Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

socrel

Measuring belief?

Pop quiz: What do standing in a long line outside a temple on New Year’s Eve, kneeling alone in a giant cathedral, and gathering around with 10-15 friends in an apartment room all have in common? It’s kind of an unfair question but the answer is that each of these would qualify equally as a statistical instance of “having prayed” despite the glaringly different social context and relational ramifications of the action itself.

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9780198767077

Agatha Christie at mass

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Dame Agatha Christie, the renowned writer of detective fiction, added her name to a protest letter to Pope Paul VI. With over fifty other literary, musical, artistic, and political figures, Christie — who’d recently celebrated her eightieth birthday — expressed alarm at the proposed replacement of the old Mass rite, which used Latin and elaborate ritual, with a new rite in English with simpler ceremonial.

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Melua Chilcott Nunc Dimittis

The music and traditions of Candlemas

Many of us argue about whether Twelfth Night is the evening of 5 or 6 January, anxious that it is considered unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging after this. In fact, a more ancient feast of the Church counts the forty days after Christmas as the whole season of Christmastide, ending with the celebration of Candlemas.

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9780190466701

Spiritual surgeries: a radical alternative medicine?

Why are so many people in the West, who have access to the best biomedicine, turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)? Naturopathy, homeopathy, Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, meditation, reiki, massage, yoga, all have experienced a surge in the twenty-first century.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

How much do you know about the prophets in the Old Testament?

The ancient prophets were said “to possess an intimate association with God” and spoke on behalf of God as divine messengers. Revealing his divine will as “mouthpieces,” the prophets did not claim to possess special powers in predicting the future, but rather simply relayed a message from the omnipotent, omniscient Being. Test your knowledge to see how much you know about the ancient prophets with this quiz.

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9780199313471

The year Bob Dylan was born again: a timeline

On November 17, 1978, while playing a gig in San Diego, an audience member apparently threw a small silver cross onto the stage, and [Bob] Dylan felt impelled to pick it up and put it into his pocket. The following night, in Tucson, Arizona, he was feeling even worse and reached into his pocket, pulled out the cross, and put it on.

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journal-of-church-and-state

American Christians and the Trump vote: what’s law got to do with it?

The 2016 US election is over, and now begins the elaborate work of attempting to understand why Americans voted the way they did last year. Amid soul-searching about media bias, liberal smugness, and misleading data, many commentators have begun to set themselves to the task of making sense of the surprising proportion of American Christians who ultimately cast their ballots for a candidate such as Donald Trump.

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socrel

The Millennials’ God

The Millennial Generation— consisting of those individuals born between 1980 and 2000—is an oddity when it comes to religion. On the one hand, its members are leaving organized religion in unprecedented numbers. On the other hand, they are not exactly unbelievers.

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Marital love and mourning in John Winthrop’s Puritan society

Puritans did not observe birthdays as we do, but the occasion–John Winthrop’s twenty-ninth birthday–in January 1617 may well have been a time for greater reflection than normal. Winthrop was in mourning for his wife, Thomasine Clopton Winthrop, who had died on 8 December. Four hundred years later, it is appropriate to reflect on what Winthrop’s experience and his Thomasine’s protracted death tells us about love and

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Salafism and the religious significance of physical appearances

Because of a combination of these reasons, several European countries have adopted laws to partially ban facial veils in public. However, very little has been said about what the niqab or other forms of physical appearances among Salafis actually mean and what their religious origins are. Despite the fact that most Salafis not only refrain from engaging in such acts themselves but also actively condemn them, politicians from various Western countries have called for banning Salafi organisations or even Salafism altogether.

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9780199755073

The role of family values in the 2016 presidential election

I have recently returned from the national meeting of the American Academy of Religion where much was made of the effectiveness of Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and, in particular, its skillful invocation of an imagined 1950s America. A time when many Americans believe that White (Christian) men modeled effective leadership qualities to build an “exceptional” nation founded in the Christian doctrine of “A City on a Hill”.

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9780190264796

A tragic necessity? The Reformation approaches 500

Pope Francis recently visited Lund, Sweden to acknowledge with Lutherans the religious significance of the coming year leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October 2017. This is the customary date given when Martin Luther placed his 95 Theses on the Castle Church door of Wittenberg, Saxony. A plethora of events across the globe are in the works to commemorate the epochal event.

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9780190499006

Curious Christmas celebrations around the world

Celebrated as both a sacred religious holiday, as well as a commercial phenomenon, Christmas has been observed, denounced, and defended for two thousand years by people all around the world. The long history of battles fought in the war on Christmas

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Christmas on the radio

Back in 1944 the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett, wrote in the Radio Times that “the wireless and the English tongue are means by which God’s message of love and peace can spread through the world”. We may find it difficult these days to construe the BBC’s output over Christmas as taking on such a missiological flavour, but certainly in its early days Lord Reith, saw religion as one of the four principal pillars.

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9780198724704

What does myth have to do with the Christmas story?

There are two contrary ways of characterizing myth. By far the more common way is negative: a myth is a false or delusory belief or story. Here the aim is to expose the myth and be done with it. To take an innocuous example, the story that young George Washington was so honest that he could not deny to his father that he, the son, had chopped down the cherry tree is a myth because it never occurred.

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