Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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A question of consciousness

By Susan Blackmore
The problem of consciousness is real, deep and confronts us any time we care to look. Ask yourself this question ‘Am I conscious now?’ and you will reply ‘Yes’. Then, I suggest, you are lured into delusion – the delusion that you are conscious all the time, even when you are not asking about it.

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‘You can’t wear that here’

By Andrew Hambler and Ian Leigh
When a religious believer wears a religious symbol to work can their employer object? The question brings corporate dress codes and expressions of religious belief into sharp conflict. The employee can marshal discrimination and human rights law on the one side, whereas the employer may argue that conspicuous religion makes for bad business.

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Reflections on Son of God

By William D. Romanowski
2014 is being heralded Hollywood’s “Year of the Bible.” The first film to reach theaters is Son of God, a remix of material by the same producers of the History Channel’s successful miniseries, The Bible. It seems hardly a coincidence that Son of God opened on Ash Wednesday, ten years to the day after Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was released. The promotional campaigns for both movies relied less on broad market advertising in favor of creating grassroots awareness in religious circles.

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Leaning in

By Katie Day
I am one of the last professional women I know to read Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf, 2013). If you are also among the laggards, it is an inspiring call to women to lean into leadership. Too often, Sandberg shows through research and life story, women are not considered “leadership material,” and not just by men.

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Spiritual but not religious: knowing the types, avoiding the traps

By Linda Mercadante, Ph.D.
Many religious people think—or hope—that all those who self-identify as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) are “seekers” looking for a spiritual home. And many non-religious people assume that SBNRs are routinely hostile to religion and probably have been hurt by it. In fact, after speaking with hundreds of SBNRs all across North America over a five-year period, I have found neither of these assumptions to be accurate or widely representative.

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The Press stands firm against the French Revolution and Napoleon

By Simon Eliot
With the French Revolution creating a wave of exiles the Press responded with a very uncharacteristic publication. This was a ‘Latin Testament of the Vulgate Translation’ for emigrant French clergy living in England after the Revolution. In 1796, the Learned (not the Bible) side of the Press issued Novum Testamentum Vulgatae Editionis: Juxta Exemplum Parisiis Editum apud Fratres Barbou.

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Martin Luther, music, and the Seven Liberal Arts

By The Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe
It was the German reformer Martin Luther who famously said that ‘music was next to theology’. Why did Luther claim that music was ‘next’ to theology, and what did he mean? In the past, scholars have explained that music had a unique capacity to touch the human heart in a way that the spoken word, or other sounds may not do.

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Super Bowl ads and American civil religion

By Peter Gardella
The two most controversial, apparently contradictory Super Bowl ads—Bob Dylan’s protectionist, “American Import” Chrysler ad and Coca-Cola’s multilingual rendition of  “America the Beautiful”—show the breadth of American civil religion. As religion scholars have long observed, it belongs to the nature of religious language to self-destruct.

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A short history of Polish Jewish tavernkeeping

By Glenn Dynner
By the middle of the nineteenth century, Polish Jewish tavernkeeping was banned. However, newly discovered archival sources demonstrate that Jewish tavernkeepers often evaded fees, bans, and expulsions by installing Christians as “fronts” for their taverns and carrying on business as usual, all with the knowledge and complicity of nobles and other local Christians.

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A crossroads for antisemitism?

By Steven Beller
In the conclusion to Antisemitism VSI (2007) I saw antisemitism as an almost completely spent force. Events since then give one pause for thought. Israel appears no more accepted as a “good citizen” by much of the international community, and Jews continue to be attacked for their supposed support of the “Jewish state”.

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Bernstein’s disturbing vision

By Jeremy Begbie
On my office wall I keep two photos together in a single frame. They show two teachers who inspired me more than any others—my first theology teacher, James Torrance (1923–2003), and next to him the American conductor, composer and pianist, Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990).

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Scheduling an Eastern Orthodox Christmas

By D. Oliver Herbel
When most of us think of religious discussions surrounding Christmas, we likely think of debates about the “real meaning,” warnings against materialism, or to what extent the holiday is “pagan.” For Orthodox Christians, the question of when to celebrate Christmas is also a hot topic. This is especially the case in America.

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The Epiphany: the original celebration of Christ’s coming into the world

By Philip Pfatteicher
Some would say the Church has lost the battle over Christmas. Continued insistence that we “put Christ back into Christmas” is futile, and instead of wasting time on that campaign it would be much more useful to emphasize the original celebration of Christ’s coming into the world: the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.

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Buddhism and biology: a not-so-odd couple

By David P. Barash
Science and religion don’t generally get along very well, from the Catholic Church’s denunciation of the heliocentric solar system to vigorous denials — mostly from fundamentalist Protestantism this time — of evolution by natural selection.

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Sir John Tavener, saintly and controversial composer

By Emma Greenstein
The recent death of renowned British composer Sir John Tavener (1944-2013) precipitated mourning and reflection on an international scale. By the time of his death, the visionary composer had received numerous honors, including the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, the 2005 Ivor Novello Classical Music Award, and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

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