The Biblioblog Reference Library

[«] Posts by the Author "Steve Wiggins"(#127)

June 26 2017, 2AM

“Television today plays too great a part in our national life for us to allow it to fall into misuse by unprincipled hucksters. We must demonstrate at the polls tomorrow that we will not be treated like suckers at a nation-wide Republican carnival.” ... [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Advertising] [and the Rise of Celebrity Politics] [David Haven Blake] [Donald Trump] [Liking Ike: Eisenhower] [Orson Welles] [Ronald Reagan]

June 25, 4AM

Raised by a woman who would be perhaps classified as a “single mother” these days—she was technically married except for a very brief time just before my step-father came along—I have always had great appreciation for the power of women. She didn... [Current Events] [Deities] [feminism] [Goddesses] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [male gaze] [Patty Jenkins] [peace] [superhero] [wonder woman]

June 24, 4AM

One of the truly frustrating things for the honestly curious is a lack of good resources. Specifically here I’m talking about ghosts. More generally, about the supernatural. “Don’t worry,” laugh the reductionists, “there’s no such thing.”... [Books] [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [demonologists] [Ed and Lorraine Warren] [Ghost Hunters] [Materialism] [Perron family] [Robert David Chase] [Roman Catholicism] [The Conjuring]

June 23, 2AM

How do you explain that? Everything, I mean. The need to understand “life, the universe, and everything” is as old as our species, and perhaps even older than that. Up until modernity when the limits of physical explanations were reached, gods fill... [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Can Science Explain Religion: The Cognitive Science Debate] [James W. Jones] [Materialism] [Occam's Razor] [physicalism] [reductionism] [science and religion]

June 22, 1AM

Failure is a part of life. We don’t like stories about failure, however, unless the protagonist goes out with a memorable bang. So it is that when we fail we start looking for a scapegoat. Now it’s a little too early to tell if Ken Ham’s Ark Enco... [Animals] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [environment] [Genesis] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Ark Encounter] [Friendly Atheist] [Ken Ham] [Noah's Ark] [Religious Right] [scapegoat]

June 21, 1AM

What relevance could the Gilgamesh Epic possible hold for contemporary people? Well, one of my colleagues has said that every book is now about Trump. While I resist such thinking, he has a point. Even in reading David Damrosch’s The Buried Book: The... [Archaeology] [Books] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [Ashurbanipal] [Assyriology] [Austen Henry Layard] [David Damrosch] [George Smith] [Gilgamesh Epic] [Henry Rawlinson] [Hormuzd Rassam] [Iraq] [The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh]

June 20, 2AM

It’s 7:00 p.m. I’m still sitting on a bus, in unmoving traffic a mere three miles from home. I stepped out of my front door over 13 hours ago and I have only another hour before retiring to start it all over again tomorrow. My phone’s down to a c... [Bible] [Current Events] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [chemical spill] [commuting] [ethics] [N-Aminoethylpiperazine] [Noah's Ark]

June 19, 1AM

I first read 1984 around its eponymous date. The context is informative. I was a student at Grove City College, a conservative, Reagan-esque school of strong free-market inclinations. Being a first-generation college student I knew nothing of choosing ... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1984] [Doublethink] [George Orwell] [Grove City College] [newspeak] [Republican Party] [Trump Administration]

June 18, 4AM

I find myself in Ithaca, New York. Places have a resonance with people, and this is one of those places I feel like I belong. The feeling may not be mutual, but that makes it no less real. At least on my part. Dominated by the presence of Cornell Univ... [higher education] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [Bill Nye] [Binghamton] [carl sagan] [Cornell University] [Ithaca] [New York] [Rod Serling]

June 17, 2AM

Listening to Comrade Trump, I wonder what it is the GOP really wants. My doublethink may be fuddled a bit, but I’m old enough to remember a guy called Ronald Reagan—champion and darling of the Republicans, some of whom say he was the greatest preside... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [Doublethink] [GOP] [Republican Party] [Ronald Reagan] [Russia] [Vladimir Putin]

June 16, 1AM

Scholars employed by the academy sometimes fall under its privileged bubble. In that rarified space, the classics, the Bible, and even serious contemporary literature can be parsed and prodded until it’s no longer recognized and everyone thinks it’s ... [Books] [higher education] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [mythology] [Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-creation of the World] [S. Brent Plate]

June 15, 1AM

One of the things you see quite a lot of as an editor is “the next big thing.” Authors with an ego that awes me ensure me that this book will be the sea change we’ve all been waiting for. Things will be different after this is published. I don’... [Bible] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [publishing] [academic publishing] [and Albright] [and P] [Biblical Studies] [Bright] [D] [e] [Germany] [J] [Wellhausen] [Wright]

June 14, 2AM

One of the surest signs of hope for the world is that academics are beginning to notice monsters. A trickle began some time ago and it’s probably best to call it a trickle still, nevertheless, the quality of the trickle is improving. Some serious publ... [Books] [evolution] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [apocalypse] [ethics] [fear] [Greg Garrett] [Living with the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse] [zombies]

June 13, 1AM

While waiting for the bus, now that it’s light out that early, I like watching the birds. They have complex interactions and so many different styles of flying. They have ways that are a closed book to our species. From human eyes they seem so playfu... [Animals] [creationism] [evolution] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [airplanes] [Bernoulli's law] [birds] [Chicken Run] [dinosaurs] [engineering] [intelligent design]

June 12, 1AM

It feels like confession every time I go to get my hair cut. I sit in the chair and a girl younger than my daughter looks perplexed when I explain it’s been a few months since my last shearing. “Forgive me, daughter, for I have sinned…” Haircut... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [2 Samuel] [Absalom] [Alexander the Great] [Caesar] [hair] [haircut]

June 11, 5AM

Fiction is a framework to approach reality. People are drawn to stories because they help us to make sense of a bewildering world which wasn’t, in reality, custom made for us. Marta Figlerowicz’s Flat Protagonists: A Theory of Novel Character explor... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [Devil] [fiction] [Flat Protagonists: A Theory of Novel Character] [Marta Figlerowicz] [Satan] [Sleepy Hollow]

June 10, 3AM

Home alone on a Friday night, I turned to Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu. Not a typical horror film, this art house production is an updating and remaking of F. W. Murnau’s technically illegal 1922 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It has been a few... [literature] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Black Death] [Bram Stoker] [Dracula] [F. W. Murnau] [Klaus Kinski] [Nosferatu] [science and religion] [vampire] [van Helsing] [Werner Herzog]

June 9, 3AM

I had no idea my life was in danger. I was out for a weekend walk with my wife, when suddenly, there they were. Snails. In case you think I’m over-reacting, take a look at Christopher Jobson’s piece on Colossal titled “Why Knights Fought Snails i... [Animals] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [Christopher Jobson] [Colossal] [snails] [symbolism] [symbols] [Time]

June 8, 1AM

Reading other people’s scripture is a privilege. Although somewhere in my long study of the history of religion I must have read excerpts of The Analects, I have not concentrated on reading them through before. Reading other people’s scripture is li... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Chinese religion] [Confucianism] [Judaism] [Raymond Dawson] [The Analects] [Trump Administration]

June 7, 2AM

I was that awkward introvert in high school. Actually, I’m still that awkward introvert now, as easily talked over in editorial board meetings as I always have been at the lunchroom table. As a consequence I’ll gladly take any help I can get on my s... [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Bob Dylan] [Genealogy] [J. R. R. Tolkien] [John Dillinger] [Melvin Purvis]

June 6, 1AM

It’s all about Jesus. Well, that’s an overstatement, even in context. One of the amazing things to me about books addressing the Bible in film is just how often Jesus movies come up. If it’s not Jesus movies, it’s movies that have a “Christ f... [Bible] [Books] [higher education] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Bible and film] [David Shepherd] [Hollywood] [Images of the Word: Hollywood’s Bible and Beyond] [jesus] [Reception History] [Richard A. Blake]

June 5, 1AM

Bulls have long been symbols. If I write “that’s bull” your mind will likely fill in the missing implied word. In ancient times the king of the gods, El, was known as “bull El”—probably for a very different reason than the veiled scatologica... [art] [Current Events] [Deities] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Ugarit] [Bowling Green Park] [Bull El] [Charging Bull] [Fearless Girl] [Grounds for Sculpture] [International Women's Day] [New York City]

June 4, 3AM

Seminary in the 1980s was a time of endless debate. Some of my classmates at Boston University School of Theology thought me too conservative—I’d made progress from my Fundamentalist days, but these things wear off slowly. Part of the issue, however... [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Boston University School of Theology] [Gender] [German] [girl] [intersex] [man] [Mark Twain]

June 3, 5AM

Public versus private has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Partially it’s because I’ve been reading about magical beliefs and their persistence. It always amazes me how publicly we declare ourselves rational and uninfluenced by the supernatural. ... [Consciousness] [evolution] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [confirmation bias] [Hex Hollow] [magic] [pennsylvania] [psychics] [Roadtrippers] [witches]

June 2, 3AM

Ecclesiastes, I used to tell my students, is one of the most unusual books of the Bible. And that’s saying something. When we think of the Good Book we think of pious thoughts and lofty feelings—you know, the white-shirt, evangelical sort. The Bible, ... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Ecclesiastes] [environmentalism] [evangelicalism] [global warming] [Trump Administration]

June 1, 1AM

Re-reading books is something I do somewhat too infrequently. One of the obvious reasons is that I won’t possibly finish everything I want to read in my lifetime as it is, and once something’s in the vault I tend to move on. I keep books, however, bec... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [feminism] [literature] [Posts] [science] [environmentalism] [global warming] [Rachel Carson] [re-reading] [The Sea Around Us]

May 31, 1AM

In the early days of publishing, type was set by hand. Individual letters, inserted backward onto plates, were used for printing the positive of a page. Printers could make as many pages as desired, but once the letters were released, it was time-consum... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [publishing] [Social Consciousness] [computer programming] [Josh O’Connor] [stereotyping] [timeline] [Trump Administration]

May 30, 1AM

Prophets, mothers, messiahs. A new religion for a new world. While these may not be main themes of Robert Repino’s new novel D’Arc, they’re clearly there in the background offering verisimilitude to a world turned upside down. Continuing the dieg... [Animals] [Books] [environment] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Culdesac] [D’Arc] [global warming] [meaning] [Mort(e)] [Robert Repino] [Tolerance]

May 29, 3AM

A few years back we made a trip to Ellis Island. This is a common field trip here in New Jersey, although none of my immediate family passed through this portal. The most recent immigrants in my own heritage seem to have arrived by the early 1800s. In ... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Ellis Island] [Fundamentalism] [Harrell Beck] [Human Brain] [mental illness] [Mike McRae] [Science Alert]

May 28, 5AM

Like many people, I’ve been re-reading 1984 and wondering what’s going on in a country I thought I knew. With clear evidence of wrong-doing on the part of the chief executive, Republicans have been closing ranks to ensure that bullies rule the pl... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1984] [freedom of the press] [GOP] [Greg Gianforte] [MAD] [Montana] [propaganda] [Republican Party]

May 27, 3AM

While reading about Jerusalem lately, I recalled my first visit to the Wailing Wall. The Wailing Wall is the only standing part left of the temple that Herod the Great refurbished on the site of the temple originally built during Solomon’s reign, destr... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Herod the Great] [Jerusalem] [Judaism] [Tel Dor] [Wailing Wall] [Western Wall]

May 26, 3AM

This might take some thought, but please bear with me. I’ve been reading about how some scientists are eager to promote rationality only as the true understanding of the universe. The flaws in this logic are immense. The greatest gaff here is assumin... [Animals] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [animal intelligence] [hive mind] [Pleiades] [rationality] [science and religion]

May 25, 2AM

America’s book is seldom read. Those of us who spend an unusual amount of time with the Bible know this from personal experience, but others are starting to notice too. Kenneth A. Briggs’ The Invisible Bestseller: Searching for the Bible in America ... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Sects] [American religion] [Iconic book] [Kenneth A. Briggs] [sermon on the mount] [The Invisible Bestseller: Searching for the Bible in America]

May 24, 1AM

Fox recently announced that, after four seasons, Sleepy Hollow is being cancelled. The news, while not unexpected, is still disappointing. The initial success of the series caught just about everybody by surprise. Intelligent, witty, and literate, this... [Bible] [Current Events] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [apocalypse] [Fox] [Moloch] [Pandora] [Revelation] [Sleepy Hollow]

May 23, 1AM

If your outlook contains the word “supremacy,” I would humbly suggest, it’s time to rethink your philosophy. Borne of a deep insecurity—or overweening pride, which may be the same thing—the idea that one characteristic of this complexity we kno... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Greed] [pride] [seven deadly sins] [Supremacist Groups] [white supremacy]

May 22, 2AM

There’s nothing like going back to the classics. Many people don’t realize that one of the best-selling books of the nineteenth century was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It has never been out of print. As a novel it has its issues, but the tale st... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [classics] [Frankenstein] [Mary Shelley]

May 21, 4AM

It’s pretty difficult to summarize the feelings when watching your own child graduate from college. Of course, she’s not a child any more, but that’s always the way you’ll think of her. Binghamton University, a “public ivy,” is a competitive... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Binghamton University] [commencement] [graduation] [science and religion] [Watson School of Engineering]

May 20, 1AM

The divide between religion and science is often artificially widened by one side or the other. Of course the divide’s artificial—both science and religion are human constructs, after all. This is illustrated well in the sense of wonder in an articl... [Bible] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Anthropology] [IFL Science!] [oral tradition] [religion and science] [Robin Andrews] [True Story Of Volcanic Eruption Told By Aboriginal People For 7000 Years]

May 19, 2AM

Have you ever wondered where your Bible came from? No, I mean physically. There are many possible answers to such a query, so the other day I was searching for Bible printers on the web. A great many Bibles are printed by Royal Jongbloed, in the Nether... [Bible] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [science] [Netherlands] [Reformation] [Royal Jongbloed] [science and Bible] [Trump Administration]

May 18, 2AM

It once seemed improbable that an entire book could be written on one word. The first time I noticed this I was a doctoral student who’d run across the late William Holladay’s published dissertation on the Hebrew word shuv. Wow, I thought, an entire... [Books] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Allan Metcalf] [I’m Okay—You’re Okay] [James Pyle’s O.K. Soap] [OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word] [purity] [religious tolerance] [William Holladay]

May 17, 1AM

Looking at the headlines it’s sometimes difficult to believe we’ve evolved. I still trust evidence-based science, despite official government policy, however. So when a friend sent me a story about a new human cousin I knew it was worth a look. Hom... [Archaeology] [Bible] [creationism] [Current Events] [evolution] [Genesis] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Sects] [burial] [Homo naledi] [Homo sapiens] [Neanderthal] [science and Bible] [The Atlantic]

May 16, 1AM

Lots of people write for lots of reasons. Some love it. Some hate it. Some can’t help themselves. For those who know me primarily through this blog, it may not be obvious which of these sorts I am. After having read Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing: ... [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [publishing] [Dani Shapiro] [Introverts] [publication] [Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life] [Writing]

May 15, 1AM

Irony is a national resource that’s in abundant supply. Those who inadvertently create it may be the least equipped to appreciate it, but that’s ironic, isn’t it? Time magazine used to be considered conservative. That was before the days when tel... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [GOP] [Is God Dead?] [Is Truth Dead?] [Republican Party] [Time Magazine] [Trump Administration]

May 14, 4AM

Washington’s war on women has made this Mother’s Day especially poignant. As hard as it is to believe, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell had mothers. I can’t comprehend any male being anything but grateful and humble in a woman’s presence. Don’t ... [Current Events] [feminism] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [equality] [Mitch McConnell] [mother's day] [Paul Ryan] [self-sacrifice]

May 13, 4AM

When I walked out of that dissertation defense, still a little unsure whether I’d passed or not, I thought my testing days were over. My early memories of struggling with exams—I wrote that a sphere was a kind of weapon on one vocabulary test I recal... [Animals] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [animal intelligence] [bowerbirds] [Elephants] [GOP] [politicians] [The Independent]

May 12, 2AM

Sidelines can be interesting places to sit. You’re close to the action, and you’re privileged with a close view that few others have. You can’t, however, play the game. Sidelines are familiar to biblical scholars. I can’t count... [Bible] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Biblical Studies] [Christianity] [Higher Eduction] [Trump Administration]

May 11, 2AM

There aren’t too many people that I consider personal heroes. Those that I do have earned the sobriquet in odd ways, I suppose. That makes them no less deserving. Rachel Carson became a hero because of The Sea Around Us. Published over a decade befo... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [feminism] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [and the Rise of the Environmental Movement] [environmentalism] [Mark Hamilton Lytle] [Rachel Carson] [science and religion] [Silent Spring] [The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson] [The Sea Around Us]

May 10, 2AM

Paula Cocozza, writing for The Guardian, describes “How E-books Lost Their Shine.” Like most inveterate readers, she says she has stacks of books growing like mushrooms after a summer rain, in her bedroom. I was working in the publishing industry (I... [Books] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [publishing] [e-books] [Hunterdon County Library Book Sale] [kindle] [library] [Paula Cocozza] [The Guardian] [Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory]

May 9, 1AM

Those who study the Bible have to reckon with the fact that someone else probably said it first. This is one of the inherent liabilities of studying something a couple thousand years old. Still, scholars have to keep their jobs, and so they come up with... [Bible] [Books] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Caroline Vander Stichele] [Close Encounters between Bible and Film: An Interdisciplinary Engagement] [Laura Copier]

May 8, 2AM

Good writing is hard work. One of the mixed blessings of the internet is that it makes publication so easy. Get yourself a blog and nobody has to approve anything! Ideas come tripping across your fingers onto some electronic substrate and, viola! You&... [Books] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [publishing] [blogging] [internet] [painting] [rock tumbler] [Tom Sawyer] [Writing]

May 7, 4AM

Göbekli Tepe, apart from being impossible to pronounce correctly, is a site of embarrassment to historians. First of all, this archaeological site in Turkey is too old. Abandoned around 9000 BCE—some 5000 years before the Sumerians show up with their... [Archaeology] [Egypt] [Posts] [science] [comet] [empirical method] [Gobekli Tepe] [Great Pyramid of Khufu] [New Scientist] [pyramids] [Stonehenge]

May 6, 3AM

With all the petitions going around I’m getting a bit dizzy. I won’t go to the doctor though, since I think Trump may be a pre-existing condition. In any case, seeing all these petitions gives me an idea for one of my own. I suggest a petition that... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Congress] [ethics] [Health Care] [medical outlooks] [petitions] [plutocracy] [prejudice] [Trump care]

May 5, 2AM

io9 is a progressive website. Its futuristic stories delight and entertain. When a friend sent me a story on io9 titled “New Fan Theory Asks the Obvious Question: Is Wall-E Satan?” I had to read. Then wonder. People know so little about the Bible.... [Bible] [Genesis] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Cain and Abel] [Eve] [IO9] [Katharine Trendacosta] [original sin] [Revelation] [Satan] [The Devil] [The Fall] [Wall-E]

May 4, 2AM

In the interest of avoiding conflict thereof, I cannot yet give a review of Randall Balmer’s Evangelicalism in America. Since I’m writing a review of it for Reading Religion, I’ll use it as a springboard into a topic that should concern all who bel... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [abortion] [Bob Jones University] [evangelicalism] [Evangelicalism in America] [Politics and Religion] [Randall Balmer] [Reading Religion] [religious freedom] [Religious Right] [social gospel]

May 3, 1AM

The other day I was awakened by a severe thunderstorm. It’s been quite a while since that’s happened. Unlike when we lived in the Midwest, thunderstorms in New Jersey tend to be widely scattered and somewhat uncommon. (It’s all a matter of perspe... [Books] [environment] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [publishing] [Sects] [Weather] [Beethoven] [daily office] [Nashotah House] [New Jersey] [thunderstorm] [Weathering the Psalms]

May 2, 1AM

We all know the type. The guy who brags that he can do something complex without all the study and “hard work” (scare quotes theirs) necessary beforehand. When he starts strutting his stuff, and realizes that it is much harder than he thought, he ha... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [45] [braggarts] [expertise] [nuclear weapons] [politics] [presidency] [Twitter]

May 1, 1AM

Every once in a while I take a chance and write about music. I don’t do this too often since it’s a very personal thing, and as open as I may be on this blog, I’m not as accessible as I seem. We all need a place to retreat in this world, and Bruce... [Books] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Social Consciousness] [autobiography] [Born to Run] [Bruce Springsteen] [depression] [Memoir] [music]

April 30, 4AM

How do we know what’s true? For many the answer is what your experience reveals. If that experience involves being raised as a Bible-believer, that complicates things. A friend recently sent me a New York Times piece entitled “The Evangelical Roots... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [science] [Fundamentalism] [Inerrancy] [Molly Worthen] [New York Times] [science and religion] [truth]

April 29, 5AM

Many modern mini-holidays are centered around things you might buy. I don’t mind that so much in the case of Independent Bookstore Day—of which I wish you a happy one. Quite by accident I found myself in an independent bookstore just last night, not... [Books] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [publishing] [Social Consciousness] [Borders] [civilization] [Independent Bookstore Day] [independent bookstores] [literacy]

April 28, 2AM

I read quite a bit about animals. One reason is that when you’re counting all the species on the planet we’re pretty clearly among the animal part. Having grown up with many pets, the dogs particularly stand out. We tended to have only one dog at a... [Animals] [Books] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [A Dog’s Purpose] [animal emotions] [animal intelligence] [karma] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge] [reincarnation] [W. Bruce Cameron]

April 27, 1AM

Here’s another post originating from my daily work as an editor. (As an editor you tend to assume nobody’s really interested in what you do all day, but I’ve been told this isn’t so.) What is copyright? And do I have it? First of all, a caveat... [Books] [literature] [Posts] [publishing] [1922] [book contract] [copyright] [editor] [fair use doctrine] [intellectual property] [permissions]

April 26, 1AM

Skeptics can be so much fun. We really do need them, otherwise we’d likely still be living with notions of medical science being attributed to four humors, none of which were that funny. Still, sometimes it gets tiresome to read endless references tha... [Consciousness] [Posts] [science] [body and soul] [Occam's Razor] [philosophy] [science and religion] [William of Ockham]

April 25, 1AM

As a novel, like its monster, Frankenstein trespasses all kinds of boundaries. Is it science fiction or horror? Is it Gothic or presciently modern? Is it feminist or conventional? One thing about it is certain: it has been immensely influential. Lest... [Books] [literature] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Allison B. Kavey] [Frankenstein] [Frankenstein's monster] [horror films] [Lester D. Friedman] [Mary Shelley] [Monstrous Progeny: A History of the Frankenstein Narratives] [science and religion] [Universal Studios]

April 24, 1AM

A few thoughts about the March for Science in Manhattan over the weekend seem to be in order. To get to the rally in time, from our little corner of New Jersey, we found ourselves on an early train. We arrived at 62nd Street and Central Park West to dis... [Current Events] [environment] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Manhattan] [Prayer] [science and religion] [Science March] [Scientific method] [Trump Tower]

April 23, 3AM

In times of distress, as well as of joy, I turn to books. Since about November there have been more of the former than the latter, so I’m cheered that today is World Book Day. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has de... [Books] [Current Events] [Holidays] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [literacy] [Scientific and Cultural Organization] [United Nations] [United Nations Educational] [World Book Day]

April 22, 2AM

They used to call her “Mother Earth.” Now she’s simply a commodity to be liquidated into cash at the country club where rich white men play. That’s why I’m spending Earth Day on my third protest march of the year. Of all the things the Republ... [Current Events] [environment] [Holidays] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Earth Day] [environmentalism] [New York City] [Republican Party] [Science March] [Trump Administration]

April 21, 2AM

Like most kids in America I grew up with some form of Disney. We couldn’t afford to see many movies, but those we could often originated from the acknowledged master of childhood viewing. When I became a parent I naturally turned to Disney as one of t... [cartoons] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Archangel Michael] [Beauty and the Beast] [Disney] [Dragon]

April 20, 2AM

Like most awkwardly shy children, I used to collect stamps. Even today a bright one will catch my attention although it’s been years since I actively sought them in a household not really important enough to receive much more than bills. To make up fo... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1885] [Hobby Lobby] [Introverts] [liberty] [philatelist] [stamp collecting] [supreme court]

April 19, 2AM

Salem, Massachusetts, brings to mind images of intolerance and a culture ossified in superstition. That’s not really fair, of course. Even in the late seventeenth century the people of Salem were living during the Enlightenment and they understood eno... [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Connecticut] [Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692] [Kate Branch] [Massachusetts] [Puritans] [Richard Godbeer] [Salem] [Stamford] [Washington DC] [witchcraft]

April 18, 1AM

From time to time I’ve good-naturedly poked fun at the Watch Tower Society members who used to visit with some frequency. I don’t belittle anyone’s belief system, however. Believers of any faith are generally sincere and certainly entitled to foll... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Amanda Erickson] [Jehovah's Witnesses] [John Cale] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [New Jersey Transit] [New Religious Movement] [pacifism] [Port Authority Bus Terminal] [Russia] [The Washington Post] [Watch Tower Society]

April 17, 2AM

Nobody likes to have their shortcomings pointed out. I suspect that’s why many people might find Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters a little uncomfortable. Nichols doesn’t pull any pu... [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [alternative facts] [C. S. Lewis] [internet] [Jeopardy] [Know Nothing Party] [The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters] [the screwtape letters] [Tom Nichols]

April 16, 4AM

Although today is Easter for some, for many it generally isn’t. And I don’t mean just those who follow faiths outside Christianity. One of the hallmarks of religions is their tendency to fragment like a sugar egg under Thor’s hammer. Christians h... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christianities] [Easter] [Gregorian calendar] [Julian calendar] [Mitch McConnell] [religious holidays]

April 15, 3AM

One-hundred-five years ago today, one of modernity’s great achievements sank alone in the icy waters of the chilled North Atlantic. While the ultimate cause of Titanic’s demise may have been an iceberg, the proximate cause was surely much more common... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Chris Christie] [New Jersey Transit] [New York City] [Penn Station] [Titanic] [Trump Administration] [United Airlines]

April 14, 1AM

Long before the Walking Dead, and even before Twilight or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, people took the undead seriously. Now, I know ratings are important (they attract advertisers and their money, after all), but when the fear is reality the stakes are upp... [Archaeology] [Britannia] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Buffy the Vampire Slayer] [Easter] [guardian] [Maev Kennedy] [Medieval Period] [resurrection] [Twilight] [Walking Dead]

April 13, 2AM

The other day I heard someone use the phrase, “preaching to the converted.” I’ve read enough anthropology to know that regional variations on folk sayings exist, but I’ve always heard this as “preaching to the choir.” What’s the difference... [Britannia] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Anthropology] [Christianity] [church choir] [Preaching] [preaching to the choir] [preaching to the converted]

April 12, 2AM

I recently had the opportunity to discuss publishing to a room full of academics. (Ooo, I can feel the envy rising already!) Although I discuss books quite frequently on this blog, I generally don’t discuss publishing much. One of the reasons is that... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [academic publishing] [administration] [commissioning editor] [how to get published] [Michael Corleone] [The Godfather]

April 11, 1AM

Maybe you’ve noticed it too. While certainly not universal, many forms of Gothic cultural expression (novels, movies, television, etc.) have a playfulness to them. As if taking the genre too seriously might be a misrepresentation. Even Edgar Allan Po... [Books] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [and the Rise of the Happy Goth] [Anglo-Catholic] [Catherine Spooner] [Edgar Allan Poe] [Goth] [Gothic] [Medieval Church] [Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy] [romance] [Steampunk] [Tolerance]

April 10, 1AM

Religion and folklore encapsulate what folk believe. Human beings, despite rationality, are ritualistic creatures. Psychologists have their work cut out trying to explain why we do this or that odd thing, and historians sometimes dig deep into the backs... [Britannia] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Andrew Taylor] [Burryman] [Edinburgh] [folklore] [ghost story] [Great Big Story] [Mylne’s Court] [paganism] [Scotland] [South Queensferry]

April 9, 4AM

“Holy Week” affects only some. That thought may be disturbing to those who still think of religions as a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. So, although today is Palm Sunday for many, for others it’s just Sunday. Not even all Christians recognize the ... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [evolution] [higher education] [Holidays] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [holy week] [nones] [Palm Sunday] [religious tolerance]

April 8, 3AM

The weather which we’re having, showing the impact of imaginary global warming, has been quite dramatic of late. I recently had occasion to be out driving during one of the more intense weather events when the sun broke through only to reveal an impres... [Bible] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [misogyny] [Pollyanna Jones] [Trump Administration] [Witch Hunters] [witches]

April 7, 2AM

One of the reasons I accept reading challenges is that they take you places you otherwise wouldn’t go. Not all the books I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 challenge make it onto this blog (to find the full list you need to see what I post on Goodre... [Books] [Deities] [environment] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Boy Detective] [Goodreads] [J. Bradley] [jesus christ] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge] [Theodicy]

April 6, 2AM

Government by Twitter is such a trendy thing. I’ve got a Twitter account and I can’t keep up with it most of the time. I wonder how anyone has time to get off the golf course long enough to let the thumbs fly these days. I got an article in my inbo... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [fbi] [James Comey] [public intellectual] [Reinhold Niebuhr] [socialism] [Twitter]

April 5, 2AM

It might seem superfluous to be reading about pirates when such serious issues face us these days, but my answer to most of life’s problems is to look at the history. Besides, like many people in the early new millennium I was swept into the swashbuckl... [Books] [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Captain Hook] [Henry Every] [Johnny Depp] [Long John Silver] [Neil Rennie] [Pirates of the Caribbean] [Treasure Neverland: Real and Imaginary Pirates]

April 4, 1AM

Reading Orwellian headlines on a daily basis can wear you down. Think about it—we know because of the endless obfuscation that the Trump administration has deep entanglements with Russia. We know that Russians tried to sway the election toward Trump. ... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [fascism] [George Orwell] [Great Depression] [Great War] [Nashotah House] [Russia]

April 3, 1AM

We’ve had a lot of rain lately. One rainy night over this past weekend I talked my wife into watching Dracula with me. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen this classic myself. Difficult to believe that it was ever scary. This is the film that ... [Bible] [higher education] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Weather] [American Academy of Religion] [Dracula] [horror movies] [Leviticus] [Monsters and Monster Theory] [vampires]

April 2, 2AM

Maybe the universe isn’t expanding, maybe it’s growing. Always tinged with a healthy dose of pantheism, I’ve often opined to those who will listen that life might be more than animals and plants and microorganisms. But then again, I don’t have t... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Jeremy England] [Meghan Walsh] [pantheism] [physics] [science and religion] [Thomas Nagel]

April 1, 4AM

Photo credit: Richard from Canton, Wikipedia Commons Speaking of theodicy, I have a dentist appointment today. Now, if you were raised with the Protestant guilt that used to be so pervasive in this nation, you’ll understand. I do brush my teeth twice ... [Current Events] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Archaeology] [dentist] [Edinburgh] [Neanderthal] [protestantism] [Theodicy]

March 31, 2AM

Intellectual property is a concept that only arises where thought can be monetized. Think about that. (But don’t charge me, please!) It is a strange idea, when you ponder it. In any case, one of the problems with writing book reviews is that the rev... [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Book Reviews] [Early Modern Women and the Problem of Evil: Atrocity & Theodicy] [Jill Graper Hernandez] [Nashotah House] [philosophy] [Theodicy]

March 30, 2AM

Beowulf, from Wikimedia Commons. Slaying dragons is costly. In much of the western hemisphere the ultimate metaphor for the perils that await humanity in a world imperfectly understood, dragons were the bane of the medieval imagination. And earlier. Dr... [Bible] [Books] [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [literature] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Atlantic magazine] [Beowulf] [Christianity] [Dragon] [Gilgamesh] [Grendel] [James Parker] [Reception History]

March 29, 2AM

While reading about Cyrus Scofield recently—and that book has stayed on and played with my mind for some reason—I ran across the conferences that he held in preparing his famous reference Bible. Although he claimed the sobriquet “Doctor,” placing... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Cyrus Scofield] [Fundamentalism] [Grove City College] [King James Version] [pennsylvania] [Ryrie Study Bible] [Scofield Reference Bible]

March 28, 2AM

Academics and social media are, at times, an uneasy fit. In my work as an editor I come across many of the professorate who have virtually no web presence at all. If you’re wanting to write a book these days and you aren’t yet famous, you need what ... [Asherah] [Deities] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Academia.edu] [Edinburgh] [editor] [Pornography] [social media]

March 27, 1AM

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the ancient documents still widely recognized, at least by name. Many introductions to literature, or the western canon, refer to it. It is, in some senses of the phrase, the world’s first classic. I’ve read Gilgames... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [literature] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [ARAM] [Epic of Gilgamesh] [Maureen Gallery Kovacs] [Syria] [Utnapishtim]

March 26, 3AM

I recently sat through Sexual Harassment Prevention training. Not because of anything I’ve done, mind you, but because organizations have long realized that if training isn’t mandated, lawyers are ready to pounce when someone does do something illega... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [immutable characteristics] [protected category] [sexual harassment] [Sexual Harassment Prevention Training] [Trump Administration]

March 25, 3AM

One of the hidden benefits of the coming societal collapse is the chance for the resurgence of print books. Since I’ve spent most of my life surrounding myself with volumes thick and thin, dense and light, I’ll have plenty to read between bouts of sk... [Books] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Sects] [Amazon] [Atlas Obscura] [Libraries] [monks] [Sarah Laskow] [The Name of the Rose]

March 24, 2AM

I fear anyone named Ronald. Being named’s something a kid can’t help, I know, but associations run deep and irrational fears are the flavor of the day. When a friend sent me a link to the original Ronald McDonald clown concept, I had to look. Now, ... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [clowns] [Clowns for Christ] [Godspell] [Jesus Christ Superstar] [McDonalds] [Ronald McDonald] [tertullian]

March 23, 1AM

For a man as amazingly influential as he was, Cyrus I. Scofield hasn’t been the object of much curiosity. In the venerable academic tradition of ignoring those you disagree with, serious scholars dismiss Scofield as some kind of evangelical aberration,... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Cyrus I. Scofield] [Joseph M. Canfield] [Plymouth Brethren] [Scofield Reference Bible] [The Incredible Scofield and His Book] [the Rapture]

March 22, 1AM

In an early episode of The Simpsons Marge is commissioned to paint a portrait of Montgomery Burns. Angry with him because of his constant treatment of others as beneath him and his glib superiority granted by wealth, she paints him old and feeble, naked ... [Archaeology] [cartoons] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Mesopotamia] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Archaeodeath] [Cyrus the Great] [Donald Trump] [Marge Simpson] [Montgomery Burns] [Professor Howard M. R. Williams] [Sleepy Hollow] [The Simpsons] [Washington Irving]

March 21, 1AM

What does it mean to be human? The answer’s not as straightforward as it might seem. Reading Robert Repino’s Culdesac, that question came back to me time and again. This novella takes off from the story of Mort(e), about which I blogged shortly aft... [Animals] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [animal rights] [Culdesac] [education] [Mort(e)] [Robert Repino] [Trump Administration]

March 20, 1AM

I sign a lot of petitions. That’s because the job of prophet doesn’t pay well enough to support a family any more. What it does mean is that I get a lot of emails from causes looking for supporters. I don’t sign blindly. That was brought home to... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Biblical prophecy] [fake news] [Moby Dick] [Neil Gorsuch] [Politics and Religion] [Prophets] [Trump Administration]

March 19, 2AM

Reading about Jesus is an occupational expectation for an editor of biblical studies. Not that this is anything new for someone who grew up thinking of him constantly. One of the issues often raised about the son of Mary and Joseph is what he did during... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christmas] [historical Jesus] [Jesus of Nazareth] [Lent] [single parents]

March 18, 2AM

Labels give us the information we need to enact our prejudices immediately. Having been on the receiving end of great cruelty by “conservatives,” for example, I’m immediately cautious of anyone bearing that brand. A strange confession, perhaps, fr... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [11/9] [Cabaret] [Conservative] [fascism] [Grove City College] [Nazis] [Trump Administration]

March 17, 2AM

I believe it was C. S. Lewis who wrote that in reading autobiographies he always found the earliest years the most interesting.. In my experience the same applies to biographies; what made the person famous enough to merit a biography—auto or not—sta... [Books] [literature] [Posts] [Alice in Wonderland] [Alice Liddell] [Charles Dodgson] [Lewis Carroll] [Simon Winchester] [The Alice behind Wonderland] [Through the Looking-Glass]

March 16, 1AM

The Bible can lead you astray sometimes. Don’t worry, it’s unintentional, I’m sure. It has less to do with the Bible itself than with the way it was compiled. Any book written over centuries by different people is bound to show some inconsistenci... [Bible] [Books] [Consciousness] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [and Early Modern Judaism] [Between Worlds: Dybbuks] [dybbuk] [exorcists] [gehenna] [Gehinnom] [heaven] [hell] [J. H. Chajes] [Purgatory] [reincarnation] [sheol] [The Possession]

March 15, 1AM

A friend recently sent me a story from Anonymous titled “Why Did The Vatican Remove 14 Books From The Bible in 1684?” This piece reminded me of just how rampant biblical illiteracy is in this Bible-worshiping culture. To begin with the obvious, Roma... [Bible] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [anonymous] [Coverdale Bible] [Journal of Religion and Popular Culture] [King James Version] [Lesser Key of Solomon] [protestantism] [Roman Catholicism] [Vatican] [Wisdom of Solomon]

March 14, 1AM

The dangers of prognostication were well known in antiquity. Most prophets, who didn’t so much tell the future as warn about probable outcomes, weren’t the most popular of people. They knew that feeling of walking into a crowded room and announcing ... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Weather] [11/9] [Nor'easter] [prediction] [Prophets] [Weathering the Psalms]

March 13, 1AM

I like a good neologism as much as the next guy. Oxford English Dictionaries recently released a covey of new words added to the famed lexicon. Most of them, it seemed to me, had to do with dangers of technology, like “drunk text” and such fare. St... [Britannia] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [BBC] [champing] [dreams] [incubation ritual] [Jumonville] [United Methodist Church]

March 12, 3AM

“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound,” the old hymn goes, “and time shall be no more…” Before Trump’s election I always supposed this might have something to do with the useless ritual of setting our clocks ahead. Apart from the fact th... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Candlemas] [candles] [Daylight Saving Time] [Dylan Thomas] [ritual]

March 11, 5AM

Ames, Iowa is famous for many things. Not only is it where my wife grew up and where we were married, but it’s also the home city of Howard Bannister from What’s Up Doc? and it served as the staging ground for the crew of Twister, which includes some... [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Binghamton University] [Elizabeth Tucker] [Ghostbusters] [ghosts] [Grove City College] [Iowa State University] [Twister] [What's Up Doc?]

March 10, 3AM

One thing we can say about the misguided leadership of this country is that they’re taking the Bible seriously. As the Republicans roll out a “healthcare” plan that would leave the elderly and poor at the mercy of the rich—known for their compass... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [jesus] [Kenny Rogers] [Obamacare] [plutocracy] [Republican Party] [second coming] [Trumpcare]

March 9, 2AM

Although most of us can recognize it on sight, we have a difficult time defining religion. In the early parts of Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals, John C. Lyden discusses this lack of definition and offers some broad categorizations since his... [Books] [civil religion] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [and Rituals] [Film as Religion: Myths] [Genre] [John C. Lyden] [Monotheism] [morals]

March 8, 2AM

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude but I just had to laugh. A friend sent me an article from Science Alert titled “A Physicist Just Explained Why the Large Hadron Collider Disproves the Existence of Ghosts.” Intrigued, I read, “there’s ... [Animals] [astronomy] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [ghosts] [Large Hadron Collider] [Materialism] [Science Alert] [science and religion]

March 7, 2AM

Selfishness goes by many names. One of the strangest is “Christianity.” I wouldn’t presume to define a religion, but some time back my wife sent me a story about the prosperity gospel. Written by Michael Horton, himself an evangelical, the pre-gr... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Psalms] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [evangelicalism] [heresy] [Michael Horton] [prosperity Gospel] [Psalm 82] [selfishness] [The Washington Post]

March 6, 2AM

To those raised in the Christian tradition incarnation is a familiar concept. The idea, more complex than it sounds, is that God becomes human. In a world of DNA and general disbelief in anything non-physical, it boggles the mind how disincarnate “mat... [Animals] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Sects] [burial] [excarnation] [Hinduism] [incarnation] [Judaism] [Vintage News] [Zarathustra] [zoroastrianism]

March 5, 5AM

Have you ever bitten into a piece of rotten fruit? I suspect most of us have had the unpleasant experience. From the outside the apple looks fine but that first bite sinks into a brown and corrupt interior that turns your stomach. There’s no rehabili... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [evangelicalism] [fruit] [Jeff Sessions] [Russia] [Steve Bannon]

March 4, 3AM

You know things are bad when another president who couldn’t win the popular vote criticizes you. Don’t get me wrong—criticism is good. In my academic existence (on life-support for over a decade now) I’ve received plenty. The point is you can... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Bible and politics] [biblical criticism] [Donald Trump] [Politics and Religion]

March 3, 2AM

Among religious studies scholars “cult,” in the popular sense, is a swear word. Professionals in the field don’t use it because it implies that a belief system—usually modern—is somehow less important than an established religious tradition. I... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Cult] [David Koresh] [Donald Trump] [GQ] [Jim Jones] [Marshall Applewhite] [New Religious Movements] [Rebecca Nelson] [Rick Alan Ross]

March 2, 2AM

Although I’ve not formally studied it, Buddhism has long been part of my thought process. Like Thomas Merton—and this may be the only point of comparison between us—I find little difference between the contemplative worlds of Buddhism and Christian... [Books] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [buddhism] [Dalai Lama] [David R. Loy] [Narrative] [Nashotah House] [The Beatles] [The World Is Made of Stories] [Thomas Merton] [Yoga]

March 1, 2AM

The drama of acquiring Adele Reinhartz’s Bible and Cinema: An Introduction almost overshadows the joy of reading it at last. Back in my teaching days I realized that in very long class sessions (some went for four hours at Rutgers) students needed a br... [Bible] [Books] [higher education] [movies] [Posts] [Adele Reinhartz] [Amazon] [Bible and Cinema: An Introduction] [Routledge] [Rutgers University]

February 28, 2AM

Erich Fromm once defined evil as “attraction to what is dead, decaying, lifeless, and purely mechanical.” Certainly Fromm doesn’t hold the cachet he once did, but this way of thinking about evil has stuck with me. It’s not so much the dead, deca... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Erich Fromm] [ethics] [evil] [fake news] [humanism] [Mathematics] [morality]

February 27, 2AM

Horror movies are, of course, more than escapism. Although it’s taken many years academics are starting to pay some attention to them. Because of a conversation with a colleague this past week I felt compelled to watch The Omen again. The current pol... [Bible] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [1984] [Book of Revelation] [Damien] [Devil] [dispensationalism] [horror movies] [Republican Party] [Steve Bannon] [The Omen]

February 26, 5AM

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a dude! What what is it? It’s actually a cloud. I enjoy the entries on Mysterious Universe, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. It seems like decades since I laid down on the ground and looked at the c... [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [science] [Weather] [clouds] [global warming] [jesus] [Mysterious Universe] [pareidolia] [water]

February 25, 5AM

Apartment dwellers often ponder new neighbors. If anything gives the lie to being in control of your own destiny, renting your domicile does. Still using the old, aristocratic terms landlord or landlady, we know that we are under someone else’s author... [astronomy] [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [aliens] [carl sagan] [Contact] [extraterrestrial] [fascism] [landlady] [landlord] [new planets] [outer space] [rent] [Roswell]

February 24, 2AM

The problem with monsters is that they’re not easily reduced to a lowest common denominator. This becomes clear in an article about the under explored (from a western perspective) monsters of Australia. Christine Judith Nicholls, in “‘Dreamings’... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [literature] [Monsters] [Posts] [aboriginal culture] [Australia] [Christine Judith Nicholls] [Dreamtime] [indigenous religion] [Richard Lea] [The Guardian]

February 23, 2AM

One might be excused for thinking so much about the Devil these days. Displays of lies and evil intentions are on pretty obvious display at the highest levels. Indeed, the current political situation has me reassessing my skepticism about the Antichrist... [Bible] [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [Monsters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Antichrist] [evil] [Greek thought] [Jeffrey Burton Russell] [Satan] [The Devil] [The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity] [zoroastrianism]

February 22, 2AM

The Book of Jubilees. 1 Enoch. It’s been years since I’ve read these “apocryphal” books. I’m thinking about them today because of the concept of canon. If you’re like me—and I sincerely hope you’re not—you never heard the word “can... [Bible] [higher education] [Posts] [Sects] [1 Enoch] [Deutero-canonical books] [Ethiopia] [Ethiopic Orthodox] [Jubilees] [Tewahedo] [the Apocrypha]

February 21, 2AM

Celebrating the New Year in the middle of winter is a strange idea, at first glance. As I have discussed before, January 1 is “Circumcision-style New Year,” based on the projected date of Jesus’ circumcision after the church had settled on December... [Animals] [Bible] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Sects] [Chinese New Year] [circumcision] [lunar calendar] [Passover] [Winter solstice] [Year of the Rooster]

February 20, 2AM

I was traveling abroad with a friend. We’d just arrived back in the United States and were making our way through customs. Since he was from another country we were separated. The border agent told me I couldn’t come back into the country unless I ... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [11/9] [Ash Wednesday] [Brexit] [Bruce Springsteen] [electoral college] [President’s Day] [U2]

February 19, 4AM

I was a teen-age religion major. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but I did start college at 19 and, being a first generation matriculant, had no idea about majors. No idea about colleges either. The school you choose stays with you for your life—espec... [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Boston University School of Theology] [Grove City College] [religious conservatism] [United Methodist Church]

February 18, 4AM

Scribbling. All it takes is a margin of an agenda paper or the back of an envelope. I don’t remember when I started doing it—I’ve been writing my own blend of fiction, facts, and philosophy since I was in elementary school—but I would find a rel... [Just for Fun] [literature] [Posts] [Atlas Obscura] [Cara Giaimo] [commonplace book] [Lemony Snicket] [Moleskines] [Series of Unfortunate Events] [zibaldone]

February 17, 2AM

Arthur Rackham – “How at the Castle of Corbin a Maiden Bare in the Sangreal and Foretold the Achievements of Galahad,” Wikimedia Commons We’re all grail hunters. It doesn’t matter what religion, if any, you claim. We want to find t... [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Atlas Obscura] [Bible] [Bran] [Celtic Mythology] [holy grail] [King Arthur] [Meg Neal] [Passover seder]

February 16, 2AM

Edward J. Ingebretsen is one of the most intelligent analysts of monsters about. That may seem like a small order, but it’s not—many people write about monsters, and Ingebretsen is one to whom attention is owed. At Stake: Monsters and the Rhetoric o... [Books] [Current Events] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [At Stake: Monsters and the Rhetoric of Fear in Popular Culture] [Edward J. Ingebretsen] [Jeffrey Dahmer] [Matthew Shepard] [Susan Smith]

February 15, 2AM

Investigating a new field, at least on an academic level, involves a little disorientation. Part of this derives from the fact that academics didn’t use to write about monsters. Another part of it, however, is that those who do such writing have been ... [Books] [Current Events] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Golem] [Golem: Modern Wars and Their Monsters] [Judaism] [Maya Barzilai] [pogroms] [War]

February 14, 2AM

Horror movies provide a strange consolation at times such as this. When evil has overtaken democracy, it’s almost like strategy, watching how fictional characters deal with things that are wrong, things that are too close to real life. The Lazarus Eff... [Bible] [Current Events] [movies] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [Catholic] [horror movies] [Pet Sematary] [Re-Animator] [resurrection] [science and religion] [The Lazarus Effect]

February 13, 2AM

Noah’s Ark has a way of showing up in many literary forms. Familiar to many from Genesis, it actually predates the Good Book by hundreds of years. On the backside, it keeps recurring in literature as diverse as Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Jonathan... [Animals] [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Bill Broun] [Heaven's Gate] [Jonathan Carroll] [MaddAddam trilogy] [Margaret Atwood] [Neal Stephenson] [Night of the Animals] [Noah's Ark] [Snow Crash] [The Ghost in Love]

February 12, 4AM

History involves perspective. We sometimes forget that. I was alive when human beings first reached the moon, so maybe I’m a bit blasé about what a great technological accomplishment that was. Down here on earth we were still having trouble with the... [astronomy] [Current Events] [feminism] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [African-American] [Barack Obama] [black lives matter] [Coretta Scott King] [Elizabeth Warren] [Hidden Figures] [Jeff Sessions] [Mitch McConnell] [space race]

February 11, 5AM

I’ve been brushing up on my literary theory. All writing tends to get classified as fact or fiction, and we don’t stop to think, generally, about what “literature” is. Those of us who write fiction and non know that a well-placed hyperbole might... [Bible] [Books] [Britannia] [literature] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Social Consciousness] [British empire] [Jonathan Culler] [Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction] [Rhetoric] [theorists]

February 10, 2AM

I had an email from Mike Pence. Mike Pence doesn’t know me from Adam, but if he met me he surely wouldn’t like me. His email tried to explain, in tottering logic, why he voted for Betsy DeVos. When I finished wiping the vomit from my mouth, I began... [Just for Fun] [literature] [Posts] [alternative facts] [Betsy DeVos] [Disraeli] [Kellyanne Conway] [Mark Twain] [Mike Pence] [Sean Spicer] [spam] [superlatives]

February 9, 3AM

Last month one of the three remaining Shakers died. In this era of religion unawareness, not many Americans, I expect, could identify this dying religion. The Shakers aren’t the Quakers—we like to give religions we don’t understand pejorative moni... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Sects] [Celibacy] [Great Awakening] [Maine] [millenarians] [New York] [Quakers] [second coming] [Shakers] [Simple Gifts]

February 8, 2AM

I remember seeing a television commercial once (not during the Super Bowl) where an older guy, a lawyer, complained at the camera, “It used to be that lawyers didn’t advertise.” He went on to say that he felt uncomfortable promoting himself since i... [Bible] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [educational imperative] [Emily St. John Mandel] [Journal of Religion and Popular Culture] [JSTOR] [Nashotah House] [Sleepy Hollow] [Station Eleven]

February 7, 2AM

Good and evil. Well, mostly evil, actually. No, I’m not talking about Washington, DC, but about horror movies. Cynthia A. Freeland’s The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror is a study that brings a cognitivist approach to the dual them... [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Cynthia A. Freeland] [horror movies] [philosophy] [The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror]

February 6, 2AM

“If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the dr... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Cost of Discipleship] [Dietrich Bonhoeffer] [evangelicalism] [Nazi Germany] [prosperity Gospel]

February 5, 2AM

It’s cold. It may not be Alaska, or even Wisconsin, but I can’t feel my fingers and the temperature hasn’t risen above freezing all day. New Jersey doesn’t get the incredible chills we used to experience in Wisconsin, but I’ve been outside goi... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [democracy] [election 2016] [Islam] [New Jersey] [plutocracy] [Protest] [social justice] [Somerset County]

February 4, 4AM

It used to be called argumentum e silentio, the argument from silence.  It didn’t take very long into my post-graduate reading to learn that arguments from silence were very rarely admitted in the academy as any kind of evidence at all.  In fact, argu... [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [argument from silence] [argumentum e silentio] [fallacy] [logic] [nihilism] [Susan Cain]

February 3, 2AM

Those who think walls actually keep people out have never ridden the train through North Philadelphia. Or into Newark. I have to admit that I’ve always found rail-side graffiti aesthetically pleasing. Some of these vandals are real artists on a scale... [art] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [alternative facts] [graffiti] [New York City] [Newark] [Philadelphia] [walls] [Women's March on Washington]

February 2, 2AM

I think Steve Bannon has already taken over my computer. How else can I explain everything stopping in the middle of a word, fingers flying, building up to some rhetorical flourish and suddenly the screen goes blank. Windows that I’d forgotten I had o... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [1984] [Apple] [Bill Gates] [commuting] [Mark Zuckerberg] [Steve Bannon] [system updates]

February 1, 2AM

Two things about my childhood: I grew up religious, and I grew up learning you didn’t talk about religion or politics. Now I see that that combination leads to tremendous potential for abuse. Many conservative Christians believe that their faith only ... [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [billy graham] [C. S. Lewis] [Dietrich Bonhoeffer] [Francis Schaeffer] [George Whitefield] [Gilgamesh] [john calvin]

January 31, 2AM

A few weeks ago I wrote about re-watching The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In anticipation of the inauguration I was in the midst of a spate of possession movies. I watched several others, including The Rite and The Possession. This got me thinking I should... [Books] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Deities] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Anneliese Michel] [Felicitas D. Goodman] [glossolalia] [How About Demons? Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World] [multiple personality syndrome] [reductionism] [speaking in tongues] [The Exorcism of Emily Rose]

January 30, 2AM

Working in publishing, I’m well aware of the stresses of the information industry. Jobs frequently evaporate as new, less formal ways of spreading ideas develop. To the typical academic what a university press offers is the secret knowledge of where t... [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [academic publishing] [Deborah Lev] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [New York Times] [Newspapers] [post-truth politics] [publishing]

January 29, 3AM

When teaching mythology at Montclair State University, I had students watch O Brother, Where Art Thou? Based on Homer’s Odyssey, the movie follows a trio of convicts during a election campaign through depression-ridden Mississippi. The populist candid... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [feminism] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [anti-abortion] [Homer's Odyssey] [Ku Klux Klan] [Mississippi] [Montclair State University] [O Brother Where Art Thou] [Women's March on Washington]

January 28, 3AM

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practise to deceive!” I always thought this couplet came from Shakespeare, but in fact it’s from Sir Walter Scott’s poem “Marmion.” The quote has been in my head all this first week of the new ... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1984] [Donald Trump] [George Orwell] [Hamlet] [Harold Hecuba] [Marmion] [Sir Walter Scott] [William Shakespeare]

January 27, 2AM

Evangelical culture must be an endlessly fascinating area of study for sociologists. So pervasive that many people who aren’t religious buy into aspects of it, this social movement has shaped American thought in often unexpected ways. Take the rapture... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Amy Johnson Frykholm] [dispensationalist premillennialism] [evangelicalism] [Harry Potter] [Jerry Jenkins] [Left Behind] [rapture] [Rapture Culture] [Timothy LaHaye]

January 26, 2AM

Public restrooms have always made me uncomfortable. This has nothing to do with North Carolina. It’s more an issue of being raised to be ashamed of bodily functions and then trying to shift, as it were, in mid-stream. Coming back from the Women’s M... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [feminism] [movies] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Amish] [North Carolina] [Philadelphia] [public restrooms] [witness] [Women's March on Washington]

January 25, 2AM

The line for the train snakes through Union Station before 6:00 a.m. Many of us, maybe all of us, were at the Women’s March on Washington. Listening to strangers speak to one another, it’s clear that this was the largest “love in” in his... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1984] [election 2016] [George Orwell] [post-truth] [The Women's March] [Washington DC]

January 24, 2AM

It is a caution that may become increasingly necessary as Trump’s supporters of “alternate facts” begin to sink their insidious hooks into feeble American minds that magical belief is part of our culture. While most would deny it in any kind of dir... [Books] [Current Events] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [alternative facts] [election 2016] [magic and religion] [post-truth] [Richard Godbeer] [Salem Witch Trials] [The Devil’s Dominion: Magic and Religion in Early New England]

January 23, 1AM

“The President” responded to the Women’s March on Washington by tweeting that he was “under the impression that we just had an election!” Perhaps if “the president” read more he would understand that instead of looking in a mirror y... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [election 2016] [electoral college] [literacy] [Protest] [Women's March on Washington]

January 22, 1AM

Don’t believe the lies. Your government is lying to you already on day 1. I watched in disbelief as Trump’s press secretary for the White House, Sean Spicer, told bald-face lies the very first day of Trump’s reign of terror. I was in Washington, ... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [election 2016] [Inauguration] [post-truth] [Sean Spicer] [truth] [Women's March on Washington]

January 21, 2AM

Washington, DC has always struck me as an artificial city. The neoclassical architecture is just a bit pompous and rolling into town on a train is kind of like stepping onto a movie set. Or, I’m told, into Los Vegas. Regulations about the heights of ... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [democracy] [election 2016] [Inauguration] [Protest] [Washington DC]

January 20, 1AM

I try to be a good son. As good as you can when living a few hundred miles from home. I call my Mom every week and when the mood’s right, we reminisce. During a recent conversation I was recollecting my first trip to Washington, DC. My grandmother, ... [Animals] [Current Events] [feminism] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [DC] [Elephants] [snakes] [The Women's March] [Washington]

January 19, 2AM

Whoever doesn’t understand that something being free doesn’t mean people won’t buy it is pleasantly naive. I write this as someone who once worked for a publisher who routinely sold books that were reprints of material freely available online, wher... [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Atlas Obscura] [hermitage] [Monasticism] [Saalfelden] [self-denial]

January 18, 2AM

Fiction and fact aren’t so different. Long before the Wachowski Brothers came up with The Matrix, Richard Bach wrote Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. I was in seminary when I read it and it seemed, at that time, to change my life. Fi... [Books] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [movies] [Posts] [Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah] [perception] [reality] [Richard Bach] [The Matrix]

January 17, 2AM

The one problem with Halloween is that most people suppose that when it’s over we need to wait another year for the scary stuff to come around again. Since we tend to skip from holiday to commercialized holiday, we have a capitalism-induced mindset of ... [Current Events] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Demons] [Devil] [ghosts] [halloween] [James Slaven] [paganism] [witches] [Witches of Ireland]

January 16, 2AM

I’m going to the Women’s March in Washington, DC next weekend. At an organizing meeting yesterday it occurred to me that someone might ask me why. Why would a white, male, straight, employed-with-health-insurance person bother to go through the disr... [Current Events] [feminism] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [election 2016] [Martin Luther King Day] [social justice] [Women's March on Washington] [women's rights]

January 15, 4AM

“Store Closing” the signs veritably shout. “Everything Must Go.” It’s something I hate to see in an economically depressed town. The tragedy is redoubled when it’s an independent bookstore. While undergoing the ritual of returning our daug... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Binghamton] [independent bookstores] [Lament] [literacy] [Nashotah House] [New York] [River Read]

January 14, 3AM

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. To my way of thinking, if I’m aware I’m doing something wrong, I try to change it at that point, rather than waiting. Needless to say, then, I’m up to my old habits of reading about horror movies. Actually... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Darryl Jones] [horror movies] [Horror: A Thematic History in Fiction and Film]

January 13, 3AM

Welcome to Reformation Year! Well, not actually. It’s more like an anniversary. Five centuries ago this Halloween, Martin Luther grabbed his silver hammer and history forever changed. In 1517 nobody could guess that that obscure strip of land across... [Bible] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Catholicism] [Christianites] [Eternity] [Martin Luther] [Pascal] [protestantism] [Reformation]

January 12, 2AM

Honestly, I’m not sure where the idea of votive candles started. An educated guess—which will have to do in my state of limited research time—is that candles, like oil lamps, began as a practical necessity in places of worship. Temples, churches, ... [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [Catholicism] [charles darwin] [post-truth] [Santa Muerte] [votive candles]

January 11, 2AM

Salvation is a fraught concept. It’s one of those topics that’s been commandeered by the evangelical camp so that mainstreamers are afraid to touch it, as if it’s catching. The thing is, Christianity is built around the idea that people require sa... [Books] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Cinema] [Crystal Downing] [Entertainment] [salvation] [Salvation from Cinema: The Medium is the Message]

January 10, 2AM

It’s the coldest day of the winter so far. I’m noticing this because I’m standing on the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike counting the NJ Transit buses that are flying by at highway speed. It’s been a morning of irony so far, which explains w... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Weather] [commuting] [Good Samaritan] [New Jersey Transit] [New Jersey Turnpike]

January 9, 2AM

Last year my wife suggested we each do a reading challenge for the year. The one we selected was Modern Mrs. Darcy’s, which, with only a dozen books, seemed doable. What makes it a challenge is that to meet Mrs. Darcy’s expectations, you have to rea... [Books] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [literature] [Monsters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [election 2016] [H. G. Wells] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge] [The Island of Dr. Moreau] [Theodicy]

January 8, 4AM

Human evolution (while it still legally exists) tells us a considerable amount about belief. Brain science (while we still have it) has long indicated that our noggins evolved to help us survive, not “to figure out” the world. Along its long and tor... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Belief] [education] [election 2016] [neurology] [Psychology] [truth]

January 7, 2AM

While not exactly a Luddite, my grasp on technology is tenuous. I grew up in what may be the last generation where computer use was considered optional—I made it through a master’s degree without ever using one, and could have managed my doctorate wi... [Just for Fun] [Posts] [blog] [internet] [investment] [Technology] [Time]

January 6, 3AM

What really happened? I grew up thinking that reading history gave the answer to that question. In fact, it is a viewpoint that I still struggle against. You see, historians try to marshal as many facts as they can to support their reconstruction of ev... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Economics] [history] [objectivity] [post-truth] [revisionism]

January 5, 2AM

It’s particularly encouraging when the first book I finish in a year is an important one. I try my best to read books that won’t disappoint, but the thing about books is that you sometimes can’t tell until the end. In any case, I can highly recomm... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christianity] [election 2016] [Religious Literacy] [Second Great Awakening] [Stephen Prothero] [What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t]

January 4, 2AM

Now that I’m safely ensconced back in the daily work routine, I spend some time thinking of the scary movies I had time to watch during my “free time.” Well, I actually thought about them then, too, but I had so many other thoughts to write about t... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [evolution] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [science] [Social Consciousness] [carl sagan] [Catholic] [Demons] [horror movies] [Judaism] [Matisyahu] [protestant] [The Exorcism of Emily Rose] [The Last Exorcism] [The Possession] [The Rite]

January 3, 2AM

The enigma machine held an almost impossible complexity for generating codes. It gave the Nazis a great advantage during World War II since it was beyond the ability of cryptographers to decipher it. It was against this background that Alan Turing devel... [Current Events] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Alan Turing] [Cryptozoology] [election 2016] [homosexuality] [Human Rights] [The Imitation Game]

January 2, 3AM

My friend Marvin always amuses me with what he’s got in his refrigerator. He likes to buy products that he considers appropriate to the season. On a recent visit he pulled out a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale. He said it was prophetic, in the sense t... [Current Events] [higher education] [Holidays] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Arrogant Bastard Ale] [Bruce Almighty] [election 2016] [January] [Janus] [New Year's Day] [symbology] [Television]

January 1, 2AM

Now that 2016 is safely behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead to a year of peaceful protest and renewed social activism. When you reach a certain point in your life you’d like to think your country will represent your best interest but the croo... [Books] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [2017] [election 2016] [electoral college] [literacy] [Modern Mrs. Darcy] [Protest] [reading]

December 31, 2AM

As is my custom on this last post of the year I’ll be revisiting the books that made an especial difference to me in 2016. I record most books I finish on Goodreads, and I welcome friends in that venue. I draw on their recollection for what I’ve rea... [Books] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Goodreads] [Modern Mrs. Darcy] [Monsters] [New Year's Day]

December 30, 2AM

Apropos of both building your own deity and Disney, my family went to see Moana. Now, I have to admit up front to being a bit behind on my Polynesian mythology. Scholars of the history of religions feel terribly insecure if they don’t read the languag... [cartoons] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [environment] [feminism] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [11/9] [Disney] [election 2016] [global warming] [Moana] [Polynesian mythology]

December 29, 3AM

This brief break between Christmas and New Year’s Day, taking into account the vacation days expended to enjoy it, is a time filled with movies, reading, writing, and sufficient sleep. In short, it’s like a dream. I’ll get around to addressing... [cartoons] [Current Events] [feminism] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Disney] [election 2016] [Gender] [prejudice] [racial profiling] [Zootopia]

December 28, 3AM

One of the more amusing gifts to find its way under my tree was a Design Your Own Deity magnetic play set. Since I have roughly only this brief holiday break for play in the entire year, I hope to make the most of it. Nevertheless, things like this alwa... [Deities] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Sects] [Design Your Own Deity] [mammon] [science and religion] [Supernatural] [Technology]

December 27, 3AM

Witnessing injustice is traumatic. Especially when you’ve been conditioned to believe there is nothing you can do about it. That helpless feeling crushes you as you see the guilty, the powerful, the cruel getting away with whatever they want to do. T... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [election 2016] [Golem] [Pete Hamill] [prejudice] [religious tolerance] [Snow in August]

December 26, 6AM

Quite apart from seeing a live performance of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens has been on my mind a bit this Christmas season. I suppose that’s not surprising since it has been suggested that Dickens “invented” the modern Christmas, but it is re... [Britannia] [Current Events] [Holidays] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [a christmas carol] [Anne Bramley] [Charles Dickens] [Christmas] [NPR] [Poor Laws] [Poverty]

December 25, 3AM

The idea of exchanging presents on a holiday emerges from the impenetrable veil of time. We don’t know when the practice began—the idea of copying the Zoroastrian wise men in Matthew is a bit of a stretch and the date of Christmas wasn’t settled un... [art] [Bible] [Current Events] [Holidays] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [a christmas carol] [capitalism] [Charles Dickens] [Christmas] [Jesus of Nazareth] [McCarter Theater] [Princeton]

December 24, 6AM

There were probably about half-a-dozen animated Christmas specials I recall watching as a child. The two that became fixtures, and remain part of my present holiday ritual, are It’s Christmas Charlie Brown and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I remembe... [cartoons] [Current Events] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [How the Grinch Stole Christmas] [It's Christmas Charlie Brown] [religious holidays] [war on Christmas]

December 23, 3AM

How terribly rude. I was right in the middle of a sentence when my word processor shut down. Then my computer. A system update. It’s 4:00 a.m., the time I usually upload my blog post. You have to understand that I get up at 3:30 so that I have time... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Apple] [commuting] [humor] [Robot] [Technology]

December 22, 2AM

One of the more embarrassing questions I get asked is “What do you do?” This has been true throughout my career (if what I do can be called that). I should clarify—I don’t mind saying “I’m a professor,” or “I’m an editor”—it’s th... [Bible] [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [BookRiot] [James Wallace Harris] [literacy] [Western Canon]

December 21, 2AM

The relief is so real that you can feel it with your fingers. Or brushing your cheek. The feeling of being done with another semester, and knowing you’ve got some time for recovery after the intensity of going flat-out for months at a time. I miss th... [Consciousness] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [capitalism] [Economics] [transcendence] [Winter solstice]

December 20, 2AM

Theologians, for the most part, gave up studying demons a long while ago. With the advent of modern medical science, the descriptions of demonic possession in the New Testament seemed pretty clearly to be cases of epilepsy. Since people in antiquity had... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Monsters] [Posts] [Demons] [election 2016] [epilepsy] [Ewan Fernie] [Martin Luther] [The Demonic: Literature and Experience]

December 19, 2AM

As my regular readers know, I’m struggling. The shock is palpable. Even over a month and a half later, I still keep going over in my head the many, many reasons why Trump can’t be elected and wake up in a cold sweat with anything but visions of suga... [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [Eleanor Roosevelt] [election 2016] [Psycho] [Vladimir Putin]

December 18, 3AM

He was a bearded young man, maybe in his twenties. He kind of reminded me of my own youth, only cooler. I was at a stop sign on a snow-covered hill with tires honestly a little more worn than they should’ve been. Three times I tried to get some tract... [Current Events] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [altruism] [kindness] [selfishness]

December 17, 4AM

It’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day. The movie, I mean. As a child I was taught never to talk to strangers, but that’s a little hard to maintain in New York City. You’re never really alone there. Standing in line for the bus, I read. The P... [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Academia] [editor] [Geocaching] [Groundhog Day] [New York City] [Port Authority Bus Terminal]

December 16, 2AM

My daughter has a set of nesting Russian dolls. “Matryoshka dolls,” as they are known, fit one inside the other so when you open one you find another inside. Just when you think you’ve reached the last one, you see that yet another can fit inside.... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [dostoyevsky] [election 2016] [Matryoshka dolls] [media] [Putin] [Russia]

December 15, 2AM

Exorcism seems an especially appropriate trope these days. Embedded evil has to be faced squarely and forced out before it kills its host. I recently rewatched The Exorcism of Emily Rose. This is a most unusual horror film in that the story is born by ... [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Demons] [Exorcism of Emily Rose] [post-truth] [science and religion] [Supernatural]

December 14, 2AM

Sanity is always temporary. I can say that because we all know that no one acts rationally all the time. Our brains evolved (or were created, if you roll that way) for the simple purpose of survival, not reason. Reasoning, no doubt, helps with survival... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Brexit] [election 2016] [emotion] [evolution] [Insanity] [Pirate Party] [rationalization] [Ronald Reagan]

December 13, 2AM

We live in fear. At this point in history, it seems, with good reason. Horror films, apart from being considered low art, teach us to deal with some of these fears. I hadn’t been reading about the genre for very long before I began to notice the repe... [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film] [Carol J. Clover] [final girl] [Gender] [horror movies] [Mary Poppins] [men] [women]

December 12, 2AM

In a world with finite resources, many commodities are in short supply. One clear overabundance is that of ego. We’ve seen that clearly in the long, long months of this year’s political campaign and the single month since then. Running a nation is ... [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Bill Clinton] [Donald Trump] [ethics] [morality] [Pope] [selfishness] [Tony Alamo]

December 11, 2AM

At first glance, we had little in common. In fact, of all the people in the room the only one I knew was my wife. We were gathered together to find ways to defend ourselves against our government. Those who normalize Trump and claim that his nearly 3 m... [Current Events] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [civil rights] [democracy] [Human Rights] [politics] [post-truth] [post-truth politics]

December 10, 3AM

The future of Sleepy Hollow is uncertain. The successful FOX television program has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous scheduling over the past year and speculation abounds that the current fourth season may be its last. It has been, in my exp... [Britannia] [civil religion] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Atlas Obscura] [Christianity] [Ichabod Crane] [Natalie Zarrelli] [sin eater] [Sleepy Hollow]

December 9, 2AM

Those of you who aren’t professional religionists might not understand the cultural impact of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting. Every November a largish city (New York and Los Angeles are too expensive,... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [AAR/SBL] [election 2016] [Emma Koonse] [intervarsity press] [Lynn Garrett] [Publisher's Weekly]

December 8, 2AM

If last month’s election taught us anything it’s that nobody really knows anything. For many years now I’ve been saying that the sign of an educated person is s/he admits how little s/he knows. Socrates may have beat me to that idea, but there are... [astronomy] [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [colonization] [election 2016] [environmentalism] [space travel] [Stephen Hawking] [The Washington Post] [Wall-E]

December 7, 2AM

Horror films are something you either “get” or you don’t. I have no empirical evidence for that, but then again, “getting” is hardly a precise verb. In my recent desire to find some explanation for my own fascination with the genre, I turned t... [Books] [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Dreadful Pleasures: An Anatomy of Modern Horror] [Gothic fiction] [horror films] [James B. Twitchell]

December 6, 2AM

Conversations with friends, inevitably, turn to the fiasco this country faces with Donald Trump. My response, apart from attempting a measure of optimism and combativeness, often involves escapism. Regular readers know that I watch horror movies. They ... [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Demons] [election 2016] [Exorcism] [Satan] [The Exorcist]

December 5, 2AM

Although the stores have been playing Christmas music for some weeks now, it is technically Advent. I think we could all use a little Advent as days grow shorter and dark nights increase their influence over our lives. As a nation we’ve been brutalize... [astronomy] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Advent] [astronomy] [Christmas] [George W. Bush] [light] [Materialism]

December 4, 4AM

In these days of bold ignorance, reading in public is an act of resistance. A world that follows the uninformed to perdition requires those who stand as witnesses. Those who read. As a cabinet of the wealthiest people in the country is being assembled ... [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [literature] [Posts] [Advent] [Banned Book Advent calendar] [banned books] [literacy] [prejudice] [reading in public] [Twitter]

December 3, 4AM

I confess, it was a moment of weakness. Or I could say that it was dedication to research. In either case, I subjected myself to watching the remake of the 1973 classic, The Wicker Man. The reviews that I’ve read over the past decade since its releas... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [feminism] [Goddesses] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [2006] [Celtic Mythology] [misogyny] [New Religious Movements] [The Wicker Man]

December 2, 2AM

As someone who dedicated four years—particularly long winter nights—to the cause of high school robotics, I found myself knowing quite a bit before I walked into the room. Now let me post a disclaimer here: I’m no techie. I’ve studied the humani... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Robotics] [artificial intelligence] [Battle Bots] [FIRST Robotics] [Robot] [science and religion]

December 1, 2AM

I grew up believing in “the Antichrist.” As I came to realize that much of the New Testament pointed to contemporary problems (for them) with the Roman Empire and that what appeared to be predictions were actually safe ways to discuss forbidden topic... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Antichrist] [Christianity] [election 2016] [Fundamentalism] [Hal Lindsey] [Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession] [Revelation] [Robert Fuller] [roman empire] [The Omen]

November 30, 2AM

A friend recently sent me an article on Jack London from smithsonian.com. As the article by Kenneth Brandt makes clear, London is an author for our times. Someone who might truly be called a populist, London, like many of us born in the working class, had... [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [literature] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [abstinence only] [alt-right] [Call of the Wild] [Francis Schaeffer] [Gender] [Jack London] [Kenneth Brandt] [Religious Right] [Smithsonian]

November 29, 2AM

The proofs for my article on the Bible in Sleepy Hollow are now here. It will be appearing shortly in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. For those who know my previous academic work—hi, both of you!—this represents a departure from the fam... [Bible] [Current Events] [environment] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [documentary hypothesis] [global warming] [gun control] [Journal of Religion and Popular Culture] [Sleepy Hollow] [Two-Source Hypothesis]

November 28, 2AM

Now that the holiday season is upon us, I stop to think about what holidays really do. “Keep Christ in Christmas” signs have popped up like winter dandelions as Trump signs consider to litter the landscape. Thanksgiving, however, gave me the opportu... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Advent] [Christmas] [election 2016] [Keep Christ in Christmas] [plutocracy] [Thanksgiving]

November 27, 4AM

This may sound strange, considering the source, but I fear I don’t read enough. An article by Sarah Begley in a recent issue of Time, reinforces what we’ve known all along—reading is incredibly good for you. Even fiction. Especially fiction. For... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [fiction] [literacy] [literary fiction] [reading] [Sarah Begley] [Time Magazine]

November 26, 3AM

Those of us who somehow managed to be educated without the use of computers, at least nothing more advanced than a TI-30 calculator, fumble our way through the world-wide web. I’ve got this blog, a Twitter and a Facebook account, and I’m on Google + ... [higher education] [Memoirs] [podcasts] [Posts] [Ahmed Fasih] [internet] [Technology]

November 25, 3AM

Traduttore, traditore—“translators are traitors”—is an Italian saying invested with a great deal of truth. Anyone who’s worked with the proliferation of languages in the world knows the truth of the adage. What is said in one language can’t ... [Books] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Anathem] [China Miéville] [Embassytown] [science fiction] [Star Trek] [Star Wars] [translation]

November 24, 4AM

A few weeks before Leonard Cohen died I saw a story on how his song “Hallelujah” had been done to death. Covered and recovered, it seemed to be on every cover artist’s playlist. It is a haunting song, however, and the notion of a cold and broken h... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Diversity] [election 2016] [Hallelujah] [Leonard Cohen] [Thanksgiving]

November 23, 5AM

Beliefs can be most problematic things. I’ve spent the better part of the last five days in one of the reddest of “Red States.” People in Texas were unfailingly friendly and kind. They seem genuinely interested in helping me although I’m pretty... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Blue State] [election 2016] [ethics] [Politics and Religion] [Red State] [San Antonio] [Texas]

November 22, 2AM

I’m standing in the lobby of the Menger Hotel. Before history becomes too falsified to recognize, I want to soak up the fact that Theodore Roosevelt organized his Rough Riders in this very hotel, and that O Henry stayed here. There were other notables... [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] [Great Depression] [Menger Hotel] [O Henry] [plutocracy] [San Antonio] [The Gift of the Magi] [Theodore Roosevelt]

November 21, 3AM

Foundation myths are some of my favorite myths. If you’ve got to believe in something, it may as well be something fun, right? Usually before I travel to a place I do some research on it. For some reason November of this year has proven to be under a... [civil religion] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [AAR/SBL] [foundation myths] [River Walk] [saints] [San Antonio] [Texas]

November 20, 3AM

One of the benefits of working with words is that you get to participate in reality. George Orwell famously wrote that if people didn’t have the words to express concepts the government didn’t like, those concepts would cease to exist. At least as l... [civil religion] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [ethics] [George Orwell] [Oxford Dictionaries] [philosophy] [post-truth] [truth]

November 19, 4AM

Sometimes we have to work so very hard for unity. On the day before the conference proper began, I decided to take in some of the sites. In San Antonio this means the River Walk and the Alamo. I was awake early, as usual, and since the Alamo doesn’t ... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Alamo] [election 2016] [gun industry] [River Walk] [San Antonio] [Texas]

November 18, 6AM

I’ve never started a fight. I’m actually a very conciliatory type, willing to be wronged in order to avoid an unnecessary confrontation. This election has made me feel a little pugilistic, however. The sheer size of Trump’s loss based on the popu... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Alamo] [American Academy of Religion] [Brexit] [election 2016] [Pink Floyd] [San Antonio] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Texas]

November 17, 2AM

As colder days settle in I add layers and sit in our under-heated apartment and think about the lot of the poor. I don’t think billionaires really understand the plight of those who, no matter how hard they work, just can’t get ahead in a society tha... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [Charles Dickens] [Church of England] [Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor] [Oliver Twist] [plutocracy] [poor] [Ruth Richardson]

November 16, 2AM

Even without the results of the recent presidential election, I would be reading about horror movies. One of the reasons is that I wonder what the appeal might be—why do I put myself in a dark room with an uncertain future? Until recently academics ha... [Books] [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Andrew Tudor] [election 2016] [electoral college] [horror films] [Monsters and Mad Scientists: A Cultural History of the Horror Movie] [Supernatural]

November 15, 2AM

One of my high school teachers—I don’t have to say who; if you attended my high school you’ll already know and if you didn’t you won’t know him anyway—wrote in my yearbook, “I hope you get what you deserve.” I wasn’t very good in this t... [civil religion] [Current Events] [feminism] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [election 2016] [hate] [Hillary Clinton] [intolerance] [love] [Oil City High School] [Politics and Religion]

November 14, 2AM

Since at least my middle school days I have been in search of the great Gothic novel. I can’t claim to have found it just yet, but I’ve read many notable samples along the way. Somehow Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White remained completely unknown... [Books] [Britannia] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [feminism] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Brexit] [Count Fosco] [Donald Trump] [Gothic fiction] [Identity] [The Simpsons] [The Woman in White] [Wilkie Collins]

November 13, 3AM

In what sense can someone claim to win when they failed to get the majority vote? A crooked one, by definition. Some might say “rigged,” to use language that has mysteriously disappeared once one party “won.” The definition of crooked is “not... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Alexander Hamilton] [election 2016] [electoral college] [George W. Bush] [Hamilton] [Hillary Clinton]

November 12, 2AM

“It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.” Leonard Cohen has died. But can you blame him? This seems to be a week for losses. I came to appreciate Cohen’s work long after his best-known songs had been and gone. The interviews with and news... [art] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Social Consciousness] [Franklin D. Roosevelt] [humanism] [Leonard Cohen] [music therapy] [poetry] [popular music] [social justice]

November 11, 2AM

Back before there was iTunes—before Napster was even a thing—I heard a song on the radio. It was by a relatively new band, They Might Be Giants. We lived in Illinois at the time and I was being paid so poorly that we couldn’t afford luxuries like ... [Current Events] [feminism] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Social Consciousness] [election 2016] [Elisabeth Kübler-Ross] [flood] [iTunes] [They Might Be Giants] [Your Racist Friend]

November 10, 2AM

Is there such a thing as an existential illness? Answer that if you want to, but it’s rhetorical. I’ve been voting since 1980 and I’ve taken my fair share of bruises in the process, but this time my soul feels as if God has hung his “gone fishin... [art] [Current Events] [feminism] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [election 2016] [existentialism] [plutocracy] [Politics and Religion] [populism]

November 9, 1AM

Horror comes in many forms. Some people may wonder why I watch horror movies and read scary stories. The election results tell the story. As we descend into four years of horror, I was reading Peter Hutchings’ The Horror Film. At least I feel somewh... [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [election day] [hatred] [horror movies] [nightmares] [Peter Hutchings] [The Horror Film]

November 8, 2AM

For reasons that may eventually become clear, I was watching The Blob. It seems that each generation’s fears are unique to its time—let the reader understand. For whatever reasons, star-appeal I expect, Steve McQueen was cast as the teenage Steve An... [Current Events] [environment] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [Carrie] [Cold War] [election day] [global warming] [NRA] [Russians] [Steve McQueen] [The Blob] [The Thing from Outer Space]

November 7, 2AM

The complex of holidays that make up the transition from light to darkness represents a different mix, depending where you are. Life on the equator, for example, experiences no real variation in daylight hours and I would expect that equinoxes and solsti... [Current Events] [Holidays] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1984] [Big Brother] [equinox] [George Orwell] [Guy Fawkes Night] [social justice] [V for Vendetta]

November 6, 9AM

They’re not exactly worshipping the tree, but the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church is holding a memorial service for the old oak tree. I’ve written about the Basking Ridge oak before. I learned about it only in January, and I visited it this summer... [Current Events] [Deities] [environment] [Posts] [Travel] [Asherah] [Basking Ridge oak] [Great Swamp Oak] [john calvin] [New Jersey] [tree worship]

November 5, 5AM

I have a confession to make. I’m not a foodie. These days such an admission is tantamount to a venial sin, but the fact is I’m one of those who eats to live, not lives to eat. Still, like many people I’m concerned about whence my food comes. I c... [Bible] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Sects] [alcohol] [BBC] [foodies] [Gregor Mendel] [Kait Bolongaro] [Monasticism] [science and religion]

November 4, 1AM

Fresh from seminary with a head full of historical-critical theory competing against my immortal soul, I was lost in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I’d learned enough in class and in my own reading to know that the association of Jesus’ burial her... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Travel] [Alexander Hamilton] [Church of the Holy Sepulcher] [Coptic] [Fiona MacDonald] [Jerusalem] [Science Alert] [science and religion]

November 3, 1AM

Mirrors can be such deceptive things. In my head I’m a much younger man than the one I see staring at me. And I have to remind myself that other people see what the mirror sees, and not what I really am. Things age. A friend who aged so much that sh... [Books] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [1960s] [Eric Berne] [Games People Play] [Gender] [Psychiatry] [Psychology]

November 2, 1AM

Despite criticisms to the contrary, the pre-Reformation church did have concerns about the average person. About the poor. In those days church offices commanded a good deal more esteem than they currently do among the populace, and being a priest was a... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [All Souls Day] [capitalism] [free market economy] [halloween] [plutocracy] [poor] [Poverty] [The Washington Post] [wealth]

November 1, 1AM

I always seem to be running late. Still, I wanted to be reading a book about Halloween on Halloween. If I might be pardoned for bleeding over into All Saints’ Day, I’ll share some thoughts this November on Nicholas Rogers’ Halloween: From Pagan Ri... [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [9/11] [All Saints Day] [el Dia de los Muertos] [halloween] [Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night] [Hurricane Sandy] [Nashotah House] [Nicholas Rogers] [Wicca]

October 31, 1AM

Halloween is finally here, and I’m on my way to work. Over the weekend I noticed youngsters about in costume, heading to a local business that was holding, apparently, some kind of ghostly do. For me it’s just another day—Halloween isn’t an offi... [civil religion] [Current Events] [higher education] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [All Saints Day] [All Souls Day] [halloween] [Nashotah House] [Wisconsin]

October 30, 1AM

Just a quarter of an hour, studies show, of time in the woods can reduce stress. I suspect that if those fifteen minutes are spent running from a bear the opposite might result, but in general time in nature is an incredible solace. The weather hasn’t... [Consciousness] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [capitalism] [civilization] [Hacklebarney State Park] [nature] [New Jersey] [outdoor activity]

October 29, 4AM

“Want College to Pay off?” the headline asks. It depresses me. I’m an unapologetic idealist. Cost-benefit analysis has its place, but that’s not all there is to education. Or better yet, cost-benefit analysis isn’t just about money. The art... [Current Events] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [College] [ethics] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [social media] [Technology]

October 28, 1AM

It’s that spooky time of year when nights have surpassed days and the chill in the air suggests an oncoming period of bleakness. Leaves are raining down off the trees and strange sounds fill the dark. So when a friend sent me an article on The Vintage... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Monsters] [Posts] [ghosts] [haunted house] [rent] [seminary] [The Vintage News]

October 27, 1AM

Back when I first started this blog, I regretted that I had read Douglas E. Cowan’s Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen so long ago. You see, I try hard to post on a specific book only once—there’s really no rule about that, but... [Books] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Douglas E. Cowan] [horror movies] [Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen] [Sociology] [sociophobics]

October 26, 1AM

Rituals frequently outlive their purposes. Some skeptics may claim that rituals—particularly of the religious sort—really don’t mean anything at all, but in fact they do. Rituals have logical origins, or at least that seemed logical at the time. ... [Britannia] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Atlas Obscura] [Monarchy] [plutocracy] [Queen Elizabeth] [ritual] [Sarah Laskow]

October 25, 1AM

Weekends, it seems, are incomplete without being among books. You might think that someone who works in publishing might want to get away from books in the off hours, but quite the contrary. I love a good walk in the woods in autumn. Especially if it... [Books] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Clinton] [independent bookstores] [Libraries] [New Jersey] [publishing]

October 24, 1AM

New Religious Movements (NRMs) have long fascinated me. As a natural historian, looking back over where we’ve been has been my usual source of orientation. The idea that a new religious truth could emerge used to strike me as unlikely, especially in t... [Books] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Mary Pat Fisher] [Near Death Experiences] [New Religious Movements] [nones] [Religion in the Twenty-first Century] [World Religions]

October 23, 4AM

I’m a little ashamed to admit it. With such a long list of moody horror movies out there, I gave in to watching The Seventh Sign again. 1988 was a momentous year. I had graduated from Boston University School of Theology the year before and had been ... [Bible] [higher education] [Memoirs] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Book of Revelation] [Boston University School of Theology] [Edinburgh University] [Episcopal Church] [horror movies] [Jewish-Christian relationships] [The Seventh Sign]

October 22, 2AM

When Bob Dylan was changing American music I wasn’t really in a place to notice. I was too young, living in a small town, and the member of a church suspicious of that kind of music. We didn’t listen to the radio at home, so I only really discovered... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Bob Dylan] [Genealogy] [John Dillinger] [Melvin Purvis] [Nashotah House] [Nobel Prize] [WikiTree]

October 21, 2AM

Apparently there is a burgeoning interest in swearing. Not necessarily in doing it, but in studying it. Over the past couple of years I’ve easily found a book every twelve months that devotes itself to the topic. After I finished reading the most rec... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Benjamin Bergen] [Blasphemy] [george carlin] [swearing] [The Guardian]

October 20, 1AM

“To understand the weather is somehow to glimpse the divine.“ I honestly don’t remember writing those words. A friend of my drew them out in a quote last year (perhaps the only time my book has every had such an honor) and they resonate with what a... [Bible] [Books] [environment] [Posts] [science] [Weather] [charles darwin] [evolution] [global warming] [Peter Moore] [Robert FitzRoy] [science and religion] [The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future] [The Weather Experiment]

October 19, 1AM

The government does funny things when your back is turned. Back in January, reading Scott W. Gustafson’s At the Altar of Wall Street, I learned that the government treats corporations as people. It assigns certain rights and privileges to these collec... [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [At the Altar of Wall Street] [capitalism] [Chip Colwell] [environmentalism] [New Zealand] [Scott W. Gustafson] [The Conversation]

October 18, 1AM

The giants are back! Or at least they were here. According to the internet, and we know that that never lies. Every now and again a story breaks that some discovery of giants has been found in some archaeological or paleontological context. A little p... [Archaeology] [Bible] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [Posts] [Ancient Code] [Cardiff Giant] [footprints] [Geoffrey of Monmouth] [giants] [Paluxy River] [pyramids]

October 17, 1AM

One of my first publications was a letter to the editor. The newspaper was The Scotsman, Edinburgh’s daily. We’d been hearing on the BBC that a new movie, The Silence of the Lambs, had inspired Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in his gruesome ... [Britannia] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [cannibalism] [Ed Gein] [Edinburgh] [Hannibal Lecter] [Jeffrey Dahmer] [Nashotah House] [Psycho] [The Scotsman] [The Silence of the Lambs]

October 16, 3AM

I stepped into a devil of a situation. Elevators are strange spaces. Given the choice, I’ll take the stairs any time. At work, however, as one of the many quirks of Manhattan, our elevators only stop on certain floors and we’re not able to use the ... [Bible] [Current Events] [Deities] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Demons] [Devil] [Hebrew Bible] [Oxford English Dictionary] [Satan] [the bible]

October 15, 4AM

In a thoughtful piece on NPR, Adam Frank discusses “Are Scientific Truths Better Than Other Truths?(.)” He describes a Ivy League conference called to discuss this point, and although I get about as much attention as adults give Barney, I’ve been b... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Adam Frank] [NPR] [philosophy] [science and religion] [truth] [value]

October 14, 1AM

I should be aware of what happens next. I’ve seen it in movies often enough. Man gets bitten by a wolf, and he turns into a werewolf at the full moon. That gives me two days. And it wasn’t a wolf, but a pit bull. I fear what I might become. You ... [Animals] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Monsters] [Posts] [commute] [dog bites] [October] [pit bull terrier] [werewolf]

October 13, 1AM

Those who know me personally—and not just through the internet—sometimes are surprised to learn that I watch horror movies. After all, I’m a pacifist, vegetarian, and a very caring person. Plus I’m squeamish and I eschew violence. Why, then, do... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Adam Rockoff] [and the Living Dead] [Frightened Virgins] [horror movies] [Sociology] [The Horror of It All: One Moviegoer’s Love Affair with Masked Maniacs]

October 12, 1AM

Do you remember that tragic sinking of a Staten Island ferry when a giant octopus pulled it under? Sounds vaguely familiar, but I wasn’t living near New York at the time. A story in The Guardian tells how Joseph Reginella, a sculptor, made his commemo... [Animals] [art] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [Cornelius G. Kolff] [George Washington] [Grover's Mill] [Joseph Reginella] [memory] [New Jersey] [octopus] [Staten Island ferry] [The Guardian] [War of the Worlds]

October 11, 1AM

Comfort may be a strange word to describe Halloween, but it is accurate. I’m no specialist on the holiday, although I’ve read a few books on it—most recently Lisa Morton’s Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. Growing up in what felt to me lik... [Books] [civil religion] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [A History of Halloween] [cultural holiday] [halloween] [Lisa Morton] [trick or treat]

October 10, 1AM

If you’re going to thump the Bible, at least try to read it once in a while! Donald Trump, showing his true colors yet again, degrades women in the crudest terms imaginable and the religious right (what used to be called the Moral Majority) quickly fal... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [King David] [King Solomon] [Religious Right] [Sean Hannity]

October 9, 1AM

Bright orange pumpkins under a cloudy gray sky. October is surely here. But this is an urban area of the kind in which northeast New Jersey specializes. As I approach I see that it’s a church. A church that has made a truce with Halloween. Judging f... [civil religion] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [Christianity] [halloween] [jack-o-lantern] [pumpkin patch]

October 8, 1AM

I could easily spill a thousand words, but I have no picture. You see, as a tuition-paying parent I seldom carry cash—pin money is a luxury I just can’t afford. I saw the perfect photo-op, but had to walk on by. On my way to work I saw a homeless m... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [homelessness] [New York City] [plutocracy] [social justice] [taxation]

October 7, 1AM

October enters as a liminal month. A few remaining hours of lingering summer but more shortening days of winter’s encroaching wolf. A time of harvest and celebration. Lengthening nights bearing strange noises. It was a couple of Octobers ago that I ... [Books] [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [Posts] [science] [and Houdini in the Spirit World] [David Jaher] [mediums] [Mina Crandon] [Séance] [Scientific American] [Seduction] [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle] [The Witch of Lime Street]

October 6, 1AM

In your mind’s eye, picture American 500 years ago. What do you see? Even those of us who’ve studied history have trouble envisioning the past with so different a set of parameters. At least if we’re honest with ourselves. 1516. The Salem Witch... [Bible] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [native american] [PBS] [protestantism] [Reformation] [Robert Jones] [White Protestant America]

October 5, 1AM

Not so long ago, when I was still a professor, a colleague told me he had no interest in science. We studied religion, he reasoned, and science had little to add. I was in the midst of a research project at the time. That project was exploring how what... [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [humanities] [Marcelo Gleiser] [NPR] [science and religion] [Scientific method]

October 4, 1AM

It’s been decades since I’ve seen the original King Kong. A none-too-subtle racist and sexist flick it may be, but it stands as one of the original “horror” films of the early thirties and it has had a profound influence on movies ever since. Ki... [Current Events] [feminism] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Fay Wray] [gun industry] [horror films] [King Kong] [mass murder] [racism] [sexism] [Trump Tower] [violence]

October 3, 1AM

Can belief be quantified? Apparently yes. I’ve spent my life trying to avoid the dismal science, yet it seems that everyone else is pretty much agreed that money is the measure of all things. Higher education has certainly been chasing that rabbit fo... [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Apple] [Economics] [Google] [Harriet Sherwood] [The Guardian]

October 2, 5AM

Nothing fascinates quite like the Dead Sea Scrolls. That is, unless you’re a disgruntled Ugaritologist. Mention the Dead Sea Scrolls and the journalists will form a queue. Never mind the relative importance of Ugarit. But I digress. There is someth... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Ugarit] [Dead Sea Scrolls] [Neal Stephenson] [New York Times] [Nicholas Wade] [Van Eck phreaking]

October 1, 5AM

I recently read that efforts are underway, by some parties, to teach Arabic to Israelis. My limited experience of Israel led me to believe that most people were already bilingual, judging by the roadsigns. Like our progressive neighbor to the north, I s... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Arab-Israeli conflict] [Arabic] [Bilingual] [Canada] [israel] [languages] [native american]

September 30, 1AM

Perhaps the most overused simile for a real mess is that it’s “like a train wreck.” No doubt this is because train wrecks are messy, and deadly. Few things speak to human vulnerability more than airborne hunks of heavy metal flying in indeterminat... [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [commuting] [Good Samaritan] [Hoboken train wreck] [New York City] [original sin] [Total Depravity]

September 29, 1AM

This driver and this passenger had interacted before. Unpleasantly. You could feel the tension mount when the passenger watched carefully to see who the driver was as the bus pulled up to Door 1. Although bus routes change drivers somewhat frequently, ... [Books] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Banned Book Week] [Blasphemy] [In Praise of Profanity] [Jiminy Cricket] [Michael Adams] [profanity] [swearing]

September 28, 1AM

“Has anybody seen my god?” So we might imagine an ancient victim of godnapping wailing after a hostile takeover raid. We might smirk to ourselves, knowing that gods only really come in paper or plastic. The only godnapping that goes on these days i... [Bible] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [ancient Near East] [ASOR] [Dagon] [Gideon] [idol] [Philistines] [Shana Zaia]

September 27, 1AM

Kevin Smith is one of New Jersey’s own. I’ve always considered it one of life’s great ironies that Loki and Bartleby, the fallen angels in Dogma, move from Wisconsin to New Jersey, the exact same route my career took. (Feel free to read into this.... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Branch Davidians] [dogma] [Fred Phelps] [horror movies] [Kevin Smith] [New Jersey] [Red State] [Waco]

September 26, 1AM

I feel short-changed. Cheated, if you will. This is Banned Book Week, and a story in Publishers Weekly over the summer touted the benefits of the local independent bookstore. Owners of indies know that these stores are centers of community. Gathering ... [Books] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Banned Book Week] [Barnes and Noble] [Community] [independent bookstores] [Nashotah House] [New Jersey] [Publisher's Weekly]

September 25, 2AM

The fiction author who had the most influence over my formative years was Ray Bradbury. Wait—let me qualify that a bit. I read of number of series aimed at juvenile, male interest (Doc Savage, Dark Shadows, and such) but these weren’t really intende... [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Banned Book Week] [Dark Shadows] [Doc Savage] [Edgar Allan Poe] [From the Dust Returned] [Kenneth Robeson] [Marilyn Ross] [Ray Bradbury]

September 24, 3AM

There’s a scene in Shrek where Lord Farquaad tells Princess Fiona “You don’t have to waste good manners on the ogre. It’s not like it has feelings.” That scene came to mind recently as I was pondering how we often use feelings—emotion... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [black lives matter] [emotion] [Howard Thurman] [prejudice] [rationalism] [Shrek] [With Head and Heart]

September 23, 12 AM

Once while visiting the house of a friend, we took a walk in the woods. It was an area I didn’t know and after a few minutes it became clear that we were lost. There can be nearly no other feeling more frightening for a child. We wandered in the tree... [Books] [environment] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Travel] [environmentalism] [nature] [navigation] [orientation] [The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs] [Tristan Gooley]

September 22, 1AM

In a world where a metaphorical ton of money may be made by corralling electrons into specific shapes on an LCD screen, it may be easy to think of learning dead languages as a kind of autoerotic mental enterprise. Who has the time for clay-writing anymor... [Bible] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [Ugarit] [Akkadian] [Aviya Kushner] [cuneiform] [Forward] [Grove City College] [Hebrew] [Sumerian] [Ugaritic]

September 21, 1AM

People have strange ideas about what religion can and cannot do. Yes, many religions face the past—founders of various sorts gave dictates and statutes that were appropriate for all time. At their time. Few religious visionaries can see very far int... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [Amish] [BBC] [Christianities] [Judaism] [religion and science] [Technology]

September 20, 1AM

Throughout its history, until quite recently, one of the most serious natural enemies to the horror movie was the religious establishment. At times this antagonism seems well placed as horror films often take theological concepts and stand them on their ... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [David J. Skal] [Frankenstein's monster] [horror movies] [King Kong] [Stephen King] [The Monster Show] [vampires] [vodou] [zombies]

September 19, 1AM

Trying not to think too much about Children of the Corn, I visited a corn maze over the weekend. This particular autumnal activity highlights just how much detail a human mind can pick out in a mass of sameness. You can tell if you’ve been to this par... [Bible] [Classical Mythology] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Weather] [Ariadne] [Children of the Corn] [corn maze] [Daedalus] [labyrinth] [Minotaur]

September 18, 1AM

“Live long and prosper,” Mr. Spock was (or will be, depending) known for saying. Many of us know the regimen for healthy living: don’t overindulge on the food and drink. Get some exercise. Try to eat the right foods. Sleep once in a while. When... [Books] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [science] [Alyssa Navarro] [commuting] [health] [literacy] [reading] [Tech Times] [Yale University]

September 17, 3AM

It’s important to keep the old gods happy. By now everyone probably knows that Stephen King composed a tweet suggesting that Donald Trump was Cthulhu. In response an angry tweet came from Cthulhu himself, since, as we know, he declared his intention t... [Current Events] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Baal] [Cthulhu] [Donald Trump] [H P Lovecraft] [Huffington Post] [New Religious Movements] [plutocracy] [Stephen King] [Ugarit]

September 16, 1AM

There once was an old man from New Hampshire. No, this isn’t a limerick. He was famous enough to get his face on the state quarter, back when they were doing that state quarter thing. Then he fell. The Old Man of the Mountain was no more. We like t... [Animals] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Boston Public Garden] [Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area] [Cleve R. Wootson Jr] [Duckbill] [Isle of Skye] [Make Way for Ducklings.] [New Hampshire] [Old Man of Storr] [Old Man of the Mountain] [Oregon] [Robert McCloskey] [Washington Post]

September 15, 1AM

I’ve been writing about reading. No surprises there, I suppose. My wife recently introduced me to BookRiot, and I wish I had more time to spend there. A recent post by Aisling Twomey describes how reading on her Tube commute helps keep her sane. Her... [Books] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Aisling Twomey] [BookRiot] [commuting] [New York City] [reading] [Routledge]

September 14, 1AM

Visiting northwest Pennsylvania always makes me think of oil. I suppose the fact that I attended high school in Oil City has something to do with the fact. Many people suppose that the oil industry began in Texas, but Pennzoil and Quaker State have earl... [Books] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [big oil] [Oil City] [pennsylvania] [Pennzoil] [Petroleum Centre] [Pithole City] [Quaker State]

September 13, 1AM

It happened in seventh grade, but I remember it vividly. It was music class. I’ve always enjoyed music but have never been able to make it without the assistance of a device that plays recordings. This particular day, however, Mr. Butler gave us the ... [Books] [Consciousness] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [attention] [ethics] [Eviatar Zerubavel] [Hidden in Plain Sight: The Social Structure of Irrelevance] [moral inattention] [music] [perception]

September 12, 1AM

Perhaps the most frequent topic on this blog is books. I don’t discuss every book I read, but most end up here. I can’t help but be pleased then, that recent polls show the number of people reading books is rising. Not only that, but that paper is ... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [ebooks] [Libraries] [literacy] [University of Wisconsin Oshkosh]

September 11, 5AM

In the last couple of weeks two large-scale news items caught my attention. One describes how a newly discovered galaxy is made up of mostly dark matter. The other tells how a new fossil find in Greenland may push the origins of life on earth back to 3.... [astronomy] [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [dark matter] [fossils] [Greenland] [Mathematics] [science and religion]

September 10, 1AM

Working in academic publishing some insights are available that academics typically miss. For example, it isn’t unusual for a professor to ask why royalties aren’t higher on ebooks because “they don’t cost the press anything.” Ah, my poor, sim... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [adjunct] [crisis in higher education] [ebooks] [publishing] [Wikipedia]

September 9, 2AM

Perhaps the most pervasive trait of religion is its ability to construct worldviews. Even when the religion is eventually abandoned, the worldview remains. Most scientists would deny that religion lies behind their perspectives, but in the case of human... [Animals] [Bible] [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?] [Behaviorism] [evolution] [Frans de Waal] [science and religion]

September 8, 1AM

Banned Book Week is one of my favorite holidays. Don’t worry—you haven’t missed it—it occurs the final week of this month. I’m not very good, however, at guessing how long it will take me to finish a fiction book, so I start early, just in cas... [Bible] [Books] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Banned Book Week] [Poverty] [prejudice] [sexuality] [social justice] [The Bluest Eye] [Toni Morrison]

September 7, 1AM

Now that September’s here, we can begin thinking back over the summer, scratch our heads, and say “huh?” We’ve been so blinded by the Trump that we haven’t had time to reminisce over what’s been happening fundamentally. I mean among the Fund... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Fundamentalism] [Left Behind] [Lyle Jeffs] [Phyllis Schlafly] [rapture] [Timothy LaHaye]

September 6, 1AM

I first heard of feminism in seminary. Growing up as a poor, uneducated fundie in a small town, where would I have learned about it? I came to it naturally, though. Being raised for several years by a single mother I knew that women were just as smart ... [Bible] [Books] [feminism] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation] [Nyasha Junior] [womanism]

September 5, 2AM

It’s difficult to believe in Labor Day. Don’t get me wrong—I’m glad for the day off. It’s just that I don’t think people really believe in the idea any more. It’s hard to take professed goodwill for workers seriously in a plutocracy. Esp... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [capitalism] [Labor Day] [plutocracy] [prosperity] [Travel]

September 4, 2AM

Back home for a flying visit over the final dregs of the summer, I find myself in a hotel in my hometown. It’s an odd place to be. As I’ve often remarked to those who know me, I remember living in three houses in this area and all three have been to... [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Allegheny River] [Manhattan] [New Jersey] [Oil City] [pennsylvania]

September 3, 3AM

It comes as no surprise, I hope, that I read lots of fiction. While not every book I read makes it onto this blog, a good many of them do, along with some I haven’t read yet. Bill Broun’s Night of the Animals is one of the latter. A suspicion is it... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Bill Broun] [dystopia] [fiction] [George Orwell] [Night of the Animals] [NPR] [Politics and Religion]

September 2, 1AM

For those of us accustomed to ancient things, horror movies are remarkably new. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are scarce or even easy to understand. While it is beginning to erode, the academic derision of popular culture has long avoided the ... [Books] [higher education] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [A History of Horror] [horror films] [mysterium tremendum] [Universal Studios] [Wheeler Winston Dixon]

September 1, 1AM

Just how many gods are there, anyway? Well, that’s not really a fair question. For one thing, do I mean “real gods” or gods that people believe in? Do I mean “believe in” or made up? Do I mean “made up” or intentionally fabricated? And ... [Archaeology] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Ben Taub] [divine genitival construct] [Etruscans] [fertility gods] [gods] [IFL Science!] [Italy] [Poggio Colla] [polytheism] [science and religion] [Uni]

August 31, 1AM

Techoncrat I’m not. At least I understand that to be authentic in this world you need to be on social media. I have a Twitter account. Have had for years. I don’t follow it religiously, but then, I don’t treat any social media like holy writ. T... [Current Events] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [capitalism] [Donald Trump] [Facebook] [internet] [plutocracy] [Politics and Religion] [social media] [Twitter]

August 30, 1AM

Envy is not a word I would use to describe how I feel about those trying to piece together the earliest stages of humanity. Evolution, naturally, is a given. Once beyond that, however, the landscape gets dicey. Clive Finlayson is an author I don’t en... [Animals] [Books] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Bro-Magnon] [Clive Finlayson] [Homo sapiens] [Neanderthal] [The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution]

August 29, 1AM

Let me send out a warm welcome to the neighborhood, I think. Not that I officially represent Earth—or anything for that matter. I’m just friendly, I guess. Now that astronomers have strong evidence that the nearest star to our own, Proxima Centauri... [astronomy] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [astronomy] [gods] [Politics and Religion] [Proxima Centauri]

August 28, 1AM

All fiction writing, it is often said, is borrowing. I’m not exactly sure that’s literally true, but the basic idea is that writers often trade with one another. They also borrow against their own experience and observations that others have made. ... [Books] [literature] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [and Zombies] [Charlotte Bronte] [fan fiction] [Jane Austen] [Jane Eyre] [Jean Rhys] [prejudice] [pride] [soucriant] [Wide Sargasso Sea] [zombie]

August 27, 1AM

I don’t watch television. This isn’t any kind of moral stance. It’s financial. We can’t afford any “triple play” plans for the little free time we have for television. My wife and I both work long hours. We like to read, so we don’t hav... [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Amy Kuperinksy] [Machiavelli] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [popular culture] [reality television] [Ronald Reagan] [Survivor] [Television]

August 26, 1AM

Reading is fundamental. Those of us who grew up hearing that slogan have never forgotten it. The part that I wish had stuck better is just a touch shorter: reading is fun. Or it can be. Should be. Alan Jacobs’ little book The Pleasures of Reading i... [Books] [Just for Fun] [literature] [Posts] [Alan Jacobs] [Bible] [literacy] [rereading] [The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction]

August 25, 1AM

Extinction is a cause of fear. Having evolved a certain level of self-aware consciousness, we fear becoming the next tyrannosaurus-rex or spinosaurus, or whatever the next top predator turns out to have been. We’re here to stay. So we like to think.... [Bibliolatry] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christianity] [extinction] [John Sides] [protestantism] [Public Religion Research Institute] [Robert P. Jones] [The Washington Post]

August 24, 12 AM

August isn’t too early to start thinking about vampires. The nights are already noticeably longer than they were in June and some leaves are just beginning to change on the trees. I’m thinking of vampires because one of my readers sent me a link to ... [Britannia] [Current Events] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [Belief] [Erin Chapman] [Highgate Cemetery] [Highgate Vampire] [Sean Manchester] [Vamped] [vampires]

August 23, 2AM

Few things travel as well as curses. Or so it seems in a news report from Serbia. Archaeologists in Kostolac, according to The Guardian, have excavated skeletons nearly two millennia old. That’s not news, since people have been dying as long as there... [Archaeology] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [aramaic] [curse] [Demons] [Kostolac] [Politics and Religion] [roman empire] [serbia] [The Guardian]

August 22, 2AM

I’m not inclined toward hero worship. Sometimes I think it must be a personality flaw on my part. The cult of celebrity is so pervasive that I feel desperately behind the times when I read what web-savvy authors write. Or maybe the truth is that my h... [Memoirs] [Posts] [heroes] [Homer Sitterley] [New Jersey] [New York] [pennsylvania] [small towns]

August 21, 2AM

What does it mean to be a man? Or a woman? Or intersex? As a society we seem to spend quite a lot of political time thinking about this. We want to regulate something we don’t even understand. An opinion piece by Rabbi Mark Sameth in the New York T... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Deities] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [bathroom politics] [Bible and politics] [Diversity] [Gender] [Mark Sameth] [New York Times] [Tolerance]

August 20, 2AM

It brings tears to my eyes. A little guy millions of miles from home. The only spark of acknowledged intelligence on the entire planet. It’s his birthday and he’s singing “Happy Birthday” to himself. It’s downright depressing. The guy, howe... [astronomy] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Robotics] [science] [4-H Fair] [Mars] [Mars rover Curiosity] [Technology] [touchscreen generation] [Washington Post]

August 19, 1AM

I grew up with horror films. Not that my mother encouraged or approved this behavior, but I was a kid with a lot of phobias. With no father around to protect us from what dangers might lurk out there, I tried to learn how to cope by watching others face... [Books] [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [horror films] [Kendall R. Phillips] [Monster Boomer] [Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture]

August 18, 1AM

Fashion. Okay, I’ll wait here while you check your URL to make sure you’re on the right webpage. Back? Okay. Fashion is something about which I care so little that it surprises even me that I’m addressing it. I can blame my wife, since she sent... [Current Events] [feminism] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Blair Witch] [fashion] [Harry Potter] [Massachusetts] [Priya Elan] [Rosemary's Baby] [Salem] [The Guardian] [witches]

August 17, 1AM

The scientific method has been a boon to humanity. Knowing how to sharpen the rational faculties has demonstrated its benefits time and time again. Sometimes, however, overemphasis on rationality contains hidden costs. Humans are not always rational, a... [Animals] [Books] [Consciousness] [environment] [Posts] [science] [animal rights] [fly fishing] [Marcelo Gleiser] [rationalism] [science and religion] [Spirituality] [The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected]

August 16, 1AM

As long as I’m thinking about ethics, my thoughts turn to the fair. Every August our county 4-H Fair becomes an event in our lives. Since my family has been involved with 4-H for many years, we always try to spend as much time there as we can afford. ... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Robotics] [Social Consciousness] [4-H Fair] [Donald Trump] [plutocracy] [politics]

August 15, 1AM

You probably know the ritual. On a given day of the week (often the weekend—your “time off” for good behavior) you troop to the grocery store. You toss the items you’ll need for the week into a cart and trundle home to fit them into the intersti... [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [Consumer Reports] [ethics] [food] [groceries] [ritual]

August 14, 2AM

To a certain mindset, nothing conveys a threat quite like Satanism. Many parts of the world witnessed this dynamic during the “Satanic scare” of the 1990’s. In reality, however, most groups identifying as Satanism do not believe in a Devil and, of... [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Devil] [freedom of religion] [Fundamentalism] [Good News Clubs] [Satanic Temple] [Satanism] [Washington Post]

August 13, 2AM

The world is safe now. It’s okay—you can unlock your doors and windows at last. I have the proof right before me. Two weeks ago I was out of town. To get to my final destination I had to fly. I travel light. Seeing families at the airport with s... [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Air Travel] [conscientious objector] [pacifism] [Transportation Security Administration] [traveling light]

August 12, 2AM

My reading list is long, and it grows longer all the time. I read both fiction and non-fiction with equal avidity. Given that there are so many books I want to read, it is unusual to read entire books a second time (they should be kept for reference’s... [Bible] [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [canonical books] [herman melville] [Ilana Pardes] [Melville’s Bibles] [Moby Dick] [Wisdom Literature]

August 11, 1AM

One of my most frequent imaginary dalliances is wondering what I would have done with my life if I hadn’t been raised religious. Like many young boys I found “exciting” jobs enticing—soldier, firefighter, explorer—but scientist also loomed larg... [Bible] [Books] [Britannia] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Ugarit] [Beowulf] [BookRiot] [E. H. Kern] [English] [Hebrew] [King James Bible] [Old English] [The Exeter Book] [Ugaritic]

August 10, 1AM

When I first began this blog, generally focused on religion, I felt the need to justify posts about monsters. Now, some seven years and several books later, I have come to assume monsters and religion are close kin. Many scholars who explore monsters ar... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Guillermo Del Toro] [HORROR] [Jordan Riefe] [souls] [The Guardian]

August 9, 1AM

A few weekends back I watched the new Ghostbusters in the theater. Since tuition bills loom larger than life, it takes a powerful draw to get me to spend the money to see a movie in its natural setting. As my regular readers know, I loved it. Critics h... [Consciousness] [feminism] [movies] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Colin Dickey] [Dan Aykroyd] [Ghost Hunters] [Ghostbusters] [materialistic reductionism] [New Republic] [Spiritualism]

August 8, 1AM

Floods are the stuff of legends. In fact, one of the most pervasive myths of all times is the world-wide flood. While some would see this as “evidence” that such an impossible flood actually occurred (some believing so fervently as to build replicas... [Uncategorized] [china] [flood myth] [global warming] [Noah's Flood] [Sarah Kaplan] [Sir Leonard Woolley] [Washington Post] [Yellow River]

August 7, 1AM

Reentry is never easy. I’ve just been on a vacation in the woods of the northwest and yesterday marked, via eight hours of air travel and airport waiting, my trip home. Tomorrow work begins again and I hope for the ability to adjust quickly into some ... [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [New York City] [northwoods] [ritual] [Travel] [vacation]

August 6, 3AM

It was recently announced that Fox has renewed Sleepy Hollow for a fourth season. Please! No spoilers in the comments (as if)! I’m running a season behind so I want to protect my innocence. The announcement coincided with the happy news that my arti... [higher education] [literature] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Asherah] [Journal of Religion and Popular Culture] [Sleepy Hollow] [The Legend of Sleepy Hollow] [Tim Burton] [Weathering the Psalms]

August 5, 6AM

Jonathan Carroll’s novels are always thought-provoking. My reading patterns tend to be driven by book sales and secondhand stores since my reading vice is particularly aggressive. The Ghost in Love is now already years in my past, but I found a copy o... [Bible] [Books] [Genesis] [literature] [Mesopotamia] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Bathing the Lion] [chaos] [Chaoskampf] [Creation] [enuma elish] [Genesis 1] [Jonathan Carroll]

August 4, 6AM

The Roman Empire ruled the known world. Christianity owes much of its form and structure to the fact that the Romans expressed their rule in a military way and prized what they thought was order and fairness. While all of this was happening across the o... [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Travel] [Basking Ridge oak] [Bristlecone Pines] [Great Swamp Oak] [roman empire] [Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars] [Shoe Tree] [Washington]

August 3, 6AM

In the current political climate—and not just in the United States, as Brexit reminds us—opposites seem to be the order of the day. The middle ground seems to have fallen out as those frantic for turning back the clock to a day that never really ever... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [complexity] [Dualism] [Manichaean] [Religion and Politics] [zoroastrianism]

August 2, 6AM

The reductionistic mind doesn’t care for mystery. Unlike a lover, the unknown is a problem to be solved so that the march of nice, neat solutions may continue to march on, unabated. Fear of fuzzy thinking leads to a coldness that those of us experienc... [Animals] [Consciousness] [environment] [Posts] [Travel] [beast of Dartmoor] [cougar] [Materialism] [Mountain Lion] [reductionism] [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]

August 1, 5AM

One of the unspoken prompts for writing Weathering the Psalms was the unscientific idea that God is somehow associated with the sky. To my mind this has more to say about what religion is beyond the recognition that Anu, El, Nut, and kin were primordial ... [Deities] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Travel] [celestial religion] [flight] [sky gods] [three-tiered universe] [Weathering the Psalms]

July 31, 4AM

Here I am in a natural setting, with nature close at hand. From these windows I can see mountains, a mercury-smooth lake with fish breaking its silvery sheet, and trees aspiring for the sky. I hear a red squirrel chattering from one of those trees, and ... [environment] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [civilization] [environmentalism] [nature] [Travel] [vacation]

July 30, 5AM

Jasper Fforde is one of those writers who blends nonsense, deep thought, constant plot twists, and polished writing into compelling novels. His labors are always fun to read and often leave me with something profound to ponder. I haven’t followed his Th... [Books] [civil religion] [Deities] [literature] [Posts] [Global Standard Deity] [Jasper Fforde] [Jonah] [Ministry of Theistic Defense] [The Woman Who Died a Lot] [Thursday Next]

July 29, 12 AM

After grousing about having too little time, today begins a trip out of town. Changing time zones, forsaking civilization, resting at a mountain lake. And I’m thinking of all that I’ll accomplish without having to go into the office for an entire we... [Consciousness] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Air Travel] [the Borg] [transhuman] [vacation]

July 28, 1AM

Anyone who spends long enough in the United Kingdom will hear about them. Not everyone believes in them, but reports of their presence are pervasive. Some call them ghosts while others call them protective spirits. They are the black dogs. As Mark Nor... [Animals] [Books] [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [Monsters] [Posts] [Black Dog Folklore] [Black Dogs] [chthonian] [folklore] [ghosts] [Mark Norman] [mythology]

July 27, 1AM

Rituals rely on unchanging circumstances. When we attended a grocery store that was not our usual one my ritual was challenged. First I have to confess (as is appropriate for a ritual): I am no foodie. Having grown up in humble circumstances where eati... [Bible] [Genesis] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Adam and Eve] [Eve apple] [Genesis 3] [ritual] [Seventh Day Adventist]

July 26, 1AM

I spend a lot of time thinking about monsters. Could there be any more statement of the obvious? The deeper issue, however, is why. Why am I, among countless others, drawn to the monster? This may not be politically correct—I apologize in advance—... [Current Events] [Monsters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [education] [Frankenstein's monster] [political correctness] [politics] [populism]

July 25, 1AM

One of the unexpected consequences of Christian theology is the ongoing insistence in science that human beings are qualitatively different from other animals. Actually, it goes back to the Hebrew Bible and the concept of “the image of God.” As the ... [Animals] [Bible] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [evolution] [Genesis] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [animal intelligence] [Darryl Fears] [Image of God] [instinct] [science and religion] [Stone Age] [Washington Post]

July 24, 3AM

Working in Midtown Manhattan, it’s rare for a week to go by without passing through a street that’s set up for a film or television shoot. New York isn’t the largest city in the world, nor does it have the tallest buildings, but it is a city instan... [Current Events] [feminism] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Ghostbusters] [ghosts] [New York City] [Social Consciousness]

July 23, 2AM

We are products of our place of birth. One of the truly amazing things about human culture is how quickly it can evolve. As biologists have noted, populations separated by natural barriers such as mountains, big rivers, or oceans, tend to evolve in diff... [Bibliolatry] [Britannia] [Current Events] [evolution] [literature] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Britain] [C. S. Lewis] [Colleen Gillard] [cultural evolution] [dystopia] [Pagan] [Puritan] [The Atlantic]

July 22, 1AM

Perhaps the characteristic that marks our species most distinctly is its arrogance. Conscious of who we are (we think) we stake the claim for minds for ourselves alone while all the evidence points away from that very conclusion. Naturalists are castiga... [Animals] [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [science] [New England Aquarium] [octopus] [soul] [Stephen Hawking] [Sy Montgomery] [The Soul of an Octopus]

July 21, 1AM

Like many kids of the sixties I grew up watching Batman. I mean Batman—the campy, goofy, live-action version of the caped crusader that was must-see TV for young boys and other hero wannabes. This was all hung upside-down, as it were, by Tim Burton’... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Batman] [Christopher Nolan] [entrepreneurs] [evangelicalism] [Harvey Dent] [naked business] [The Dark Knight] [Tim Burton] [Two-Face]

July 20, 12 AM

Intellectuals often have difficulty, it seems, taking popular culture seriously.  I remember feeling slightly guilty taking a class on Science Fiction in college and actually getting credit for it.  At the time—I remember the Dark Ages—a course on c... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [mythology] [Our Superheroes] [Ourselves] [popular culture] [Psychiatry] [Psychology] [Robin S. Rosenberg] [superhero]

July 19, 1AM

Those of us who once tried to storm the walls of academe from humble beginnings soon learn our lesson. This is a guild meant only for those whose parents knew enough to suggest an Ivy League education. Those whose parents have never heard of Harvard (th... [Britannia] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Cambridge Companions] [Edinburgh University] [Ivy League] [John C. L. Gibson] [Nicolas Wyatt] [Simon Parker]

July 18, 1AM

The mind, despite nay-sayers, is real. It isn’t an illusion. Emergent phenomena are often larger than the sum of their parts. One of the problems with the non-physical is that we can’t parse it precisely. “Mind” may be called “soul” may be... [Bible] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Deities] [Monsters] [Posts] [Demons] [mental illness] [mind] [natural law] [Richard Gallagher] [soul] [Washington Post]

July 17, 2AM

It was already ancient when first discovered by the early European colonists of New Jersey. The Basking Ridge oak is a well-known and time-honored New Jersey denizen. Over six centuries old, the white oak, it seems, is dying. Like it’s cousin, the Sw... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Basking Ridge] [Basking Ridge oak] [Book of Job] [George Washington] [George Whitefield] [Holy Oak] [New Jersey] [New Jersey Star-Ledger]

July 16, 1AM

Visiting the Holocaust Museum was one of the most wrenching activities of my life. I was in Washington DC for a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature when my friend Jeff came across the Atlantic to attend. He wanted to see the Museum and I reluc... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Elie Wiesel] [Holocaust Museum] [Pokemon Go] [Washington DC] [Washington Post]

July 15, 2AM

It must be difficult to write a Very Short Introduction. Although the series is published by Oxford University Press, I’m not being a shill. As someone who writes the equivalent of several of these little books a year, I imagine it must be nearly impo... [Bible] [Books] [higher education] [literature] [Posts] [Bible as literature] [Oxford University Press] [The Hebrew Bible as Literature] [Tod Linafelt] [truth] [Very Short Introductions]

July 14, 1AM

You know that feeling of being dropped into a very strange place?  Sure, it’s disorienting for a while, but once you get used to it, you start to enjoy your surroundings.  Now ask yourself: what if my entire way of looking at life is based on a faulty... [Animals] [Books] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home] [mechanistic universe] [morphic fields] [Pokemon Go] [Rupert Sheldrake] [science and religion] [souls] [telepathy]

July 13, 1AM

Noah and his ark have been in the news quite a bit over the past several months. A friend recently shared a story on American News X about Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter, soon to open in Kentucky. It may be open already, but I haven’t been down yonder late... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Genesis] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [American News X] [Ark Encounter] [ilgamesh Epic] [Ken Ham] [kentucky] [Noah's Ark] [Sun Pictures] [Thomas Clay] [Utnapishtim]

July 12, 1AM

Summer is the time for camp. I’m not into extreme sports, like sleeping outdoors in the snow, so in my mind, summer is the time for camp. While in college I spent two summers as a counselor for the Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Conference camp... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Camp Allegheny] [Fundamentalism] [Jesus Camp] [Jumonville] [Richard Dawkins] [The Guardian] [United Methodist Church] [Wesley Woods] [Western Pennsylvania Conference]

July 11, 1AM

As a lifelong pacifist, I’ve never been a fan of war books. Indeed, war seems to be to an utterly useless waste of life and a source of herculean suffering. The fact that wars happen, and books about them depress me, causes me to avoid them. Still, ... [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Anti-Semitism] [Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism] [Derek Hastings] [Hogan's Heroes] [Religious Identity and National Socialism] [Roman Catholicism] [Third Reich]

July 10, 1AM

Maybe you’ve seen it too.  Corporate-style psychobabble.  Memos land on your desk, whether real or virtual, jostling with neologisms, indicating the trendy new directions the business is going.  Apparently a legal requirement is that old vocabula... [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Business] [capitalism] [neologism] [nonce words] [portmanteau]

July 9, 2AM

The first vampire novel I ever read, I remember correctly, was one of the Dark Shadows series written by Marilyn Ross. I don’t recall which one, since I had to buy my books from Goodwill or some such vender utilized by the poor. Now, I’m really a sq... [Bible] [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Anne Rice] [Barnabas Collins] [Bram Stoker] [Dark Shadows] [Devil] [Interview with the Vampire] [Job] [Marilyn Ross] [Theodicy] [vampires]

July 8, 1AM

Religions, it seems, come in belts. Or at least elements of religions do. Although we may not all agree on what constitutes the “Bible Belt” we all have a pretty good idea that it includes several southern states, and parts of the Midwest. It doesn... [Bible] [civil religion] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Travel] [Bible Belt] [Borscht Belt] [Burnt Over District] [Catskills] [Judaism] [New York] [pennsylvania] [Poconos]

July 7, 1AM

Perhaps it seems that I’m writing quite a bit about music these days. Being a theoretical and practical failure in the practice of music, it may seem presumptuous. If I’m honest, I’d admit that visiting the site of Woodstock was kind of a religiou... [art] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Social Consciousness] [Amy Grant] [Bono] [capitalism] [Christian Rock] [John Pavlovitz] [Larry Norman] [U2] [Woodstock]

July 6, 1AM

Harvard University’s been in the news. Well, Harvard makes the news, so that not news. The first story that has appeared is that Harvard, like me, is giving it away. Information on religion, that is. Like a fire sale. Or making room for next season... [Uncategorized] [Anglican Journal] [Boston University School of Theology] [Charlotte Allen] [Edinburgh University] [Harvard University] [The Atlantic] [The Weekly Standard]

July 5, 2AM

Music preserves your youth. When my wife was studying music therapy, one of the pieces of information she received is that those whose brains have begun to shut down the speaking faculties can still sing. People respond best, in such states, to the musi... [art] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Travel] [Bethel Woods] [music therapy] [Paul Simon] [Simon and Garfunkel] [Woodstock]

July 4, 3AM

Freedom. Independence Day is our celebration of liberty. Yesterday I happened to find myself at Bethel Woods, the out-of-the-way location in New York where Woodstock was held. Probably no one in 1969 realized just how formative Woodstock and its messag... [art] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [1969] [Bethel Woods] [freedom] [Independence Day] [New York] [Vietnam War] [Woodstock]

July 3, 4AM

The title is, unfortunately, not mine. My wife sent me a story on NPR entitled “Humility Is Embedded In Doing Science, But What About Spirituality?” by Barbara J. King. The piece is largely an interview with physicist Marcelo Gleiser about his new b... [Books] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Barbara J. King] [Marcelo Gleiser] [NPR] [science and religion] [Spirituality] [The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected]

July 2, 2AM

Two centuries can make an enormous difference. Just two-hundred years ago Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo was merely one year in the past. North America and parts of Europe were experiencing “the year without a summer.” Perhaps due to that cool and... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1816] [Anne Rice] [Bram Stoker] [Epimetheus] [Frankenstein] [Golem] [John Polidori] [Lord Byron] [Mary Godwin] [Mary Shelley] [Percy Bysshe Shelley]

July 1, 1AM

Popular culture, it seems to me, mediates reality. The media of various descriptions teach us what to think, and even if there is a religiously “orthodox” answer to questions, we will weigh it in the scales against what larger society says. This bec... [Bible] [Books] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [death] [Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination] [Greg Garrett] [heaven] [hell] [Purgatory] [zoroastrianism]

June 30, 1AM

Tyrannosaurus rex, aside from being a photogenic movie star, was one of the top predators of its day. Ironically, in the Jurassic Park original trilogy (which would have been, more appropriately Triassic Park) tyrannosaurus rex becomes the ultimate prota... [Animals] [Current Events] [evolution] [movies] [Natural Disasters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [dinosaurs] [Donald Trump] [extinction] [Jurassic Park] [Jurassic World] [Tyrannosaurus Rex]

June 29, 1AM

In this world of rational materialism, people still turn to fiction. Some prefer it in the form of movies, television, or internet, but those of us “old school” like our fiction in print. No matter how we take it, fiction appeals to that part of us ... [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [Posts] [cognitive science] [emotion] [fiction] [Keith Oatley] [rationalism] [The Passionate Muse: Exploring Emotion in Stories]

June 28, 1AM

I’ve been reading about Ruth lately. Ruth doesn’t have a last name. She’s a character in the Bible. The book named after her is one of the shortest in the longest, Hebrew section of the Good Book. It’s a fairly gentle story, although it ha... [Bible] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [false etymology] [family values] [gleaning] [Levi] [levirate law] [Moabite] [Ruth]

June 27, 1AM

Nothing used to make you feel smarter than being in a British bookstore. With that curious blend of proper, insane, and bawdy, books are displayed that you might find surprising. Alarming, even. Last year as I strolled around Blackwells in Oxford, I sp... [Books] [Britannia] [evolution] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [science] [Amazon] [Blackwells] [Jared Diamond] [morality] [Oxford] [The Evolution of Human Sexuality] [Why is Sex Fun?]

June 26, 1AM

It was 1987. I was in Israel for a good part of the summer excavating at Tel Dor. Between degrees and trying what to do with my life, like many people, I sought out a holy place. One evening while I was there, the locals (I can’t recall if it was the... [environment] [Memoirs] [movies] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Kalahari] [noble savage] [Tel Dor] [The Gods Must Be Crazy] [Theodicy]

June 25, 1AM

From Wikimedia Commons Four centuries ago this year William Shakespeare died. In the literary world there have been lots of commemorations going on, and all the fuss reminded me of a post I’d written some years back concerning Psalm 46. While teaching... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Psalms] [Donald Trump] [Hannibal Hamlin] [King James Version] [Nashotah House] [Psalm 46] [The Bible in Shakespeare] [William Shakespeare]

June 24, 1AM

I like my Starter. For those of you unaccustomed to New Jersey Transit buses and their ways, a Starter is a person who makes sure the buses scheduled to arrive at her or his gate do so on time. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted. If a bus is late, ... [Books] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [commuting] [New Jersey Transit] [New York City] [Port Authority Bus Terminal] [reading]

June 23, 1AM

Don’t complain. So I’m told. Work with the system (i.e., the privileged), do your part, and most of all, don’t complain. What would Jeremiah do? Or any of the prophets? It seems to me that prophets had the job of calling out where society had g... [Books] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [Ecstatic Religion: A Study of Shamanism and Spirit Possession] [I. M. Lewis] [Possession] [Prophets] [shamanism] [social justice] [Tungus]

June 22, 1AM

I suspect, like most people, I missed quite a few classics in school. This was the ’70’s when new and experimental were still the rage. One of the must-reads I missed was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. As usual when approaching bo... [Books] [Just for Fun] [literature] [Posts] [science] [creationism] [Dr. Chasuble] [Oscar Wilde] [science and religion] [televangelists] [The Importance of Being Earnest]

June 21, 1AM

Everything’s industry. It has haunted me for some years now that we’ve let our corporate greed run away with our imagination so that nothing but “industry” remains. We don’t wish to interfere with the gun industry. The guns we like the best a... [art] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [gun control] [gun industry] [Isaiah] [mass shootings] [Mexico City] [Pedro Reyes]

June 20, 1AM

Someone recently told me that a city blocks a certain vibration that people draw from contact with the earth. I know that vibration often sets off “new age” alarms, but this person was rational, scientific, and had grown up in New York City. I grew ... [Books] [Consciousness] [environment] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Bill Pfeiffer] [capitalism] [indigenous peoples] [New York City] [reductionism] [shamanism] [Wild Earth] [Wild Soul: A Manual for Ecstatic Culture]

June 19, 1AM

Politics is about power. Say what you will about the Bible, but at least they were clear about it in those days. Kings were alpha males, not public servants. In the light of Orlando we can see how little has changed. Random acts of violence grow more ... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [bullying] [gun control] [Orlando shooting] [politicians] [Social Consciousness] [violence]

June 18, 2AM

Albinism occurs across species. In human beings, suspicious and superstitious lot that we are, it’s sometimes an excuse for prejudice. I’ve confessed in the past to reading Weird N.J. (Long story.) When we first moved to the Garden State a series ... [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [albinism] [folklore] [Malawi] [Max Bearak] [The Washington Post] [violence] [Weird N.J.] [witchcraft]

June 17, 1AM

Andover Newton Theological School is the oldest stand-alone graduate school of theology in the United States. Was, I should say. Declining enrollment—supply and demand dictates fewer clergy are required—and the rising costs of a job description that... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Andover Newton Theological School] [Berkeley Divinity School] [protestantism] [seminaries] [Yale Divinity School]

June 16, 1AM

There has been a movement, of late, among some sci-fi authors, to envision a more optimistic future. I have always been a fan of dystopias, myself. Perhaps it’s the working-class mentality backed up by being raised in poverty speaking, but sometimes I... [Books] [civil religion] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [dystopia] [Emily St. John Mandel] [one per centers] [science fiction] [Station Eleven]

June 15, 1AM

Technology runs amok. I confess to being born before earthlings landed on the moon. I remember a world where Purelle boogers simply did not exist. A time when to read the Bible meant opening that black leather with gilt edges that suggested some unknow... [Bible] [Egypt] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Egyptian] [Emoji Bible] [emojis] [Ezekiel 23.20] [hieroglyphs] [Lego Bible] [LOL Cats Bible] [Oxford Dictionaries] [Technology]

June 14, 1AM

I have to confess that the easy self-publishing of ebooks is a real temptation sometimes. Perhaps it’s one of those inexplicable side-effects of earning a Ph.D., but sometimes you have the impression you have something to say and traditional publishers... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Amazon] [Bible Code] [CreateSpace] [Donald Trump] [ebooks] [Peanuts] [Religion and Politics] [self-publishing]

June 13, 1AM

One of the most coveted phenomena in the publishing world is the bad review. Controversy sells a book like nothing else. It wasn’t because of the controversy, however, that I read Alex Mar’s Witches of America. Looking back, I wasn’t even sure of... [Books] [feminism] [Memoirs] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Sects] [Alex Mar] [Mysticism] [paganism] [spiritual memoir] [Wicca] [witches] [Witches of America]

June 12, 1AM

I pity the nation that doesn’t have divine founders. Origin myths help to orient our thoughts about where we belong in the order of things. Given enough time, any national founder will become a god. When a friend recently shared a blog post about Gog... [Bible] [Britannia] [civil religion] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Alexander Hamilton] [Bede] [Ezekiel] [Geoffrey of Monmouth] [George Washington] [Gogmagog] [Mabinogion] [Moses] [Revelation]

June 11, 2AM

While on my current British kick—not really intentional, but sometimes life gives you limes—I thought I’d mention another piece sent to me by a friend. This one falls under BBC Earth, and it’s about “Why Ancient Brits threw out their most valua... [Archaeology] [Britannia] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Amanda Ruggeri] [Anthropology] [BBC Earth] [Bronze Age] [hoards] [israel] [Phoenicians] [ritual]

June 10, 1AM

The Romans are coming! The Romans are coming! No, wait. They were already here. Here, that is, if you’re European. And more specifically, a Londoner. The Guardian recently posted a story about the oldest writing in the United Kingdom being unearth... [Archaeology] [Britannia] [Current Events] [literature] [Posts] [ancient writing] [Bloomberg] [London] [media] [Romans] [The Guardian]

June 9, 1AM

While reading the Hull Daily Mail (don’t ask), I came across an article entitled “Rock legend Alice Cooper ask questions about the Beast of Barmston Drain.” Apart from that lovable Britishism of making groups into grammatical plurals, this brief ar... [Animals] [Britannia] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] ["The Werewolf"] [Alice Cooper] [Amy Nicholson] [Beast of Barmston Drain] [Hull Daily Mail] [Linda Godfrey] [Paul Simon] [Welcome to My Nightmare]

June 8, 1AM

Just 200 years ago, there was a “year without a summer.”  Well, that’s an exaggeration, but the name has stuck and is familiar to those of us with an undue interest in weather.  Although the coldness of that summer was far from universal, frosts c... [Books] [environment] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [1816] [global warming] [Henry and Elizabeth Stommel] [Krakatoa] [Mount Tambora] [the Year Without a Summer] [volcano] [Volcano Weather: The Story of 1816]

June 7, 1AM

I can never keep Virgil and Beatrice straight. I blame Dante. Allegories can be so tiring. So, sitting under a tree in Princeton, enjoying a root beer float prepared at The Bent Spoon, I ponder the empty bottle before me. Virgil’s root beer. So goo... [art] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [Dante Alighieri] [Divine Comedy] [Grounds for Sculpture] [John Seward Johnson II] [New Jersey] [Princeton] [Virgil's Root Beer]

June 6, 1AM

Reading about Philip K. Dick prompted me to read one of his novels. But which one? Some Amazon pick-up lockers on the way to work are painted with a mural of The Man in the High Castle. I haven’t seen the series, but there was the paperback, facing o... [Bible] [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christianity] [fascism] [I Ching] [Philip K. Dick] [The Man in the High Castle]

June 5, 4AM

How often we’re told—and writers on biblical topics are especially guilty of this—the meaning of a story. Despite what materialists say, we are meaning-seeking creatures. We want to know why. When we read a story we want to know what it means. I... [Bible] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [David Abram] [Dreamtime stories] [heresy] [Materialism] [meaning] [Nashotah House]

June 4, 2AM

Witch-hunts, I suspect, will become all the rage again if a certain presidential candidate is elected. The fear of witches is not easily explained in a world driven by materialism, but certainly misogyny plays an unholy role in much of it. Stacy Schiff... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [1692] [Devil] [religious tolerance] [Salem Witch Trials] [Satan] [Stacy Schiff] [The Witches: Salem] [witches]

June 3, 2AM

Civilization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it’s got its moments—modern medicine, indoor plumbing, Honey Boo Boo—but often it’s artificial. It’s like somebody made up a set of silly rules and those who dare violate them are tre... [Animals] [Books] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [environment] [evolution] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [David Abram] [ecology] [nature] [The Spell of the Sensuous] [Thomas Nagel]

June 2, 1AM

Delicate isn’t a word we’ve been taught to associate with Islam. I remember a priest speaking to me oh-so-earnestly about how Islam by nature wanted to take over the world. I wondered about his education in the history of Christianity. If you turn ... [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Isis] [Islam] [Leila Fadel] [NPR] [Qarawiyyin Library] [revealed religion] [Revelation]

June 1, 1AM

There may come a time, perhaps “when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound,” that junk mail will be no more, a mere historical curiosity. For now, in these days of declining postage prices, we’ll continue to put up with it. I suspect much of it targ... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Belief] [freedom of religion] [junk mail] [religious tolerance] [surveys]

May 31, 1AM

In the way that only social pundits can generate stereotypes, people born between 1979 and 1994 are called “the entitlement generation.” Large scale social attitudes, it is alleged, set an almost unbreakable Zeitgeist that defines us neatly so that w... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Chobani] [entitlement generation] [Franklin D. Roosevelt] [Hamdi Ulukaya] [Social Consciousness] [Time]

May 30, 3AM

John Seward Johnson II is a sculptor whose work is instantly recognizable by a number of people. Realistic, life-size bronze castings of people doing everyday things, some are painted so as to be difficult to distinguish from quotidian humans. Others ar... [art] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [9/11] [Double Check] [John Seward Johnson II] [memorial day]

May 29, 2AM

My experience of paternal parents growing up never led me to think Father’s Day was a holiday particularly worth celebrating. (Don’t panic—today’s not Father’s Day!) I do have an ironical sense of humor about the commemoration, though. So the ot... [Books] [Holidays] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Amazon] [Father's Day] [fyodor dostoyevsky] [Jeff Bezos] [patricide] [The Brothers Karamazov]

May 28, 2AM

Positivism takes no captives. I’m not talking about the philosophical system—not necessarily—but about the phenomenon of assuming absolutes are available for human consumption. Some physicists, for example, assume that because our five senses can ... [Bibliolatry] [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [Deities] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [history] [Margaret of Anjou] [myth] [Positivism] [Sophie Okonedo] [The Hollow Crown]

May 27, 1AM

I’d never come across the term “religious melancholics” before, but somehow it seemed to suit me. Perhaps that goes without saying as I’m reading Damned Nation, by Kathryn Gin Lum. While sitting on a bus. We’re sitting in traffic and the guy ... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [American religion] [Damned Nation] [hell] [Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction] [Kathryn Gin Lum] [Suicide]

May 26, 1AM

It must be incredibly difficult to write a truly scary song. I don’t mean the kind of scare that most heavy metal can innately deliver, but I mean the kind of thrill that a classic horror movie gives. I’m constantly looking for the movie that can re... [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] ["Burn the Witch"] ["The Werewolf"] [Michael Jackson] [NPR] [Paul Simon] [Radiohead] [Stranger to Stranger] [The Howling] [thriller] [wendigo]

May 25, 1AM

Spring has been taking its time to arrive here in the northeast. Just when things seem to have set on a course of identifiable progress, the temperature drops twenty degrees and the rain sets in again. It’s been great weather for toadstools. There ar... [Classical Mythology] [Posts] [science] [Weather] [meteorology] [New York City] [Norse mythology] [seasons] [sundog]

May 24, 1AM

What do you want to be when you grow up? The question kept recurring as I read The Kindness of Strangers. The name Kate Adie may be more familiar to readers from the UK than to those from the US. While spending three years and a bit in Scotland, my wif... [Books] [Britannia] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [BBC] [Kate Adie] [social justice] [The Kindness of Strangers]

May 23, 1AM

Forgiveness is somewhat of a specialization among the crowd courted by the new GOP. Although it is forgiveness that goes only one way, at least it’s a start. Think back to Bill Clinton making his non-inhalation declaration followed by W who could not ... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Bill Clinton] [Facebook] [forgiveness] [Justin Wm. Moyer] [Mike Webb] [Politics and Religion] [Virginia] [Washington Post]

May 22, 2AM

A good metaphor gone bad can do a lot of damage. Like a loose cannon. Hell is a bad neighborhood for metaphors. Taken literally Hell can be hell. So it is that many evangelical Christians are abandoning the concept. Jumping ship on the Manichean outl... [Bibliolatry] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [evangelical] [hell] [Judaism] [Mark Strauss] [National Geographic] [sheol] [zoroastrianism]

May 21, 4AM

One of the most remarkable things about Christianity is its fascination with the end of the world. Far from being the obsession of nineteenth-century dispensationalists alone (the other Mr. Darby), the earnestly anticipated end goes back to Paul of Tarsu... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [Christianity] [dispensationalism] [Greg Miller] [hell] [maps] [National Geographic]

May 20, 2AM

As a fleet of Noah’s Arks near completion, some critics would like to stop these Titanics from their mythical crossing. The Ark Encounter, despite announcements of its demise, is set to open soon in Kentucky. This Noah’s Ark replica, unlike its seaw... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Genesis] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [science] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Ark Encounter] [Genocide] [incest] [kentucky] [Lexington Herald-Leader] [Noah's Ark] [Noah's Flood] [Tolerance] [Tri-State Freethinkers]

May 19, 2AM

Speaking of prediction, after yesterday’s post my wife sent me a BBC story entitled “The Machine Stops: Did EM Forester predict the internet age?”. Although the story by Chris Long is classified as Entertainment and Arts, the issues raised are very... [Consciousness] [evolution] [literature] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [BBC. Chris Long] [E. M. Forester] [internet] [Technology] [The Machine Stops]

May 18, 2AM

Photo credit: Cephas, Wikimedia Commons Prognostication used to be the remit of oversized rodents and individuals we’d now classify as mad. And news used to be stories about things that had already happened. Past tense things. I don’t read any dail... [Bible] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [media] [Politics and Religion] [prediction] [Prophecy]

May 17, 1AM

“Time,” Morpheus said, “is always against us.” Such is life in the Matrix. Wake before daylight. Climb on a bus. Stare at a screen for a solid eight hours. Climb on a bus. Sleep before dark. Repeat. It’s a schedule only a machine could a... [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [ethics] [pace of life] [philosophy] [Soren Kierkegaard] [The Matrix]

May 16, 1AM

Challenges will make you do funny things. One enjoyable dare has been Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge. With a modest twelve books in twelve months goal, the specific target is to read the types of books laid out. Into one of those categories, f... [Animals] [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [dinosaurs] [Jurassic Park] [Michael Crichton] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge] [resurrection] [science and religion] [The Lost World]

May 15, 2AM

When was the last time I purchased an actual book at Barnes and Noble? In a vain hope that they might have something intellectual and edgy, I stop in once in a while. If I were a faster learner I might have known that I’d leave disappointed. You see,... [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Bed Bath and Beyond] [big box] [capitalism] [Costco] [Sam's Club] [Staples] [Wal-Mart]

May 14, 2AM

Of the unholy trinity of late-60s to mid-70s horror movies Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976), the last always seemed the least effective to me. Having recently read about the Devil in American popular culture, and having a... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [feminism] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Antichrist] [dispensationalism] [Hal Lindsey] [Isaac] [Revelation] [Rosemary's Baby] [Samson] [The Devil] [The Exorcist] [The Omen]

May 13, 1AM

If memory serves, I was still in seminary when “Piss Christ” was first unveiled. As photographic art, I can’t say when the shutter snapped, but I seem to recall animated discussion over it and since seminary animated discussion has been at a premiu... [art] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Belief] [Dartboard Jesus] [Materialism] [Piss Christ] [Rutgers University] [Vitruvian Man]

May 12, 1AM

Growing up evangelical, one of the popular topics of conversation was crypto-christians. (My spellcheck insists that this is a lowercase expression.) Crypto-christians are people, generally famous people, who might be secretly “Christian.” You see,... [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [movies] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [Blade Runner] [Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?] [Kyle Arnold] [Philip K. Dick] [science fiction] [The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick]

May 11, 1AM

Some of us prefer taking our monsters neat. With Old Scratch, however, we have a slippery, protean beast. This is amply demonstrated in W. Scott Poole’s Satan in America: The Devil We Know. Not only the Devil, but vampires, demons, and the human mini... [Bible] [Books] [Deities] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [American culture] [Demons] [Satan] [Satan in America: The Devil We Know<] [The Devil] [W. Scott Poole]

May 10, 1AM

I’m building a robot priest. I’m not sure what he does. He has to be a man, though, since we all know that if God existed he’d have been a male. These thoughts come to me courtesy of the Washington Post. You see, on some Amazon accounts you get ... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Robotics] [science] [Alexandra Petri] [Amazon] [artificial intelligence] [Bill Gates] [Clive Sinclair] [Elon Musk] [Peter Holley] [Stephen Hawking] [Technology] [The Washington Post]

May 9, 1AM

“What do you burn apart from witches?” “More witches!” Earning a doctorate is kind of like learning how to get lost. It certainly doesn’t make you either cool or employable, but it allows you a few years to accumulate enough debt to keep you ... [civil religion] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Rock-n-Roll] [Social Consciousness] [conformity] [Donald Trump] [Edinburgh University] [Harvard University] [Radiohead] [The Wicker Man] [witches]

May 8, 2AM

“With what measure ye mete,” someone once said, “it shall be measured to you again.” I certainly hope that’s true, but empirical verification seems to be lacking. I’m looking at, with the full armor of irony, a postcard from Nashotah House. ... [Bible] [higher education] [Holidays] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Nashotah House] [Prayer] [prayer cards] [seminaries] [sermon on the mount]

May 7, 3AM

Complete with an artificial giraffe perched on its prow—or aft, I can never tell the difference—a modern-day Noah’s ark is about to set sail. Or set float. The Bible doesn’t describe any kind of steering or propulsion for the ark since its main ... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [creationism] [Current Events] [Genesis] [movies] [Posts] [science] [Answers in Genesis] [Huffington Post] [In Search of Noah’s Ark] [Netherlands] [Nina Golgowski] [Noah's Ark] [Sun Pictures]

May 6, 1AM

I’m the first to admit that I’m behind the times. Too much of my free time is spent reading weird news or going to used book sales to keep abreast of what’s happening in the adult world. If it weren’t for my wife sending me news stories via the ... [Bible] [civil religion] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Boehner] [Lucifer] [Pan] [Politics and Religion] [Santa Claus] [Satan] [ted cruz] [The Devil] [Zoroastrian]

May 5, 1AM

The funny thing about being “white” (I’m more of an anemic pink myself) is that my race seems to think all the gods share our ethnic traits. I’ve seen Thor, so I know. The Daily Kos ran an article recently about Crystal Valentine, a black poet, ... [Bible] [Current Events] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Crystal Valentine] [Daily Kos] [Exile] [imago dei] [jesus] [Jewish] [Megyn Kelly] [prejudice] [race relations]

May 4, 1AM

A used book sale is like a box of chocolates, if I may abscond with a simile that fits many scenarios. After all, you are there to buy books that others have discarded. Some of them show their age rather blatantly. Keay Davidson’s Twister: The Scienc... [Books] [Deities] [environment] [Memoirs] [movies] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Weather] [Keay Davidson] [Midwest] [tornado] [Twister] [Twister: The Science of Tornadoes and the Making of an Adventure Movie] [Weathering the Psalms]

May 3, 1AM

Perhaps the most obvious deviancy in my otherwise conservative childhood was MAD Magazine. I honestly suspect my parents didn’t know that it wasn’t just another comic book. I read it—like I read everything—religiously, and I was fluent enough in... [Books] [cartoons] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Anti-Semitism] [Arie Kaplan] [From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books] [intolerance] [Judaism] [MAD Magazine]

May 2, 1AM

I risk my already flagging street cred by admitting this, but I don’t watch Game of Thrones. In fact, I started to read the first book a couple years back and I just couldn’t get into it. Well, only 80 pages into it. The fault is, I’m entirely su... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Deities] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Ahura Mazda] [Angra Mainyu] [Calliope] [Game of Thrones] [George R. R. Martin] [Hinduism] [Ishaan Tharoor] [K. Marvin Bruce] [Washington Post] [Zoroastrian]

May 1, 1AM

One of the unadulterated pleasures of life—or maybe adulterated is the better adjective—is the used book sale. The year I missed the Hunterdon County Friends of the Library sale felt like a year without a summer. There are other book sales around, b... [Books] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Hunterdon County Library Book Sale] [JSTOR] [used books]

April 30, 2AM

Nothing says unorthodox like a headline that reads “Smart Jews? Thank the Extraterrestrials.” Breaking Israel News ran the story recently and, being constitutionally unable to pass up anything so strange, I had to take a look. The article, by Adam E... [Bible] [Books] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz] [ancient aliens] [Breaking Israel News] [Chariots of the Gods?] [Erich von Däniken] [Ezekiel] [Judaism] [X-Files]

April 29, 1AM

Once upon a time fairy tales were considered appropriate only for children. Unlike myths, fairy tales are frequently oral (yes, there are oral myths but this is not the place to discuss technicalities) and have origins that are obscure. A friend recentl... [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [literature] [Memoirs] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Bob Yirka] [fairy tale] [fiction] [folklore] [Mabinogion] [myth] [phylogenetic analysis] [phys.org] [Sumer. Edinburgh] [Uamh 'n Òir]

April 28, 1AM

“Sticks and stones,” they used to tell me, “may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” We teach our children lies like that. I have been hit by sticks and stones—fortunately wielded by other children—but the things that hurt worst we... [Books] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [and the Construction of Heresy] [Book of Mormon] [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] [Mitt Romney] [Mormons] [Myths] [Orson Scott Card] [religious tolerance] [Stephanie Meyers] [Terryl L. Givens] [The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons]

April 27, 1AM

I said I’d come back to Bono. A story in the New Boston Post heralds a new documentary on Bono and Eugene Peterson. Both are famous in their own way, but no doubt Bono has the bigger name. Peterson, a pastor, is noted for his book The Message, a cont... [Bible] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Psalms] [Religious Violence] [Rock-n-Roll] [Bono] [Bono and Eugene Peterson: The Psalms] [Eugene Peterson] [New Boston Post] [The Message] [the Psalter]

April 26, 1AM

I’m not sure what to believe anymore. This crisis of faith revolves not around religion, but around media. Pundits have been saying for some time that the internet has meant the slow death of journalism, and there are so many websites that redistribut... [Bible] [Current Events] [Genesis] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Sects] [Weather] [Answers in Genesis] [Journalism] [media] [Noah's Ark] [Snopes] [thegoodlordabove] [urban legends]

April 25, 1AM

The human mind is an unsolved mystery. Oh, we know a lot about the brain, and advances in neuroscience have been startlingly swift. The mind, which is not the same as the brain, still eludes us. I took enough psychology courses in college that I could... [Books] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Alice Miller] [neuroscience] [Psychology] [The Drama of the Gifted Child] [The Search for the True Self]

April 24, 2AM

Synchronicities come at kinds of synchronaddresses. After I had written a recent post on human sacrifice, I watched the first episode of Morgan Freeman’s The Story of God. My wife actually figured out how to get it without the miracle of the triple pl... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Egypt] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [afterlife] [death] [Morgan Freeman] [science and religion] [The Story of God with Morgan Freeman] [Through the Wormhole]

April 23, 2AM

Photo credit: Micahmedia, Wikimedia CommonsMusic has been in the news this week with the death of the artist formerly and forever known as Prince. Also, in a lesser covered story, Bono’s friendship with Bible translator Eugene Peterson. This post will... [art] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Alice Cooper] [Bono] [david bowie] [Eugene Peterson] [Jehovah's Witnesses] [Michelle Boorstein] [prince] [Purple Rain] [rock and roll] [sexuality] [The Washington Post]

April 22, 1AM

Behold thy mother. As a planet-locked earthling, I’m thinking about Earth today. Such a quotidian planet. While I’ve been to others in my mind, this is the only one on which I’ve ever been or am likely to be. And yet there are no laws protecting ... [Current Events] [environment] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [Earth Day] [ecology] [environmentalism] [ethics]

April 21, 12 AM

Reading about the things that wrong, like terrorist attacks, may not be the best way to occupy your time on a bus heading to New York City. Robert Wuthnow’s Be Very Afraid is appropriately titled, in any case. I had been warned. Discussing sociolo... [Books] [Consciousness] [environment] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Be Very Afraid] [Economics] [materialistic reductionism] [Money] [philosophy] [Robert Wuthnow] [Sociology]

April 20, 1AM

It was in Wisconsin. Oshkosh. I was teaching for a year in a replacement position, and my roster of classes at the university covered several aspects of religious studies. During the course of prepping a course, I first saw it. The Flying Spaghetti Mo... [creationism] [Current Events] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Associated Press] [Avatar] [Flying Spaghetti Monster] [FSM] [Jediism] [New Religious Movements] [New Zealand] [Oshkosh] [Pastafarianism] [Wisconsin] [Zarathustra]

April 19, 1AM

The Bible had quite a week last week. It went from being vetoed as the “state book” of Tennessee to making it onto the list of the ten most challenged and banned books of the year for the first time. Did you ever get that feeling that you should’v... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [banned books] [sacred writings] [state book] [tennessee]

April 18, 1AM

Coming back to a book you first read as a tween, in the days before tweens even existed, can be a revelation. Lester del Rey’s Day of the Giants introduced me to Norse mythology as a kid, and, along with Thor comic books, was my Nordic Bible. The last... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Deities] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Day of the Giants] [Leif Svensen] [Lester del Rey] [Norse gods] [Norse mythology] [Ragnarok] [science fiction] [Thor] [Tradition]

April 17, 2AM

The thought of lying tied to an altar while you know someone is about to murder you is a terrifying one. For several reasons. Clearly, you don’t want to die. A more potent fear, however, may be that a darkly savage deity lies behind the dead. An ang... [Bible] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Anthropology] [human sacrifice] [nature] [Religion and Politics] [Sarah Kaplan] [Washington Post]

April 16, 2AM

It began as an innocent trip to the grocery store. I was in the produce section seeking the various vegetarian foodstuffs I need to make it through the week when I came across a monster. Well, more precisely, the mention of a monster. Brad’s Crunchy ... [environment] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Brad’s Crunchy Kale] [Count Chocula] [groceries] [Vampire Killer]

April 15, 1AM

What should my next book be? This is the perpetual question of the long-distance commuter for whom electronic devices are mere distractions. If that commuter is socially awkward and believes that only books truly understand them, that is. I’m as ecle... [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [A Field Guide to Awkward Silences] [Alexandra Petri] [Amazon] [Bob Dylan] [Episcopalians] [Jeff Bezos] [Washington Post] [Wisconsin]

April 14, 1AM

States, at least the united kind, can have personalities. Some of us move after the diminishing herd of jobs and so end up in places we hadn’t really planned to live. In each state where I’ve made by domicile (six, as of the present), I’ve met peo... [Bible] [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [New Jersey] [NPR] [pennsylvania] [Politics and Religion] [Senator Steve Southerland] [state dinosaur] [tennessee] [Texas]

April 13, 1AM

By now I suppose it’s old news that North Carolina has joined the wall of ignominy as the latest state to try to discriminate against gays. It seems our aging leadership just doesn’t get it that a large majority of people in the younger generation ju... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [homosexual marriage] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [North Carolina] [Politics and Religion] [social justice] [Tolerance]

April 12, 1AM

There are varieties of evangelical experience. It is so convenient to put people into neatly labeled boxes that we tend to forget religious experience can be very different, even to conservatives. This point is made very clearly in Amy DeRogatis’ ... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Amy DeRogatis] [Demons] [evangelicalism] [Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Evangelicalism] [sexuality] [sola scriptura]

April 11, 1AM

If you’re one of those people who’s attached to books, you know the frustration of someone who borrows a book and never gives it back. Many years ago I stopped lending out books for that very reason. I do, however, sometimes give them away. A frien... [Books] [environment] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Amy Thomson] [Avatar] [environmentalism] [resurrection] [science fiction] [The Color of Distance] [The Martian]

April 10, 2AM

New York is a city that is fascinated with itself. To me it’s kind of like rooting for a professional sports team. The members of the team come from all over the place. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “You’re rooting for the jerseys,” or something... [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [New York City] [News Watch] [psi] [psychics] [Spirituality]

April 9, 3AM

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of God. The Time magazine cover, the first to be text only, asking “Is God Dead?” was one of the iconic images of the 1960s. Fifty years ago yesterday, the media ventured out onto a limb that hasn’t snapped... [Bible] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Friedrich Nietzsche] [Lily Rothman] [Rosemary's Baby] [seminaries] [Time Magazine] [William Hamilton]

April 8, 1AM

Extinction. It’s a depression concept, but one that nevertheless constitutes a reality in evolution’s world. When applied to members of our own species we term it genocide and declare it an evil. Our perspective—not to dispute the value judgment... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [evolution] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [Clive Finlayson] [extinction] [global warming] [Homo erectus] [Neanderthal] [The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died out and We Survived]

April 7, 1AM

I sometimes confuse “ivory tower” and “ivy tower.” It’s only a matter of or. In my mind the halls of academe are frequently covered with ivy, but the usual term for a rarified higher education is actually “ivory tower.” A pristine, white ... [Bible] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [ivory tower] [Ivy League] [ivy tower] [Song of Songs] [Virgin Mary]

April 6, 1AM

I get lost in the web. Although my work requires that I remain plugged in to the internet all day long, I confess to feeling lost on the weekend. I don’t know what to browse or where to look for titillating new information. A friend then asked me wha... [Bible] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Antarctica] [conspiracy theories] [gabriel] [Gabriel’s Ark] [Mecca] [Patriarch Kirill I] [Pope Francis]

April 5, 1AM

Over the weekend I visited one of my favorite used book stores, The Old Book Shop in Morristown. It’s neither huge nor fancy, but it has the feel that is so important to the restless mind. The feel of not knowing what you may find. The mystery of dis... [Bible] [Books] [higher education] [Posts] [Morristown] [New Jersey] [Old Book Shop] [protestantism] [used books]

April 4, 1AM

Last night, I fear, I did not see “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.” Our “double play” service already rivals the cost effectiveness of a ballpark lunch, and a triple play is out of reach for as little time as we have for television. This m... [Current Events] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Robotics] [science] [Bruce Almighty] [FIRST Robotics] [materialistic reductionism] [National Geographic Channel] [Occam's Razor] [The Story of God with Morgan Freeman] [Through the Wormhole]

April 3, 2AM

Not all Fundamentalists are the same. I grew up believing the Bible was literally true, but in my family we recognized that fossils indicated the earth was older than just a few thousand years. Keep in mind that I never tested this with any preachers—... [Animals] [Bibliolatry] [creationism] [Current Events] [evolution] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [fossils] [Fundamentalism] [Huffington Post] [Noah's Flood] [Texas]

April 2, 3AM

It seems like superheroes have been around forever. They are really, however, the product of comic books from the 1930s on. Adapting well to the big screen, a generation of kids is growing up that may have had their first taste of caped crusaders on the... [cartoons] [Current Events] [higher education] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Batman v Superman] [Doc Savage] [salvation] [Spider-man] [superhero] [Superman]

April 1, 2AM

I read a lot of books. About a hundred a year. At the end of the year I go over them all again and many of them, I see, failed to make a deep impression. Some, I know, before I close the back cover, will stay with me. Maybe even haunt me. I count Eli... [Books] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Elizabeth R. Baer] [Golem] [Holocaust] [Pete Hamill] [Prague] [Rabbi Loew] [Sleepy Hollow] [Snow in August] [The Golum Redux: From Prague to Post-Holocaust Fiction]

March 31, 1AM

It was in the eldritch-sounding Oshkosh that I first came across H. P. Lovecraft. The web was still somewhat of a novelty then, and I’d run across a Dagon symbol that I couldn’t identify. My researches led me to the old gods of Lovecraft’s atheist... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Deities] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Cthulhu] [Dagon] [H P Lovecraft] [Jediism] [L. Ron Hubbard] [materialistic reductionism] [Necronomicon] [Scientology]

March 30, 1AM

With the terrorist attacks in Belgium on our minds, people are asking once again, “What’s up with Fundamentalists?” My jeremiad that the only solution to religious violence is to study religion reaches few eyes, I realize, but the internet has the ... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Belgium attacks] [Colorado] [Delta County] [Freedom From Religion Foundation] [Fundamentalism] [Gideon Bible] [Gideons]

March 29, 1AM

One of the many antiquated beliefs that have been left behind over the centuries is alchemy. Today we tend to think that anyone who supposed natural substances could have been transmuted into others must have been naïve at best, or credulous at least. ... [Books] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Alchemical Belief: Occultism in the Religious Culture of Early Modern England] [alchemy] [Bruce Janacek] [science and religion] [Sir Isaac Newton] [theology]

March 28, 1AM

A friend ensures that I see internet stories of hidden monsters. Not hidden in that you can’t find them, but hidden in that my freedom to explore the web entails only weekends and even some of those are very busy. In any case, a bestiary from Mental F... [Animals] [environment] [Monsters] [Posts] [bestiary] [Cryptozoology] [epistemology] [Mental Floss] [Paul Anthony Jones]

March 27, 1AM

Recently I had the opportunity to write a post for the OUP Blog on the topic of Sleepy Hollow. I’m not exactly obsessed with the program, but it fascinates me that a television show that is so religiously based was such a hit for a couple of seasons. ... [Bible] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Easter] [headless horseman] [Ichabod Crane] [resurrection] [Sleepy Hollow]

March 26, 4AM

In the English imagination the Arthurian legend is deeply connected with the Christian myth of Britain’s founding. This may not be on the surface, of course, but the places associated with King Arthur (as well as the tales themselves, such as the Holy ... [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Arthurian legend] [Cornwall] [England] [English Heritage] [Geoffrey of Monmouth] [Glastonbury] [holy grail] [Joseph of Arimathea] [King Arthur] [Merlin] [Monty Python] [The Guardian] [Tintagel Castle]

March 25, 1AM

For some today is Good Friday. Others are saying “TGIF!” There’s a basic disconnect that has grown between days of remembrance (okay, let’s just call them “holidays”) and the days required of capitalism. Easter is not generally considered a... [civil religion] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Brookline] [commercialization] [Easter] [Good Friday] [Massachusetts] [religious holidays] [Ritz Camera]

March 24, 1AM

Those who love books share a soul. A weekend never feels complete to me without at least an hour spent in a bookstore. On one such weekend a clerk in our local indie recommended Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road. The recommendation was actual... [Books] [Britannia] [literature] [Posts] [84] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Charing Cross Road] [Helene Hanff] [Marks & Co] [used books]

March 23, 1AM

Sometimes I feel guilty. A grown man reading about vampires? Then I think of such puerile things as television and the stock market over which other adults waste their time and my pituitary gland releases endorphins and I carry on. I must say, however, a... [Books] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Barnabas Collins] [Dark Shadows] [Joseph Laycock] [life force] [vampire religion] [vampires] [Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism]

March 22, 1AM

Although a couple steps from the real thing, a book review can be an art form of its own.  A short piece in a recent Wired magazine focused on an ironic bestseller that I keep seeing on the standard lists: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie ... [Books] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Clive Thompson] [clutter] [Feng Shui for Dummies] [Marie Kondo] [The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing] [The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up] [Wired]

March 21, 1AM

I have to admit that spring snuck up on me this year. Weather is, of course, no reliable predictor of the Vernal Equinox, and since I depend on the lightness of the sky while waiting for the bus as an indicator of seasons, turning our clocks ahead last w... [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Weather] [Easter] [equinoxes] [holy week] [seasons] [vernal equinox]

March 20, 1AM

At Nashotah House, where I spent many years of my career, it was often felt that the weather during Holy Week was, in the best of circumstances, appropriate. With spring just around the corner, however—the date of Easter is based on the Vernal Equinox,... [environment] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [Easter] [holy week] [Nashotah House] [Palm Sunday] [spring] [vernal equinox] [Weathering the Psalms]

March 19, 2AM

In the current presidential race, it seems, the Bible hasn’t been as large an issue as it has been in the past. Bluff, bravado, and bullying seem more the order of the day. Goliath rather than David. This makes me think of the varied uses that the Bi... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Posts] [Donald Trump] [Early America] [grimoire] [hermeneutics] [Iconic book] [magic]

March 18, 1AM

Prominent public intellectuals, we’re used to hearing, often lament the survival of religion into a rationalist age. As an obscure private intellectual—if I may be so bold—I am always pleased to see when a credentialed scientist asks if we are bein... [Animals] [Books] [environment] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Social Consciousness] [and Heart] [animal emotions] [emotions] [Marc Berkoff] [materialistic reductionism] [Minding Animals: Awareness]

March 17, 1AM

What does it say about a saint when the celebration of his day is excessive drinking? Virtue and vice, while not nearly as Manichean as sometimes made out to be, nevertheless conflict in such a setting. Like many American mutts, I have some Irish herita... [civil religion] [Current Events] [higher education] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Alcoholism] [Irish] [purim] [spring] [spring break] [St Patrick's Day] [vernal equinox]

March 16, 1AM

How do you measure the religiosity of a people? While the boundaries of the United States are somewhat porous, internally, we nevertheless still consist of somewhat self-governing states. One measure of religious belief is to take your metrics by state.... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Sects] [alabama] [New Hampshire] [New Jersey] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [New York] [Pew survey]

March 15, 1AM

As a part of my class on Ancient Near Eastern Religions, since we were dealing with the earliest textually recorded religions, I explored origins. Specifically, the origins of religion. For years I told my students that biologists had observed behavior ... [Animals] [Asherah] [Consciousness] [Deities] [environment] [evolution] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [altruism] [chimpanzee] [Frans de Waal] [New Scientist] [primates] [Rowan Hooper] [tree worship]

March 14, 1AM

History can be a funny thing. Take the way it treats some people. H. P. Lovecraft wasn’t famous in his lifetime. In fact, his isn’t exactly a household name even now. His creation Cthulhu lurks grandly in the internet, and even Lovecraft himself i... [Books] [Just for Fun] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Carter and Lovecraft] [Cthulhu] [H P Lovecraft] [Jonathan L. Howard] [old gods]

March 13, 1AM

How wondrous it feels, after a winter of dark skies, to see dawn beginning to break even before I crawl onto the bus in the morning. Almost pagan in my desire for the longer days, I anticipate this every year after standing in the dark since October. Th... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [calendars] [circadian rhythm] [Daylight Saving Time] [sacred time] [wasted time]

March 12, 3AM

A great variety of food comes in cans. My mind naturally turns to vegetables and beans, but “tinned meat” was a staple of my childhood, including the now derided Spam. When I see octopus and squid in cans I’m glad I’m now a vegetarian. Once—i... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [canned foods] [Economics] [emergency preparedness] [ethics] [Hurricane Sandy] [planned obsolescence] [spam]

March 11, 2AM

Yesterday I spent at the Mid-Atlantic Regional American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature meeting. Not a registered guest, I was there in mufti. Those who know me stopped by to greet me, even without a name tag, but I noticed, as I ... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [American Academy of Religion] [ethics] [Mid-Atlantic Regional] [morality] [Society of Biblical Literature]

March 10, 2AM

Shortsighted and arrogant. No, I’m not describing Richard Fortey’s Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms, but rather the collective human race. I love people—I really do. Collectively, however, we sometimes act in the most inexplicable ways. This tho... [Animals] [Books] [environment] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [creationism] [ecology] [Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms] [Richard Fortey] [science and religion] [The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind]

March 9, 2AM

While my colleagues and I wait to hear if our monster session will be approved, my thoughts naturally turn to the taxonomy of monsters. One of the perennial problems in the study of monsters is that definitions vary widely. We might all agree that a wer... [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Monster Boomer] [monster theory] [Nirvana] [salvation] [Sleepy Hollow] [X-Files]

March 8, 2AM

Religion is one of those words that defies easy definition. As I’ve suggested before, you know it when you see it, but trying to pin the idea down is a different matter. Consequently, religion is closely related to a number of other areas of interest:... [Bible] [Books] [Just for Fun] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [David Weatherly] [eBay] [haunted Bible] [haunted house] [paranormal] [Supernatural] [used books]

March 7, 2AM

Seminary is where you go to learn what they didn’t tell you growing up.  Many people have rather idealized views about clergy and somewhat untrained views about their church (the same may apply for religions outside Christianity, but I wouldn’t be so... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Fred Rogers] [Fundamentalism] [Increase Mather] [Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] [seminary] [The Christian Century]

March 6, 3AM

There’s a kind of trinitarian logic to the trilogy format. Long before Hegel’s model of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, people have grouped things into threes. And there is a hook that film-makers have used to ensure that viewers will come back f... [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [back to the future] [Hollow City] [Materialism] [Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children] [Pirates of the Caribbean] [Ransom Riggs] [souls] [Star Wars] [The Library of Souls]

March 5, 4AM

The Bible is, in many ways, not suited to internet study.  Let me explain: this artificial world of the internet is based on searchability.  To search for something, you need to have a distinctive word, a keyword, or catchphrase.  As perhaps the most s... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [anabaptist] [gospel] [Gospel according to Bruce Springsteen] [Gospel according to the Simpsons] [internet]

March 4, 2AM

Reader’s Digest famously runs a feature, “Laughter: the Best Medicine.” I’m not a Reader’s Digest reader, and I’ve generally only seen it on coffee tables and bathroom cabinets of friends. Still, that’s the feature to which I always find m... [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Gary Sinyor] [Judaism] [Monty Python’s Life of Brian] [Moses] [NotMoses] [Reader’s Digest] [Scientology] [The Guardian]

March 3, 2AM

Hands up, all who’ve heard of Veronica Lueken. Maybe one of you in the back? I have to confess to having been in the “Veronica who?” crowd until reading Joseph P. Laycock’s The Seer of Bayside. The subtitle would have made the d... [Books] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Sects] [Baysiders] [Flushing Meadows Corona Park] [Joseph P. Laycock] [New York] [Queens] [Roman Catholicism] [The Seer of Bayside] [Veronica Lueken] [Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism] [Virgin Mary]

March 2, 2AM

We should learn from our mistakes. This is something of which historians are keenly aware. James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association addresses the recent concerns raised on campuses throughout the world of removing monume... [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [American Historical Association] [female figurines] [Georgia] [history] [James Grossman] [Stone Mountain]

March 1, 2AM

This past week Asherah has been on my mind. Some of my readers will know that I wrote a book on Asherah, based on my doctoral dissertation. Those who’ve read it (admittedly few) will know that in it I lament the easy association of generic goddesses w... [Archaeology] [Asherah] [Bible] [Deities] [Goddesses] [Posts] [Ugarit] [Amihai Mazar] [ancient goddesses] [astarte] [israel] [Khirbet el-Qom] [Kuntillet Ajrud] [Tel Rehov]

February 29, 2AM

Like most people, I seldom remember my dreams. When I do, or when only the powerful feeling remains, I know that they are very emotional events. Something is always going on, and my attention is riveted. I recently read J. Allan Hobson’s Dreaming: An... [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [science] [Dreaming: An Introduction to the Science of Sleep] [J. Allan Hobson] [Materialism] [neuroscience]

February 28, 2AM

There’s nothing like spending a Saturday in a bookstore. It is actually a rare treat these days with Borders gone and some of the smaller indies having trouble keeping up. I particularly like used bookstores. Unlike most durable goods, books—at lea... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Boston Book Annex] [Cranbury] [Cranbury Bookworm] [Montclair] [Montclair Book Center] [New Jersey] [used books]

February 27, 2AM

There’s a certain etiquette to being on the bus. There has to be, when you pack fifty strangers together for an hour and shake gently. The seats on New Jersey Transit are somewhat intimate and it’s rare to make it through the journey without somehow... [Books] [Egypt] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Ancient Egypt] [ancient Near East] [commuting] [Narmer Palette] [New Jersey Transit]

February 26, 2AM

Some colleagues and I are working to meet a deadline. I suppose I use the word “colleague” rather grandly, since they both have teaching positions, nevertheless, we have a common goal. We are fascinated by monsters and we’d like to see the America... [Consciousness] [higher education] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [American Academy of Religion] [Belief] [halloween] [horror movies] [monster theory] [Stephen King]

February 25, 1AM

A friend, knowing my penchant to watch the skies, sent me a story about the British and the weather. The story by Alastair Sooke on the BBC’s cultural page is discussing Alexandra Harris’s book Weatherland. I have to admit that I haven’t read the ... [Bible] [Books] [Britannia] [environment] [Posts] [Psalms] [Weather] [Alastair Sooke] [Alexandra Harris] [BBC] [C. S. Lewis] [Weathering the Psalms] [Weatherland]

February 24, 1AM

Reality is not often, if ever, what it appears to be. As creatures that evolved to survive in this particular environment, we have passed along and received the skills that make this possible. One of those skills is filtering. We filter out most of the... [Books] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [communion] [Erwin Schrödinger] [Jeffrey Kripal] [Materialism] [Niels Bohr] [Sheldon Cooper] [The Super Natural] [Werner Heisenberg] [Whitley Strieber] [Wolfgang Pauli]

February 23, 2AM

My wife and I have been working our way through Ken Burns’ documentary, The Roosevelts. At first, it took a little persuading on my wife’s part. Of course I thought Teddy Roosevelt was an interesting character, and FDR may have been the last true De... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [An Intimate Portrait] [Eleanor Roosevelt] [Franklin D. Roosevelt] [Ken Burns] [New Deal] [plutocracy] [The Roosevelts] [Theodore Roosevelt]

February 22, 2AM

The Witch, by Robert Eggers, is a parable. The movie accepts, and to appreciate it the viewer must too, that there is actually witchcraft in New England. Unless the witch too is a parable. Set in the days before the Salem Witch Trials, the movie is wor... [Bible] [Current Events] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [horror films] [Lars von Trier] [Puritans] [Robert Eggers] [Salem Witch Trials] [Song of Songs] [The Witch]

February 21, 2AM

Writers are immortals. Well, at least as long as our species lasts. As a mere internet writer, I suppose that I’m not alone in wanted published books to my name. Solid books that don’t disappear in a power outage. There’s an immortality, no matt... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Foucault's Pendulum] [harper lee] [Moby Dick] [Schiller Institute] [The Name of the Rose] [to kill a mockingbird] [Umberto Eco]

February 20, 3AM

An off-the-cuff remark by Sandeep Mathrani, some CEO of something or other, had the publishing world buzzing a couple weeks back. The rumor began that Amazon.com was about to open hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores. After the opening of a store in ... [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [publishing] [Sandeep Mathrani] [thylacine]

February 19, 2AM

It’s an old story. In fact, it’s in the Bible. The enemies of Yahweh perish. Since Israel’s god could not be represented iconically, the story goes, an iconic ark stood in for the divine presence. After a certain unpleasantness with the Philisti... [Bible] [Deities] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [1 Samuel] [Dagon] [H P Lovecraft] [mammon] [Manhattan] [old gods] [Philistines]

February 18, 2AM

We live not far from an upscale mall. This mall, although over 30 miles from Manhattan, has its own bus line dedicated to it by New Jersey Transit. There is a route that runs throughout the day from the City to this mall and back. My readers know I’m... [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Eastern religions] [mall] [meaning] [New Age] [Shopping] [Spirituality]

February 17, 2AM

I don’t think much about glaciers. At least I didn’t. Now they keep me awake at night. Literally. I just finished Jorge Daniel Taillant’s Glaciers: The Politics of Ice. Never have these ice sheets ever seemed to have so much personality before.... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [climate change] [Glacier National Park] [Glaciers] [global warming] [Jorge Daniel Taillant] [social justice] [The Politics of Ice]

February 16, 2AM

A friend keenly aware of my interest in the unusual sent me a story about the “Devil’s Footprints” that sometimes occur in snow. The article focuses on an instance in England in 1855 but which was reprised in 2009. The prints, made by a bipedal, c... [Bible] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Weather] [Devil] [Devil's footprints] [Jersey Devil] [Mental Floss] [Pan] [Satan] [Stacy Conradt] [zoroastrianism]

February 15, 2AM

I have to admit to having not seen the Lego Movie. As a kid, I grew up without Legos. We were a family of modest means, so Lincoln Logs were more our style. When I first came to see Legos, they appeared restrictive to me with their pixel-like determina... [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Lego Movie] [LEGOs] [Lutheranism] [Martin Luther] [Newsweek] [Playmobil] [Star Wars]

February 14, 3AM

As far as we can tell, historically there is no Saint Valentine that is particularly connected to February 14. Even if there were, it is difficult to imagine a saint promoting what we know as love. Love is a slippery topic. The ancient Greeks (who did ... [Current Events] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [augustine] [Christianity] [Greek thought] [jesus] [love] [Paul of Tarsus] [roman empire] [St Valentine] [St. Valentine's Day]

February 13, 3AM

During seminary, I believe it was, a professor once told those of us in class, “You don’t get rich in academic publishing.” As the author of a widely used class resource, he added, “unless you write a textbook.” Both sides of his observation a... [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [1099] [academic publishing] [taxes] [TurboTax] [Weathering the Psalms]

February 12, 2AM

Having been in academia for nearly two decades, and having watched from the sidelines ever since being benched, I found Dear Committee Members a little too true to life. This novel by Julie Schumacher is presented as a series of letters of recommendation... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [At the Altar of Wall Street] [Dear Committee Members] [fiction] [free market economy] [Julie Schumacher]

February 11, 2AM

Materialism can be defined in a number of different ways. One of the more common is that people desire material things. We want stuff. Now, we all need things to survive. My sympathies are always with the poor for whom each decision can be a potentia... [civil religion] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [dollar store] [economy] [five and dime] [Materialism] [one dollar Mary] [Roman Catholic]

February 10, 2AM

Marriage is a human institution. As those who invented it, we should be able to define it. Biology may not help here, since animals become mating pairs in many different ways. Besides, we’re selective in our application of science to the question. N... [Bible] [Britannia] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christina Harrington] [handfasting] [Marriage] [paganism] [polygamy] [The Wild Hunt] [Valentines Day]

February 9, 2AM

Understanding, or even caring about, economics has been one of my abiding weaknesses. I suppose growing up poor, excess money was a foreign concept—at least on a quotidian basis—the possibility of acquiring much of it remote. The poor know their pla... [Books] [civil religion] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [and Mission of the Religion Known as the Modern Global Economy] [At the Altar of Wall Street: The Rituals] [Economics] [missionaries] [myth of barter] [Myths] [sacraments] [Scott W. Gustafson] [Theologies]

February 8, 2AM

An inordinate amount of my childhood time was spent on television. While the device of the day had been around for a decade already, I was among those who grew up learning that watching was easier than reading. Like most children, I took the path of lea... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [grimoire] [local apocalypse] [magic] [Revelation] [Sleepy Hollow] [Television]

February 7, 3AM

They call it the green-eyed monster. Jealousy. Under its weightier name of envy, it becomes a deadly sin. I often wonder if envy isn’t behind the debate that seems to have atheists and believers in religion talking past one another. Each seems to wa... [astronomy] [Consciousness] [Deities] [Posts] [science] [Alister McGrath] [astronauts] [atheism] [Barbara J. King] [Envy] [intellectualism] [NPR] [science and religion] [teleology]

February 6, 5AM

I remember seeing my first steel penny. At first I didn’t think it was real. Like many poor kids, I was a collector. I collected anything cheap: cancelled stamps, bottle tops from glass pop bottles, fossils, just to name a few free trinkets. And I... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Casablanca] [Lisbon] [Middle East] [Purgatory] [steel pennies] [wheat back]

February 5, 2AM

Over the past couple of weeks it has been in the news that the site of the “witch” hangings in Salem, Massachusetts has been identified. The actual site had long been suspected, and it was only recently confirmed by a group of historians using the em... [Current Events] [feminism] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Benjamin Ray] [Donald Trump] [Jr.] [Mary Eastey] [Massachusetts] [President Jerry Falwell] [Rebecca Nurse] [Salem] [Salem Witch Trials] [Sarah Cloyce] [Sleepy Hollow] [University of Virginia]

February 4, 2AM

We trust those we see in the media. You see, those who have the longest reach can bring in the most advertising dollars and therefore must have a wisdom the rest of us lack. The cult of celebrity is perhaps the truest cult of all. Don’t get me wrong,... [Consciousness] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [agnostic] [alien] [Blade Runner] [Catherine Shoard] [cult of celebrity] [david bowie] [Ridley Scott] [The Guardian] [The Martian]

February 3, 3AM

Ancient technology is a growing field of interest. A couple years back I gave a talk about ancient technology at a local Steampunk convention. The smallish audience that attended had lots of questions about how ancient people accomplished marvels such a... [Archaeology] [astronomy] [Current Events] [Deities] [higher education] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [science] [Antikythera Device] [Antikythera Mechanism] [astronomy] [Gizmodo] [Jupiter] [Maddie Stone] [Matthieu Ossendrijver] [Technology]

February 2, 2AM

Regan MacNeil is a name that can still send shudders up and down stout spines. Despite advances in CGI and special effects, The Exorcist is consistently rated among the scariest movies of all time. Demon possession, clearly, is a very troubling thing. ... [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Deities] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [science] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [American Possessions] [Demons] [Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States] [Pentecostals] [Regan MacNeil] [science and religion] [Sean McCloud] [The Exorcist] [Third Wave evangelicalism]

February 1, 2AM

My fellow academics, lend me your ear. Two or three friends have sent me articles this past week, featuring academics speaking out against the businessification of academia. I’ve been railing about this for years, and I am encouraged by my fellow acad... [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Academia] [adjunct] [D] [Dr. Seuss] [entrepreneurs] [Horton Hears a Who] [JoJo]

January 31, 4AM

Those of us who write know all about revising. You go back to a piece you wrote, maybe even just days ago, and you see all the things you want to change. Corrections, improvements, deletions, retractions. Histories are particularly prone to being viewe... [Britannia] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Akhenaton] [Cecil Rhodes] [Oriel College] [Oxford University] [Princeton University] [The Guardian] [Woodrow Wilson]

January 30, 5AM

Atlas Obscura is one of those websites where you could spend all day and feel like you’ve just traveled the world. Featuring less know locations, and strange spots that you might like to visit, sometimes it also has stories about monsters. Well, at le... [Animals] [Books] [evolution] [Monsters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Atlas Obscura] [Cara Giaimo] [Curious Creatures in Zoology] [John Ashton]

January 29, 2AM

Once I met with a group of writers and intellectuals in the Pacific northwest to discuss ancient—indeed, dead—languages and their cultures. I’d never before been accorded “rock star” status for what, for me, seemed a natural progression. I had... [Bible] [Books] [Egypt] [feminism] [higher education] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Agnes Lewis] [Agnes Smith] [Janet Soskice] [Margaret Gibson] [Margaret Smith] [Saint Catherine’s Convent] [Sinai] [The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels] [University of Cambridge]

January 28, 2AM

Even in days of secular education—I am a product of public education throughout my childhood—Jonathan Edwards is a name that still retains recognition among many Americans. Perhaps best remembered for his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry G... [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Aaron Burr] [Calvinism] [George Whitefield] [Jonathan Edwards] [Princeton University] [Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God] [The Great Awakening]

January 27, 2AM

The history of thought can be compared to a slow-moving pendulum. At other times it can be more like a ping-pong game. Acceptability for ideas can take time, but sometimes the perceptions change rapidly. Having been raised in a small town in a Fundamen... [Animals] [Consciousness] [environment] [Posts] [science] [B. F. Skinner] [Christof Koch] [Materialism] [panpsychism] [science and religion] [Scientific American]

January 26, 2AM

Religion and politics. It’s difficult to get over the wisdom instilled in your earliest years, and I was one of those who learned that religion and politics always cause potential friction in polite conversation. They are both, however, very important... [civil religion] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Aaron Burr] [Alexander Hamilton] [American Revolution] [Book of Mormon] [Broadway] [Hamilton] [Jesus Christ Superstar] [Lin-Manuel Miranda] [New Jersey]

January 25, 3AM

While out driving one winter evening, the sun was setting below a distant horizon that I couldn’t see. Trees lined the sides of the road and, while creating not exactly a tunnel, they blocked the actual view of the orb itself. The day had been partly ... [Deities] [environment] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Weather] [celestial religion] [clouds] [Color] [gods] [physics] [rainbow]

January 24, 5AM

One of the first things I notice during and after a snowstorm is the silence. Part of it, I suspect, is the dampening effect the blanket of snow has on ambient sounds, but another part of it is the lack of usual frenetic human activity. Here in New Jers... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Weather] [contemplation] [Nashotah House] [New Jersey] [Silence] [Snow]

January 23, 5AM

Nothing encourages sleeping in like a blizzard. Although it’s a talent I’ve largely lost over the years, hearing the bellows of the wind and seeing the white reflecting through the blinds, and being a Saturday morning form the perfect recipe for lett... [Current Events] [environment] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [Donald Trump] [George W. Bush] [January] [January blizzard] [January hurricane] [Prophecy] [Ronald Reagan]

January 22, 2AM

The word “venerable” is often applied with the connotation of age. Although the word in its own right really means to “adore,” or “worship,” objects of extreme age evoke that response. Perhaps the fact that “time-honored”... [Asherah] [Deities] [environment] [Posts] [Travel] [Great Swamp Oak] [native american] [New Jersey] [NJ Big Tree Registry] [tree worship] [venerable]

January 21, 2AM

Doctrine can be an immense stumbling block. As a person who’s been involved with many churches in my life, the virtue of virtues often seems to be sacrificed on the altar of doctrine. If you don’t believe X, you’re not one of us. It was a great de... [Books] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Calvinism] [doctrine] [Living the Quaker Way] [Philip Gulley] [Quakers] [Religious Society of Friends] [Spice] [Tulip]

January 20, 2AM

When a friend pointed out the easily missed 2001 film, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, (well before Seth Grahame-Smith came up with the same role for Abraham Lincoln) I knew I was duty-bound to see it. As regular readers know, although I’m not a fan of go... [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [movies] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [atheism] [Attack of the Killer Tomatoes] [Good Samaritan] [jesus] [Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter] [Seth Grahame-Smith] [vampires]

January 19, 2AM

Just over a couple of centuries ago on this date, Edgar Allan Poe was born. That auspicious moment is an inspiration for those of us who write, and not just those of us who like scary stories. Poe was one of the first Americans to try to support himself... [Books] [Deities] [Holidays] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Edgar Allan Poe] [Geoffrey of Monmouth] [King Lear] [Llyr] [Martin Luther King Junior] [William Shakespeare]

January 18, 2AM

People can think with their emotions. At a young age we begin formal schooling to teach us the rational ways that we must develop to live in society. Emotions are trained, tamed, and sometimes repressed as we are taught that “higher brain” functions... [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [emotions] [Joseph of Copertino] [levitation] [Michael Grosso] [Roman Catholicism] [The Man Who Could Fly] [The Man Who Could Fly: St. Joseph of Copertino and the Mystery of Levitation]

January 17, 4AM

The market producing doctorates in the humanities is showing no signs of slowing down. The fact is we’re all human, and many of us aren’t very technically inclined, unless we have to be. There are fewer and fewer jobs for these bright students who g... [art] [Current Events] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Lost in Space] [Star Trek] [Star Wars] [STEAM] [STEM] [Technology]

January 16, 4AM

Call me naive. Really, I won’t mind. I’ll readily admit that I was raised in a conservative household that held a fundamentalist view of Christianity. But even though I grew and matured and eventually joined the Episcopal Church, I have always held... [Bible] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Anglican communion] [Episcopal Church] [Fundamentalism] [homosexual marriage] [Levirate marriage] [Nashotah House]

January 15, 2AM

Ninety-seven years ago today, 21 people were killed by molasses. Even having lived in Boston, I had never heard of the Boston Molasses Disaster. Credit for my awareness has to go to my wife, who read me the story from the Oxford Companion to Sugar and S... [Books] [Just for Fun] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [1919] [Boston Molasses Disaster] [Boston Molasses Flood] [Boxing Day Tsunami] [Hezekiah’s Tunnel] [Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets] [Petra] [World War One]

January 14, 2AM

From Wikimedia CommonsThe seventeenth century was a portentous time for the English language. Well, I suppose every day is portentous in some way, but in the year 1611 the King James translation of the Bible was published, and it still has considerable s... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Beowulf] [Folger Shakespeare Library] [King James Version] [NPR] [Susan Stamberg] [William Shakespeare]

January 13, 2AM

I don’t know much about the music industry, but I do know that as in publishing, labels make a difference. Who doesn’t conjure up a certain sound when they see Motown? Companies jealously sign artists to their label, with a close eye on the bottom l... [art] [Bible] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [Blackstar] [david bowie] [death] [Gospel of John] [Lazarus] [music]

January 12, 3AM

An article in the New York Times back in December explored the use of God in adverting. The piece, by Michael McCarthy, suggests that religious viewers are not very forgiving of commercials using God, unless they are respectfully done. The occasional sp... [Current Events] [Deities] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [advertisements] [marketing] [media] [medical outlooks] [Michael McCarthy] [Money] [New York Times]

January 11, 2AM

One of the commonalities of all religions, I used to tell my students, is the concern with death. Not that all religions react to it in nearly the same way, but the fact is no religion ignores it. For people, obviously, our awareness of our own mortalit... [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [afterlife] [death] [fiction] [Jennifer McMahon] [novels] [Pet Sematary] [sleepers] [Stephen King] [The Winter People]

January 10, 3AM

FIRST Robotics has a way of getting into your blood. Like many people of my generation, I learned about FIRST Robotics through my daughter. Our local high school has a robotics team and, as we quickly learned, the decision to join FIRST is a four-year f... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Robotics] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Dead Poets Society] [Dean Kamen] [FIRST Robotics] [FIRST Stronghold] [humanities] [Monty Python and the Holy Grail] [science and religion] [Woodie Flowers]

January 9, 3AM

A new year is always a time for predictions and prognostications. Although the religious basis for New Year’s Day is often deeply sublimated, the changing of the year is one of the oldest and most widespread holidays worldwide. Since every beginning i... [Current Events] [higher education] [Holidays] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [atheism] [Christianity] [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] [Islam] [Nadia Whitehead] [New Year] [NPR] [Pew Research Center]

January 8, 3AM

It might seem odd to differentiate the supernatural from an established world religion like Roman Catholicism. After all, be premise of traditional Christianity is based on a miracle or two. Church officials, however, are not naive. It has been known f... [Books] [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Sects] [and Miracles in the Modern Age] [Apparitions] [Demons] [Investigating Supernatural Signs] [John Thavis] [Roman Catholicism] [Shroud of Turin] [Supernatural] [The Vatican Prophecies]

January 7, 5AM

Being distinguished, indeed, getting noticed, is increasingly difficult to accomplish. When you read a lot of history, you realize that anyone who managed to write coherently in the past few centuries seldom had difficulty getting a publisher, for instan... [Consciousness] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Aaron Burr] [Albert Einstein] [Grover Cleveland] [John von Neumann] [Jonathan Edwards] [Kurt Gödel] [Nassau Presbyterian Church Cemetery] [New Jersey] [Princeton]

January 6, 3AM

It is perhaps unusual to stop and think about who you are. From the moment consciousness kicks in, our lives are a non-stop progression of stimuli and response and taking the time to stop and think what someone else must be feeling is, I sometimes fear, ... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [feminism] [Goddesses] [movies] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Girl Rising] [Goddess hypothesis] [Marija Gimbutas] [Merlin Stone] [social justice] [women's rights]

January 5, 2AM

Technology has been kind to civilization. At least in some aspects. I often think how easy communication has become. When I was just starting out in the professional world, email was new and not trusted by some academics, and now if you can’t be reac... [Deities] [higher education] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [CSV] [Cthulhu] [H P Lovecraft] [Language] [meaning] [superlatives] [Technology] [XML]

January 4, 2AM

One of the true joys of having more than a day off work at a time is the privilege to spend days reading. Although I read on the bus as a matter of course, it is a defined time, and editing isn’t as much reading as most people think it is. While doing... [Books] [environment] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [headless horseman] [Legends and Lore of Somerset County] [Michael Haynes] [New Jersey] [Sacred Space] [Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon] [Sleepy Hollow] [Washington Irving]

January 3, 2AM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens does not disappoint. Many of us who saw the original installment recognized the archetypal image right away. Good versus evil, light and darkness, the quest for the father, and a host of other tropes backed the story in ways... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Jediism] [Joseph Campbell] [Kylo Ren] [Passover] [Quakers] [Star Wars] [Star Wars: The Force Awakens]

January 2, 3AM

One of the most common criticisms of religion, among its detractors, is that it is “uninformed.” I suspect that this is intended to critique the education of those who adhere to religion. It is not too often, however, that you see those who disdain ... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Holidays] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [literacy] [Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge] [myth] [New Year] [reading] [resolutions]

January 1, 5AM

Spare-ribs and sauerkraut. My step-father always insisted on these for the turning of a new year. The old year was to end on something sour while the new was to begin with something sweet. So his reasoning went. It is this Janus-faced aspect of the ne... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [altruism] [Business] [Economics] [Janus] [New Year's Day]

December 31 2015, 3AM

It’s the end of 2015 and looking at my records on Goodreads it looks like I read 100 books this year. That tends to be my goal mark, but after twelve months of reading I like to think back over which were the books that have made the biggest impact on ... [Books] [environment] [higher education] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Goodreads] [Monsters] [novels] [social justice] [Supernatural]

December 30, 3AM

Thing Explainer, a whimsical gift for my daughter at Christmas, is perhaps the trendiest present found here this year. Randall Munroe, who makes a living as a web comic artist (who knew this was even possible?) wrote/illustrated the book to explain compl... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [higher education] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [anniversary] [Common English Bible] [complexity] [love] [Randall Munroe] [Thing Explainer]

December 29, 3AM

The reboot of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has been on my mind. Back in the early days of this century I hadn’t bothered to see either Jurassic Park II or III. The original, despite its faults, was like a childhood dream come true. I’ve always fe... [Animals] [Just for Fun] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [2001] [dinosaurs] [Jurassic Park] [Jurassic Park III] [Jurassic World] [The Lost World]

December 28, 4AM

Religions, by nature, exercise a distribution of power. That power is perceived to be on several axes at once, the “vertical” is intended to represent the power of deities over humanity, and the “horizontal” is that of humans over humans. Histor... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Deities] [feminism] [Goddesses] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [David Leeming] [Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine] [Jake Page] [mythology]

December 27, 3AM

Security. If there’s one thing we can never get enough of, this is it. We look at the future with a mix of perspectives: it’s going to get better, or it’s going to get worse. We want to be prepared for any eventuality. The most recent issue of W... [Current Events] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Globalization] [Leonardo DiCaprio] [Natural Disaster] [risk] [terrorism] [Wired] [zombies]

December 26, 5AM

In addition to music, Christmas has also been associated with seasonal foods. Unlike today, when we think of foods primarily in terms of either fast food or culinary sophistication, Christmas dishes of yesteryear often had religious symbolism. While sin... [Books] [Britannia] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [a christmas carol] [Anne Bramley] [Charles Dickens] [figgy pudding] [NPR] [protestant] [Roman Catholicism] [smoking bishop]

December 25, 3AM

While reading about holidays recently, I came across the idea of Christmas as a cultural holiday as well as a religious holiday. Now that it’s here, it feels like a little of both. My wife grew up in a musical family and Christmas music was a large pa... [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [carols] [Christmas] [cultural holiday] [music] [sacred] [secular]

December 24, 3AM

In an article on Nomad by Brandan Robertson, the issue of Larycia Hawkins at Wheaton College is discussed. Hawkins was suspended for stating that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Robertson’s analysis, in my experience, is right on target. ... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Brandan Robertson] [indoctrination] [Larycia Hawkins] [Moody Bible Institute] [nomad] [wheaton college]

December 23, 3AM

Robin A. Parry’s, The Biblical Cosmos: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Weird and Wonderful World of the Bible is a fun trip through territory already familiar. Familiar, that is, to anyone who has studied the biblical world on its own terms. Fundam... [astronomy] [Bible] [Books] [environment] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [cosmology] [Fundamentalism] [literalism] [Robin A. Parry] [The Biblical Cosmos: A Pilgrim's Guide to the Weird and Wonderful World of the Bible] [truth]

December 22, 2AM

Most cultures outside of the tropics, where the difference in lengths of days is noticeable and portentous, there is a celebration of the winter solstice. This day, of all in the year, is the shortest and tomorrow there will be more light than there was ... [Current Events] [feminism] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [misogyny] [Miss Universe] [reading] [Republican Party] [summer solstice] [Winter solstice]

December 21, 2AM

We have to learn to see the world. Traditionally religion and science both had roles to play, but as science grew better at explaining physical causes, many consigned religion to mere superstition. In such a paradigmatic world, Lisa J. Schwebel’s ... [Books] [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [Posts] [science] [and Weeping Madonnas] [Apparitions] [Blessed Virgin Mary] [Faith healing] [Healings] [Lisa J. Schwebel] [Miracles] [pareidolia] [psi] [Roman Catholicism] [science and religion]

December 20, 3AM

While the rest of the world was watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was rewatching Noah, trying to find some profundity there. Like many curious people, I went to see the movie in the theater last spring expecting great things. While the story has ... [Deities] [evolution] [feminism] [Genesis] [Mesopotamia] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Darren Aronofsky] [misogyny] [Noah] [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] [Tubal-Cain]

December 19, 4AM

What’s worth $20,000? An apology. That figure may require some adjustment for inflation, but back in the days when I was taking conflict management training it was right. Our teachers informed us that court decision costs were lowered by $20,000 when... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [$20000] [apology] [Christian Century] [Communism] [Conflict Management Incorporated] [doctrine] [Galileo] [Grove City College] [Howard Pew] [Witch Hysteria]

December 18, 2AM

There shall be wars, and rumors of wars. The Bible says nothing about being able to declare what future people might have to say about God. According to a story on the Washington Post website, Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor, was suspende... [Current Events] [Deities] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Academic freedom] [Christianity] [history of religions] [Islam] [Judaism] [Larycia Hawkins] [Monotheism] [Washington Post] [wheaton college]

December 17, 2AM

Those who’ve studied the history of ancient West Asian religions know that the concept of a devil, as a character, derives from Zoroastrian origins. In Zarathustra’s dualistic worldview, the forces of evil were concentrated in an “anti-... [Bible] [Books] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [and Heretics] [Devil] [Elaine Pagels] [How Christians Demonized Jews] [Monotheism] [pagans] [Satan] [The Origin of Satan] [zoroastrianism]

December 16, 2AM

The holidays are a time for getting together. At a friend’s house over the weekend, we were talking about nativity scenes. I mentioned a story about how a nativity scene had been missing the infant Jesus and he said he’d be right back with a solutio... [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [alcohol] [Alcoholism] [Christmas] [jesus] [Nativity] [Sweet Baby Jesus] [Winter solstice]

December 15, 2AM

A History of the Future is a great title for a book. Classified, I suppose, as a dystopia, James Howard Kunstler’s novel is set in upstate New York, not too far from now. A war in Israel has led to the destruction of major US cities and our electronic... [Books] [civil religion] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [A History of the Future] [apocalyptic] [dystopia] [James Howard Kunstler] [New Faith Covenant Brotherhood Church of Jesus] [Union Grove]

December 14, 2AM

Time comes in different varieties. In temperate regions where the changing seasons keep the time of year for us, we tend to have seasonal holidays. Christmas and other December holidays mark the shortest days of the year with the hope that light will so... [Books] [civil religion] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [America's Favorite Holidays] [Bruce David Forbes] [Christmas] [commercialization] [Easter] [halloween] [St. Valentine's Day] [Thanksgiving] [Valentines Day]

December 13, 3AM

I remember the moment well. I was in Jerusalem on my own. Although in my early twenties, I really didn’t know much. The man at the vending cart didn’t speak English, but I was hungry. My first experience of falafel would certainly not be my last. ... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Christian Century] [food] [hummus] [israel] [Jerusalem] [Netanya] [peace] [religious tolerance]

December 12, 3AM

During the height of the zombie craze a meme went around the internet proclaiming “zombie Jesus.”  It was funny because the salient feature of zombies is that they come back from the dead.  Noting the resurrection and the easily annoyed tri... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Ohio] [religion and humor] [religion and media] [Washington Post] [Zombie Jesus] [Zombie nativity] [zombies]

December 11, 2AM

An article on CBS that my wife sent me tells how Costco mistakenly labelled a shipment of Bibles as fiction, setting off a tweet-storm. Some offended, some applauding, a 140-character barrage ensued as Costco apologized. What was the fuss about? As a p... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Books] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Twitter Bible] [CBS] [Costco] [fiction] [Quran] [Rig Veda] [Twitter]

December 10, 2AM

Gun violence is out of control. While experts dither and bicker about whether this or that act was done by “terrorists” they choose to ignore that gun violence is terror, no matter who’s pulling the trigger. The world in which bearing arms was dec... [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Globalization] [gun control] [mental illness] [muskets] [NRA] [Vietnam War]

December 9, 2AM

Music is perhaps the most natural of human arts.  We are all, as Daniel J. Levitin says, expert listeners from an early age.  This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession is a fascinating study of neuroscience and music.  I began explo... [art] [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Daniel J. Levitin] [music] [neurology] [neuroscience] [This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession]

December 8, 2AM

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” I couldn’t believe that the woman at the police station actually used that phrase on me. The only time I’d ever heard it uttered before was on Gilligan’s Island. After all, we were talking about a parking ... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [core values] [Gilligan's Island] [Law] [Liquid Church] [Politics and Religion] [public school] [school vouchers]

December 7, 2AM

Books don’t tell us what is true; books tell us what could be true. When I was growing up, under the influence of the Bible, I thought that non-fiction books were the truth. I came to understand that people disagreed about the truth, but it took a... [Books] [Consciousness] [Monsters] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil] [one per centers] [Paul Levy] [selfishness] [Sleepy Hollow] [wendigo] [wetiko]

December 6, 5AM

Things are done differently in the UK. I suppose that’s obvious, but I have always noticed on my trips between our respective countries that some things that go without saying here or there receive the opposite treatment overseas. We are, however, uni... [Britannia] [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christmas wars] [Giles Fraser] [Joseph Campbell] [lord's prayer] [Star Wars] [The Force Awakens] [The Guardian] [United Kingdom] [Yoda]

December 5, 4AM

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was, as everyone knows, a military man. With the role of Commander in Chief, United States Presidents control a military that eats up an enormous amount of tax dollars. To keep us safe, we’re told. Even though he was a ... [Current Events] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [9/11] [Dwight D. Eisenhower] [Edward Snowden] [George W. Bush] [Industrial Military Complex] [Sadam Hussein] [Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan] [Star Trek Into Darkness]

December 4, 1AM

Once something becomes socially acceptable, it is nearly impossible to change. I’m no prude, but I remember when “swearing” in public was considered bad taste. When I was a tween (and there was no such thing as tweens then) I heard a g... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [california] [gun control] [NRA] [Old West] [Republican Party] [San Bernardino] [terrorism]

December 3, 2AM

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Roman Catholic Church is skeptical of miracles. Quick to point out pareidolia where it occurs, looking like the Blessed Virgin in a tree stump or highway underpass, this is no credulous organization. Everyday miracles... [Current Events] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Sects] [Eucharist] [Fox News] [Kearns] [Miracles] [Nashotah House] [pareidolia] [Roman Catholicism] [Starbucks] [transubstantiation] [Utah]

December 2, 2AM

Smallmindedness bothers me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim any great intelligence for myself.  I’m just an average guy who thinks too much.  No, the smallmindedness that I despise comes in capitalist colors.  More specificall... [Books] [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Business] [business-speak] [Compact Oxford Dictionary] [Economics] [forward planning] [lingo]

December 1, 2AM

It’s always a sign that I’ve been too busy when I lose track of Cthulhu. Few created deities receive the attention of the web like the terror dreamed up by H. P. Lovecraft. The internet has created an environment, like the bottom of the sea, where t... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Big Brother] [Cthulhu] [Cthulhu for America] [George Orwell] [H P Lovecraft] [Politics and Religion]

November 30, 3AM

Now that Black Friday and Thanksgiving are behind us, the holiday season compels us to think of what comes next. Whether it is Hanukkah or Christmas or Kwanza, people are preparing to celebrate during the longest nights of the year, hoping to encourage l... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Arkansas] [Christmas] [Culture Wars] [religious holidays] [Starbucks] [The Baxter Bulletin] [war on Christmas]

November 29, 3AM

Hands up, anyone who’s heard of David Felt. Until just recently my hand would’ve remained down too. In his day, however, Felt was famous enough to have a town named after him (Feltville, New Jersey) and wealthy enough to leave it when it failed. To... [civil religion] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Travel] [David Felt] [Deserted Village] [Feltville] [New Jersey] [Watchung Reservation]

November 28, 4AM

The generous folks at Exterminating Angel Press graciously sent me a copy of Tod Davies’ The Lizard Princess to review. A fantasy novel that includes a conflict between a world that admits of the supernatural and skeptics who deny anything beyond the m... [Bible] [Books] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Arcadia] [Exterminating Angel Press] [fantasy] [The Lizard Princess] [Tod Davies]

November 27, 3AM

Not being commercially minded, it took many years for me to understand why it is called Black Friday. To many people “black” indicates negativity, sort of the opposite of Good Friday which, when you think about it, doesn’t seem so good. After I wa... [Bible] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [black friday] [capitalism] [Good Friday] [missals] [one per centers] [red letter days] [red letter editions]

November 26, 2AM

Thanksgiving remains one of the few relatively uncommercialized holidays. Not tied to a specific religion, but with a general sense that gratitude is important, there’s nothing really to sell. Grocery stores may see a bump in profits, but we need to e... [Holidays] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Social Consciousness] [black friday] [capitalism] [starvation] [Thanksgiving]

November 25, 3AM

Entitlement comes in many forms. Culturally we’ve been sensitized to substituting “holidays” for “Christmas,” although the reason we spend money at this time of year is well known. Although technically not a Christian nation, the United States... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [black friday] [Charles Dickens] [Christianities] [Christmas] [halloween] [Starbucks] [war on Christmas]

November 24, 1AM

It’s Tuesday morning and I have been listening to authors pitching their books for three solid days now. Truth be told, I am a bit jealous. I’ve got a few more books in me yet, but research time simply does not exist in the world of capitalism and i... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [American Academy of Religion] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Weathering the Psalms]

November 23, 2AM

The American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting can be a heady place. Religionists tend to be “big picture” people, looking at things from the perspective that this is what life is all about. How much bigger can yo... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [American Academy of Religion] [Dalai Lama] [gods] [Mike Huckabee] [Pope] [science and religion] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Tao]

November 22, 2AM

Next year marks a quarter century. It’s a sobering thought. A quarter century of attending the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting. A lot has changed over the years. Much of the loss, I fear, has been of innocence. When I first flew into ... [Current Events] [Genesis] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [American Academy of Religion] [Atlanta] [capitalism] [Kansas City] [Society of Biblical Literature]

November 21, 2AM

I was sitting in the restaurant attached to W, a boutique hotel cum chain, with my brother-in-law Neal Stephenson. He was on a book tour and kindly treated me to breakfast. Above his head I noticed a slightly salacious painting portraying a nude lady in... [Bible] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [Atlanta] [Irvington] [New York City] [Sleepy Hollow] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Union Square] [W] [Washington Irving]

November 20, 1AM

Every year as the latter half of November rolls around, the mind of religion scholars goes toward the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting. This morning I’m off to Atlanta to join a myriad of others who still t... [Bible] [Current Events] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [American Academy of Religion] [Atlanta] [Georgia] [Reception History] [Sleepy Hollow] [Society of Biblical Literature]

November 19, 2AM

As analysts step in where angels fear to tread, we have been given expert opinion on why ISIS’s terror in France was counterproductive to its goals. A few voices have chimed in stating that the result of escalation is just what an apocalyptic group... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Apocalypticism] [Fundamentalism] [Isis] [Paris] [rationalism] [terrorism] [ultimate cause]

November 18, 2AM

Philosophy, it used to be said, was the handmaid to theology. According to some among the scientific establishment the whole lot should be thrown out, baby, bath water, and tub. It has always distressed me to read scientists dissing philosophy (theology... [Books] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [holistic] [nothingness] [philosophy] [quantification] [Robert Kaplan] [The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero]

November 17, 2AM

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,” so began far too many evenings of my childhood. Well, although as an adult it may seem that the time was ill-spent, Gilligan’s Island was the induction to popular culture that I had to undergo some ti... [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Borders] [cruise ship] [David Tarr] [Gilligan's Island] [music] [Tina Louise]

November 16, 2AM

We want to understand what worms through the mind of terrorists, and yet we don’t want to be bothered with religion. For decades universities have been shutting down departments of religion because they don’t make money. Religions aren’t materiali... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Apocalypticism] [George W. Bush] [Graeme Wood] [Isis] [Paris] [terrorism] [The Atlantic] [zoroastrianism]

November 15, 2AM

As the civilized world struggles to make sense over the senseless attacks of ISIS in Paris, the question of where to turn emerges. An attack has taken place. Innocent people have died. We are in mourning, and we want to analyze what happened to make th... [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [CNN] [Isis] [Occupy Wall Street] [Paris attack] [terrorism]

November 14, 4AM

At a certain time of year, around November after the time change, early morning immigrants to Manhattan see the light. As they stumble out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and head to the east, it is as if the sun is rising like a monster from the sea.... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [homelessness] [Manhattan] [Manhattanhenge] [Midtown] [New York City] [Revelation] [social justice]

November 13, 2AM

I want to understand monsters. I suppose that’s pretty common among Monster Boomers, but the thing is academics have been slow to give credence to our creatures. Yes, monsters are a throw back to the Medieval Period or worse, and reflect superstit... [Books] [higher education] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Jeffrey Jerome Cohen] [Jurassic Park] [Monster Boomer] [Monster Theory: Reading Culture] [Psychology]

November 12, 2AM

Having a child in college is one way for me to stay attuned to popular culture. You can absorb quite a lot by simply paying attention while on campus. For example, on the last several visits I’ve heard the song “Demons,” by Imagine Dragons, being ... [civil religion] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Rock-n-Roll] [Sects] [Brigham Young University] [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] [Demons] [Imagine Dragons] [Mormons] [Roman Catholicism] [U2]

November 11, 2AM

My brother is way cooler than I ever hope to be. While I was busy learning all a tween and teen could about the Bible, he was listening to Lou Reed and David Bowie and Black Sabbath. Since the “door” between our rooms was only a curtain, I heard the... [Books] [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [science] [A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven] [atheism] [Corey Taylor] [ghosts] [science and religion] [Slipknot]

November 10, 2AM

Ghosts have a way of persisting. I’ve had Valerie Martin’s The Ghost of the Mary Celeste on my reading list since I first saw it in hardcover on a bookstore shelf. The Mary Celeste was an actual ship, found with not a soul aboard, lifeboat intact, a... [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [Natural Disasters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Arthur Conan Doyle] [Edmund Fitzgerald] [ghosts] [Industrial Revolution] [Mary Celeste] [Percy Shelley] [Romanticism] [Spiritualism] [The Ghost of the Mary Celeste] [Valerie Martin]

November 9, 2AM

I don’t have to have the latest toys. In fact, I am happy to stay with what I have as long as it works. I’ve been a frugal lad all my life. The increasing demands of technology worry me. Nobody has to tell me that I keep odd hours. Waking up betw... [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [computers] [planned obsolescence] [software] [Technology] [upgrade]

November 8, 4AM

Speaking of revisionist history, I see that I’m negligent on updating my Egyptology. In a year when you need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the sheer number of GOP presidential wannabes, I had to ask my wife who Ben Carson was. She sent me a st... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Egypt] [Genesis] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Armageddon] [Ben Carson] [biblical literalism] [George W. Bush] [Politics and Religion] [pyramids] [Seventh-Day Adventists]

November 7, 3AM

I recently came across a website with academic papers available on it.  Although the internet has yet to achieve its promise as a locus of solid academic material, such sites are becoming more common.  I’ve been uploading my own papers onto Academia.e... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Academia] [Academia.edu] [fact] [publishing] [revisionism] [Revisionist History] [truth]

November 6, 1AM

I’ve spent a lot of time with academics. Having been one myself, I know something of their habits. Getting through a doctoral program involves, at least in some fields, becoming the specialist on a very tiny piece of information. Since people hav... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [higher education] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [and the Future of the Earth] [Charles Officer] [global warming] [Jake Page] [Kyoto Protocol] [Weathering the Psalms] [When the Planet Rages: Natural Disasters]

November 5, 2AM

It is the time of year when respectable publications can, in a half-serious way, address the unconventional. The New York Times, for example, recently ran a story on ghost hunting in Norway. Andrew Higgins points out that Norway, among the most secular ... [Consciousness] [Current Events] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Andrew Higgins] [Ghost Hunters] [ghosts] [New York Times] [Norway] [science and religion] [secularism]

November 4, 2AM

Given my remarks on occasion, some readers may conclude I dislike science. Nothing could be further from fact. Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by science and secretly—or not so secretly—wanted to be a scientist. Complex mathematics,... [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [clowns] [IFL Science!] [Justice] [Psychology] [religion and science] [uncanny valley]

November 3, 1AM

Legend questing is often considered a teenage pastime. Getting away from the mundane, or the oppressively normal, such road trips often lead to a place of spiritual significance, whether religious or secular. New Jersey, whose unofficial state song is ab... [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Travel] [halloween] [Jenny Jump State Park] [legend quest] [New Jersey] [Shades of Death Road] [Weird N.J.]

November 2, 1AM

Two things we’re told about the supernatural: one, it doesn’t exist and two, it can’t be studied. Of course the vast majority of people in the world don’t buy into number one and hardly care about number two. Both, it seems to me, could be wrong... [Books] [Monsters] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [and the Ethereal] [folklore] [Jeannie Banks Thomas] [legend quest] [Pilgrimage] [Putting the Supernatural in Its Place] [Putting the Supernatural in Its Place: Folklore] [science and religion] [Supernatural] [the Hypermodern]

November 1, 2AM

The idea of a state church, I have to admit, sometimes seems not so bad. Before you click off this page in disgust, please let me explain. Once in a great while, I think about what state churches really are. From the most ancient of times, religious in... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [baptism] [Belief] [Catholic Church] [education] [Ireland] [Isis] [state church] [The Guardian]

October 31, 3AM

A recent article in The Independent shows once again how deep our human need of magic can be. The Tower of London, among the oldest buildings in the city, and often considered the most haunted, was apparently protected by magic. Archaeologists have disc... [Archaeology] [Current Events] [Posts] [science] [Travel] [ghosts] [grimoires] [halloween] [magic] [Miracles] [The Independent] [Tower of London]

October 30, 1AM

“Anything free is worth saving up for.” That’s a bit of wisdom I picked up some time ago. There’s another side to free, however. That other side is called the hook. So, I started this blog with the help of my niece, back in 200... [Just for Fun] [Posts] [blog] [data loss] [hidden costs] [iCloud] [Twilight Zone] [Word Press]

October 29, 12 AM

The concept of grimoires, as well as being seasonal, has been on my mind as I finish up my paper for the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting next month. Grimoires, books of magic, have eluded, for the most part, the interests of scholars. Who ... [Books] [Posts] [science] [2012] [Christianity] [Claire Fanger] [Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Magic] [grimoire] [magic] [science and religion] [Society of Biblical Literature] [transubstantiation] [witches]

October 28, 1AM

Universities find themselves in a strange position vis-à-vis the supernatural. I suspect that many institutions of higher education are slightly embarrassed at the fact that universities began primarily as training grounds for clergy. We’ve moved awa... [Belief] [higher education] [science and religion] [superstition] [University of Virginia] [afterlife] [Consciousness] [science]

October 27, 1AM

Keeping up with much of anything is hard to do, given work and commuting schedules. Often a horror movie will pass without even a notice until it’s on the sale shelf or free on Amazon Prime. On an October afternoon nothing feels more appropriate than ... [Deities] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Burnt Offerings] [horror films] [horror movies] [sacrifice] [We Are Still Here]

October 26, 12 AM

Corporate logos are among the most instantly recognizable symbols in the world. Even in “developing” countries, kids know what the golden arches represent. Not a real fan of large corporations, I still buy things not knowing who the manufacturer is,... [Bible] [civil religion] [Genesis] [popular culture] [Posts] [Adam and Eve] [Apple] [computer] [corporation] [Garden of Eden] [Isaac Newton] [Steve Jobs] [Steve Wozniak]

October 25, 3AM

College is a rare time in life. Unlike any time after you find yourself with a diversity of intelligent and talented people open to possibilities that life tends to close shortly thereafter. At Parents Weekend at Binghamton University we took advantage ... [art] [higher education] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Binghamton University] [College] [ethics] [God of Carnage] [intolerance] [Parents Weekend] [prejudice] [Yasmina Reza]

October 24, 3AM

The word “legacy,” I fear, is losing its meaning. Well, words really don’t having “meanings” as much as they have “usages,” but still you get my point. When I was young (before the Internet had been invented) a legacy was a time-honored co... [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Bible] [font] [Hebrew] [Legacy] [Ugaritic] [Unicode]

October 23, 2AM

Beautiful.  Standing outside in the pre-dawn, looking up at the current alignment of Mars, Jupiter, and Venus in the east, I am struck by their presence.  The planets, “wanderers,” were known by the ancients to be gods.  Tales were told of ... [astronomy] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Goddesses] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Jupiter] [Mars] [mythology] [planets] [Venus] [Zeus]

October 22, 1AM

Framing. Much of what we call “religion” has to do with framing. At one time it was standard practice to assume “pagan” was distasteful, if not downright evil. “Witch” was a pejorative term intended to humiliate and ... [Books] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [magic] [Pagan] [Ronald Hutton] [The Triumph of the Moon: a History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft] [Wicca] [witch]

October 21, 1AM

A few weeks back I found myself on the upper west side of Manhattan. This is a fashionable district in which to live, but back when the Dakota was built, as pictures from that era demonstrate, this was an undeveloped area. The building stands alone agai... [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Travel] [Dakota] [halloween] [horror movies] [John Lennon] [Manhattan] [New York City] [Rosemary's Baby] [Satanism] [witches]

October 20, 1AM

I confess. I’ve fallen behind on my horror movies. My work schedule doesn’t allow for much down time, and on weekends when I spend time with family, well, horror films aren’t their favorites. So on a weekend afternoon when I was alone, I finally ... [Bible] [Deities] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Babylonian] [Bughuul] [horror movies] [iconography] [Jonah] [Ringu] [ritual murder] [Sinister] [The Shining]

October 19, 1AM

In order to have this book fit my blog, I’ll begin with a spoiler alert. If you plan to read Cat Winters’ The Uninvited, I will be giving away information below. Please believe me when I say it’s not intended to be persnickety by this preface, but... [Books] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Cat Winters] [ghosts] [heaven] [Library Journal] [Nirvana] [Publisher's Weekly] [The Uninvited]

October 18, 6AM

It’s the time of year for seeing things. I suppose that’s why there have been two supposed sightings of the Jersey Devil flying around the internet this past week. The credulous take these kinds of things for evidence, and the posters claim complete... [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Demons] [Devil] [folklore] [Jersey Devil] [Mother Leeds] [New Jersey] [photoshop]

October 17, 2AM

A neologism is an invented word. Of course, it is impossible to be certain about the origins of many words, and even the many neologisms attributed to William Shakespeare may have been overheard by the bard at the local pub. Still, one of the things I s... [astronomy] [Current Events] [environment] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Psalms] [Weather] [gay marriage] [meteorotheology] [neologism] [Rutgers Presbyterian Church] [supreme court] [Weathering the Psalms] [William Shakespeare]

October 16, 1AM

Something truly scary landed on my desk. Working for an organization that has many different departments, there’s no way to know everyone. So when something bible-ish arrives in the mail, it gets directed to me. Now, I don’t follow the afterlife of... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] [Inspiration] [Jesus Christ Message to All Nations] [Mormons] [mouthpiece of God] [New Testament] [Warren Jeffs]

October 15, 1AM

The book of Judges is one of the most fascinating in the Bible. The “judges” are colorful characters, often rule-breakers, who ultimately seem to deliver the early Israelites from their enemies. Many of their names are familiar: Samson, Gideon, and ... [art] [Bible] [Consciousness] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Canaanites] [Deborah] [Jael] [Judges] [Sisera]

October 14, 1AM

I have long been fascinated by American Indian folklore. In fact, the first book I read this year was a set of Indian tales. Just this week I finished a most unusual book by Ardy Sixkiller Clarke entitled Encounters with Star People: Untold Stories of A... [Books] [Consciousness] [higher education] [Posts] [science] [aliens] [American Indian] [Ardy Sixkiller Clarke] [Encounters with Star People: Untold Stories of American Indians] [Montana State University] [native american] [Star People]

October 13, 1AM

Science fiction, when I was a child, constituted my fantasy life. I read such science fiction books as were available to a kid in a small town with no actual bookstore, and I watched what I could on a television with three or four channels. Star Trek an... [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Battlestar Galactica] [Cylon] [Glen A. Larson] [L. Ron Hubbard] [Mormonism] [Orson Scott Card] [science fiction] [theology]

October 12, 1AM

Autumn is a moody time of year. Dolorous gray skies hang low one day, and the next a sky of such incredible blue stretches unbroken out into space itself. Nights are definitely longer now; I climb onto the bus in the dark in the morning and get off in t... [Books] [Consciousness] [environment] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Chas S. Clifton] [Gerald Gardener] [Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America] [New Religious Movements] [paganism] [panentheism] [pantheism] [Wicca] [witches]

October 11, 4AM

Blurbs are the way of the future. It is so much easier to read something brief than to have to wade through an entire article. Is that the way the future’s going? I read the blurbs for Christian Century’s round-up page when it lands on my desk at w... [Consciousness] [evolution] [higher education] [Posts] [science] [Christian Century] [George Johnson] [ideologies] [Mauna Kea] [philosophy] [Post-Modernism] [truth]

October 10, 2AM

Simon ParkerSTH ProfessorApril 2, 1999PORTRAIT One of the great ironies in my life is having been basically ignored while I was employed in higher education only to have people make overtures to me once I no longer had the resources to undertake the task.... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Ugarit] [Boston University] [Boston University School of Theology] [Edinburgh University] [Nashotah House] [Simon B. Parker] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Uagritic]

October 9, 1AM

Now that autumn is in the air, my thoughts turn to zombies. I’ve read a few monster books lately, and as I pondered the attraction of zombies to the post-modern psyche, I began to wonder if they weren’t becoming, in their own secular way, a religion.... [Consciousness] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Belief] [conversion] [megachurch] [rationalism] [resurrection] [Walking Dead] [World War Z] [zombies]

October 8, 1AM

Garsh-darn-it, I’ve missed the end of the world again! I’ve been so busy lately that I hadn’t bothered to pay attention to that which really matters. So here I find myself in the post-apocalyptic world and still waiting for a bus. Was... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Apocalypticism] [Charles Taze Russell] [chiliasts] [eBible Fellowship] [end of the world] [Harold Camping]

October 7, 1AM

What is the Bible? This might seem a strange question coming from someone who holds a doctorate in what has sometimes been characterized as biblical studies. Still, it is a valid question. The fact is, very different things are referenced by the word ... [Bible] [Books] [higher education] [Posts] [Sects] [Christianity] [Germany] [Johann David Michaelis] [Judaism] [Martin Luther] [Michael C. Legaspi] [The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies]

October 6, 1AM

Those who know me are sometimes surprised to learn that one of my favorite quick meals is grits and black-eyed peas. For a northerner that’s a bit strange, perhaps, but my father was from South Carolina and my mother often cooked “soul food” at hom... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Burning Bush] [hot sauce] [kosher] [one per centers] [soul food] [Whole Foods]

October 5, 1AM

Of all frightening creatures, ghosts are by far the most ubiquitous. Believed in by every civilization ever recorded and throughout the world, not even science has been able to displace them. Lisa Morton’s Ghosts: A Haunted History offers a brief ... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Consciousness] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [ghosts] [Ghosts: A Haunted History] [halloween] [Lisa Morton] [Materialism] [rationalism] [souls]

October 4, 2AM

Fear of social disruption runs deep. Things may not be perfect, but people would rather keep things the way they’re used to them being rather than to face radical change. This is natural enough. During the dark days of the Cold War, when nuclear anni... [civil religion] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [atheism] [Los Angeles Times] [nones] [old time religion] [Phil Zuckerman] [religious tolerance] [secularism]

October 3, 6AM

The name Herostratus is deservedly obscure. In fact, I shouldn’t even be mentioning him here. His use as an object lesson, however, seems apt in a country fascinated by firearms and fame. Herostratus was an arsonist of the fourth century B.C.E. who d... [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [Herostratus] [Hurricane Joaquin] [NRA] [Oregon] [Seven Wonders] [Temple of Artemis] [Umpqua Community College]

October 2, 1AM

It’s the time of year when young men’s minds turn to monsters. Well, at least this middle-aged man’s does. Seeing a book by Karl P. N. Shuker entitled A Manifestation of Monsters, I was intrigued. I had some Amazon points burning a hol... [Animals] [Books] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [Posts] [science] [A Manifestation of Monsters] [Banned Book Week] [chupacabra] [critical thinking] [Cryptozoology] [Examining the (Un)usual Suspects] [Karl P. N. Shuker]

October 1, 1AM

I try, normally, to limit blog posts to one per movie (per viewing), but I’m still thinking about The Apostle, so I thought I’d share a bit more. I can’t get that scene of “tag team” preaching out of my head. The extras on the DVD reveal that ... [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Amish] [photoshop] [Rev. Charles Johnson] [Robert Duvall] [The Apostle] [The Witness]

September 30, 1AM

I was called “moon boy” and was otherwise taunted in ways I care not to share. As a child I openly spoke about my fascination of life in space and was ridiculed in the way children specialize in executing humility. So it was with great appreciation,... [astronomy] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [astronomy] [Copernicus] [E.T.] [Galileo] [God of the gaps] [Mars]

September 29, 1AM

Banned Book Week is upon us. In that time of year when we begin to think of spooky, scary things, the prohibition of literature naturally comes to mind. Every year I try to read a banned or challenged book for the occasion. This year I went to perhaps ... [Books] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Banned Book Week] [D. H. Lawrence] [Fifty Shades of Grey] [Lady Chatterley's Lover] [social justice]

September 28, 1AM

Our friends were shocked. I don’t even remember the title of the movie, but they couldn’t believe we had gone to see it. Not because of the content of the film, but because it had been shown on a Sunday morning. Why hadn’t we been in church? Thi... [art] [Books] [Consciousness] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Chariots of Fire] [Colin McGinn] [dreams] [Edinburgh] [philosophy] [The Power of Movies: How Screen and Mind Interact]

September 27, 2AM

It is indeed an honor to be invited to address a church group on topics that matter. While I didn’t directly address global warming in my book, it was in my mind as I wrote it. Early in my teaching career, I wasn’t sure how to cinch up the gap betwe... [Current Events] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Weather] [global warming] [meteorotheology] [Pope Francis] [Rutgers Presbyterian Church]

September 26, 3AM

I’ve been in a few New York crowds, but this one seemed on its best behavior. I was in the city later than usual since I’m giving a talk today at a friend’s church in the Upper West Side. My wife came to meet me and, knowing the Pope was going to ... [Current Events] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Archbishop of Canterbury] [climate change] [global warming] [Madison Square Garden] [New York City] [Pope Francis]

September 25, 1AM

I was teaching in a seminary when Robert Duvall’s The Apostle came out. Seeing the favorable reviews, I put it on my wish-list and somehow it never managed to rise to the top. Perhaps it was because I worked at a religious institution 24/7. Seeing a ... [Bibliolatry] [higher education] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Elmer Gantry] [emotion] [Fundamentalism] [Holiness Churches] [Pentecostalism] [rationalism] [Robert Duvall] [The Apostle]

September 24, 1AM

Commuting by bus isn’t the most efficient way to do research. While mostly I read non-fiction related to my research interests, monographs are difficult because of the concentration required and the constant interruptions of the road. Journal articles... [Books] [Britannia] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Adultery] [civilization] [commuting] [honesty] [morality] [Paula Hawkins] [The Girl on the Train]

September 23, 1AM

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic, was a book I first read during my doctoral studies. In the UK professors are likely to be able to cite A. A. Milne and the fictional bits of C. S. Lewis as well as the current academic st... [Books] [Britannia] [Deities] [environment] [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [A. A. Milne] [autumnal equinox] [C. S. Lewis] [Cernunnos] [Kenneth Grahame] [Manhattan] [Nashotah House] [Pan] [the horned god] [The Wind in the Willows] [theophany]

September 22, 1AM

My brother, who art near Philadelphia, recently told me that the City of Brotherly Love began towing cars from the no park zone a week before the Pope’s anticipated arrival. There are those apocalyptic concerns for the commute into New York City this w... [Current Events] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Master of Divinity] [Materialism] [New York City] [Philadelphia] [Pope Francis] [rationalism] [seminary]

September 21, 1AM

Okay, so I pulled the book off the shelf, and I feel now like I need to read it. Call it an occupational hazard. Josef F. Blumrich’s The Spaceships of Ezekiel, despite its von Däniken-like sales, has never been taken seriously by biblical scholars. ... [Bible] [Books] [Deities] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [science] [aliens] [ancient astronauts] [capitalism] [eisegesis] [Ezekiel] [Josef F. Blumrich] [The Spaceships of Ezekiel] [von Däniken]

September 20, 1AM

As I’ve noted before, in our culture where an individual voice is hard to hear, those without institutional affiliation are generally considered self-promoting hacks. That’s really too bad, given that so many highly educated people end up in menial p... [Bible] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Psalms] [science] [Nashotah House] [Rutgers Presbyterian Church] [Rutgers University] [science and religion] [script] [Sleepy Hollow] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Weathering the Psalms]

September 19, 2AM

There’s strength in numbers. This is a biblical concept as well as a folk saying (although it is worded differently in the Good Book). The power of conviction grows in a group, and that’s a reason that governments fear mobs, particularly angry ones.... [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [anabaptist] [Christian Century] [Council for Christian Colleges and Universities] [Eastern Mennonite University] [evangelicalism] [Fundamentalism] [Goshen College] [homosexuality] [same-sex marriage] [Union University]

September 18, 1AM

Early in my academic career I got into trouble not because a Harvard professor hadn’t adequately checked his data, but because I had pointed out that a Harvard professor hadn’t adequately checked his data. You see, I was a naive realist. I b... [Books] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Activists] [Alice Dreger] [and the Search for Justice in Science] [Edinburgh University] [Galileo's Middle Finger] [Gender] [Harvard University] [Heretics] [intersex] [social justice]

September 17, 1AM

Drones have become a fact of life. Our robotic future is already present as unmanned vehicles do the bidding of their remote commanders. They are our conscience-free assassins and our great UFO hoaxes. They offer a chance to view the world from an angl... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Robotics] [science] [drones] [Ezekiel] [Hal] [Josef Blumrich] [Prophecy] [quadcopter] [Robot] [The Spaceships of Ezekiel]

September 16, 1AM

A recent Guardian introspective on Richard Dawkins reminded me of the dangers of idolatry. Dawkins, an internationally known intellectual pugilist, the article by Carole Cadwalladr intimates, is as human as the next guy when you can catch him off the sta... [Animals] [Current Events] [evolution] [higher education] [Posts] [science] [academic idol] [alpha male] [Carole Cadwalladr] [critical thinking] [Richard Dawkins] [The Guardian]

September 15, 2AM

With the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, the history of civilization has received an unexpected prologue. In the view of the archaeologists involved in the excavation, the site can only be religious in nature, indicating that the earliest communal efforts of... [Archaeology] [Britannia] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [BBC] [Durrington Walls] [England] [Gobekli Tepe] [Neolithic] [Salisbury Plain] [Stonehenge]

September 14, 1AM

Every once in a while I put down my work long enough to look at where we are. It’s often a frightening experience. Not many of us would be equipped to survive the collapse of civilization, despite the many television shows that depict such future anar... [Books] [Current Events] [environment] [evolution] [higher education] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [agriculture] [civilization] [climate change] [Fundamentalism] [hunter-gatherers] [Pandora’s Seed: Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival] [Spencer Wells]

September 13, 2AM

Sarah L. Winchester, it is said, was a haunted woman. The widow of William Winchester, she was heir to the tremendous amount of money brought in by sales of the renowned Winchester rifles. Fearing the haunting of all those killed by the weapons, she bui... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Posts] [Psalms] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [gun control] [Psalm 144.1] [Sarah L. Winchester] [Spike’s Tactical] [William Winchester]

September 12, 3AM

I don’t mean to be insensitive. Sometimes I get so busy that I don’t even look at the date for days at a time. This can’t be good, but I was surprised when the anniversary of 9/11 caught me completely unawares this year. That’s t... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [9/11] [Labor Day] [New York City] [Pittsburgh] [september]

September 11, 1AM

Evolution, we’re told, has one goal: survival. As an unthinking process of nature, evolution “programs” us all to desire survival for ourselves and our offspring. Even attributing that purpose too it is to suggest it’s more a willful agent than ... [Bible] [Consciousness] [creationism] [evolution] [Genesis] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [science] [agricultural revolution] [New Atheists] [Tower of Babel]

September 10, 12 AM

Hovering somewhere between fiction and fact, A. S. Byatt’s Ragnarök: The End of the Gods is a compelling reimagining of Norse mythology. Starting in childhood, the stark and bleak icons of a world where even the gods die captured my fantasy in a w... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Deities] [literature] [Posts] [A. S. Byatt] [heat death of the universe] [Loki] [Norse gods] [Norse mythology] [Ragnarök: The End of the Gods] [Ragnarok] [Thor]

September 9, 1AM

As a very young scholarlet, I recall the horror expressed when some form of prayer was expelled from public schools. It had to have been in the late ’60’s. Maybe early ’70’s. The nation, it seemed, was headed for Hades in a hurry.... [Bible] [Books] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine] [constitution] [Douay Bible] [King James Version] [protestant] [Roman Catholic] [school] [Steven K. Green] [the bible] [the School]

September 8, 1AM

Foodies have gained a respectable place among the ranks of social critics. Major newspapers and many, many websites tell us how to eat better. Eat healthier, or with more style, or more adventure. Our intricately interconnected world has made obscure i... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [Burning Bush] [Exodus] [foodies] [hell] [Madison] [Moses] [Princeton] [Whole Foods] [Wisconsin]

September 7, 1AM

Come the end of September, I’m scheduled to give a talk at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City. I’m personally very flattered by this because, as it has become clear to me, an academic without a post is mute. I’ve seen colleagues who teac... [Bible] [environment] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Psalms] [science] [Weather] [Nashotah House] [New York City] [Princeton] [Rutgers Presbyterian Church] [Rutgers University] [science and religion] [Weathering the Psalm]

September 6, 2AM

XML. CSS.  Abstracting.  Separating content and meaning.  Sounds kind of scary to me.  As a would-be writer, plodding my way through what used to be the humanities, I’m sometimes frightened when I hear techies talk about where publishing “... [art] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [CSS] [ebooks] [publishing] [Technology] [XML]

September 5, 2AM

I recently received two “out of office” replies to my own “out of office” message. Being a fan of futility in all forms, this struck me as a great paradigm for the modern age. Email has made vacation superfluous, of course. I wa... [Consciousness] [evolution] [Holidays] [movies] [Posts] [Robotics] [Social Consciousness] [2001: A Space Odyssey] [Henry David Thoreau] [internet] [science fiction] [Technology] [Terminator] [The Matrix] [vacation]

September 4, 1AM

The scene can be quite dramatic. A zoom out from a dead or dying Christian martyr as the moving music swells. There’s a sense of poignant heaven in the air as a human being breathes his or her last, lapsing into the hands of an unseen, waiting fat... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Christianity] [homosexual marriage] [kentucky] [Kim Davis] [martyrdom] [Religious Right] [Rowan County]

September 3, 1AM

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a national treasure. So many of his Op-Eds make such unwavering good sense that it is difficult to believe he’s not a household name. His recent piece in the Miami Herald concerning Jimmy Carter’s announcement that he has cancer i... [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [faith] [Jimmy Carter] [Leonard Pitts Jr.] [Miami Herald] [Op-ed] [Politics and Religion] [Reagan Administration]

September 2, 1AM

“Losing my religion,” I learned some time ago, means “going crazy” in some regions. It was that REM song that made me look it up. Losing My Religion, by William Lobdell, is much more literal. Having a hunger for spiritual memoirs,... [Books] [evolution] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christianity] [Eastern religions] [Los Angeles Times] [Losing My Religion] [REM] [Theodicy] [William Lobdell]

September 1, 1AM

Everything we do is an investment in the future. Some times it’s intentional, and other times it’s purely accidental. My wife sent me a CNN story about what might be the oldest message in a bottle ever found. It’s difficult to conceive an idea mo... [Bible] [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [science] [CNN] [Ecclesiastes] [George Parker Bidder III] [Guinness Book of World Records] [message in a bottle]

August 31, 1AM

Who doesn’t admire the presidential wannabe who can take a personal hit without flinching? We are, after all, a nation of tough-minded individualists who think they know quite a lot about God and the way the universe works. So Donald Trump has been, a... [Bible] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Donald Trump] [Ecclesiastes] [james] [Luke] [Matthew] [MSNBC] [Proverbs] [Steve Benen] [wealth]

August 30, 2AM

I’m easily amused. I suppose I never outgrew that sophomoric fascination with the little things that seem like big jokes. The other day, for instance, I was given a copy of the Chronicle of Higher Education to read. The supplement featured Great ... [Bible] [Classical Mythology] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Chronicle of Higher Education] [crisis in higher education] [Ecclesiastes] [Great Colleges to Work For]

August 29, 3AM

College move-in weekend can be a stressful time. In our particular case it means crossing a couple of state lines and staying in a hotel. Well, I suppose we technically might manage to load, drive, unload, and drive in a day but that seems awfully abrup... [Animals] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [civilization] [dogs] [domestication] [wolves]

August 28, 2AM

“Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr gross,” go the opening words of Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1902 poem, “Herbsttag.” Autumn day. “Lord,” one might feebly translate, “it is time. The summer was very great.” The English words f... [literature] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [autumn] [Fall] [Galileo] [Herbsttag] [National Watch and Clock Museum] [Rainer Maria Rilke]

August 27, 1AM

What do you get when you cross German literature, psychology, and the undead? The Vampire Lectures, of course. Laurence A. Rickels, one gets the feeling, must be one interesting guy in the classroom. When I was a student the thought that anyone would t... [Books] [higher education] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Bram Stoker] [Dracula] [Frankenstein's monster] [Laurence A. Rickels] [monsterdom] [Mummies] [The Vampire Lectures] [vampires] [werewolves]

August 26, 1AM

One of my nieces works on the 10,000-year clock (aka Clock of the Long Now). I’ve written about the project before—the object is to build a clock that will run a myriad of years. For comparison, 10,000 years ago we were only beginning to tamper with... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [10000 year clock] [apostles] [Clock of the Long Now] [Engle Clock] [jesus] [National Watch and Clock Museum] [Stephen Engle] [Time]

August 25, 1AM

Religions, we are told, are in violent opposition. There’s no denying that sometimes it’s true. It is a sad commentary on belief structures when one way of looking at the world only finds validation in the destruction of other perspectives. Despite... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christian Century] [Christianity] [Fundamentalism] [Islam] [israel] [Judaism]

August 24, 1AM

Over the weekend we visited the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania. I became aware of the museum during one of my steampunk phases, and since we were running out of summer, it seemed the ideal time to go. I didn’t know what to e... [Consciousness] [Deities] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Travel] [Columbia] [Greenwich] [infinity] [National Watch and Clock Museum] [pennsylvania] [Steampunk] [Time] [uniformitarianism]

August 23, 2AM

It began as a quest for immortality. Sometimes, however, you don’t recognize something even when it’s all around you. As an historian of religion, the quest for immortality is a familiar one. Certainly the ancient Egyptians believed they had found ... [Consciousness] [environment] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Travel] [box huckleberry] [Hoverter and Sholl Box Huckleberry Natural Area] [huckleberries] [immortality] [National Watch and Clock Museum] [pennsylvania]

August 22, 2AM

Photo credit: Luis García (Zaqarbal),, Wikimedia CommonsRecently I had the sad duty to list a contributor to a volume as deceased. The standard means of doing so in typography is with a symbol called a dagger (†). When I was young, I thought this was... [Bible] [literature] [Posts] [Psalms] [asterisk] [Classical Greece] [Cross] [dagger] [death] [Nashotah House] [obelus] [Textual Criticism] [typography]

August 21, 1AM

A question that has no answer: who was Jesus of Nazareth? Well, no single answer, anyway. When Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth came out, there was uproar. (Something, by the way, that publishers love.) How could someo... [Bible] [Books] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [gospels] [historical Jesus] [Jesus of Nazareth] [Paul] [Reza Aslan] [roman empire] [Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth]

August 20, 1AM

With Pope Francis’s impending visit, the New York-Philadelphia corridor is abuzz with discussions of traffic and commuting disruptions. From a little further away, Irish Central is reporting that the Vatican chief astronomer has gone onto record statin... [astronomy] [Bible] [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [aliens] [astronomy] [augustine] [extra-terrestrial] [Fr. Funes] [Frances Mulraney] [Irish Central] [Roman Catholicism] [science and religion]

August 19, 1AM

The Tell-Tale Brain is an ambitious, yet humble attempt to find the self. V. S. Ramachandran is a neuroscientist with considerable psychology experience who is well equipped to take on, as the subtitle puts it, A Neuroscientist ‘s Quest for What Ma... [Books] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [A Neuroscientist 's Quest for What Makes Us Human] [Belief] [Hinduism] [neuroscience] [science and religion] [self] [The Tell-Tale Brain] [V. S. Ramachandran]

August 18, 1AM

Being among the animals at the fair, you begin to notice things that are foreign to those of us with exposure only to the house-pet variety of fellow creatures. Up close, for example, sheep are bigger than you might think they are. Since they’re domes... [Animals] [Bible] [Classical Mythology] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christianity] [Odysseus] [parables] [Prophets] [sheep] [Shepherd] [Shreck the Sheep]

August 17, 1AM

On occasion someone will comment, either here or on my other popular writings, that I lack the objectivity of a journalist. This should be no surprise, really, since I’m in fact not a journalist and what I’m writing here is opinion—an extended op e... [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [black churches] [charitable giving] [Chicago Theological Seminary] [Christian Century] [Faatima Knight] [five pillars] [Islam] [Muslims]

August 16, 5AM

The county fair is an institution that tastes like a real slice of Americana. My family’s been involved with our 4-H Fair for several years now. Long days sitting under tents in the August heat, showcasing to young people that a good time can be had w... [Animals] [Current Events] [environment] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [4-H] [4-H Fair] [arts and sciences] [environmentalism] [liberal arts]

August 15, 3AM

For a time, I tried to write down family tradition. My family was somewhat unusual in that regard. Family saying came generally from my maternal grandparents—my father wasn’t around for my childhood years—and since my grandparents died when I was ... [Bible] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [canonicity] [Duke University] [folk wisdom] [Library of Congress] [Moses] [scripture]

August 14, 2AM

One of the professions I used to consider as a child, before I had any real concept of the way the world works, was a scientist. I wasn’t sure what scientists did, beyond a broad idea of learning about the world though close observation. I was too you... [astronomy] [Consciousness] [Current Events] [evolution] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [experience] [Perseid meteor shower] [reason] [science and religion] [scripture] [Tradition] [truth]

August 13, 1AM

Once upon a time I felt radical in claiming that monsters and religion shared a pedigree. Having grown up fascinated by Universal, as well as much cheaper and more tawdry, monster movies, I always experienced a twinge of guilt. My family was very religi... [Books] [feminism] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [augustine] [Brenda S. Gardenour Walter] [elements] [humors] [Our Old Monsters: Witches] [The City of God] [vampires] [werewolves] [Werewolves and Vampires from Medieval Theology to Horror Cinema] [witches]

August 12, 1AM

Bibles are business. I recently read that the first book of which Oxford University Press sold a million copies was the Scofield Bible. The Scofield is incredibly resilient to the advancement of scientific thought, and, although large print editions see... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Sects] [Judaism] [protestantism] [Roman Catholicism] [Scofield Reference Bible]

August 11, 1AM

One of my seminary professors, who shall remain nameless, averred in class that Christianity in the first centuries was popular because it was exclusive. Like a country club. If just anybody can get in, why would you want to join? I’ve come to disagr... [civil religion] [Current Events] [feminism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [atheism] [Belief] [Boy Scouts] [Christianity] [Elks] [Girl Scouts] [homosexuality]

August 10, 1AM

Jamestown, Virginia has the distinction of being the first British American colony to have survived. I’ve only been to Jamestown once, and that was about two or three years before the site was scheduled to celebrate its four-hundredth anniversary. Wil... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [BBC] [Church of England] [Jamestown] [Nashotah House] [Reverend Robert Hunt] [Virginia]

August 9, 4AM

One score and ten years ago, I graduated from college. I also enrolled in seminary and worked in a United Methodist summer camp. I bought my own car and worked as a bag boy in a grocery store. I also met my future wife. Last night we watched Back to t... [Current Events] [Memoirs] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [1955] [1985] [2015] [Arthur C. Clarke] [back to the future] [Marty McFly] [nones] [space travel] [United Methodist Church]

August 8, 3AM

I wasn’t brave enough to don swimming trunks in front of academic colleagues and climb into the Dead Sea. Instead, I dipped a finger in an touched it to my tongue. I’m not sure if it was the bromides or some other toxic minerals, but I immediately w... [Current Events] [environment] [Memoirs] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Dead Sea] [Great Salt Lake] [israel] [Jordan] [Jordan River] [NBC] [Palestinian Authority]

August 7, 1AM

Back in my undergraduate days, I wanted to learn more about angels. Surprisingly, there were no courses offered on the subject, even at evangelical Grove City College. When I finally took an independent study on angels, I found that few serious books had... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Deities] [higher education] [Mesopotamia] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [angels] [Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus] [Grove City College] [No Ordinary Angel] [Roman Catholicism] [Susan R. Garrett]

August 6, 1AM

Sometimes, an experienced editor once told me, the author’s life is just as important as the book she’s written. I can’t pretend to know much about Shirley Jackson, beyond that she wrote compelling fiction and that her name is barely recognized tod... [Books] [feminism] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [ghost story] [Shirley Jackson] [sympathetic magic] [The Haunting of Hill House] [We Have Always Lived in the Castle] [witch-hunts] [witches] [xenophobia]

August 5, 1AM

I remember when flying involved going to a travel agent, explaining where and when you wanted to go, and how much you could afford. The agent would contact airlines, get you your best price, and you left knowing that you’d just have to show up at the a... [art] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Travel] [Alaska Airlines] [All Souls Day] [Arizona] [Day of the Dead] [last supper] [Phoenix] [Routledge]

August 4, 5PM

According to New Jersey Transit, rates for services will go up by 9 percent in October. I may still be on this bus by then. It was like many evening commutes–late. My usual driver didn’t make it to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and a new... [Uncategorized]

1AM

If you need a boot of optimism, look to Mars. Or, more specifically, read Andy Weir’s The Martian. Not that it’s the greatest literature ever produced, but it is a story brimming with humanity. Mark Watney is accidentally stranded on Mars. ... [Books] [Current Events] [literature] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Andy Weir] [Hinduism] [Mark Watney] [Mars] [self-sacrifice] [The Martian]

August 3, 1AM

It’s like Nightmare on Elm Street, as my daughter suggested: if my laptop falls asleep, it dies. Actually, that only happens if it turns off. As much as I rail against technology, I have to admit that I get a little choked up thinking about it—my la... [Bible] [Consciousness] [Memoirs] [Posts] [A Nightmare on Elm Street] [Apple] [artificial intelligence] [Lazarus] [Macintosh] [souls]

August 2, 5AM

Identifying birds has never been my strongest skill, although I spend hours pouring over animal indentification books.  Ever since I was a child, I’ve wanted to be able to correctly identify what I’ve seen. So many birds, however,have sim... [Uncategorized]

August 1, 4AM

Being in nature inspires a Psalm-like awe. Civilized to the point of spending virtually all my time indoors, spending all day in the lake or among the trees, it is easy to understand how religions began. Our consciousness tells us that we’re someh... [Uncategorized]

July 31, 5AM

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I married into a family of singers, and when we gather at a cabin in the woods, singing breaks out. In the drought-tormented northwest, under an extreme fire ban, there was no campfire, but that doesn’t stop... [Classical Mythology] [Holidays] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Travel] [Camping] [Christianity] [Green Grow the Rushes] [Judaism] [music] [paganism] [United Methodist Church] [Wikipedia]

July 30, 5AM

I’m on vacation for a week. My job is such that taking vacation is becoming a rare commodity, what with precious few allotted days and move-in, move-out schedules of a collegiate child, and so on. And also company policy about keeping employees in... [Current Events] [environment] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Psalms] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Weather] [nature] [rain] [vacation] [water]

July 29, 4AM

The story is told of how evangelist George Whitefield, on one of his several Atlantic crossings, traded some commodity for a deck of playing cards that he immediately threw overboard. The antipathy to card-playing among some Evangelical groups is, of cour... [Just for Fun] [George Whitefield] [leisure time] [playing cards] [solitare]

July 28, 4AM

I feel like scraping Roman numerals on the wall of my cave with a sharp rock. One for each day I have to spend without my laptop. I’ve been working on this blog, born in this very cabin in which I sit, for six years now. With some exceptions, I&#... [Bible] [Current Events] [environment] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [Travel] [cuneiform] [Papyrus] [parchment] [printing press] [printing technology] [scrolls] [vellum]

July 27, 4AM

Those of you who punish yourselves by reading my posts regularly may wonder at how different my last couple of posts have been. “Vacation” in and of itself is sufficient explanation for the out of the ordinary—different time zones, unreliabl... [Consciousness] [environment] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Apple] [death] [Genius Bar] [laptop] [Spokane] [vacation] [Washington]

July 26, 5AM

   In-flight magazines aren’t a place I turn for inspiration. Having been raised in poverty, I’ve never found the jet-set interests to be at all engaging. I can’t turn my brain off, however, even when on vacation. Still, I hate... [Uncategorized]

July 25, 4AM

Mysterium tremendum is the term often applied to numinous experiences. The sense of being in the presence of something both terrifying and compelling. Used to describe theophanies and divine encounters, it can also apply to entirely natural phenomena. A... [Uncategorized]

July 24, 12 AM

Some people are impulse buyers. In fact, retailers count on it. All those last-minute items next to the cash register while you wait your turn to consume—they beckon the unwary. I have to admit to being an impulse book buyer. I have to keep it under... [Bible] [Books] [Britannia] [Classical Mythology] [Just for Fun] [Monsters] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Behemoth] [bestiary] [Christopher Dell] [Edinburgh] [Leviathan] [National Museum of Scotland] [Twilight Zone]

July 23, 1AM

Perhaps it’s because I was born in Franklin, Pennsylvania, or perhaps it’s because everything I’ve ever read about him suggests he was delightfully unorthodox, but whatever the reason, Benjamin Franklin has always held my admiration.  P... [Bible] [Books] [higher education] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [Benjamin Franklin] [Deism] [Franklin] [George Whitefield] [Joel Osteen] [pennsylvania] [Randy Petersen] [The Printer and the Preacher] [University of Pennsylvania]

July 22, 1AM

A story appeared on the BBC recently about “sin free Facebook.” The website, which started in Brazil, is based on the idea that users don’t like having swear words and violence among their friends. According to the story some 600 words are banned ... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [BBC] [Brazil] [Facebook] [hate crimes] [Mr. Spock] [Quakers] [sin]

July 21, 1AM

Among the most compelling questions raised by consciousness is “where am I from?” Humans are a species of widely traveled individuals and despite the fiction that we all derive from happily married couples, we often end up distant from our relatives.... [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [ancestry.com] [and Science] [DNA] [emigration] [Genealogy] [Mormon Church]

July 20, 1AM

Pluto is a metaphor for the ultimate of outer limits. Just one of many largish objects in the Kuiper Belt, Pluto for a while held the status of the final planet in the solar system. With the photos from New Horizons coming in, we’re discovering a worl... [astronomy] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Cthulhu] [H P Lovecraft] [Kuiper Belt] [New Horizons] [New York Times] [old gods] [Pluto]

July 19, 4AM

Can God and science mix? I suppose that the third season of Through the Wormhole would be the place to look. The entire season has a distinctly metaphysical feel to it, so it is no surprise that the final episode is entitled “Did We Invent God?” It... [Consciousness] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [“Did We Invent God?”] [Belief] [neurology] [Psychology] [science and religion] [Through the Wormhole] [truth]

July 18, 2AM

Different opinions can be used for discussion or destruction. In the formal context of government, the declaration of war is—or should be—an option of last resort. Increasingly language of belligerence is status quo ante when religion is the topic. ... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Current Events] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [Christian nation] [CNN] [Culture Wars] [Fox News] [gay marriage] [North Carolina] [Shelby]

July 17, 5AM

Nightmares are the stuff dreams are made of. Or maybe I’ve got that the wrong way around. Having grown up subject to frequent nightmares, I still occasionally have them. I suppose it is easy enough to assume someone who reads about monsters and watch... [Books] [Consciousness] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [David J. Hufford] [hypnogogic hallucination] [Inception] [incubus] [Newfoundland] [nightmares] [old hag] [sleep paralysis] [succubus] [The Matrix] [The Terror That Comes in the Night] [The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions] [vampire] [witch]

July 16, 1AM

There’s some pretty weird stuff in the Bible. Those who are only familiar with all the “thou shalt not”s are missing a great deal. Some of the material is strange enough to rival Alice’s tumble down the rabbit-hole (Charles Dodgson was, after al... [art] [Bible] [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [alternate states of consciousness] [Anthropology] [Benny Shanon] [Daniel] [DMT] [dreams] [Ezekiel] [Moses] [Revelation] [Time Wheel]

July 15, 1AM

Pluto used to be a planet. Humans, in our unfaltering confidence, have downgraded it to a sub-planet, a dwarf planet, as if we know how big a planet ought to be. Even so, the arrival of New Horizons at the mysterious ice world has us all interested once... [astronomy] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Deities] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [science] [Bruce Springsteen] [Clyde Tombaugh] [Greek mythology] [hades] [New Horizons] [Pluto] [plutocracy] [Solar System] [Ugaritic]

July 14, 1AM

I knew of fairy tales as a child, but I recall them mostly being mediated through the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights, just before bath time.  I don’t recall experiencing them in written form, and although I may have experienced them as ... [Bible] [Books] [literature] [Posts] [fairy tale] [Marina Warner] [myth] [Once Upon a Time: A Short History of the Fairy Tale] [Psychology] [scripture] [Wonderful World of Disney]

July 13, 1AM

No matter how early you go to bed on Sunday night, Monday morning comes too early.  The only thing that makes my long, penitential commute survivable is the book that will take me away for an hour or more on the way to the city.  At the Port Authority B... [Bibliolatry] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Sects] [Christianity] [Church of Bible Understanding] [Constantine] [denominations] [evangelicalism] [New York City]

July 12, 3AM

I sometimes wish I was a journalist. Just this past week a couple of people questioned my journalistic skills for an opinion piece I wrote for Religion Dispatches. I’m fully capable of professional research, but who has the time? Still, being a journ... [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [1 percenters] [Chris Christie] [heroin] [Journalism] [New Jersey] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [plutocracy] [religion dispatches]

July 11, 3AM

Anyone who believes in the rule of law has never been on a broken down NYC commuter bus. There’s a rare kind of tension among the early morning commuter crowd. To put this in context I should say that I awake at 4 a.m. to catch the first us through ... [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [commuting] [ethics] [New Jersey Transit] [New York City] [rule of law]

July 10, 3AM

Quirky ideas stimulate the intellect. I’ve always had a fondness for the outré, those ideas slightly beyond the pale of normalcy. Sometimes taken dead seriously by intelligent people, these ideas have cultural staying power. David Standish’s Hollo... [Books] [literature] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Alice in Wonderland] [Burnt Over District] [Cyrus Reed Teed] [David Standish] [Edgar Allan Poe] [Edgar Rice Burroughs] [Hollow Earth] [John Cleves Symmes] [Jules Verne]

July 9, 1AM

In keeping with the spirit of freedom, just before July 4 the BBC broke the story of Iceland’s blasphemy laws having been struck down. Although the state Church of Iceland (Lutheran by denomination) supported the move, other churches have been grumblin... [civil religion] [Current Events] [Deities] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [BBC] [Blasphemy] [Christianity] [Iceland] [Norse gods] [Pirate Party] [swearing]

July 8, 1AM

Sometime after the movie Contact came out, I saw it while on a flight to somewhere here or there. As with most movies on airplanes, it didn’t receive my full attention and I seem to recall not hearing a lot of the sound. Having always been intrigued b... [astronomy] [Books] [literature] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [aliens] [ancient astronauts] [astronomy] [carl sagan] [chiliasts] [Contact] [science and religion]

July 7, 1AM

Just as I was awaking from a night of loud fireworks and multicultural bonhomie, my wife showed me a full-page ad in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. A red, white, and blue page entitled “In God We Trust,” the ad wants nothing more than to convert... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Holidays] [Posts] [Psalms] [Sects] ["Founding Fathers"] [Christian nation] [Deism] [Hobby Lobby] [In God we trust] [New Jersey Star-Ledger] [Psalm 33]

July 6, 1AM

We all like to believe we don’t believe in magic. In this day of sophisticated materialism, the idea that unseen forces might work upon the world seems terribly naive and not a little embarrassing. Randall Styers’s Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and... [Books] [civil religion] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [alchemy] [and Science in the Modern World] [magic] [Making Magic: Religion] [Politics and Religion] [Prayer] [Randall Styers] [Wicca]

July 5, 4AM

Fireworks have been the main event for Independence Day celebrations ever since I was a child. The fourth of July is a day for playing with fire. As a child I remember spending the meager allowance I had on sparklers and snakes. I haven’t seen one of... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [china] [evil spirits] [fireworks] [Fourth of July] [Independence Day] [New Jersey] [pyrotechnics]

July 4, 4AM

The “high place,” in the Hebrew Bible, was a source of constant vexation to the “orthodox.” Scholars have long puzzled over what was meant by the term, the assumption early on being that they were geographically the highest points around. Althou... [Bible] [civil religion] [Holidays] [Posts] [Travel] [Empire State Building] [High Point State Park] [Independence Day] [New Jersey] [New York City] [Tower of Babel] [World Trade Center]

July 3, 1AM

Ironically, the Bible is the basis for the western preoccupation with land ownership. What with commandments against stealing and coveting, the Israelites had a sense of being promised a land by God. It was their land and no human motivation—including... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Christian Century] [Housing] [land ownership] [Nashotah House] [rent] [social justice] [Wisconsin]

July 2, 1AM

One of the most disturbing images from my childhood years is the self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức in Saigon. Of course, I didn’t see this image as a child. It was high school before I was deemed mature enough (and the internet didn’t exist) ... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Branch Davidians] [gay marriage] [Pastor Rick Scarborough] [self-righteousness] [Thích Quảng Đức] [The Advocate]

July 1, 1AM

There is a plague upon this nation.  When in one week, let alone one day, I hear about two colleagues being let go from their academic posts for not meeting conservative theological standards, I believe it is time for higher education to take a good soli... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Christopher Rollston] [Daniel Kirk] [Fuller Seminary] [Nashotah House] [Northwest Nazarene University] [Peter Enns] [Thomas Jay Oord]

June 30, 1AM

It looked like an arm bone to me.  Then again, I have no formal training in either anatomy or geology.  The strata of Pennsylvania shale was littered with shell fossils from before the dinosaur era.  Had I found a rare early animal?  You see, I love f... [Animals] [Books] [environment] [evolution] [Memoirs] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [environmentalism] [fossil] [fossils] [Gorgon] [Permian Extinction] [Peter D. Ward] [social justice] [South Africa] [The Monsters That Ruled the Planet Before Dinosaurs and How They Died in the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth's History]

June 29, 1AM

I first learned of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods while liking in the woods of Wisconsin. I was teaching a summer term course of mature students, one of whom used one of the songs to illustrate the point he was making during a presentation. ... [Bible] [Deities] [Egypt] [Goddesses] [Just for Fun] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Asherah] [David and Goliath] [Disney] [Enchanted] [Grimm Brothers] [Into the Woods] [Jack the Giant Slayer] [Shrek] [Stephen Sondheim]

June 28, 6AM

In New Jersey you can’t pump your own gas. If you pull into a station with a line, you have to wait your turn. Once, on my way to an adjunct job, I pulled up to the next available pump. It was the only one free, and a car pulled up behind me to wait... [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [ethics] [LinkedIn] [New Jersey] [pumping gas] [recession]

June 27, 4AM

There’s been a lot of rain this June. In between there have been some glimpses of sunshine. When the rain and sun combine, I always look for rainbows. Yesterday there were rainbows. You see, I didn’t realize until physics class that the sun ha... [Bible] [Current Events] [evolution] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Amazing Grace] [Charleston] [homosexual marriage] [rainbow] [social justice] [South Carolina] [supreme court]

June 26, 1AM

To a scholar who has spent many years studying ancient religions, new religions hold a strange appeal.  After all, we are trained to look at obscure texts from forgotten cultures and to decipher the mute clues they have left behind.  New religions have ... [Books] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Sects] [Aleister Crowley] [and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism] [Anton LaVey] [Gerald Gardner] [Hugh B. Urban] [Magia Sexualis: Sex] [magic] [occult] [sexuality] [Wicca]

June 25, 1AM

Those who’ve participated in the great drive out west—if you’ve done it you know what I mean—have passed through the range of dinosaurs. Actually, dinosaurs can be found here in the east; New Jersey once had a reputation of the home of the hadros... [Animals] [Current Events] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [Alberta] [Canada] [Christianity] [dinosaurs] [Drumheller] [hadrosaurus] [Makoshika State Park] [New Jersey] [Passion Play] [science and religion] [Tom Holland]

June 24, 1AM

I’m not sure how I’ve managed to live in New Jersey eight years without discovering the Old Book Shop in Morristown. Used books represent the opportunity to find things otherwise hidden away, even often from the all-seeing internet. That’s why I v... [astronomy] [Books] [creationism] [Posts] [science] [Cranbury Bookworm] [Ecce Coelum; or Parish Astronomy] [Enoch Fitch Burr] [Montclair Book Center] [Morristown] [New Jersey] [Old Book Shop] [science and religion] [used books]

June 23, 1AM

Non-directed reading sometimes follows its own track and a reader might become kind of an accidental expert. I wouldn’t claim that for myself, but I have noticed that scholars, until very recently, tended to give the cold shoulder to anything with a wh... [higher education] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [magic] [popular culture] [Sleepy Hollow] [Society of Biblical Literature] [Wicca] [witchcraft]

June 22, 1AM

Once a biblical scholar, always a biblical scholar. This stuff just can’t be unlearned. Suspension of belief, however, is a necessary component of enjoying fiction. I finally found time to slot in Nancy Madore’s Power of Gods, the second in her Leg... [Bible] [Books] [Deities] [literature] [Posts] [Demons] [djinn] [HAARP] [Legacy of the Watchers] [Nancy Madore] [Power of Gods]

June 21, 3AM

I’m not completely stupid.  I know that the Father’s Day ads with which I’ve been peppered all month are nothing personal.  They’re intended to tug at the sentimental heartstrings and get me to spend some money on dear old Dad. ... [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Benjamin Willis Wiggins] [capitalism] [Father's Day] [Social Consciousness]

June 20, 6AM

Photo credit: Spencer Means, Wikimedia Commons The murders in Charleston this week are part of an epidemic. The members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church join, unfortunately, a growing list of victims of hate. Not only hate, but that subspec... [Bible] [Current Events] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Dylann Roof] [education] [Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church] [hate crimes] [olly olly oxen free] [Sacred Space] [sanctuary] [South Carolina] [Vietnam War] [xenophobia]

June 19, 3AM

As I was out jogging just now, a large gasoline truck pulled across the road, stalling my attempt at healthy living. As I waited for the driver to move, I thought of Laudato Si’. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical letter, the future seems, ... [Current Events] [environment] [Natural Disasters] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [ecology] [environmentalism] [Laudato Si’] [Pope Francis] [Roman Catholicism] [social justice]

June 18, 1AM

Image credit: Zephyris, Wikimedia Commons DNA. Is there anything it can’t do? For many decades anthropologists have built painstaking methods to trace developments in human culture. Those of us who’ve studied linguistics in any fashion remember wel... [Archaeology] [Current Events] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [science] [Anthropology] [DNA] [myth] [New York Times] [orthography] [philology] [science and religion]

June 17, 1AM

Any book that sets itself the task of addressing American culture has, it seems, a built-in obsolescence.  Culture shifts are radical and swift, and it would seem that distance is necessary for any serious analysis.  I am reminded of historian Barbara T... [Bible] [Books] [civil religion] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Barbara Tuchman] [Fundamentalism] [Mark A. Noll] [Nathan G. Hatch] [Tea Party] [The Bible in America]

June 16, 1AM

You know how it is when you get a song stuck in your head? This is one of the few scenarios that will actually lead me to buy music. I have very specific (some would say “odd”) tastes in music. I love the originals. Long ago I ceased listening to ... [art] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [1950s science fiction] [1984] [¡Alarma! Chronicles] [Christian Rock] [Daniel Amos] [Vox Humana]

June 15, 1AM

For reasons no one fully understands, Planet of the Apes touched a deep level of responsiveness in American society. I have to admit to having fallen behind a bit; I need to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to be back up to speed, but nevertheless, I r... [Bible] [Books] [Current Events] [evolution] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [civil rights] [Dawn of the Planet of the Apes] [Eric Greene] [Exodus] [Planet of the Apes] [Planet of the Apes as American Myth] [Race and Politics in the Films and Television Series] [science fiction]

June 14, 3AM

It’s a Saturday and my wife’s at work. She’s worked five days already and will still be at work tomorrow. I’m lazing in bed until 5 a.m. when I hear the neighbor’s alarm clock from upstairs. An hour later I see him headed to his car, dressed ... [Bible] [Holidays] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Christianity] [exempt] [Judaism] [Sabbath] [weekends]

June 13, 4AM

Books & Culture is the review organ of Christianity Today. Christianity Today is the evangelical answer to the more liberal Christian Century. Working in publishing, particularly in the field of religion, it is important to keep an eye on what the p... [Books] [literature] [Memoirs] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Books & Culture] [Christian Century] [Christianity Today] [Edgar Allan Poe] [Horror Stories] [Nightmare on Elm Street] [Shirley Jackson] [The Haunting of Hill House] [Victor LeValle]

June 12, 1AM

A kid among the Monster Boomers can’t let the death of Christopher Lee go by without comment. How many hours of my childhood were spent watching movies on Saturday afternoon TV with his many personae arresting my attention? And, of course, his pro... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [Christopher Lee] [horror films] [Lord Summerisle] [Monster Boomer] [The Wicker Man]

June 11, 1AM

While I may not share Timothy Beal’s view that print culture is on its way out (I harbor hopes every time I see vinyl records making appearances in stores), he is certainly correct most of the time in The Rise and Fall of the Bible. Written for non-spe... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Books] [civil religion] [higher education] [popular culture] [Posts] [Rock-n-Roll] [biblezines] [Bruce Springsteen] [Fundamentalism] [Iconic book] [Manga Bibles] [The Rise and Fall of the Bible] [The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book] [Timothy Beal]

June 10, 1AM

The mind is not the brain. This isn’t mystical mumbo-jumbo (although there’s nothing wrong with mystical mumbo-jumbo either). We’ve been bombarded with the message that we are meat machines for many years now. Those who have studied physics and p... [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [brains] [Matrix] [meditation] [neuroscience] [predestination] [sigmund freud] [subconscious] [Through the Wormhole]

June 9, 1AM

Those of us with scientifically oriented minds, but with affinity for the less quantifiable aspects of life, tend toward academic study of the humanities. It is not unusual for someone with a background in the hard sciences to dismiss such “softer&... [Books] [Consciousness] [Deities] [Memoirs] [Posts] [science] [Andrew Newberg] [How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist] [Mark Robert Waldman] [meditation] [Nashotah House] [neuroscience] [Why God Won't Go Away]

June 8, 1AM

Maybe I’m getting out of practice with my horror movies—I don’t have time to watch them like I used to—but Lovely Molly left me a little confused. I suppose I’m more susceptible to big advertising than I’d like to admit, but I knew about Love... [feminism] [Monsters] [movies] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Amazon Prime] [Demons] [Eduardo Sánchez] [horror movies] [Lovely Molly] [misogyny] [Orobas] [Times Square]

June 7, 3AM

The Flying Spaghetti Monster came onto my radar while teaching at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. I was teaching a course entitled The Bible and Current Events and the controversy over teaching Intelligent Design had been gaining steam. As I addre... [Bibliolatry] [creationism] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Flying Spaghetti Monster] [intelligent design] [Penn Jillette] [United Church of Bacon] [University of Wisconsin Oshkosh]

June 6, 4AM

Can we eliminate evil? More than a question of metaphysics, this is also the title of an episode of the third season of Through the Wormhole. I’ve noted before that this particular season has been delving more profoundly into areas once reserved for r... [Consciousness] [higher education] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [empathy] [evil] [Nashotah House] [neuroscience] [science and religion] [Through the Wormhole]

June 5, 3AM

Imports and exports are the stuff of international commerce. Nations import what they require or desire from nations that have a surplus. One surplus that the United States has is Creationism. The origins of the movement share some culture with England... [Bible] [Bibliolatry] [Britannia] [creationism] [Current Events] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [American religion] [Grove City College] [IFL Science!] [Scotland] [social change]

June 4, 1AM

Midtown Manhattan is awash in litter, particularly on a Monday morning, or first thing after a holiday. I generally arrive in the city shortly after 7 a.m., before the detritus is swept away. Frequently I see, among the discarded food wrappers and cigar... [Bibliolatry] [Current Events] [environment] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [New York City] [prooftexting] [televangelists] [Theodicy] [Tony Alamo Christian Ministries]

June 3, 1AM

One thing that would be difficult to overstate is the influence the Bible has had on America. In our increasingly secular society, it may seem like the Bible has lost its edge. Then comes a presidential election and the Bible is headline news again. Actua... [Bible] [Books] [civil religion] [Posts] [science] [Social Consciousness] [1777-1880] [An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States] [Bible and politics] [Bible Wars] [civil religion] [George Washington] [Paul C. Gutjahr] [sola scriptura]

June 2, 1AM

Academics are often poor communicators. The stunning irrelevance of most research should stand as a rather obvious clue to that. Of course, I’m old school in my approach to research. When afforded the opportunity to do so, I produced at least one sch... [Asherah] [Deities] [Goddesses] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Frank Moore Cross] [Garth Gilmour] [Jerusalem] [Kuntillet Ajrud] [Routledge] [temple] [Visualizing Jews Through the Ages] [Yahweh]

June 1, 1AM

A friend asked me for a book. Since my life has mostly been about books, I’m generally happy to supply what I can. This friend is a cancer survivor and wanted to read Anita Moorjani’s Dying To Be Me. The last time I saw this friend, she handed... [Books] [Consciousness] [evolution] [Posts] [science] [Sects] [Anita Moorjani] [doctrine] [Dying To Be Me] [Hinduism] [near-death experience] [religious tolerance]

May 31, 5AM

The Nones have it. A recent article by Alana Massey from the Washington Post puts it well. We are cultural Christians living in a secular world. My mind often goes back to the fate of those trained by a system that proves itself to be false. We are se... [civil religion] [Current Events] [higher education] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Alana Massey] [atheism] [Episcopal Church] [non-theology] [nones] [Washington Post]

May 30, 4AM

Call it sour grapes. When I was a young scholar, I used to wonder how to develop book ideas. You see, at a young age—twenties or thirties—even a doctorate means your understanding of the world is limited. I’d written a substantial dissertation on... [Asherah] [Books] [Deities] [Goddesses] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Psalms] [ancient Near East] [Nashotah House] [Shapshu] [Weathering the Psalms] [Writing]

May 29, 1AM

Creativity receives an immense amount of lip service. Too bad that doesn’t correlate to actual appreciation. I’ve been working since I was 14. In all the jobs I’ve had, the first was the one that used my creativity most fully. I was ... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [brainstorming] [dogma] [Edward de Bono] [lateral thinking] [Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step] [publishing] [teaching]

May 28, 1AM

During my childhood and adolescence, we didn’t eat out. Of course, food didn’t cost nearly as much then, and it was cheaper to cook raw ingredients at home than it was to buy something exotic that someone else had made. I clearly remember our first ... [Bible] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Psalms] [Chinese fortune cookie] [Girl Scout cookies] [horoscopes] [Japanese] [McDonalds] [Northwest Pennsylvania] [Prophecy] [Revelation]

May 27, 1AM

I know many conservative religious believers. I also know a lot of nones and atheists. One thing they all have in common is that they want to believe the truth. They want to do what is right. Enter the media. A day of peace and prosperity for all is ... [civil religion] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [abraham lincoln] [Economics] [elephant] [GOP] [media] [pentagram] [Politics and Religion] [Reaganomics] [Republican Party] [Satanism]

May 26, 1AM

Science requires translation. Even very intelligent people in other fields of study have trouble understanding what scientists have been saying. That’s why science writers are so important. They can distill the heady knowledge that empirical method p... [Books] [Consciousness] [feminism] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [science] [And Other Strange Tales from Science] [Isaac Newton] [Jay Ingram. The Barmaid’s Brain] [Joan of Arc] [neuroscience] [schizophrenia] [science and religion]

May 25, 1AM

“Parochial” is a name we small-town types dread. Growing up with television, which gave us a magical view into New York and California, as well as other cosmopolitan locales, we could easily feel the accusations of being small-minded and unsophistica... [Current Events] [Holidays] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [media] [memorial day] [racial profiling] [racism] [social justice]

May 24, 2AM

Having no control over where we’re born, people nevertheless often feel a connection with their native region. My family had no roots in western Pennsylvania, and the consensus on why we ended up here focuses around jobs. My grandparents settled here ... [civil religion] [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [science] [Travel] [1859] [big oil] [dowsing] [Drake Well] [fracking] [George Washington] [Oil industry] [Origin of Species] [Spiritualism] [Titusville Pennsylvania]

May 23, 2AM

Travel broadens the mind. I always find that it’s a form of education. Sometimes what I learn is disturbing. While driving across Pennsylvania on I-80 recently, I had a chance to study some contrasts. I’ve made this trip many times, but this parti... [environment] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Travel] [alternative energy] [Amish] [environmentalism] [Interstate 80] [pennsylvania] [trust Jesus]

May 22, 1AM

When I first joined LinkedIn, the notes about adding connections you didn’t actually know were pretty dire.  People could trash you behind your back, ruining career opportunities.  It turns out that I don’t really need any help ruining caree... [Deities] [Just for Fun] [Posts] [Herald Square] [jesus] [Joshua] [LinkedIn] [New York City] [social media] [Social network]

May 21, 1AM

The informal name for economics, rightly, is “the dismal science.” When I recently learned about The Story of Stuff (storyofstuff.org), I found myself again shaking my head in dismay. I have no problem admitting that I’m a liberal pretty much thro... [civil religion] [environment] [Memoirs] [popular culture] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [class wars] [ecology] [Economics] [Pennzoil] [Pollution] [recycling] [The Story of Stuff] [Victor Lebow]

May 20, 1AM

The end of the world as we know it is far more common than reason might suggest. As I’ve been researching the way the apocalypse is represented in popular culture, I’ve been impressed at just how prevalent it is. James Aston and John Walliss h... [Bible] [Books] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Social Consciousness] [apocalyptic] [HORROR] [James Aston] [John Walliss] [Justice] [science fiction] [Small screen Revelations: Apocalypse in Contemporary Television]

May 19, 1AM

Binghamton University looms large in my consciousness, for rather obvious reasons. Although it sits in a small corner of upstate New York not particularly near anything famous, it has its own culture. Having taught at several schools, and having studied... [Current Events] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [Binghamton University] [Grove City College] [Judaism] [Rutgers University] [Sabbath] [University of Wisconsin Oshkosh] [Washington Post] [Watson School of Engineering]

May 18, 1AM

I’m not really a fan of Dean R. Koontz’s thrillers, but I do find myself turning to them from time to time. Like Stephen King’s, Koontz’s books are easily found at book sales, but you don’t always have your choice of which titles. I picked... [Books] [Consciousness] [literature] [Monsters] [popular culture] [Posts] [science] [Dean R. Koontz] [ethics] [fiction] [genetic engineering] [Stephen King] [Theodicy] [watchers]

May 17, 6AM

It has been a few years since I’ve taken any courses on ancient history, but I took quite a number of them while preparing for my doctorate. Staring at my Dominos pizza box, I wonder if I must have missed class they day we covered ancient pizza. Actua... [Egypt] [feminism] [higher education] [Just for Fun] [popular culture] [Posts] [cheese] [Dominos Pizza] [Egyptian] [fast food] [Wisconsin]

May 16, 2AM

“I drive my car, it is a witness. My license plate, it states my business.” The words are from a song by one of the most creative Christian Rock groups ever, Daniel Amos. While I don’t listen to Christian Rock much anymore, I’ve always apprec... [Bibliolatry] [civil religion] [Current Events] [popular culture] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Rock-n-Roll] [Sects] [Social Consciousness] [atheism] [Christian Rock] [Culture Wars] [Daniel Amos] [driving] [religious tolerance] [Thomas Zambito]

May 15, 1AM

The South Pacific brings to mind light-hearted musicals, uncomplicated lifestyles, and Gilligan’s Island. For those of us born in the eastern parts of North America it can seem pretty exotic. Especially since we can seldom afford to go there. Sin... [Books] [Consciousness] [Mysticism] [Posts] [Religious Violence] [Sects] [Anthropology] [Charles Montgomery] [E. E. Evans-Pritchard] [magic] [Melanesia] [missionaries] [South Pacific] [The Shark God]

May 14, 1AM

Like nearly all unfortunate white collar workers, the computer provided for me at my job is a PC. I don’t know the brand—that’s not important. When I want to delete a document, I’m asked if I want to move it to the “recycle bin.” Okay, I’... [environment] [Just for Fun] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [document shredding] [environmentalism] [Green] [identity theft] [recycling]

May 13, 1AM

I sometimes wonder if science would have the appeal that it does, if it didn’t have religion to shock and awe. I’m thinking of not only the fact that The Humanist magazine quite often has a focus on religion, but even websites, irreverently named to ... [astronomy] [Classical Mythology] [Current Events] [Mesopotamia] [Posts] [science] [Caroline Reid] [Creation] [Hubble space telescope] [IFL Science!] [myth] [pillars of creation] [religion and science] [Sumerians] [The Humanist]

May 12, 1AM

“But are you able to continue your research?” they ask. Academics can be so hopelessly naive sometimes. I recently had a notice on academia.edu that I was in the 30-day top 5 percent of page views. So I’m feeling like the Bruce Springsteen of acade... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Academia] [research] [Sheffield Phoenix Press] [Sleepy Hollow] [Society of Biblical Literature]

May 11, 1AM

If you read only one book this year, let it be this one. I picked up Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus at a used book sale because of the title alone. The blurbs on the back suggested it would be hilarious, and even the subtitle, Dispatches from A... [Books] [higher education] [Memoirs] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [Bruce Springsteen] [Deer Hunting with Jesus] [Dispatches from America’s Class War] [Joe Bageant] [Moses] [Republican Party] [working class]

May 10, 3AM

In a world set on tearing itself apart because of its differences, there is one thing every single person has in common. We all have a mother. In societies enamored of domination and competition, we take one day out of the year to stop and remember thos... [Current Events] [feminism] [Holidays] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [capitalism] [civil war] [cooperation] [mother's day] [Roman Catholicism]

May 9, 3AM

Perhaps it’s just me, but the third season of Through the Wormhole has taken a dramatically metaphysical turn. I always run behind the time when it comes to media; I know that the season is long passed. I started watching Through the Wormhole shortly ... [Consciousness] [evolution] [popular culture] [Posts] [Robotics] [science] [Can We Resurrect the Dead?] [Frankenstein] [life loggers] [Morgan Freeman] [post-humanism] [resurrection] [science and religion] [Technology] [Through the Wormhole]

May 8, 1AM

Once upon a time, I heard about a book called The Uses of Enchantment. During my doctoral studies it was recommended to me, and I put it on my to read list. That list is quite long, and I don’t follow it in any kind of order. Like life, it is chao... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Bruno Bettelheim] [fairy tale] [humanities] [mythology] [The Uses of Enchantment]
Once upon a time, I heard about a book called The Uses of Enchantment. During my doctoral studies it was recommended to me, and I put it on my to read list. That list is quite long, and I don’t follow it in any kind of order. Like life, it is chao... [Books] [Classical Mythology] [Consciousness] [Posts] [Religious Origins] [Bruno Bettelheim] [fairy tale] [humanities] [mythology] [The Uses of Enchantment]

May 7, 1AM

Those who have trundled alongside of this blog for any length of time no doubt know of my interest in weird fiction. Somewhere in the mists of my youth this led me to one of the few venues in which a person can get a hook on the eerie, namely, horror fil... [Britannia] [Consciousness] [literature] [Posts] [Social Consciousness] [horror films] [Indian burial ground] [Robert Macfarlane] [The Guardian] [weird fiction]
Those who have trundled alongside of this blog for any length of time no doubt know of my interest in weird fiction. Somewhere in the mists of my youth this led me to one of the few venues in which a person can get a hook on the eerie, namely, horror fil...