12 Songs for Christmas: Kanye’s Christmas Opera

A year ago, Kanye West was in the news because he had premiered a high-concept and well-publicized Christmas “opera” at Lincoln Center. I wrote about it then, and today I am bringing this earlier reflection back so that people have another chance to find it. I do this, in part, because of how interestingly this … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Kanye’s Christmas Opera

12 Songs for Christmas: Ice Age Paradise

Today I want to share my favorite song from what, in my experience, ranks among the most sadly unknown and underrated records ever made:  Ice Age Paradise, by Sienna Dahlen. https://siennadahlen1.bandcamp.com/track/ice-age-paradise I learned of Dahlen when I spent a semester working in Edmonton, Alberta, and hung out at the great jazz club there called Yardbird … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Ice Age Paradise

12 Songs for Christmas: Everything is One Big Christmas Tree

After my post for the third day of Christmas, I need a day to relax and take a little breather. We need to pace ourselves. This classic song by the great Stephin Merritt and his band the Magnetic Fields should fit the bill. Stop mumbling and cheer up! Put down the book, pick beer up! … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Everything is One Big Christmas Tree

12 Songs for Christmas: “Every Star Shall Sing a Carol (new millennium peace version)”

Trigger warning! I am the sort of geek who actually cares both about schisms among subtypes within subtypes of Calvinists (Presbyterian and Congregationalist) in the antebellum US (which mattered for things like ending slavery and the ongoing curricula of US liberal arts colleges) as well as which factions of the academic left have a correct … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: “Every Star Shall Sing a Carol (new millennium peace version)”

Pros, Cons, and Whiplash: Studying American Religions from a Home Base in Religious Studies

In the first and second sections of this three-part post—introduced here and expanded from my article in the Encyclopedia of American Religion—I sketched the contours of the academic study of religion (ASR), or Religious Studies, and discussed tensions among its creation myths: who were its heroes and villains, in what contexts, as the field emerged? … Continue reading Pros, Cons, and Whiplash: Studying American Religions from a Home Base in Religious Studies

Creation Myths of Religious Studies: Starting Over Near a Dead Tree Vs. an Evolving Garden with Old and New Roots

In the first section of this three-part post—introduced here and based on my article in the Encyclopedia of American Religion—I broached evergreen questions about the definitions, scope, and methods of the academic study of religion (ASR) or Religious Studies. I described these as a “more like a framework for debate than a foundation for consensus” … Continue reading Creation Myths of Religious Studies: Starting Over Near a Dead Tree Vs. an Evolving Garden with Old and New Roots

Exactly What Does “Religious Studies” Study?—the Evergreen Question

As discussed in my previous introductory post, MBE is republishing a piece I wrote for the Encyclopedia of American Religions about the academic field in which I spent most of my career. It will proceed in three chunks and this is the first.  I will add links to the second and third installments here as they … Continue reading Exactly What Does “Religious Studies” Study?—the Evergreen Question