Old Lands, New Gospels: The Science of Happiness in Uganda

by Amy Levin: Ever since Madonna and Tom Cruise carried the banner for Kabbalah and Scientology, respectively, New Religious Movements began frequenting the proverbial red carpet in religion news coverage more than ever before. Continue Reading →

Atheism as Speech Act: The Ex-Clergy Movement and Confessional Culture

Amy Levin: They say there’s a fine line between belief and non-belief, but for those whose job depends on that line, the difference is about as great as the distance from Jesus to, well, sin. Continue Reading →

Daily Links: What Social Contract? Edition

Jim Davis on the death of a predatory priest. Amy Levin on liberalism and feminism. The Immanent Frame’s fantastic “Politics of Religious Freedom” series. Catholics roll up their sleeves over a Wendell Berry lecture. Hasidic Jews trying to stay out of court. Rowan Williams on the blood market. Continue Reading →

Preaching Out of the Closet

Amy Levin: It’s barely been a day and President Barack Obama’s personal endorsement (belief? affirmation? slow and agonizing compromise?) of same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC’s Robin Robert’s has spread like wildfire across the news, blog, and twitter spheres. Obama’s comments came just a day after North Carolina passed a ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the 30th state to do so. Reaction to Obama has been divided to say the least. Some are excited, some are livid, and others are confused. Continue Reading →

Taboo Dinner Party Talk

Amy Levin: “Aren’t these topics the very ones your mother warned you never to raise at a dinner party?” asks Marie Griffith, editor of the new online magazine, Religion & Politics. With its boasted tagline, “Fit for Polite Company,” Griffith, the current director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, says in her editor’s note that the journal’s aim is to address one of the most “contested issues of our time:” the role religion plays in U.S civic and political life. Continue Reading →

Laurel Snyder’s Jewish Dreams of Trees

Amy Levin: Jewish parents today have their pick of ethically themed children’s books with just-enough-but-not-too-much religion. But there’s something refreshingly unique about Laurel Snyder’s new book, Good Night, Laila Tov. Snyder’s tale follows two children on an outdoor family vacation, replete with camping on the beach, walking in fields full of berries, and the catching shelter deep woods. Illustrated with lush greens and warm hues, Good Night, Laila Tov makes you want to take a nap on a rainbow after you’ve saved a coral reef from extinction. In other words, it’s the perfect blend of accessible environmentalism (the kids help their parents plant trees) and a rhythmic bedtime serenade. Continue Reading →