July 9, 2012
Hey, Religion Writers: You're Doing It Again!

My friend and colleague Amy Levin typed up a beautiful little tome to all those tiresome religion tropes.

#1. The Loaded Term

#2. Conscience in Chief

#3. Religion: What is it good for?

#4. Atheism vs. Religion

#5. We’re getting more - or less? - religious

Trust me - you want to read this article.

July 6, 2012
ICYMI - new at The Revealer

I’ve been a busy bee, but my colleagues at The Revealer have been writing more than me!

Rethinking Mali’s Political Culture | Jun 28 | by Alex Thurston

The MNLA and Ansar al Din have dominated the headlines about Mali this spring and summer. But how have other Malian Muslims reacted to the crisis in the north, and to the partial “Islamization” of the conflict by Ansar al Din?

The First Draft of History: Wire Agency Reporting in Egypt | Jul 2, 2012 | by Maurice Chammah

The editors weren’t pleased. It was too complex…It would be easier, they decided, to frame the story as one of religious hatred.

Intersections of Religion and Media: Interviews | Jul 2, 2012

S. Brent Plate interviews Jolyon Mitchell, Rianne Subijanto, Diane Winston, J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Benjamin Dorman and Stuart Hoover.

Missed Opportunities: a review of “Arab Media” | Jul 5, 2012 | by Narges Bajoghli

It’s true that mass media have been used (and still are, in some contexts) as a means of social engineering. Nonetheless, we must complicate our understanding of the hegemony of state-controlled media.

June 20, 2012
In Jesus' Name - Right Hook!

My post today for The Revealer, on the upcoming documentaryFight Churchabout Christian MMA clubs.

The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club is, you talk about Jesus at Fight Club.

No, Brad Pitt didn’t change the script. Welcome to Fight Church, the upcoming documentary about young Christian mixed martial arts fighters.

What does that mean? According to the film’s Kickstarter fundraising page, the documentary “follows several pastors and fighters in a quest to reconcile their faith with a sport that some consider violent and barbaric,” or in the words of one participant, “Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?” It’s an exploration of the increasing presence of MMA in evangelical Christian communities and the tension that arises.

Read my full post here.

June 13, 2012
Denmark Approves Gay Weddings In Church

Guess some things ain’t so rotten in the state of Denmark anymore!

June 6, 2012
Atheism vs Religion: The Final Countdown? | The Revealer

My newest post for The Revealer, on how a HuffPo blogger gets religion - and secularization - wrong.

Congratulations, godless heathens- you’re winning!

According to biopsychologist and blogger Nigel Barber over at our favorite aggregator, The Huffington Post, atheism will “defeat” religion by 2038.

I didn’t know they were in a timed fight to the death. But I suppose, in media, everything is really an epic battle.

Read the full post here.

June 5, 2012
"Extremely excellent blog post. Document only happened at your current weblog and additionally needed to talk about i need truly loved studying your own website articles. Then again I will come to be following for the wesite and additionally Hopefully you will write once again immediately."

Just got this quote on my article “Legislating Holy Scripture in Ohio,” posted 5/24 at The Revealer.

Thank you sir, I WILL write once again immediately.

June 5, 2012
Race and Radical Welcome << The Revealer

Becky Garrison’s latest post for The Revealer: An interview with Rev. Oliver White, pastor of the only predominantly African American Congregational Church in Minnesota, on his support for same-sex marriage–and what it’s cost.

A media landscape that relies primarily on the voices of those with the microphone tends to miss out on the smaller, quieter voices for justice, such as the Rev. Oliver White, a United Church of Christ pastor and social studies teacher based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At present, his church is facing foreclosure–a result, many say, of his decision to speak out in favor of same sex marriage at the 2005 UCC General Synod.

Read the full article here.

June 4, 2012
He Winketh with His Eyes, He Speaketh with His Feet « The Revealer

Our new intern/writer/buddy at The Revealer has done it again! He’s learning fast. I think we’ll keep him.

Joe McKnight: Walter Wink was, among other things, an outspoken critic of the “biblically-based” homophobia that has long plagued Christianity. Through editing “Homosexuality and the Christian Faith,” and authoring numerous articles on the same matter, Wink showed that by approaching the subject, “from the point of view of love, rather than that of law, the issue is at once transformed.” He continued, “There is no biblical sex ethic. The Bible knows only a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, or culture, or period.”  (The italics are Wink’s.)  Statements of this nature had no small part in making Wink unpopular in the 1980s and 1990s, during the rise of the Moral Majority.

The loss of Walter Wink on May 10th, 2012 was significant not only for the liberation theology to which his life was devoted, but for the declining number of clergy committed to the kind of activism not seen since the days of the Civil rights and anti-war movements five or six decades ago.

Read the full post here.

June 4, 2012

The Tennessean has some amazing footage of snake handling! (via The Revealer)

Hamblin and other handlers say the Bible tells people to obey the law. So he wears a seat belt while driving, obeys the speed limit and files his taxes on time.

But he won’t give up serpent handling, which he says is a command from God — even though Tennessee outlawed it in 1947 after five people died of serpent bites at churches in two years.

“It is the closest thing to heaven on earth that you could get,” he said.

Of course the article is interesting… it’s trying to frame itself as, I don’t know, accepting? “Just covering the story”? It brings to mind Robert Orsi’s contact with the “repugnant other.” And It’s interesting how the article also tries to couch itself in issues of “freedom of religion” - they should be allowed to practice their faith, although it’s been outlawed. Blurring issues of faith, politics, and practice.

Snake handlers - they’re just like us, only different!

Among the 50 or so people at the picnic were Adam Gibson and his wife, Ashley, both childhood friends of Hamblin.

Like him, they didn’t grow up in the serpent-handling movement. They first attended a service in November after Hamblin agreed to do their wedding.

Gibson used to think serpent handlers were crazy. But during a service he knelt at the church’s tiny altar and prayed for God to save his soul.

On New Year’s Eve the onetime scoffer took up his first serpent, a 4-foot-long canebrake rattler.

“It’s a great feeling to know that God is on your side,” he said.

Gibson hopes more people will join the church.

“I would like to let everyone know if you don’t have a home church, come to the Tabernacle,” he said. “We believe in the Bible, we believe in the signs — and if you come out we will treat you like family.”

June 1, 2012
The Dalai Lama is Home

Becky Rynor’s first piece for The Revealer is a pretty interesting one. Can you really go home again? Should you? Oh, and also the Dalai Lama.

I was looking for the chink in that unfailingly optimistic armor, a moment of emotion from the man who was forced by invading Chinese forces to flee his homeland of Tibet in 1959. I was watching for the beatific smile to slide, perhaps even for tears to well in the eyes behind the glasses perched on the nose of the Dalai Lama.

As a journalist, I was also looking for the perfect lede, the emotional hook with which to pull readers into a story about the Dalai Lama’s public speech before roughly 7,000 people in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, on April 28th. Here’s a man who hasn’t been able to go home since he was 16 years old because he is considered a threat by the Chinese Communist regime. I was more interested in the personal than the political and as a skeptic, I was curious – just who IS this guy who can attract, charm and sway the masses the world over? What His Holiness was about to remind me was that sometimes you don’t need to go home, and yes, the personal is political.

The diminutive man with the delighted smile is not only a religious leader, he’s a politically adroit, media savvy, influential icon. If I thought I could coax him in any direction for the sake of a quotable quote, a look, a camera-ready moment, I was wrong. In other words, he’s on to you.

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