Snake-Handling, Vaccines & Science Denial

Yes, so social media was aglow and more than a little snarky and even downright cruel over the death of Rev. Jaime Coots, a snake-handling pastor from Kentucky. After refusing treatment for yet another snake bite, Coots died last week, but media folks and outsiders to this particular subculture are wrong to think that this event will do anything to deter this small Pentecostal subculture from continuing to practice snake handling and drink poison as a sign of their faith…. Read more

Pilgrimage for Ricardo works…for now

On Monday January 13th, there was a peregrinación for Ricardo Ramos in Cleveland, Ohio.  This pilgrimage ended at St. Casimir church where the pilgrims were going to pray to Our Lady of Czestochowa (the Polish Madonna) to intervene on Ricardo’s behalf.   Combining Our Lady of Guadalupe with the Polish Madonna is part of what occurs in these ethnic parishes that have been in the process of changing hands from the European immigration of the last century, to the immigration of… Read more

The Seeker King by Gary Tillery–A Review

Gary Tillery’s The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley, published by Quest Books (an imprint of the Theosophical Society), presents the King as a life-long seeker, making a case that Elvis was more involved in seeking mystical wisdom from sources as diverse as the Self Realization Fellowship (already a well-known part of Elvis’s religious seeking, see Peter Guaralick’s exhaustive 2-volume biography of Elvis.) To Elvis lore, Tillery adds that Elvis also sought solace in the writing of Joseph… Read more

The Death of the Religious Right?

Back after a long holiday break…. Beginning a  several-part series on why all of the proclamations about the death of the Religious Right are mostly wishful thinking…. Not that I don’t wish it was true–the Religious Right’s contributions to Christianity start and end at fear… But that is not the issue, the issue is the earnest desire of many progressives for that movement to go away since its followers and the politicians it supports are despised in some of my… Read more

Libros Libros Libros

I don’t have a lot of time to read during the school year, and when I do read or buy books, I try to focus on things that will be professionally helpful as well as enlightening—so this list is heavy on academic books—next time I’ll post on films, popular books, and t.v. that I think was worth watching this year. Broadly speaking, my field is Latino/a Religious history—to do this well, I read lots of works in the field of… Read more

Nostalgia is the enemy of history–except when it’s not

There are those rare moments of confluence–when history, nostalgia and a child’s curiosity all conspire to ensure that my digging into my 80s musical treasures will be for not. My daughter, a precocious 11-year old told me a few days ago she wants to know what the 80s were like? I ignore the obvious feeling that I am OLD, and gleefully prepare Spotify lists hoping she will listen. Making mixed-tapes, the prerogative of every angsty teen was a speciality of… Read more

Happy Thanksgiving! (Culture War) Is Over If You Want It

Every major holiday I make a special plea–hoping to convince a few fellow travelers who are feeling generous during the holidays. What is this plea? To stop listening to the alarmist rhetoric that emanates from the most radical quarters of their respective movements and once and for all put an end to this manufactured thing called the “culture war.” Please do not be surprised that these feigned outrages are not selective, manipulated for maximum effect, and, if you analyze closely–often… Read more

35 And Counting – Latino/ Pentecostalism’s Stunning Silence on Gun Violence

Daniel Diaz, a 33 year-old youth pastor was killed a few days ago. Here is the story, he is one of 35 murder victims in the San Gabriel Valley city of Pomona this year. These suburbs are not the gated planned communities you may be familiar with or the sleepy burb I live in — Pomona is a troubled burb. It is also majority Latino/a and African American in its demographic. Since the beginning of the year, the city has… Read more

Happy Dia De Los Muertos!

This Halloween season reminds me of how busy the next few months will be with work and family stuff. Today Nov1st–All Saints Day is followed by All Souls Day and it’s a tradition in some Mexican households to honor the dead with an altar. Since I have a Mexican/Irish/Japanese family–we made an altar–seen below. We chose celebrities because we live in the US–where everything is entertainment–and because we didn’t want to lay the heaviness of a maudlin message on our… Read more

Really who cares what John MacArthur thinks?

I don’t normally enter white evangelical world dust-ups, there are really too many, and they are often uninteresting. Also, I figure if I give celebrity preachers the time of day, they may actually start to think that I take them seriously, which I don’t, but when the likes of John MacArthur goes on a wholesale attack against the Pentecostal/charismatic movement, well then, I have lots to say, but I have not found a blog post that says it quite as… Read more

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