12 Songs for Christmas: I Got So High That I Saw Jesus

 Little by little, I have come to a realization that (as a commentator on a youtube thread articulated it) “Holy shit, I think I’m a Miley Cyrus fan.”  It’s been a long time coming, and by no means implies interest in everything she’s ever done. If you think this sounds absurd, click on this link, … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: I Got So High That I Saw Jesus

12 Songs for Christmas: Christmas in Washington

“It’s Christmas time in Washington, and the Democrats rehearse. Getting into gear for [an upcoming] year of things not getting worse. Republicans drink whiskey neat and thank their lucky stars. [Thanks to Senate minority rule, with Wyoming voters weighing 68 times more than Californians] There’ll be no more FDRs.” So said Steve Earle, more or less, … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Christmas in Washington

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)”

Hegemonic Half-Truths: Why 9/11 Did Not Necessarily Strengthen the Religious Right in the Long Run

(This post is cross-published here on Narrative Paths Journal) Last week I fielded a query from the University of Tennessee campus newspaper about legacies of 9/11/2001. Its reporter asked: “How did 9/11 strengthen or weaken the religious faith of Americans? How did it change the way people think about mortality, evil, and hope? In what … Continue reading Hegemonic Half-Truths: Why 9/11 Did Not Necessarily Strengthen the Religious Right in the Long Run

Don’t Deem a Melting Glacier Irrelevant (Just Because the Rest of the Glacier is Still Cold and You Really Hate Cold Things)

“Many evangelicals are likely to switch their loyalties to the Democrats [in the coming election]—and the exact numbers will depend partly on whether they perceive that mainstream liberals are treating them with nuance and respect, as opposed to stereotypes and contempt.” I said that in 2008, in a context I will discuss shortly. It remains … Continue reading Don’t Deem a Melting Glacier Irrelevant (Just Because the Rest of the Glacier is Still Cold and You Really Hate Cold Things)

We Do Not Have to Live Like Rats Fighting for Scraps

When I started this blog, I imagined it as a place where I might gather and repost—when timely and appropriate—some of my earlier pieces that are “blog-friendly” in form, but scattered to the winds. I happened across one of these today, when I sent one of my students to a special issue of Dharma World … Continue reading We Do Not Have to Live Like Rats Fighting for Scraps

Another Day, Another Reporter: True and Useful Generalizations About “Agnosticism” in 700 Words or Less

Earlier I discussed a reporter who wanted my sound-bite wisdom about “religion” in the south—and how I wrestled the subject into "True and Useful Generalizations About US Religion in 1000 Words or Less." Yesterday I got a query about “agnosticism in the south” from a reporter from a paper grounded in the LGBTQ community. His … Continue reading Another Day, Another Reporter: True and Useful Generalizations About “Agnosticism” in 700 Words or Less

David W. Noble, Beloved Mentor, Rest in Peace

What follows is lightly revised from a talk I gave in 2009 on the occasion of my teacher, David W. Noble, retiring from the University of Minnesota. David died on March 11, 2018. Here is an obituary, and no doubt David’s many friends and colleagues will weigh in with more ambitious scholarly reflections about his legacies. … Continue reading David W. Noble, Beloved Mentor, Rest in Peace

True and Useful Generalizations About U.S. Religion in 1000 Words or Less

Before I began my previous post, I imagined a quick introduction to set up a lightly edited version of notes that I prepared for the student reporter whom I mentioned. Ironically—or is that “symptomatically? “pathetically?”—by the time I finished, it was already long enough for a full post, although it was about pressure for concision. … Continue reading True and Useful Generalizations About U.S. Religion in 1000 Words or Less

All the News That Fits the Script

Recently a reporter for the University of Tennessee student newspaper interviewed me for a special issue on religion. In this resulting article I am a key source alongside some local ministers—mashed together in an effort to capture dominant religious trends in Tennessee under a tight word limit. The reporter took this half-decent picture of me, … Continue reading All the News That Fits the Script

Why are Religious Leftists Building Luxury Condominiums Outside My Window, and How Can I Be Defending Them?

The flagship institution of politically righteous left-wing Protestants is building luxury condominiums on the Upper West Side of Manhattan! It sounds like a bad joke—or at least a perfect opening for haters to recycle their repertoire of insults. And on top of this they are working on the construction directly outside my window. Literally, workers … Continue reading Why are Religious Leftists Building Luxury Condominiums Outside My Window, and How Can I Be Defending Them?