Category Archives: Jesus

August 30, 2010, 12:59 pm

She Said Its Two Feet High And Risin’: Five Years After Hurricane Katrina, What Would Jesus Do?

Five years ago today I had just moved back into our current house after nine months of renovations that were way overdue. We had given our temporary apartment back to the landlord, and for part of August I had shuttled back and forth between our New York home and various forms of temporary housing in Shoreline. Our nephew had gone on vacation and I camped in his home down the street; I spent five days at a motel in Worcester, MA at a national sports event; and I spent one surreal night in a chain hotel outside Shoreline, which turned out to be almost entire rented out to the city as an overflow for homeless families waiting for Section 8 housing. As it turned out, these migrations were a preview of things to come: a year or so later, when it was discovered that thousands of displaced Gulf Coast residents were being made ill by the formaldehyde in their trailers, my accommodations see…

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July 31, 2010, 1:22 pm

Department Of Teaching and Preaching: Update On Academic Freedom Case At University of Illinois

Or is that the UI homophobia-in-the-classroom case? You figure it out. Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik updates us on the teaching status of religious studies instructor Kenneth Howell at the University of Illinois, Champaigne-Urbana. Howell came under scrutiny because of an email he sent to his class that articulated gay male sex acts as immoral and the equivalent of bestiality: you may recall that I wrote about it here. It appears that for years, Catholic thought instructors have been nominated and paid by the Newman Center, an institution that exists on many campuses to support the faith and the sociability of Catholic students. Although Howell has been reinstated for the fall, this incident has created an opportunity to end a curious arrangement that some faculty on campus have opposed for reasons you don’t have to be skeptical of religion to understand. Think about it: would …

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July 13, 2010, 3:07 pm

The Politics Of The Classroom: Is It Homophobic To Teach About The Scriptural Basis For Homophobia?

Janine Giordano Drake, over at Religion and American History asks us to think about a university classroom inflected by sacred beliefs that do not coexist comfortably with contemporary cosmopolitan ideas about diversity, respect for personal dignity and human rights. In doing so, she raises the question of whether the absolute separation of secular knowledge from ideological or faith-based knowledge is desirable, or even possible. For those who want to read more of Drake’s thoughts about being a Christian scholar, click here.

The incident which prompted Drake’s post occurred at the University of Illinois which, as a public university, has special vulnerabilities around the separation of the sacred and the secular. In a nutshell, a Catholic theologian circulated an email to his class about why heterosexuality, and the gender binary system, are “natural” and “real”; and why consent does…

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January 19, 2008, 1:30 pm

Another Reason for Historians to Become Activist Intellectuals: National Religious History Week

In this week’s edition of The Nation, Chris Hedges points us to House Resolution 888 intended, among other things, to establish National Religious History Week. Unfortunately, you can only access the full story if you are a subscriber to the Nation, but the bill, according to Hedges, “is an insidious attempt by the radical Christian right to rewrite American history, to turn the founding fathers from deists into Christian fundamentalists, to proclaim us officially to be a Christian nation.” ¬†Skillfully deploying a tactic invented by historian Carter Woodson in 1926, when he created National Negro History Week (now Black History Month) as a way of addressing the absence of African-Americans from school curricula, HR. 888 also — by adopting a progressive intellectual tactic and turning it to its own purposes — implicitly represents evangelical Christians as an oppressed minority on the…

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January 12, 2008, 2:23 am

A Must-See Movie in the Political Season: Jesus Camp (2006)

So, this evening I have been catching up on my Netflix, and I watched Jesus Camp, a little gem of a movie directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady that was released in 2006. It is about a children’s ministry run by Becky Fischer, a ministry intended to prepare young people in North Dakota for their role as political Christians and as soldiers of God. It demonstrates a multi-generational strategy for cultivating a political coalition of born-again citizens who are willing to devote their lives to bringing the nation back into alignment with the Scriptures and God’s Word. I think it does a great job of covering multiple topics that students would need to think about to understand the resurgence of political Christianity in the late twentieth century. It also answers what has for me been a difficult question: who are those people that account for George Bush having any approval rating …

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November 15, 2007, 3:13 pm

What Would Jesus Do? Coping with Chrismukkah and Other Romish Plots

“Happy Holidays!” (Boo-hoo) “Happy Holidays!” (sniff-sniff!)

With this variation on a well-known lyric, the Radical gets ready to expound on a fraught subject for many: the inexorable approach of the holiday season. The Good News: Thanksgiving Break and it’s five glorious days off will be here soon. The Bad News? The four subsequent weeks of holiday cheer.

In a town like Zenith, home to Zenith University, people have had plastic turkeys hanging from the trees in the front yard since they took down the fake cobwebs and ghosties on November 1. These are people who never seem to miss a chance to decorate. You have them in your town too — they are perennial patrons of the Christmas Tree Shoppes, people who swooped in on December 26th, 2006, to purchase Blinky Santa on sale. These are the people who are really ready to rip down the plastic birds and get a full creche, with Kings…

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