James Madison’s ‘Memorial and Remonstrance’

By Dr. Kate Carté Engel / 10.18.2017 Associate Professor of History and Religious Studies Southern Methodist University Annotated Document To the Honorable the General Assembly of the  Commonwealth of Virginia                             A Memorial and Remonstrance The bicameral legislative body of the Commonwealth of VirginiaThe state of Virginia. We[…]

“Dear Venus”: Praying to an Ancient Goddess at the Getty Villa

This summer we invited visitors to the Getty Villa to write and share prayers to the ancient goddess Venus. Here are the themes that emerged. By Bella Anderson / 09.21.2017 “The zither, and night, and Venus, bring delight.” —Ovid, Heroides 3. 116 ff (trans. Showerman) Venus (Greek Aphrodite) was a goddess close to the heart of her people.[…]

Genetic Study Suggests Present-Day Lebanese Descend from Biblical Canaanites

Researchers analysed DNA extracted from 4,000-year-old human remains to reveal that more than 90% of Lebanese ancestry is from ancient Canaanite populations. 07.07.2017 Scientist have sequenced the entire genomes of 4,000-year-old Canaanite individuals who inhabited the Near East region during the Bronze Age, and compared these to other ancient and present-day populations. The results, published[…]

The Other Hippies in the 1967 Summer of Love – the ‘Jesus People’

A crowd at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco celebrates day one of the ‘Summer of Love.’ AP Photo By Dr. Larry Eskridge / 09.15.2017 Instructor in History Wheaton College This year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love.” Popular culture remembers the tens of thousands of joyous young hippies that descended upon San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district to[…]

When African-American ‘Gospel Sermons’ Came on the Phonograph

Oak Grove Acapella Singers, a Gospel group of Chester County, Tennessee, being recorded while singing in the office of the preacher at the Oak Grove Church of Christ. Tennessee State Library and Archives By Dr. Jerry Zolten / 06.29.2017 Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences Pennsylvania State University The first truly African-American musical form, the[…]

Two Kingdoms in the Third Reich

Adolph Hitler greets members of the clergy at a rally Lecture by Dr. Alec Ryrie at Barnard’s Inn Hall / 03.09.2017 Professor of Theology and Religion, Dunham University Visiting Professor of Religion, Gresham University I have given a series of lectures on ‘extreme Christianity’, and it does not get much more extreme than this. You[…]

This Old Catholic Ritual is Giving Brazil’s Economy a Small Boost, One Virgin Mary Statuette at a Time

The Virgin Mary may not be able to pull Brazil out of a deep recession, but her church-sponsored house calls do wonders to ease economic malaise among participating Catholic families.  Pilar Olivares/Reuters    By Dr. Bernardo Figueiredo and Dr. Daiane Scaraboto / 09.12.2017 Figueiredo: Senior Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University Scaraboto: Assistant Professor of Marketing, Universidad[…]

Jewish Sources in the Narrative of Abraham in the ‘General estoria’

San Fernando Valley Credit: Oakshade, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. David A. Wacks / 05.24.2017 Professor of Spanish Department of Romance Languages University of Oregon I wrote about the influence of Jewish exegesis in the development of fictionality, that is, those aspects of prose fiction that serve to enhance the as-if function of fiction and make possible the suspension of disbelief required[…]

Explaining ‘Rakshabandan’ – a Hindu Festival that Celebrates the Brother-Sister Bond

A sister tying the protective thread. Vikram Verma By Dr. Matthew Schmalz / 08.07.2017 Associate Professor of Religion College of the Holy Cross This year, Monday, August 7 marks one of the most important celebrations for Hindus throughout the world: Rakshabandhan, a ceremony honoring the bond between sisters and brothers. The date of Rakshabandan varies from year to[…]

Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionism: Theocratic Pursuits in American Politics

By Steve Barry / 11.10.2011 I have previously written on the topic of Dominionism and then subsequently on a specific “brand” of Dominionism in the past. After reading an interview between Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches and Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania called Beyond Alarmism and Denial in the Dominionism Debate I felt[…]

The God of Israel: An Ancient People’s Growing Definition, Identification, and Understanding

Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall, Jerusalem / Photo by Peter Mulligan, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael W. Palmer / 12.09.2010 That Israel’s understanding of God changed over time is not a controversial claim. The biblical texts record significant changes very clearly. From Henotheism to Monotheism The twelve gods of the Greek Olympic pantheon with[…]

Tages against Jesus: Etruscan Religion in the Late Roman Empire

Sandstone Etruscan relief excavation / Creative Commons By Dr. Dominique Briquel Professor of Archaeology and Latin Université de Paris-Sorbonne Etruscan Studies 10:12 (2007), 153-161 It may seem strange to associate in this way two entities which, at first glance, would seem to have nothing in common. The civilization of the Etruscans, which flourished in Italy[…]

Science versus Religion in American Law

Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Steven Goldberg Professor Emeritus of Sociology City College of New York Introduction The power of organized religion has waxed and waned dramatically throughout human history. In many preindustrial societies, the church provided not only answers to what we think of today as scientific questions, but strict guidance to political leaders as[…]

The Christian Renaissance and Reformation in Continental Europe

Eight reformers (Hieronymus Bock, Johann Buchenhagen, Johann Calvin, Johannes Hus, Martin Luther, Philipp M. / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek By Dr. Stephen M. Feldman Jerry H. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law Adjunct Professor of Political Science University of Wyoming The Renaissance A first century AD bust of Cicero / Capitoline Museums, Rome Toward the end of[…]

Religion and Art in Ancient Greece

Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st century BCE – 1st century CE) depicting the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession; from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hephaestus (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt[…]

Saint Catherine of Siena’s Divine Head

The head of Saint Catherine of Siena displayed at the Basilica of San Domenico. / Image credit: Giovanni Cerretani via Wikipedia 03.27.2017 One of the most captivating displays of saintly relics is at the Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico in Siena, Italy, a town about 45 miles (72km) south of Tuscany.  Worshippers and tourists who visit this[…]

A New Archaeological Framework for Cultural Changes in Ancient Buddhism

Mingora, the modern-day capital city of Swat or ancient Mengjieli / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Anna Filigenzi Professor of Archaeology University of Naples “L’Orientale” Towards a New Reading of Conflicting Sources The more analytical studies highlight the artistic value, theoretical coherence, and innovative character of the rock sculptures, the more glaring appears the contradiction with[…]

A New Festival in Madhya Pradesh Revives a Lost Indigenous Culture

The festival of Rani Kajal Mata / Screenshot from YouTube By Sangeeta Rane / 06.06.2017 Thousands of people have gathered in Verwada village in Barwani district to celebrate the newest festival in Madhya Pradesh – the festival of Rani Kajal Mata, an ancient, indigenous deity. The deity, a sacred rock, is the guardian goddess of the[…]

How a Growing Number of Muslim Women Clerics are Challenging Traditional Narratives

Indonesian female Muslim students read books in a library. Dadang Tri/Reuters By Dr. Rachel Rinaldo / 06.06.2017 Assistant Professor of Sociology University of Colorado Recent terrorist attacks such as the one in London inevitably lead to coverage of Islamist ideology, Muslim culture and Muslim women’s rights. What is often missing, however, in my view is[…]

When Philosophy Needed Muslims, Jews and Christians Alike

The Three Philosophers, by Giorgione, c.1506 / Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna By Dr. Peter Adamson / 05.24.2017 Professor of Philosophy Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich If you were asked to name the most important philosopher of 10th-century Baghdad, you would presumably not hesitate to say ‘al-Farabi’. He’s one of the few thinkers of the Islamic world[…]

Divine Images as Beings in Western Europe, 1500-1960: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

By Dr. William A. Christian Former Visiting Professor of Religious History, University of California, Santa Barbara Historian of Religion, MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program Toribia del Valintroduced one of the ways of connecting with the divine: the visit of a supernatural with counsel and instructions for a specific purpose, in her case to end a drought[…]

Patron Deities and Politics among the Classic Maya

Maya mask. Stucco frieze from Placeres, Campeche. Early Classic period (c. 250 – 600 AD) / Photo by Wolfgang Sauber, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City By Dr. Joanne Baron Lecturer in Anthropology University of Pennsylvania Introduction Most modern scholars agree that religious belief played at least some role in the exercise and legitimization of[…]

Woodcuts and Witches

Witches presenting wax dolls to the devil, featured in The History of Witches and Wizards (1720) / (Wellcome Library) Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone — complete with cauldron and cats — so familiar today.[…]