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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Is there an American culture of Ramadan?

By Abdullahi An-Na‘im Immigrant Muslims continue to rely on the Ramadan culture of their regional origins (whether African, Middle East, South Asian, etc.). What is the culture of Ramadan for American Muslims? Is that culture already present, or do American Muslims have to invent it? Whether pre-existing or to be invented, where does that culture […]

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Faith and science in the natural world

By Tom McLeish
There is a pressing need to re-establish a cultural narrative for science. At present we lack a public understanding of the purpose of this deeply human endeavour to understand the natural world. In debate around scientific issues, and even in the education and presentation of science itself, we tend to overemphasise the most recent findings, and project a culture of expertise.

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Torture: what’s race got to do with it?

By Rebecca Gordon
June is Torture Awareness Month, so this seems like a good time to consider some difficult aspects of torture people in the United States might need to be aware of. Sadly, this country has a long history of involvement with torture, both in its military adventures abroad and within its borders.

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The appeal of primitivism in British Georgia

By Geordan Hammond
The ideal of primitivism was common feature in eighteenth-century British society whether in architecture, art, economics, landscape gardening, literature, music, or religion. Nicholas Hawksmoor’s six London neo-classical churches are one example of the primivitist ideal in architecture and religion.

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The decline of evangelical politics

By Steven P. Miller
Has the evangelical era of American politics run its course? Two terms into the Obama administration, and nearly four decades since George Gallup Jr. declared 1976 the “Year of the Evangelical,” it is tempting to say yes.

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Martyrdom and terrorism: a Q&A

By Dominic Janes and Alex Houen
Martyrdom and terrorism are not new ideas, and in fact have been around for thousands of years, often closely tied to religion. We sat down with Jolyon Mitchell to discuss the topic of martyrdom and how it relates to terrorism in the past and today.

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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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