion that Haiti made a “pact with the devil.” After all, Friedman notes, people generally take David Brooks seriously.Read the rest of David Brooks outdoes Pat Robertson.
‘Tis the season for best-of-the-year lists, and the Religion Newswriters Association has gotten in on the action with their list of 2009′s top ten religion stories. They compiled the list by surveying more than 100 religion journalists, about 36 of whom responded to the survey.Read the rest of The best-of bandwagon.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently released a new study of “Global Restrictions on Religion.” Pew casts the report as the first “quantitative study that reviews an extensive number of sources to measure how governments and private actors infringe on religious beliefs and practices around the world.” Its methodology, however, deserves scrutiny.Read the rest of Religious restrictions by the numbers.
As the Washington Post‘s Maria Glod reports, a group of yoga instructors in Virginia have asked a federal judge to kill the state’s plan to begin regulating instructor training. Under the plan, the state would certify (for a fee) yoga instructors in the same way that it certifies other vocationally-trained professionals, including dog groomers and bartenders. Yoga enthusiasts have responded to the plan by gesturing toward yoga’s supposed religious essence.Read the rest of Regulating yoga.
At U.S. Intellectual History, Raymond J. Haberski, Jr. appraises Barack Obama’s implicit invocations of civil religion in this week’s speech on the war in Afghanistan. In taking this interpretive approach, Haberski contributes to what has become a new academic tradition. Haberski’s take on the speech in fact encapsulates the new tradition’s range of opinions, for he identifies civil religion in Obama’s language at the same time that he asks whether the concept of civil religion amounts to more than “hogwash.”Read the rest of Obama’s civil religion.
At the New York Times, Patricia Cohen reviews Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People, a recent best-seller in Israel that is now available in English. A scholar of modern France from Tel Aviv University, Sand explicitly presents his book as an attempt to undermine the twin notions that the “Jewish people” share a single ancestry and that this people share ancestral rights to the land of Israel.Read the rest of On The Invention of the Jewish People.