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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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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

9 fascinating facts about festivals in ancient Greece and Rome

The ways in which the ancient people chose to express themselves on these special calendar days is fascinating. In examining both its contrasts and similarities to today, studying ancient culture can be seen as the study of our own humanity. To demonstrate some of the unique aspects of culture in ancient Greece and Rome, we compiled a list of these 9 facts about some festivals in ancient Greece and Rome.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Religion and the Second Redemption

A tense, volatile electoral season. Accusations of “voter fraud,” and real instances of thuggery on the campaign trail. Documented instances of real voter suppression due to newly instituted state policies attempting to restrict voting disproportionately by race. Real or implicit threats of violence against minority voters. Surging anti-immigrant and exclusionist sentiment, particularly against relative newcomers who practiced seemingly strange religions. Some might describe the recent electoral campaign that way, but I have in mind the election campaign of 1876.

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Preventing the next flight from Bethlehem

A part of the Christmas story tells how the Holy Family fled Bethlehem, warned in a dream of the vengeful plans of a mad monarch. In recent years, Christians have once again found cause to flee the town of his birth. The case study of Palestinian Christians is emblematic of the larger problems faced by Christian populations in the Middle East.

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9780198753711

Can Calvinism make you happy?

“Calvinism is a bleak, oppressive form of Christianity.” The sentiment is a common one. Finding quotations like this one from John Calvin’s letter to the Catholic Cardinal Sadoleto may seem to confirm it. “Whenever I descended into myself or turned my eyes to you, extreme terror seized me, which no expiations or satisfactions could cure.” Here, we surmise, is the rotten heart of Calvinism.

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9780190233143

Democratization of religion in the Middle East

If you were to ask many Americans who keep close track of world affairs the reasons for the wars in Syria and Iraq, they would probably say that Arabs do not like their leaders or their governments. While that might be true —and certainly more true after the Arab uprisings—there is another reason that is often overlooked.

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The paradoxical intellectualism of Gershom Scholem

Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) is widely known as the founder of the academic study of Jewish mysticism or Kabbalah. In the nearly thirty-five years since his death, Scholem’s star has continue to shine brightly in the intellectual firmament and perhaps even more brightly now than in his lifetime.

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Oxford Islamic Studies Online

An Interview with Jörg Matthias Determann

When I first started researching historiography in Saudi Arabia, I came across many publications by government organizations, as they were the most readily available. At first glance, many of these history books told the same story: a narrative that focused on the royal family and its creation of a first Saudi state during the eighteenth century, a second Saudi state during the nineteenth century, and finally the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the twentieth century.

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9780190499006

The language of Christmas [quiz]

Christmas carols–a celebratory tradition spanning language and culture–were originally derived from the songs sung during the Winter Solstice. Christian lyrics were set to the tune of popular pagan carols, giving way to the festive music still played today.

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9780190279363

Can medieval apocalypse commentaries help us feel better about the US election?

In 1453, medieval Europeans were reeling. The great Christian city of Constantinople, which had stood as the capital of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire for over a thousand years, was conquered by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. The militarily superior Turks had been expanding into the Christian territories for more than a century. It was almost inevitable that they would take Constantinople. But few in the West expected this blow.

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9780199987931

How the Bible influenced the Founding Fathers

In the midst of political campaigns, including the last election season, one often hears appeals to the American founding principles and the political visions of the founding fathers. Which political traditions and thinkers shaped the ideas and aspirations of the American founding?

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9780729409209

Voltaire’s love letters

Voltaire had numerous passionate affairs, and engaged in an enormous amount of private correspondence with his lovers, much of which has been kept for posterity. Providing a fascinating insight into Voltaire’s inner-most emotions, his letters give a glimpse of his friendships, sorrows, joys, and passionate desires…

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9780195382020

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and new research: Q & A with Diana Walsh Pasulka and Jacques Vallee

Unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly referred to as UFOs, has been the focus of research by sociologists, scholars of religion, anthropologists, philosophers, and astronomers. The information age now offers new and innovative ways to study the phenomena, and author Diana Walsh Pasulka sat down with astronomer and computer scientist Jacques Vallee to discuss how “big data” and information processing will influence the field of study.

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10 representations of Psalm 137 throughout history [slideshow]

Psalm 137 is the only one out of the 150 biblical psalms set in a particular time and place. The vivid tableau sketched by the opening lines has lent itself to visual representations over the millennia. Each interpretation brings something different to the story and shows the cultures which this psalm has touched.

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