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

Thoughts from a Culture War Turning Into a Shooting War

I went to my local farmer’s market here in the north woods of Wisconsin, feeling happy for the beautiful day and the chance to be a good local citizen—but the first words I heard were a guy saying “maybe they shouldn’t have shot seven times, but other than that I can't see that he didn’t … Continue reading Thoughts from a Culture War Turning Into a Shooting War

I Watched Kanye’s Christmas Pageant So You Don’t Have To

…Or… if you want to watch, or already did—if you are into that sort of thing—it’s not a problem, we can compare notes. This production is interesting in several ways— especially if you care about the cultural politics of religion in US popular music, or are the sort of person who was turned on by … Continue reading I Watched Kanye’s Christmas Pageant So You Don’t Have To

Terrible Jobs (With Thoughts About Race and Remembering)

My aunt Carolyn retired from a college teaching career and moved into our family’s historic farmhouse in northern Wisconsin. When the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked readers to describe “the worst jobs they ever had” for a Labor Day feature, she wrote about working at a local resort with fishing cabins, where she cleaned latrines … Continue reading Terrible Jobs (With Thoughts About Race and Remembering)

Remembering

The Arlie Hochschild book that I have been pondering includes passages about the Areno family, whose formerly lovely and ecologically rich land—which sustained them both with beauty and food—was turned into a poisoned wasteland by industrial pollution. They talk of their role as “rememberers,” or witnesses to how it used to be. Interestingly, they do this … Continue reading Remembering

Empathy Walls: Thinking about People Who Are Oppressed But Love Trump

There isn’t much point in sending readers from this little blog to the American Academy of Religion’s review portal, Reading Religion—I wish I could send traffic the other way!—but I want to link to a review I recently published there, on Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American … Continue reading Empathy Walls: Thinking about People Who Are Oppressed But Love Trump

Dog Park Sex and the Bankruptcy of “Refereed versus Non-Refereed” for Measuring Value

In my last post, I argued that “refereed” does not equal good, nor “non-refereed” bad—but rather the continuum “refereed or not” and the continuum “quality scholarship or not” (alongside other continua) are independent variables with approximately random correlation, at least in the scholarly networks where I work. I did not expect slam dunk support from … Continue reading Dog Park Sex and the Bankruptcy of “Refereed versus Non-Refereed” for Measuring Value

“Resisting,” Talking to Republicans, and Recalling Trump’s Actual Mandate—At the Same Time!

When the Mafia-backed entrepreneur and con man Donald Trump captured a majority of electoral college votes—although, of course, not the majority of actual votes, even before we inquire how the count may have been affected by “abnormal” Russian propaganda, “normal” Fox propaganda (overlapping with Russian parts), tampering with voting machines (unproven to my knowledge but … Continue reading “Resisting,” Talking to Republicans, and Recalling Trump’s Actual Mandate—At the Same Time!