About Cole Carnesecca

Cole Carnesecca is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and teaches at Bethel College in Indiana.

The New Digital Age

 3D printing leading to global manufacturing on demand, the complete reshaping of the idea of going to school, fleets of driverless cars... these are just some of the innovations Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen describe in their new book, The New Digital Age. In the book, Schmidt and Cohen don their Nostradamian hats and offer a slew of predictions about how emerging technological innovations will dramatically change our lives. The authors are interested in the wide array of impending … [Read more...]

Millennial Presumptions

Rachel Held Evans’ latest post at CNN's religion blog has stirred up controversy in just the way RHE knows how to do so well. See here and here for some reactions. Part of what’s challenging about her piece (and all her writing, really) is that it contains a lot of truth. In her comments on liturgy, authenticity, and a broader Christian cultural-political mandate, RHE offers or, at least, approaches some important insights.  The merits of some of her points have not been fully appreciated by some … [Read more...]

Unequal Conversation Partners

In a recent post over at NPR, Adam Frank reviews Religion without God, Ronald Dworkin’s posthumously published book on religion. In his book, Dworkin attempts to expand the definition of religion beyond its traditional boundaries, arguing that you can be religious even if you don’t believe in God. For Frank, this innovative thesis shifts the ground on which science/religion debates take place.  A broader definition overcomes the apparent cultural rift between “evangelical vs. scientist, believer … [Read more...]

Because Science

In his book The Plot to Kill God, Paul Froese outlines the Soviet Union's unsuccessful campaign to exterminate religion, drawing out the lessons we can learn from the campaign about the possibility of secularity. In order to completely remove religion from the socio-cultural landscape, Soviet authorities oppressed religious leaders and practitioners, strangled religious institutions, replaced religious rituals with secular versions, and waged rhetorical war on the legitimacy of religious belief … [Read more...]

Calling and Responsibility

In reading a recent post on John Wesley’s failed marriage, I was reminded of a similar story from my own field: the church in China.  John Sung was an evangelist who travelled throughout China during the Republican Era. Like Wesley, he had a troubled marriage. Despite marrying and having a child, Sung spent little time at home. His sense of mission and purpose were so strong that care for his family figured very little into his ministry plans. A telling example occurred when Sung, his wife, and h … [Read more...]

Avoiding Civilizational Hard Ceilings

 I recently wrote about an interview I conducted with sociologist Robert Bellah in preparation for a talk he gave this past week at Notre Dame. The talk introduced his thoughts on the next step in his work, following up on his argument in Religion in Human Evolution.A good portion of the talk drew on recent work by Ian Morris on the historical relationship between development and the fate of civilizations. In particular, Bellah found that a developmental “hard ceiling” consistently h … [Read more...]

How Civil Religion Competes with Christianity

The Baptism of Constantine  In prepping for a recent interview with Robert Bellah about his upcoming visit to Notre Dame, I spent some time thinking about one of Bellah’s most significant contributions to the study of religion: a nuanced understanding of civil religion. Bellah’s argument for considering “American Civil Religion” (our public religion expressed in the religious language of politics and national rituals) a “real” religion like any other draws on a long history of theorizin … [Read more...]