Posts Tagged ‘faith’

January 26th, 2015

When readers respond

posted by

Writing about religion in the digital age means that your readers respond. They have, of course, always responded; but in an age of stamps and paper, it required some effort. Now, it requires almost none. I still have the slender file of the paper letters people sent me after my first book came out in 1989. In 2012 I posted a short piece on CNN’s Belief Blog: “If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy.” There were more than 7000 comments. I couldn’t even read them.

Mind you, I didn’t want to. Readers can be unkind—perhaps because the swiftness of the digital writing process means that readers can blurt out the first vehement thoughts they might have edited away if they had to go to their typewriter and type out text on paper, or because the anonymity of posting means that the normal constraints on meanness disappear, or because people think they’re having a conversation just with other posters, and don’t really think of the writer as a fellow creature at all. Whatever the reason, people say horrible things in online posted comments. One gem from my Belief Blog essay: “This lady is (usually) crazy.”

October 28th, 2013

Odd to each other

posted by

It is a distinct honor when someone as lettered as Leon Wieseltier takes one on in public, as he does in “Dumbing Religion Down in the New York Times,” published October 24 in The New Republic. He does seem to have written this essay in one of his grumpier moods. He accused me of proselytizing for religion (or, to capture the tenor of the critique, of turning The New York Times into a Pentecostal tent revival, as one of my own readers, Jon Bialecki, pointed out). That’s not my understanding of the intent of my columns or of my work. I see myself as pointing out that an activity which makes many readers of The New York Times spit nails—or at least shake their heads in bafflement—has something to recommend it. I mostly ignore the politics because, while there is much to say about the political swing of many evangelicals, sharp writers like those who appear in The New Republic and The New York Times already say it well. But there is nothing inherently right-wing about evangelical religion and there are a lot of left-wing evangelicals to prove it. My goal, instead, is to follow the lead of one of the great founders of anthropology, Emile Durkheim, who said that we could not understand religion if we began with the premise that religion was founded on a lie. He did not mean that God was real (he was a devout atheist). He meant that if we wanted to understand why religion is so palpably important to so many people, we need not to begin with the assumption that they are idiots.

July 15th, 2013

The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable

posted by

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.

September 19th, 2012

Documentary project on the faith of New York City

posted by

Faith in the Five Boroughs is a documentary film project that focuses on the religious lives of New York City immigrants.

August 8th, 2012

Mormon appointed to White House faith-based advisory council

posted by

Recently, Religion News Service reported that President Obama had appointed the first Mormon member to his faith-based advisory council.

August 7th, 2012

Loss of faith in religious institutions

posted by

NPR recently reported on a Gallup poll, which showed Americans’ faith in organized religion and religious institutions has declined.

July 11th, 2012

Exodus International renounces gay “cure”

posted by

Recently, the President of Exodus International, Alan Chambers, made statements renouncing some of his organization’s beliefs, such as the ability to “cure” homosexuality by Christian prayer and psychotherapy.

December 12th, 2011

2012 Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

posted by

The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University, is currently fielding applications for the 2012 Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

October 12th, 2011

#OccupyWallSt, spirituality, and faith

posted by

On September 17, protesters heeded the call to occupy Wall Street and set up camp in a semi-public park in downtown Manhattan’s Financial District that is once again known as Liberty Plaza. In the roughly three weeks since the Occupy Wall Street protests began, several commentators have begun reflecting on the place of faith in the movement. The meditation area on Liberty Plaza is only the most overt of the influences of faith or spirituality on the protest movement.

December 20th, 2008

Naive and reflective faiths

posted by

<br />It was difficult all along to conceive of religion (its ritual practices, mystical unions, or attractions and immersions of any other kind) without at the same time postulating or affirming a distancing—reflective or speculative, in case hypothetico-skeptical—stance vis-à-vis the world and life-world in all its worldly aspects. Religion, throughout the text of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, meant “engagement” and “disengagement” in theoretical, practical, and, more broadly, existential matters at once. To the very heart of religious belief there belongs not only an affirmation, but also a suspension of belief in the cosmic, social, or subjective matrices and fabrics of which we are made up. Our being-in-the world, qua believers, is, after all, if not exactly other-worldly, not-quite-of-or-out-of-this-world. […]

October 20th, 2008

Resistance, critique, religion

posted by

Justin Neuman’s stimulating last post encouraged me to reread the debate asking “Is Critique Secular?”from the beginning, and in doing so I began to wonder what would happen to the discussion if we added to it the notion of “resistance”.  By resistance I simply mean the refusal to accept the social system in which one lives.  I am partly inspired by Robert Bellah’s wonderful post, which makes the case that elements within several axial religions share a single impulse with Western theoria, namely renunciation thought precisely as (a practical and/or conceptual) departure from one’s inherited social condition.  For Bellah, renunciation typically becomes institutionalized and then carries out critique from a relatively autonomous social space, in a routinizing extension which, somewhat in Charles Taylor’s spirit, he thinks contains “explosive potentialities for good and for evil.”

October 14th, 2008

Welcome to the faith-based economy

posted by

Last week as I listened, along with many other Americans and others around the world, to President Bush’s most recent effort to reassure us about the current economic meltdown I had a “Road to Damascus” moment.  It happened as I heard Bush repeat the word “faith”. […]

May 30th, 2008

The cognitive revolution and the decline of monotheism

posted by

To appreciate the cultural impact of the “cognitive revolution” discussed by David Brooks in his New York Times op-ed column “The Neural Buddhists” (May 13, 2008), we need to be clear about what has and has not been revolutionized by neuroscience. Brooks gets the research essentially right, but he overlooks some key issues raised by “neural Buddhism” that make me question his view of its future effects on religion and culture. […]