Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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English convent lives in exile, 1540-1800

By Victoria Van Hyning
In the two and a half centuries following the dissolution of the monasteries in England in the 1530s, women who wanted to become nuns first needed to become exiles. The practice of Catholicism in England was illegal, as was undertaking exile for the sake of religious freedom.

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Derrida on the madness of our time

By Simon Glendinning
In 1994 Jacques Derrida participated in a seminar in Capri under the title “Religion”. Derrida himself thought “religion” might be a good word, perhaps the best word for thinking about our time, our “today”. It belongs, Derrida suggested, to the “absolute anachrony” of our time. Religion? Isn’t it that old thing that we moderns had thought had gone away, the thing that really does not belong in our time? And yet, so it seems, it is still alive and well.

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Ascension and atonement in the New Testament

By Grant Macaskill
In the Christian calendar, today is Ascension, the day that marks the translation of Jesus from earth to heaven. While Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated, not just by those actively involved with the church, Ascension will pass unnoticed for most.

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Memorial Day and the 9/11 museum in American civil religion

By Peter Gardella
Unlike the 4th of July with its fireworks or Thanksgiving with its turkeys, Memorial Day has no special object. But the new 9/11 Museum near the World Trade Center in New York has thousands of objects. Some complain that its objects are for sale, in a gift shop and because of the admission fee.

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John Calvin’s authority as a prophet

By Jon Balserak
For some, it was no surprise to see a book claiming that John Calvin believed he was a prophet. This reaction arose from the fact that they had already thought he was crazy and this just served to further prove the point. One thing to say in favor of their reaction is that at least they are taking the claim seriously; they perceive correctly its gravity: Calvin believed that he spoke for God; that to disagree with him was to disagree with the Almighty ipso facto.

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A different Noah, but the same God

By Y. S. Chen
Aronofsky’s Noah Movie has aroused many criticisms for the ways it has rewritten the biblical story of the Flood. It is observed that not only has the movie added extra materials to, as well as removed original elements from, the biblical account, but more seriously it has also modified and darkened the character of Noah and even of God.

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15 facts on African religions

African religions cover a diverse landscape of ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and worldviews. Here, Jacob K. Olupona, author of African Religions: A Very Short Introduction shares an interesting list of 15 facts on African religions.

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Catechetical session comparisons [infographic]

In his study, sociologist David Yamane found an interesting correlation between the type of catechetical sessions used in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process (which an adult who wants to enter the Catholic Church undergoes) and the socioeconomic standing (SES).

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Emerging adult Catholic types [infographic]

In their National Study of Youth and Religion, Christian Smith, Kyle Longest, Jonathan Hill, and Kari Christoffersen studied a sample of young people for five years, starting when they were 13 to 17 years old and completing the study when they were 18 to 23, a stage called “emerging adulthood.”

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Easter rites of initiation bring good news for American Catholics

By David Yamane
For many Catholics in America, waking up in the morning to find no news about the church is a relief. They won’t have to deal with stories about the lingering stench of the priest sexual abuse scandal, the consolidation of parishes and closing of schools, controversy over Catholic hospitals and the loss of Catholic youth, fewer and older nuns and more and younger “nones.”

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Passover in Jewish Eastern Europe

By Glenn Dynner
Today, observant Jews the world over are selling off their leavened foodstuffs (chametz) in preparation for the Passover holiday, which begins with a seder this evening and is followed by eight days of eating matzah, macaroons, and other unleavened products.

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