SBL Baltimore won’t know what mythed them

Doing some work organizing all the stuff I have to get done over the next little while and I noticed that I’m going to be a very busy boy for SBL.  First, I’ll have meetings for the Metacriticizing of Biblical Scholarship consultation and drumming up some support and ideas for a volume on Academic Freedom (see previous post). I will also be doing two papers, although after last year’s meeting when I did two, I vowed never again. Anyway, here is the abstract for one of them. It’s about damn time I started work on this, too. I’ve been messing around with a book on myth and Hebrew Bible for ages, and I’m finally getting my brain together enough to actually start writing the damn thing. The paper is kind of an overview of it with a limited case study.

Mythic Play in Habakkuk

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This paper employs Habakkuk as a case study in addressing the biblical prophetic literature as mythic constructs that explore the disjunctions between received ideologies, tradition, expectations and social realities.

I have selected Habakkuk as a case study as its brevity does not severely limit the wide scope of its contents or the complexity of its poetic and mythic imagery.  For example, the first chapter poses questions of theodicy surrounding the Babylonian military actions that are at least partially answered in the third chapter’s psalm with its portrayals of a cosmic divine combatant.  The book also incorporates historiola or mythic precedents that forge a unity between primordial divine acts and a hoped for salvation.  The book also comments on the role of the prophet and prophecy.

My approach to myth focuses on the processes of myth making and dynamic systems of mythology within larger symbolic orders in any give society as opposed to form-critical or content-based understandings of what constitutes a myth.

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In developing this approach from the works of J. Z. Smith, Wendy Doniger, and others, I see myth-making as a form of creative  “play” that brings together two or more imaginative worlds to provoke socially relevant discourse and manifests itself in a wide diversity of social expressions in which myths may comment on and rewrite other myths. In this light, ancient Judah’s written legacy of prophetic spokesmen constitutes a major part of Judah’s mythological thought rather than a corpus that only occasionally includes or alludes to older myths.

 

Academic Freedom and Biblical Scholarship

Another in a long series of rebooting this blog…

I’m co-chair of the SBL Metacriticizing of Biblical Scholarship Consultation for the Society of Biblical Literature and we have a session on Academic Freedom scheduled for the Baltimore Annual Meeting in November. We have three papers and a respondent lined up, with an extra 30 minutes of discussion time.

Calvin

Jeffrey Morrow (Seton Hall University) ”A Biblical Method to End Religious Conflict: The Socio-Political Context to Spinoza’s Battle for the Freedom to Philosophize as it Relates to Academic Freedom and Biblical Studies”

Robert R. Cargill (University of Iowa; Visit his Blog) ”Do Not Receive into the Bible College or Seminary Anyone Who Comes to You and Does Not Bring This Doctrine”: The Problem of Critical Scholars at Confessional Colleges

James F. McGrath, (Butler University; Visit his Blog) Mythicism and the Mainstream: The Rhetoric and Realities of Academic Freedom

Kent Harold Richards, StrategyPoints,  Respondent.

Yours truly will be presiding.

Anyway, its clear that the big flaps over how conservative Christian schools sometimes react to liberal religious or secular scholarship being done on their dime will occupy a lot of the discussion time and we are hoping that we get a good turnout.

My co-chair, Rebecca Raphael and I, hope we can make a session on various issues in academic freedom a frequent part of our offers at the annual meetings. There is a lot to talk about. There is also some preliminary talk of an edited volume.

If you are attending the Baltimore meetiing, I hope you can make it to our session.

research-in-progress

Here are the abstracts of the 3 papers:

James F. McGrath, Mythicism and the Mainstream: The Rhetoric and Realities of Academic Freedom

The rhetoric of concern for academic freedom becomes prominent at different times and in different situations – for instance, when a scholar at an Evangelical institution is fired for adopting a viewpoint that reflects the consensus of mainstream scholarship, but also when a proponent of a fringe view like Jesus mythicism has difficulty finding a publisher. This paper will explore the use and misuse of appeals to academic freedom, focusing particular attention on the phenomenon of Jesus mythicism, and the particular case of Thomas Brodie as described in his recent memoir, Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus. On the one hand, Brodie records resistance to his ideas in the academy (largely within the domain of Catholic institutions, but also more widely). On the other hand, it is possible that Brodie will face censure from Catholic authorities in response to the publication of his views. The case thus provides a good opportunity to look at the nature of academic freedom and its character, extent, and limits within the secular academy as well as religiously-affiliated institutions.

Jeffrey Morrow: A Biblical Method to End Religious Conflict: The Socio-Political Context to Spinoza’s Battle for the Freedom to Philosophize as it Relates to Academic Freedom and Biblical Studies

Spinoza articulated a set of guidelines to study the Bible historically in his Tractatus Theologico-politicus (1670), which many scholars have seen as a Magna Charta of historical biblical criticism. Spinoza states that his purpose in attempting to study the Bible historically is to bring an end to the theological and political tyranny which made it impossible to philosophize freely. One of the important historical backdrops to Spinoza’s work was the bloody Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), the most violent of the so-called “Wars of Religion.” In his introduction, Spinoza explains how such allegedly religious conflict is at the root of his attempt to devise a fresh method for interpreting Scripture. Spinoza argues that if an objective method for studying the Bible can be found, then violence created by sectarian religious beliefs will be put to rest. Spinoza maintains that historical biblical criticism is thus necessary to bring peace to a still turbulent Europe which has been ravaged by horrific sectarian wars. This paper will explore the socio-political context to Spinoza’s biblical project to highlight the ambiguities that continue to plague such apologetic calls for academic freedom in the context of modern biblical studies. Such arguments for “freedom” have often meant freedom for some but a lack of freedom for others. Spinoza’s possible theological agenda notwithstanding, his blueprint for academic freedom and for biblical studies was part of an ongoing secularizing trend which took the academy by storm in the following (18th) century. That is, his method was part of a much broader movement to privatize theological and faith concerns. This secularizing movement had both philosophical and theological origins in the Muslim Averroism that spread throughout medieval European universities, and the Nominalism that made its way through the Protestant Reformation. Spinoza is an heir of this late medieval inheritance (as Jakob Freudenthal and Étienne Gilson demonstrated about a century ago in their important studies that have apparently been forgotten by contemporary scholars). Moreover, as Jonathan Israel has more recently shown, Spinoza’s thought played a central role in the Enlightenment debates which ensued long after his death and which secured biblical studies’ foothold in the modern university.

 

Robert R. Cargill “Do Not Receive into the Bible College or Seminary Anyone Who Comes to You and Does Not Bring This Doctrine”: The Problem of Critical Scholars at Confessional Colleges

This paper examines the increasingly problematic trend of the dismissal of critically trained scholars from typically small Christian Bible colleges and seminaries. Many confessional schools of late find themselves increasingly on the defensive when it comes to preserving their traditional doctrinal stances against advances in biblical scholarship, science, philosophy, archaeology, linguistics, and other disciplines within the liberal arts and sciences. As a result, many Bible colleges find themselves dismissing highly qualified Bible scholars, whose research may have led them over time to academic viewpoints that differ from the predetermined confessional statements of faith often mandated by their institutions as a condition of employment. These confessional schools often find themselves torn between a desire for the standard accreditation held by other credible universities, and the preservation of their characteristic doctrinal beliefs. This paper surveys several recent instances of these conflicts, identifies the main points of contention, examines missteps made by both institutions and scholars, and offers suggestions for scholars both seeking jobs and already employed at confessional schools, and for institutions seeking to preserve their denominational identity in the information age.

 

2013 RRS CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

SATURDAY May 4

ROOMS AND PRESIDERS TBA

8:50:                    OPENING COMMENTS

Session 1          RELIGION AND OTHER EXERTIONS: (aka no pain, no gain).               

9:00-9:30             From the Ancient to the Modern: Examining the Relationship Between Athletics and Religion through Time
Taylor Grant, University of Calgary

9:30-10:00           Westernization of Yoga: The West’s Devotion to Lycra and the Mat
Keightley Bertram, University of Calgary,

10:00-10:30         S&M and a goddess?
Lilian Marshall, University of Manitoba

 

                            15 Minute Break

 

Session 2A        ARCHAEOLOGY                                                               

10:45-11:15         Exotic to Local: Exploitations of Raw Copper Material Resources in the Near East from the Bronze to the Iron Age
Elsa M. Perry, The University of Lethbridge

11:15-11:45         Hydrological Wonders of the Iron Age II period: Judah and Israel
Ariel Pollard-Belsheim, University of Lethbridge

11:45-12:15         Fighting Words: The Attempt to Authenticate the James Ossuary Inscription
Laura Shuttleworth, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 2 B       THE NAZI BOOT                            

10:45-11:15         “Broken-in Horse” or “Fiery Stallion”: Christian Fundamentalism and Resistance in Nazi Germany
James Forbes, University of Lethbridge

11:15-11:45         Legalized Mass Murder: German Racial Hygiene, Anti-Semitism, and Eugenics
Krista Conrad, University of Lethbridge

11:45-12:15         Defying Dehumanization: Anticipating the 614th Commandment amidst Nazi Terror
Jenae Dunlop, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 2 C       RELIGIOUS CHANGE AND RETENSION                

10:45-11:15         Ecstatic Power: Examining the Rise of Pentecostalism through the Lens of Durkheim, Marx and Weber
Ron MacTavish, U of Lethbridge

11:15-11:45         Mu shu kyo for Young Japanese People
Marina Umeno, University of Lethbridge

11:45-12:15         The Family Analects: Interpreting Confucianism in Diasporic Chinese-Canadian Writing
Mimi Lin, University of Lethbridge

 

LUNCH 12:15-1:00

Session 3A        ISRAELITE RELIGION

1:00-1:30             The Emergence of Ancient Israel
Corey Davis, University of Lethbridge

1:30-2:00             The Religion of the First Israelites
Matthew Pawlak, University of Lethbridge

5 minute Break  (Session 3A Continues in the Same Room)

2:05-2:35             The Human Nature of Angels
Kristian Edosomwan, Rice University, Houston, Texas

2:35-3:05             Self-Justification and Social Function of the Exodus Covenant
Matthew Pawlak, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 3B        BUDDHISM

1:00-1:30             The Smile of the Poor, Little, Young Prince, The Construction of the Early Mahayana Bodhisattva Image”
Cristina Atanasiu, University of Calgary

1:30-2:00             Blood Sacrifice and Spirit-Deity Worship in the “Healing Buddha Sutra”
Adeana McNicholl, University of Manitoba

5 Minute Break    (Session 3B Continues in the Same Room)

2:05-2:35             The Origins of the Ishiyama-Hongan-Ji War and their Significance on the History of Japanese Buddhism
Ryan Pickard, University of Lethbridge

2:35-3:05             Paradoxical Buddhism: Warfare in History and Modernist Trends
Meaghan Snethlage, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 3C        ISLAM

1:00-1:30             Thoughts on the Concept of Fana’ in Sufism
Hany Ibrahim, University of Lethbridge

1:30-2:00             The Inner and Outer Pilgrimage: Examining ‘The Conference of the Birds’
Julia Ramos-Strankman, University of Lethbridge

5 minute Break    (Session 3C Continues in the Same Room)

2:05-2:35             Hierophanies and the Impact on Sacred Space and Social Order of Pilgrimage Rituals in Islam
Hany Ibrahim, University of Lethbridge

2:35-3:05             Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives on Homosexuality in Islam
Hussain Daya, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 3D        FOUNDATIONS                                                      

1:00-1:30             Between Narrative and Teleology
Kyle Derkson, University of Manitoba

1:30-2:00             Toward an Ecology of Religion
Nikolas Miller, University of Lethbridge

5 Minute Break  (Session 3E will begin in the same room) 

Session 3E        RELIGION AND THE ILLUSION-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

2:05-2:35             Buddhism in Hollywood
Phelicia Hamilton, University of Lethbridge

2:35-3:05             Of Mascots and Messiahs: Simulacra as Guests of Honour in North American Marriage Rituals
Shea Manweiler, University of Regina

 

                                     Break: 10 Minutes

 

Session 4A        GODDESSES OF THE EAST                                  

3:15-3:45             The Transformative Nature of Mago in Response to the Socio-Political Frameworks of Korea
Gina Carroll, University of Calgary

3:45-4:15             Sita: Not a victim but a symbol of subtle resistance and feminine strength
Rutika Gandhi, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 4B        ANTISEMITISM                                         

3:15-3:45             On The Protocols of The Elders of Zion and Conspiracy Theories in General
Jason Schultchen, University of Lethbridge

3:45-4:15             Antisemitism in Argentina from the End of the Second World War to the Turn of the Century
Danielle Simmons, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 4C        ANCIENT NEAR EAST                               

3:15-3:45             Kemetic Magic: On the relationship between Society and Magic in Ancient Egypt
Zak Stinson, University of Lethbridge

3:45-4:15             Pessimism and Vanity: Wisdom Literature of the Ancient Near East
Jessica Swann, University of Alberta

 

BANQUET:  6:00 p.m. Markin Hall

Keynote Speaker: James Linville, University of Lethbridge

Is Religion a Thing? Does It Jiggle When You Poke It?

 

SUNDAY MAY 5

 

Session 6 A       ILLNESS AND HEALTH

8:45-9:15             In Sickness and In Health: The Meaning of Illness in the Lives of Saints
Heather Penner, University of Manitoba

9:15-9:45             Rituals, Feasts and Fasts: The Ritualization of Disordered Eating
Gina Carroll, University of Calgary

9:45-10:15           Organ Donation: Religious Perspectives on the Transplant Process
Stephanie Smolensky, University of Calgary

 

Session 6B        PROSE AND POETRY

8:45-9:15             Fractal Grimoire
Zak Stinson, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45             Mythological vs. Modern: Replacing the Gods
Julia Ramos-Strankman, University of Lethbridge

9:45-10:15           Liver: What the Jewish American Princess Will Not Cook and What Alex Portnoy Uses in an Obscene Manner
Michelle Elly-Anne Wagner, University of Regina

 

Session 6C        REPRESSION AND RESISTANCE              

8:45-9:15             Families Across Borders: State Conflict and Mormon Border Crossing in the Late Nineteenth Century
James Forbes, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45             Christian Responses to Slavery
Rebecca Deutsch, University of Lethbridge

9:45-10:15           Contesting Identities, Divine Lands and Talking Trees: Analyzing Yaqui resistance to the Porfiriato through spiritual healers
Brenda Garcia, University of Lethbridge

 

Session 6 D       BIBLICAL STUDIES 2

Mnemonic Structures of Bounded Space in 2 Maccabees
Neil Thomson, University of Alberta

Don’t Go Away from Jerusalem: The (Re)Placement of Jerusalem in Acts’ Geography
Miriam L. C. Fry, The University of Calgary

Imagining Ethiopia: a “Fabular” History about Demonic Representations in Antiquity
Ryan C. P. Fics, University of Manitoba

 

                            Break 15 minutes.

 

Session 7                  GOD IS DEAD! ISN’T HE?

10:00-11:00         Nietzsche’s Christianity
Daniel Fishley, University of Calgary

11:00-11:30         The Richard Dawkins Foundation Online: Inconsistency, Ideology, and Secular Activism
Stacie Swain, University of Alberta

11:30-12:00         An Atheist’s Quest to Outsource Religion
Scott Reesor, University of Lethbridge

12:00-12:15         Closing Comments

 

Research in Religious Studies Conference Lineup, May 4-5, Lethbridge AB

As promised, the Complete List of Papers and Presenters for the 2013 Research in Religious Studies Conference May 4-5 in Lethbridge. All 49 of them.

They are roughly categorized, a full schedule will be sorted out in a bit.

conference

Shamelessly lifted from: http://forsclavigera.blogspot.ca/2010/10/academic-conference-rules.html

Unlike other conferences, we sort out our sessions and topics AFTER all the papers are selected, so no good ones get left out. That makes grouping them together a tricky business.

ARCHAEOLOGY
Corey Davis, University of Lethbridge,
The Emergence of Ancient Israel

Elsa M. Perry, The University of Lethbridge,
Exotic to Local: Exploitations of Raw Copper Material Resources in the Near East from the Bronze to the Iron Age

Ariel Pollard-Belsheim, University of Lethbridge,
Hydrological Wonders of the Iron Age II period: Judah and Israel

Laura Shuttleworth, University of Lethbridge,
Fighting Words: The Attempt to Authenticate the James Ossuary Inscription

ANE RELIGION
Matthew Pawlak, University of Lethbridge,
The Religion of the First Israelites

Jessica Swann, University of Alberta,
Vanity: Wisdom Literature of the Ancient Near East

Zak Stinson, University of Lethbridge,
Kemetic Magic: On the relationship between Society and Magic in Ancient Egypt

EASTERN RELIGIONS
Cristina Atanasiu, University of Calgary,
The Smile of the Poor, Little, Young Prince, The Construction of the Early Mahayana Bodhisattva Image”

Adeana McNicholl, University of Manitoba,
Blood Sacrifice and Spirit-Deity Worship in the “Healing Buddha Sutra”

Ryan Pickard, University of Lethbridge,
The Origins of the Ishiyama-Hongan-Ji war and their significance on the History of Japanese Buddhism

Meaghan Snethlage, University of Lethbridge
Paradoxical Buddhism: Warfare in History and Modernist Trends

Rutika Gandhi, University of Lethbridge,
Sita: Not a victim but a symbol of subtle resistance and feminine strength

Gina Carroll, University of Calgary,
The Transformative Nature of Mago in Response to the Socio-Poltical Frameworks of Korea

RELIGION AND HEALTH
Gina Carroll, University of Calgary,
Rituals, Feasts and Fasts: The Ritualization of Disordered Eating

Stephanie Smolensky, University of Calgary,
Organ Donation: Religious Perspectives on the Transplant Process

RELIGION AND OTHER EXERTIONS
Taylor Grant, University of Calgary,
From the Ancient to the Modern: Examining the relationship between Athletics and Religion through Time

Lilian Marshall, University of Manitoba,
S&M and a goddess?

ANTI SEMITISM AND THE SHOAH
Jason Schultchen, University of Lethbridge,
On The Protocols of The Elders of Zion and Conspiracy Theories in General

Krista Conrad, University of Lethbridge,
Legalized Mass Murder: German Racial Hygiene, Anti-Semitism, and Eugenics

Jenae Dunlop, University of Lethbridge,
Defying Dehumanization: Anticipating the 614th Commandment amidst Nazi Terror

Danielle Simmons, University of Lethbridge,
Antisemitism in Argentina from the End of the Second World War to the Turn of the Century

CHRISTIANITY AND THE OTHER 
James Forbes, University of Lethbridge,
“Broken-in Horse” or “Fiery Stallion”: Christian Fundamentalism and Resistance in Nazi Germany

Rebecca Deutsch, University of Lethbridge,
Christian Responses to Slavery

Ryan C. P. Fics, University of Manitoba,
Imagining Ethiopia: a “Fabular” History about Demonic Representations in Antiquity

ISLAM
Hussain Daya, University of Lethbridge,
Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives on Homosexuality in Islam

Hany Ibrahim, University of Lethbridge,
Hierophanies and the impact on Sacred Space and Social Order of Pilgrimage Rituals in Islam

Hany Ibrahim, University of Lethbridge,
Thoughts on the Concept of Fana’ in Sufism

Julia Ramos-Strankman, University of Lethbridge,
The Inner and Outer Pilgrimage: Examining ‘The Conference of the Birds’

FOUNDATIONS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT
Nikolas Miller, University of Lethbridge,
Toward an Ecology of Religion

Kyle Derkson, University of Manitoba,
Between Narrative and Teleology

BIBLICAL STUDIES
Kristian Edosomwan, Rice University, Houston, Texas,
The Human Nature of Angels

Matthew Pawlak, University of Lethbridge,
Self-Justification and Social Function of the Exodus Covenant

Neil Thomson, University of Alberta,
Mnemonic Structures of Bounded Space in 2 Maccabees

EARLY CHURCH
Miriam L. C. Fry, The University of Calgary,
Don’t Go Away from Jerusalem: The (Re)Placement of Jerusalem in Acts’ Geography

Heather Penner, University of Manitoba,
In Sickness and In Health: The Meaning of Illness in the Lives of Saints

RELIGION and RESISTANCE 
Brenda Garcia, University of Lethbridge,
Contesting Identities, Divine Lands and Talking Trees: Analyzing Yaqui resistance to the Porfiriato through spiritual healers

James Forbes, University of Lethbridge,
Families Across Borders: State Conflict and Mormon Border Crossing in the Late Nineteenth Century

GO WEST, EASTERN RELIGION, GO WEST
Phelicia Hamilton, University of Lethbridge,
Buddhism in Hollywood

Keightley Bertram, University of Calgary,
Westernization of Yoga: The West’s Devotion to Lycra and the Mat

Mimi Lin, University of Lethbridge,
The Family Analects: Interpreting Confucianism in Diasporic Chinese-Canadian Writing

CHANGING RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPES
Ron MacTavish, U of Lethbridge,
Ecstatic Power: Examining the Rise of Pentecostalism through the Lens of Durkheim, Marx and Weber

Marina Umeno, University of Lethbridge,
Mu shu kyo for Young Japanese People

LITERARY STUDIES
Zak Stinson, University of Lethbridge,
Fractal Grimoire

Julia Ramos-Strankman, University of Lethbridge,
Mythological vs. Modern: Replacing the Gods

Michelle Elly-Anne Wagner, University of Regina,
Liver: What the Jewish American Princess Will Not Cook and What Alex Portnoy Uses in an Obscene Manner

GOD IS DEAD, ISN’T HE?
Daniel Fishley, University of Calgary,
Nietzsche’s Christianity

Scott Reesor, University of Lethbridge,
An atheist’s quest to outsource religion

Stacie Swain, University of Alberta,
The Richard Dawkins Foundation Online: Inconsistency, Ideology, and Secular Activism

Shea Manweiler, University of Regina,
Of Mascots and Messiahs: Simulacra as Guests of Honour in North American Marriage Rituals

 

 

Research in Religious Studies Conference: Another good one in the works

The 2013 Research in Religious Studies Conference for undergraduates and MA students (May 4-5) is shaping up. We were getting a bit concerned about low submission numbers up until the deadline (last Friday) when we got a truckload of them. We now have 37 papers accepted and we are extending the CALL FOR PAPERS to April 21. We might end up a few papers shy of last year’s total, but not much.

As usual, there is a great variety of topics. Here is a selection:

Rituals, Feasts and Fasts: The Ritualization of Disordered Eating, Gina Carroll, University of Calgary.

Imagining Ethiopia: a “Fabular” History about Demonic Representations in Antiquity, Ryan C. P. Fics, University of Manitoba.

Contesting Identities, Divine Lands and Talking Trees: Analyzing Yaqui resistance to the Porfiriato through spiritual healers, Brenda Garcia, University of Lethbridge.

The Family Analects: Interpreting Confucianism in Diasporic Chinese-Canadian Writing, Mimi Lin, University of Lethbridge,

S&M and a goddess? Lilian Marshall, University of Manitoba.

Families Across Borders: State Conflict and Mormon Border Crossing in the Late Nineteenth Century, James Forbes, University of Lethbridge.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation Online: Inconsistency, Ideology, and Secular Activism, Stacie Swain, University of Alberta.

Antisemitism in Argentina from the End of the Second World War to the Turn of the Century, Danielle Simmons, University of Lethbridge.

Vote for my curious kitty!

Even though the number of universities represented is a bit lower this year (which I blame on increasing travel costs and no funding for student travel), we are even having one intrepid soul journey up from Rice University in Texas, with a paper on the angelic figures in Genesis!

And since our own budget has been cut and our catering expenses soaring because we have a new caterer we can’t afford the luxury of inviting a keynote speaker from afar this year, so folks will have to make do with little old me. As is usual, I will be up to a bit of intellectual mischief, and poke some fun at myself, my colleagues and Religious Studies as a whole.

Is Religion A Thing? Does it Jiggle When You Poke It?

The Essay Formerly Known as:

Gods Grate: How Everything Poisons Religion

Both the so-called “New Atheists” and scholars of Religious Studies have found enthusiastic audiences among impressionable university students. For one camp, religion can be surgically removed like a tumor while the other treats it like a vital organ. In actuality, however, Religion jiggles so much at the slightest intellectual poke that nailing it down to an operating table or a pedestal is a rather messy affair.  But are the Gurus of Taking Religion Seriously any more suitable reading for the interested beginner than the Atheists? Not really. Standard introductions to Knowing Religion as a Good Thing typically teach students to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain because it is the unknowable “Sacred”.  In these cases, a good dose of New Atheism’s “nothing’s sacred” creed would hardly go amiss. And besides, some people’s gods are just plain jerks and there is no point in selling students short on that issue.

 And the atheists don’t get through it unscathed, either!

 

GO TO THE CONFERENCE FACEBOOK PAGE AND LIKE IT!

Dr. Jim speaking in Calgary this Friday: And the Lord Human made Huey, Dewey, Louie, Wall-E, and Eve. The Deification of Humanity in Silent Running and Wall-E

http://www.wall-e-wallpaper.com/wall-e-wallpapers2.html

http://www.wall-e-wallpaper.com/wall-e-wallpapers2.html

Please come…. please…

The paper was originally intended for an SBL session in 2012 (Chicago), but I had to back down after another new section was approved for two sessions instead of the expected one, so I ended up over-committed. Anne Moore, my good friend from the University of Calgary was on the Bible and Film committee, so felt a little betrayed, so I will be making good my treachery! I don’t know where ST 130 is on the U of C campus, but I suspect I will get there, sooner or later!  I think I will start with a nice Midrash on Genesis.

Poster

Also, a BIG apology to Douglas Trumbull, director of Silent Running for misspelling his name on my abstract. The error is mine, not the person who made the poster at the U of C!

huey

I will be reprising the paper (probably a somewhat longer version) in Lethbridge in a few weeks.

Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation Needs Consultants!

It’s crunch time for the 2013 Baltimore (Nov. 23-26)  Baltimore  AAR/SBL Call for Papers!  I’m on two steering committees, the Israelite Prophetic Literature section, and the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation. the IPL has a number of proposals already in, but the MBS one is lagging behind a little. Maybe a good number will come in in the final few days but the new session is not that well known, so I thought I would plug it again.

Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation   evaluates suppositions in and underlying biblical scholarship, including how an explicitly non-religious approach differs from what is even now represented as historical-critical scholarship, especially when compared to other secular disciplines within the Humanities (history, classical studies) and the Social Sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology). At the Baltimore Annual Meeting, we plan three sessions: (1) one assessing how scholarship has addressed biblical passages urging mass violence toward targeted groups, including scholars’ use or avoidance of the term ‘genocide,’ jointly sponsored with the Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible Unit; (2) a session on academic freedom in biblical studies, across all types of institutions; and (3) an open session, for which we welcome proposals on any subject within our Consultation’s purview.

So, if you need a home for a paper on biblical violence, academic freedom and job security, or would like to offer reasoned complaints about the state of biblical scholarship, we are your Consultation!

Academic Freedom at SBL 2013! Get your proposal written!

The call for papers for the 2013 Society of Biblical Literature conference in Baltimore (Nov. 23-26) is up and running, and I thought I would advertise one of the sessions/topics that the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation is hosting.

The consultation is co-chaired by Rebecca Raphael and myself, and we are hoping for some good proposals and good turnouts to our sessions. This will be the first year we open the unit to all and sundry, so hopefully we will get a lot of responses and our Consultation will prove its value.

Brought on by the number of cases in which scholars have been disciplined when their academics interfere with the faith statements of their schools, the MBSC thought it would open up a conversation on the topic. Of course, the most recent example of this situation has only just been “resolved,” with Prof. Christopher Rollston voluntarily leaving Emmanuel Christian Seminary  (Johnson City TN) where he was being disciplined for criticizing in a Huffington post article the tradition of not seriously questioning the biblical marginalization of women. The ridiculous over-reaction to this by Emmanuel, and especially Prof. Blowers, would have been comical if someone’s career was not on the lineBasically, Blowers and the school’s president not only made asses of themselves, but managed a Keystone Cops series of screw ups in trying to claim the moral high ground as they were selling out to a donor who seemed to have no appreciation of real academics. Various idiots weighed in affirming the school’s right to defend itself from education (see my long post, here).

Anyway, Rollston took up a Visiting Professorship at George Washington University for the Spring 2013 semester. I hope he finds a permanent position somewhere soon! See Robert Cargill’s most recent blog post for his assessment of the situation. Cargill has been a major supporter of Rollston from the start and he has followed the story on his blog very closely.

There have been other examples of this recently, too, including Peter Enns stepping down from Westminster Theological Seminary 4 years ago or so. Clearly there is lots to talk about, even in a “secular settings” since so much good secular work is done by scholars of faith, even against the wishes of their own seminaries or doctrinally based schools.

Anyway, here is our official Call for Papers:

 The Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation evaluates suppositions in and underlying biblical scholarship, including how an explicitly non-religious approach differs from what is even now represented as historical-critical scholarship, especially when compared to other secular disciplines within the Humanities (history, classical studies) and the Social Sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology). At the Baltimore Annual Meeting, we plan three sessions: (1) one assessing how scholarship has addressed biblical passages urging mass violence toward targeted groups, including scholars’ use or avoidance of the term ‘genocide,’ jointly sponsored with the Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible Unit; (2) a session on academic freedom in biblical studies, across all types of institutions; and (3) an open session, for which we welcome proposals on any subject within our Consultation’s purview.

 I’m really glad we got these two topics and thanks to the crew at the Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible Unit, teaming up with us for the violence one (violence is best with a mob…).

Of course, there are other academic freedom issues too:

phd072011s

 

Pathetic Piety and Protected Privilege

Back in early December, the Member of Parliament for Lethbridge, Conservatively Rootin’, Tootin’, Shootin’, Jim Hillyer, published his monthly column in the Lethbridge Herald.

His latest misfire is now posted on his own website.

banner_1

Jim Hillyer (Right) and P.M. Steven Harper (further to the Right).
Photo stolen from Hiller’s website.
Notice how even Harper doesn’t want to sit too close to him.

It was a stupid column, quite representative of its author with his almost completely shot-off foot, which is often in his mouth. Basically, Hillyer was trying to use our freedom of religion to affirm obligations to preserve Christian privilege (Mr. Hillyer is a Mormon).

Leastllikely.net

Leastllikely.net

He writes:

Freedom of  Religion does not mean that public spaces and public discourse must be free from religious expression. We should not, in the name of tolerance become completely intolerant of public worship in any form.

The difference, of course, is between public worship and  worship on behalf of their body politic by those who confuse their elected office with the right to choose for the electorate what or who should be worshipped, or that there is something worth worshipping.

He quotes a Sikh MP (Nina Grewal, Vancouver) who told Parliament about the “forces of political correctness” and said that:

 To embrace a diverse, secular, multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society, there is no need to preclude the celebration of Christmas. Rather than diluting the traditions, they should be celebrated, whether they are Vaisakhi, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Eid, Hanukkah or Christmas.

Sure, how about a public self-flegellation on Parliament Hill next Ashura. Or, in respect to those with ancient Aztec heritage, a few human sacrifices. Ah, but I forget. All religion is good (at least up to the point where you then affirm that your religion is best, or normative).

religion-public-sphere-overview

 Take Christianity for example:

A religious group practicing justice, apparently…

A religious group practicing justice, apparently…

Finally, justice catches up with the heretic, William Tyndale.

Finally, justice catches up with the heretic, William Tyndale.

Hillyer then celebrates religion’s impact on “civil virtue”, which he then defines as

the Christian values of responsibility and accountability, of loving your neighbour as yourself, of stewardship, of self control, and whatever the word would be to describe the opposite of the sense of entitlement that seems to be creeping into the public mindset more and more.

Hillyer also makes the completely asinine claim that the name of our fair country, “Dominion of Canada” implies that this is a Christian country. He is probably thinking of “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth (Psalm 72:8)”. But isn’t the dominion a democracy? Isn’t it supposed to be “WE shall have dominion”?

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Now, Canada is not a republic. It should be, but not in that sort of way. But I digress…

Our honorable MP also complains of the “tyranny of tolerance” whatever the hell that is. Anyway, the Lethbridge District Skeptics, a motley group of folks who don’t collectively drink enough, wrote a response after wrangling over the wording for a few days and it finally got published. Here are some excerpts.

Mr. Hillyer fails to understand that our federal government should not be involved in encouraging religion. What he calls the “tyranny of tolerance” asks only that the privileged recognize theirs is not the only faith and respect the inclusive nature of Canadian society.

There is no evidence that “dominion” was used by the founders of Canada to mean “Godly kingdom,” and to suggest otherwise is historical revisionism.

Separation of church and state “doesn’t mean the elimination of church.” Neither does it mean the encouragement of the church by the state. It means that no flavour of religion has a role in governance by the state. This protects the religious as well as the non-religious…

(Signed by 11 people, including myself and the Real Mrs. Dr. Jim).

Folks that want to read or comment on the letter can do so on the Herald’s websiteHeck, you can comment here, too.

Note how in the quotes above Hillyer switches from “freedom of (any) religion” to affirming Christian privilege. At one point he refers to Ghandi’s peaceful resistance to Britain to demonstrate that virtue can be found in other religions, saying

Acknowledging this historic fact in no way offends my Christian sensibilities nor does it insinuate that non-Hindu values are inferior or that only Hinduism is capable of uniting a society to help bring about a better world.

http://www.theanglocatholic.com

http://www.theanglocatholic.com

My, isn’t that gracious of him? He’s not offended.  But just to prove to his Mormon/Christian readers that his tolerance is not tyrannical, he then is quick to point out that this does not challenge non-Hindu legitimacy. Of course, one of the major principles of the imperialism Ghandi was resisting was the “bettering” of the world through the invasion, coercion, exploitation and religious conversion of non-Christian nations, efforts that lead to tremendous hardship, injustice, torture, etc. etc. (all for the heathens’ own good, you understand). Indeed, both the LDS (i.e., the Mormons, not the Lethbridge District Skeptics ;) ) and hundreds of “mainstream” Christian sects stil devote a tremendous effort at proselytizing not only Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, etc. BUT EACH OTHER!

The “tyranny of tolerance” is merely the pathetic rhetoric of appropriating the “other” to uphold the privilege of the powerful.

Protestant triumphalist tradition falls victim to tyranny of tolerance
Photo from ITV.com

Sometimes tradition has to change.

Dominated Native students of the "Dominion" of Canada in a residential school, learning Christian tolerance of others.

Dominated Native students of the “Dominion” of Canada in a residential school, learning Christian tolerance of others.

 

 

God Hates Chipmunks?

Stolen from James McGrath who stole it from some other guy.

Ok, it gets a little preachy at the end, but the very end is still pretty darn good

Boneheads

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