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.[…]

Ancient Religious World Views

Procession of twelve gods and goddesses. The figures from left to right are: Hestia (goddess of the hearth), with scepter; Hermes (messenger of the gods), with cap and staff; Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty), with veil; Ares (god of war), with helmet and spear; Demeter (goddess of agriculture), with scepter and wheat sheaf; Hephaestus[…]

‘Discarded History’ Exhibition Lifts the Lid on 1,000 Years of Medieval History

From the collection / Cambridge University Library Treasures from the world’s largest and most important collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts – chronicling 1,000 years of history in Old Cairo – have gone on display in Cambridge today for a six-month-long exhibition at Cambridge University Library. 04.27.2017 Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo opens to[…]

The Changing Nature of Sacred Spaces

The Multi-faith Chapel at Hebrew Senior Life / Newbridge On The Charles, Dedham, Massachusetts. Randall Armor, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Wendy Cadge / 04.26.2017 Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Brandeis University Congregational membership in the United States is slowly declining. Data from the General Social Survey show that 17 percent of[…]

The History of Art and Architecture in the Islamic World

Great Mosque at Damascus (Photo: G. Lewis) Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 04.12.2017 Brewminate Editor-in-Chief A Beginner’s Guide Introduction to Islam By Dr. Elizabeth Macauley-Lewis Assistant Professor, Graduate Center of Liberal Studies City University of New York Origins and the life of Muhammad the Prophet Islam, Judaism and Christianity are three of the world’s[…]

Pagan Shrines and Temples of Ancient Rome

The Roman temple Maison Carré of Nimes, France, built 19-16 BCE, dedicated to Gaius and Lucius, the grandsons of Augustus / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Rodolfo Lanciani Professor of Roman Topography (1878-1927) Università di Roma Ancient guide-books of Rome, published in the middle of the fourth century,[34] mention four hundred and twenty-four temples, three hundred[…]

Coercing Morality in Puritan Massachusetts

Stocks / Photo by BabelTowers, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Murray Rothbard From Conceived in Liberty (1975) Perhaps the bluntest expression of the Puritan ideal of theocracy was the Rev. Nathaniel Ward’s The Simple Cobbler of Aggawam in America (1647). Returning to England to take part in the Puritan ferment there, this Massachusetts divine was horrified[…]

Pagan to Christian: The Transformation of Rome

The Battle of Milvian Bridge, by Giulio Romano, 1520-1524 / Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, Rome By Dr. Rodolfo Lanciani Professor of Roman Topography (1878-1927) Università di Roma It has been contended, and many still believe, that in ancient Rome the doctrines of Christ found no proselytes, except among the lower and poorer classes of citizens.[…]

An Overview of Classical Eastern Philosophy

Taoist Temple / Photo by dbgg1979 of Flickr.com, Creative Commons By Dr. James Fieser / 02.19.2014 Professor of Philosophy University of Tennessee at Martin Introduction At the time that ancient Greek philosophy was blossoming, on the other side of the world a different set of philosophical traditions emerged within the Eastern Asian regions of India[…]

I Won’t Have Blood! A Battle between Belief and Duty?

Blood bank image / University of Michigan, Creative Commons Lecture by Dr. Martin Elliott at the Museum of London / 03.15.2017 Professor of Physics, Gresham College Professor of Paediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, University College London Co-Medical Director, The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Introduction I am going to consider the belief held by some that[…]

Mahayana Buddhism

The Buddha seated in meditation, one hand on his lap, the other pendant in a gesture known as earth-witness, which represents unshakability or steadfastness when being subject to the demons’ temptations. This is a superb example of 12th century Nepalese metalcraft. “Shakyamuni, the Historical Buddha” / Photo by Critstian Violatti, Patan Museum, Nepal By Charley[…]

Prodicus on the Rise of Civilization: Religion, Agriculture, and Culture Heroes

Karthea Temple ruins on the island of Keos (modern Kea) By Dr. Stavros Kouloumentas / 11.01.2016 Postdoctoral Classics Research Fellow University of Humboldt, Berlin CHS Research Bulletin 4:2 (2016) Introduction Three authors who were active in classical Athens seem to have been familiar with Prodicus’ doctrines.[1] Xenophon preserves a speech of Prodicus in which the[…]

Why Native Americans Consider Water Sacred

An activist at a protest rally at the White House against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines in Washington, D.C. Kevin Lamarque By Dr. Rosalyn LaPier / 03.21.2017 Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Montana Visiting Professor of Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies, and Native American Religion, Harvard Universtiy The Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni,”[…]