Political Feelings: Derangement Syndromes

“Political Feelings” is a bi-monthly column by Patrick Blanchfield about stories, scenes and studies of religion in American culture. This month: Derangement Syndromes. Continue Reading →

Passing 9/11 Health Bill Would Mean Disrespecting Christmas

Elissa Lerner: Last Thursday, after Senate republicans filibustered their way out of passing the Zadroga Bill, also known as the 9/11 health care bill which would provide $7.4 billion in health aid to ailing first responders, few took notice. However, on the Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart took the issue quite seriously. Little did we know that staying to work and pass the bill would require the Senate to denigrate Christmas! Continue Reading →

Merry F—ing Xmas

Abby Ohlheiser: Depending on your perspective, The National Portrait Gallery has either ruined Christmas or World AIDS Day (December 1) this year. On Wednesday, the institution caved in to “hours” of political pressure from conservative politicians and the Catholic League and removed a 4-minute excerpt of David Wojnarowotz’s piece, “Fire in my Belly” from its current exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” Wojnarowotz, who died in 1992 from AIDS-related complications, created the work in response to the suffering and death of his friend and lover. The featured except contained 11 seconds of ants crawling on a crucifix. The Atlantic Wire has a round up of the coverage. There’s a different excerpt (containing the ants on Christ images) from the 30-minute work available on YouTube.  (Text on the page reads the clip “may contain material flagged by YouTube’s user community that may be inappropriate for some users.”) Continue Reading →

True Religion: Not Just Jeans

Elissa Lerner: A new study by business and management professors at Duke, NYU and Tel Aviv University analyzes the relationship between religiosity and brand loyalty. Their argument, which boils down to less religion = more brand loyalty, and vice versa, could prove useful for companies as we approach the ever-precipitating Christmas shopping season. Over at HuffPo, Diane Winston sees the study, which posits “brands and religiosity may serve as substitutes for one another because both allow individuals to express their feelings of self-worth,” as yet further evidence of our religious illiteracy. Meanwhile at BrandChannel, Abe Sauer thinks it will elicit a collective “duh” out of the branding world. At least you can pick your poison. The title, “Brands: The Opiate of Non-Religious Masses?” is straightforward enough. Continue Reading →