America’s public ritual gone terribly wrong

Sports exemplify the central role of play in human culture, the crucial importance of arbitrary rules and ritual. But the hyper-commercialized ritual of the Super Bowl is becoming increasingly disturbing. Read more

Does Eben Alexander “prove heaven?” Sort of.

Instead of going back and forth between true believers in NDEs and skeptics, let’s take NDEs seriously as human phenomena. This can help us understand why stories like Eben Alexander’s grip us so profoundly. Read more

How separate are science and religion, anyway?

Eric Metaxas’s “scientific” argument for God makes religion too literal, placing it squarely in science’s crosshairs. But let’s not make the opposite mistake: protecting religion from the objective facts won’t keep it vital. Read more

The age of extreme opinions

Agreeable, conscientious people are more likely to obey orders to harm other people. What does this mean for religion and tradition? Read more

The great divide: Why activism needs tradition to work

Activism and tradition need each other. Lacking any prophets, the comfortable establishment just sinks deeper into self-satisfaction. Lacking any tradition or deep commitments to history, revolutionaries become caught in rabid individualism and toxic addiction to the present. Read more

A new theory for why Buddhist meditation makes us feel good

Our brains build up stable patterns of activity over time, and these patterns may inhibit dopamine release – leading to depression and melancholy. Can samatha Buddhist meditation free us from our engrained mental habits? Read more

Want to understand religion? You’ve gotta have a body.

Religious experience is something that comes from what bodies do. What goes on in our muscles, our guts, and on the surface of our skin actually matters. If you want to understand religion, or culture, or London, you need to understand humans — and if you want to understand humans, you need to understand bodies. Read more

Theology: It matters.

Theological conflict is already everywhere. We’re just not calling it theology. And we don’t have any experts to guide us. A return of articulate, impassioned public theology would allow us all to drag our theological agendas into the daylight, and to fight about them honorably where everyone can see. This, in turn, could increase the quality of people’s thinking about the big questions Read more

Religion surrounds us

There is real good and real bad to be found in religious culture. It crafts meaning and it alienates the outsider. It builds comfortable rapport within its boundaries and sets limits on who’s in and who’s out. This paradox is not neatly resolvable. It;s a genuine incompatibility. Read more

Sex, the cuddle chemical, and religion

Kate Stockly-Myerdirk Last week, Connor wrote about sex differences here. I happen to research one specific instance of sex difference: the fact that women tend to be more religious than men. Social scientists have come up with all sorts of unsatisfying theories for why this could be. Is it because women are socialized to be more submissive, gentle, and expressive, which are (apparently) religious values? Is it because church life is an extension of home and family life, in which… Read more

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