August 23, 2019

I wasn’t sure what to call this post. A number of jokes come to mind. It isn’t every day, even for a religion professor, when a colleague comes up to you saying that they need help finding a demon! Now, to be clear, this individual is interested in finding out about a name for and ancient ideas about a demon, rather than conjuring the demon up. At least, that is what they have said to me. What one does with… Read more

August 22, 2019

One of my favorite things that I learned from teaching a Global and Historical Studies course about China is from the Daoist sage Chuang Tzu. He highlights how a person can be incredibly skilled, and yet if they enter a competition and there is a prize at stake, suddenly their competency is diminished. When we focus on a prize, it divides our attention. Here is what he wrote in his own words: When an archer is shooting for nothing, he… Read more

August 21, 2019

I know, I know. The title of the piece was “Using Star Trek to Teach Rabbinics.” How could it have taken me so many weeks to get around to blogging about it? In my defense, I was traveling when the piece appeared and I knew I should mention it here on my blog rather than merely circulating it on social media. Rebecca Kamholz writes: What I finally realized was that there is a genre familiar to us in modern life… Read more

August 20, 2019

The Bible and Interpretation has published a response I wrote to Raphael Lataster’s article that recently appeared there. His article is called “Questioning Jesus’ Historicity” and my response is called “Exorcising Mythicism’s Sky Demons.” Here is an excerpt from towards the end of the article: In case it may not be as clear to members of the general public as it is to academics, the mere publication of a book that makes the case for a particular viewpoint in no… Read more

August 19, 2019

When new technology makes a skill more essential than ever, I don’t think we can blame the technology for widespread laziness. True, it is easier than ever to ask a question and get an instant answer. But when, whether, and why one should or should not trust the answer one receives from Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, crowdsourcing, phoning a friend, or any other source is an important and obvious question that everyone ought to have been asking already, and merely continued… Read more

August 18, 2019

From the article in Salon about Dick’s turn to Christianity (famously of not just a vague Gnostic sort, but quite specifically Valentinianism): These science-fiction devotees had more influence on the cultural explosion of the sixties than is usually acknowledged. Indeed, one of the secret histories of the era is the migration of some very idiosyncratic bohemian writers from the tiny world of science-fiction fanzines into the emerging rock press, where they exerted an outsize influence on the vibrant spunk of the… Read more

August 17, 2019

In this video, Rob Orlando (maker of the documentary Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe and author of the book by the same name) suggests that Paul was inclined towards fanaticism – and like many who switch their allegiance from one group to another, even (or perhaps especially) a diametrically opposed one, he remained as fanatical as a Christian as he had been as a non-Christian Pharisee. He was just fanatical about something different. What do you think? I think this… Read more

August 16, 2019

Another call for papers about Good Omens came to my attention: Editors: Erin M. Giannini and Amanda Taylor Written as a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens(1990) had an active and long-term fanbase before the debut of the Amazon Prime miniseries. Its adaptation, brought to fruition by Gaiman as a promise to Pratchett before Pratchett’s 2015 death, however, has not only brought new fans into the fold, but increased the visibility of the original text. This collection seeks… Read more

August 15, 2019

From the Popular Culture and Philosophy blog: Call for Abstracts: Neon Genesis Evangelion and Philosophy Edited by Christian Cotton and Andrew M. Winters When most people think of anime, they think of large eyed adolescents fighting fearsome monsters. While this is partly the case for Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is only a surface understanding of the show. Beyond the fearsome monsters and bio-machine Evangelions, the show explores the depths of the psyches of the adolescents when they become the very… Read more

August 14, 2019

Another topic that I cover in my class on the Bible and Music is the use of the Bible in children’s songs. I also had a student make excellent use of a children’s retelling of the biblical account of David and Goliath in crafting a song on the subject. It hadn’t struck me until they did so that this could be a useful technique in the process of trying to create a song about a biblical text. If one isn’t… Read more

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