Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


An educated fury: faith and doubt

Novelists are used to their characters getting away from them. Tolstoy once complained that Katyusha Maslova was “dictating” her actions to him as he wrestled with the plot of his last novel, Resurrection. There was a story that after reading Mikhail Sholokhov’s And Quiet Flows the Don, Stalin praised the work but advised the author to “convince” the main character, Melekhov, to stop loafing about and start serving in the Red Army.

Read More
9780199860043 sullins

How conservative are married priests?

Following the Episcopal Church’s 1976 decision to ordain women, Catholic leaders in America and Rome were approached by Episcopal clergy who opposed the decision and sought conversion as a result.

Read More

The legacy of the New Atheism

The ten-year anniversary of the publication of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion is approaching, and it has already been over ten years since Sam Harris published The End of Faith. These two figures, along with the late Christopher Hitchens, are the most important in the anti-religious movement known as the New Atheism.

Read More

Key events and writings in contemporary Mormon feminism

Mormon feminism may seem to some a recent phenomenon, but events and writings in the history of Mormon feminism date back to the early 1970s. Here we have compiled these key moments in when Mormon women have engaged with question about gender in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a timeline of the pre-history and history of the Mormon feminist movement.

Read More
brooks 9780190248031

How much do you know about Mormon feminists?

No issue in Mormonism has made more headlines than the faith’s distinctive approach to sex and gender. From its polygamous nineteenth-century past to its twentieth-century stand against the Equal Rights Amendment and its twenty-first-century fight against same-sex marriage, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has consistently positioned itself on the frontlines of battles over gender-related identities, roles, and rights.

Read More

The future of married priests

“Western clerical celibacy is in an unprecedented crisis,” says the conservative Catholic canon lawyer Edward Peters. The reason? Since the 1960s, the Catholic Church has permitted married men to be ordained as deacons, an order of clergy just below that of priests; and in the past 35 years about 100 married converts, all former Episcopal priests, have been ordained to the Catholic priesthood.”

Read More
9780199890347 - A Storm of Witchcraft

Pressing Giles Cory

Giles Cory has the dubious distinction of being the only person in American history to be pressed to death by a court of law. It is one of the episodes in the Salem witch trials that has captured the American imagination.

Read More

An ‘in-spite-of’ joy

The Armenian genocide and the Holocaust took place decades ago, but the novelist William Faulkner was right when he said that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It had been hoped that “Never again!” might be more than a slogan, but in April 1994, the Rwandan genocide began and was soon in full cry.

Read More

In defense of myth

I approach myth from the standpoint of theories of myth, or generalizations about the origin, the function, and the subject matter of myth. There are hundreds of theories. They hail from anthropology, sociology, psychology, politics, literature, philosophy, and religious studies.

Read More

Arabia: ancient history for troubled times

In antiquity, ‘Arabia’ covered a vast area, running from Yemen and Oman to the deserts of Syria and Iraq. Today, much of this region is gripped in political and religious turmoil that shows no signs of abating.

Read More

For the love of reason

As the political theorist Jane Bennett argues, the story is that there was once a time when God acted in human affairs and when social life, characterized by face-to-face relations, was richer; but this world then ‘gave way to forces of scientific and instrumental rationality, secularism, individualism, and the bureaucratic state – all of which, combined, disenchant the world’.

Read More

No child left inside on the Holy Earth: Liberty Hyde Bailey and the spirituality of nature study

In the United States today there is a great push to get children outside. Children stay indoors more and have less contact with nature and less knowledge of animals and plants than ever before. When children do go outside, our litigious society gives them less freedom to explore. Educators and critics such as Richard Louv and David Sobel express a concern that without a real connection to the natural world, something vital will be lost in the next generation — and that the challenges of climate change may be unsolvable.

Read More

Trick or treat – Episode 27 – The Oxford Comment

From baristas preparing pumpkin spiced lattes to grocery store aisles lined with bags of candy, the season has arrived for all things sweet-toothed and scary. Still, centuries after the holiday known as “Halloween” became cultural phenomenon, little is known to popular culture about its religious, artistic, and linguistic dimensions.

Read More
wuthnow 9780190258900

Can we trust religious polls? [infographic]

Polls about religion have become regular features in modern media. They cast arguments about God and the Bible and about spirituality and participation in congregations very differently from the ones of preachers and prophets earlier in our nation’s history. They invite readers and viewers to assume that because a poll was done, it was done accurately.

Read More