An Archaeological Dig in Israel Provides Clues to How Feasting Became an Important Ritual

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Natalie Munro / 12.15.2017 Professor of Anthropology University of  Connecticut This holiday season millions of families will come together to celebrate their respective festivals and engage in myriad rituals. These may include exchanging gifts, singing songs, giving thanks, and most importantly, preparing and consuming the holiday feast. Archaeological evidence shows that[…]

The True Meaning of Hannukah – Jewish Survival

Shutterstock By Dr. Alan Avery-Peck / 12.07.2017 Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies College of the Holy Cross Beginning on the evening of Dec. 12, Jews will celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, perhaps the best-known and certainly the most visible Jewish holiday. While critics sometimes identify Christmas as promoting the prevalence in America today of[…]

The Altneuschul, Prague: Medieval Jewish Synagogue Architecture

Altneushul, Prague (photo: Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 3.0) The Old New Synagogue or Altneuschul, situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe’s oldest active synagogue.[1] It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. By Dr. Carol Herselle Krinsky / 09.18.2017 Professor of Art History New York University In architecture, there is often a dominant mode of design in a given country or region at[…]

Failing Well: Accommodating Vices in an Ideal Vedic City

Samadhi Mandir of Srila Prabhupada (back side) at ISKCON, Mayapur, West Bengal, India / Photo by Joydeep, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. John Fahy Junior Research Fellow Woolf Institute University of Cambridge DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau7.2.030 Abstract Since the early 1970s, the small town of Mayapur in West Bengal has been home to a multinational Gaudiya Vaishnava community of[…]

Local Pantheons in Motion: Synoecism and Patron Deities in Hellenistic Rhodes

The ruins of the temple of Apollon, Acropolis of Rhodes, island of Rhodes, Greece / Photo by Jebulon, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Stéphanie Paul / 04.20.2015 Postdoctoral Researcher University of Liège, Belgium Abstract This paper addresses some of the limitations of the concept of patron deity through the case-study of the island of Rhodes after the synoecism[…]

Evil and Urizen: William Blake’s Visions of a Demiurge

By Dr. Daniil Leiderman / 07.22.2017 Instructional Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture Texas A&M University William Blake is justifiably considered to be among the greatest of England’s poets and artists. His place in the books of art history is assured despite his general disengagement from any definable movement, except perhaps romanticism, to which he belonged[…]

In Brazil, Religious Gang Leaders Say They’re Waging a Holy War

Brazil’s jailhouse preachers may not explicitly condone violence against people of other faiths, but they’ve remained largely silent as their well-armed followers wage a holy war. Reuters/Ricardo Moraes By Dr. Robert Muggah / 11.02.2017 Associate Lecturer Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) The expression “evangelical drug trafficker” may sound incongruous, but in Rio de[…]

Martin Luther, Fallible Reformer

Martin Luther is “a mirror for our contradictions and struggles, for all the ways our society and our religious establishments continue to try and fail,” says Harvard Divinity School Assistant Professor Michelle C. Sanchez. / Stephanie Mitchell, Harvard Staff Photographer Divinity School professor considers the man and his 95 Theses 500 years later. By Colleen Walsh[…]

October 31, 1517: The Birth of a Religious Revolution

By David Robertson / 10.31.2017 October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of one of the most important events of Western history. It was then that German monk Martin Luther presented his Ninety Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to his immediate ecclesiastical superior. Catholic journalist Peter Stanford explains the importance of Luther’s actions[…]

Defining the Demonic – Jacques Collin de Plancy’s ‘Dictionnaire Infernal’

Astaroth, from the 1863 edition of Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal / archive.org Although Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal, a monumental compendium of all things diabolical, was first published in 1818 to much success, it is the fabulously illustrated final edition of 1863 which secured the book as a landmark in the study and representation of demons.[…]

How the God You Worship Influences the Ghosts You See

Gallowglass, CC BY-SA By Dr. Frank T. McAndrew / 10.25.2017 Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology Knox College If you’ve ever seen a ghost, you have something in common with 18 percent of Americans. But while there’s evidence that our brains are hardwired to see ghosts, the apparitions we see tend to vary. Historians who study and catalogue ghostly[…]

Opposition to Galileo Came from Scientists and Clergy

The Ptolemaic Geocentric system. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Christopher M. Graney / 09.21.2016 Professor of Physics Jefferson Community and Technical College In 1614, when the telescope was new technology, a young man in Germany published a book filled with illustrations of the exciting new things being discovered telescopically: moons circling Jupiter, moon-like phases of Venus, spots[…]

Finding Spirit: Ontological Monism in an Australian Aboriginal Desert World Today

“Government-aku Law nyiringka ngarapai. Ananguku Law katangka munu kurunta ngarapai. Nganana Tjukurpa nyiringka tjunkupai wiya. Tjukurpa panaya tjamulu, mamalu, ngunytjulu nganananya ungu, kurunta munu katangka kanyintjaku.” “Government law is written on paper. Anangu carry our law in our heads and in our souls. We don’t put our Law onto paper. It was given to us[…]

How ‘Hindutva’ Recast Multi-Faith India as the ‘Hindu Homeland’

Holy Men attending the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela in Nashik, India. Photo by David Baxendale/Flickr By Ariel Sophia Bardi / 10.24.2017 ‘Hindutva,’ explained Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923, is ‘not a word, but a history.’ It was introduced in a lengthy pamphlet, Essentials of Hindutva, which Savarkar wrote on the walls of his prison cell, and re-published[…]

Martin Luther’s Spiritual Practice was Key to the Success of the Reformation

Luther’s 95 Theses. Ferdinand Pauwels, via Wikimedia Commons    By Dr. Marion Goldman (left) and Dr. Steve Pfaff (right) / 10.24.2017 Goldman: Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, University of Oregon Pfaff:  Professor of Sociology, University of Washington On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Germany’s Wittenberg Castle Church and inadvertently ushered[…]

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[…]