Archive | July 2011

First academic journal on secularism and nonreligion to debut in January (via CNN Belief Blog)

It’s great to see research on Nonreligion finally getting out there into the mainstream. What isn’t great is that all the links in this post go to the ISSSR – and little reference is made to the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN) who are equal partners in this.

Check them out online at http://www.nsrn.co.uk or follow them on Twitter.

I could also comment on how secularism, nonreligion, atheism etc are not the same thing and should not be treated as such… but that would take too long and it is a Sunday morning!

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor (CNN) — It’s turning out to be a banner year for nonbelievers. First came the publication of a secular Bible. Then we saw the birth of the first American college major in secularism. This week, it’s the launch of the world’s first academic journal dedicated to the themes of secularism and nonreligion. The journal, to be called Secularism and Nonreligion, will begin publishing in January as a joint project … Read More

via CNN Belief Blog

The Fiction Shelf

From time to time I will point readers to websites that I think might interest them. It just so happens that this one was set up by my good friend Liam.

Do you like reading? Are you a budding writer?  Liam has been working on this project for a while now and it has just officially launched. Check out the website, where authors and readers can share high-quality fiction, poetry and more in all manner of on-screen and printable formats. And if you fancy sharing the link with others, we’d both be eternally grateful.

The Fiction Shelf

We are The Fiction Shelf – an entertainment site for readers and writers, and a free one at that. All of the stories and poems here are of excellent quality and are available to you however you want them.

If you would like to read some of our fiction use the buttons at the top of page. If you’re a writer and want to have your work featured click here to learn how. If you have any ideas on how the site could be improved then please drop us an e‐mail.

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage – by Dave Burchett

Just a quick post to acknowledge that this book sounds like it is a must read for both Christians and non-Christians. It should flag up many of the problems endemic in churches across the world – let’s face it, the main reason that people object to their message. It should also emphasise to those who already see churches in a negative light that there are good people there and that all is not lost…

From Publishers Weekly

A cursory reading of Burchett’s expos‚ of the pitiful condition of the American Christian church shows the book to be stinging, acerbic and slightly flippant. But careful attention to Burchett’s painful message that “bad Christians” have done, and continue to do, great damage to others in the fold reveals the truth of his accusations. For openers, Burchett tells his own story of callous rejection by a church he attended when his terminally ill daughter was only months old. The congregation in question decided in no uncertain terms that Burchett’s daughter was not welcome in their nursery, despite the fact that baby Katie posed no threat to the other infants. Such behavior is the first of many examples where Christians slammed their church doors at the first sight of discomfort. Burchett’s style is critical, sometimes overwhelmingly so. Yet he supports every claim of Christian shame, and does so with evidence solid enough to convict. He describes churches as frequently elitist, unfriendly and fearful. He also takes issue with lazy Christian-ese, countering that true faith is measured not merely in words but through acts of humility, service and self-sacrifice. Some sensitive Christian believers will surely take issue with Burchett’s tone and the one-two stabs of witty humor that are often aimed at Christians themselves. Yet his call to reform is so solidly founded on biblical principles that his severe words must be heeded.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Two Excellent Resources

Just a quick post to alert you to two excellent resources I have discovered today.

One is the new documentary series from the BBC, entitled The Life of Muhammad. The first episode was just aired this week and it seems to balance informed but accessible scholarship with a respectful but not deferential tone. Thoroughly recommended to anyone who is interested… and indeed those who are not. I just wish everyone could see this sort of programme. Viewers in the UK can click the link and watch it on BBC iPlayer, where it is available until August 1 2011 (duration 60 mins).

The other resource is a website that I have stumbled across and will have to check out in much greater detail over the coming weeks. It is patheos.com, which describes itself as:

the premier online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. Patheos is the website of choice for the millions of people looking for credible and balanced information or resources about religion. Patheos brings together the public, academia, and the faith leaders in a single environment, and is the place where people turn on a regular basis for insight into questions, issues, and discussions. Patheos is unlike any other online religious and spiritual site and is designed to serve as a resource for those looking to learn more about different belief systems, as well as participate in productive, moderated discussions on some of today’s most talked about and debated topics.

Whilst I haven’t had much of a chance to look around it, and whilst always being slightly irked at seeing religion being treated as distinct entities and institutions to which a specified number of adherents belong etc (the good old ‘world religions’ paradigm raises its head once more), there seem to be a huge number of resources here, with vast amounts information on certainly all the major religions in the world… and resources for teachers, students, academics, religious leaders, interested laypeople and more…

I hope both of these ‘tips’ prove useful :)

My Bad Religion Top 5 (for today anyway…)

In preparation for going to see Bad Religion tonight in Glasgow, one decade after seeing them for the first time in Dublin when I was 15 (my first ever gig), I thought I would share my top 5 favourite Bad Religion songs with you. This is fairly mood-dependent, as these guys have so many amazing songs… but I shall just go with it.

It’s so rare to find a band with attitude that is so intelligent. If you have never heard them before, I hope this whets your appetite!

Firstly, “Modern Man”… I just love the lyrics to this one:

Secondly, “The Answer”… the message of this is pretty clear:

Third, “Generator”! I am sure this song has a message… but I don’t know what it is. I just love the attitude and the words

Fourth, “Sorrow”… a quieter, more contemplative number. And with a proper video… unusual for these guys!

And finally, “You”… magical memories of playing Tony Hawk’s II for hours on end as a teenager:

 

Cows and Fish… Atheists and the Church… and Abortions?

Proper blog posts are still a long way off… but here is a selection of interesting things I have spotted on the internet over the past week or so:

A worrying discussion about abortion in the state of Kansas.

A church that mistakenly advertised for an atheistic organisation

Another atheist complains about an infringement on church-state separation in the US.

Apparently fish can use tools!!!! Does this cause any ‘vegetarians’ who eat fish to reconsider their position?

Understanding the current situation in the Middle East… with cows. My personal favourites are:

Palestine
You had two cows that were lost decades ago. Lament them.

Israel
You have two bulls. Pretend they are helpless calves.

And finally, the periodic table of atheists… chuckle.

Enjoy!

 

 

Toward a Typology of ‘Nonreligion’: A Qualitative Analysis of Everyday Narratives of Scottish University Students

It is six weeks until  submit my 25,000 word MSc by Research thesis. Thank goodness I now have a title and an abstract…

Here it is, for your enjoyment:

Toward a Typology of ‘Nonreligion’: A Qualitative Analysis of Everyday Narratives of Scottish University Students

This thesis details the outcomes of a small-scale research project into a relatively new and under-researched field. The aim was qualitatively to map out the different types of nonreligiosity articulated by some nonreligious students at the University of Edinburgh. Beginning by demarcating the concept of ‘nonreligion’ around which the study revolves, the author outlines: first, why such a study is necessary and worthwhile; second, the specific theoretical questions to which the study is directed; and third, the specific relevance of studying nonreligion within Religious Studies. In approaching the subject in this way, this study calls into question the reified dichotomy between religion and nonreligion, expands what the author calls the ‘nonreligious monolith’ and questions ideas of religious universality. The specifics of this study are detailed at length. Particular focus is given to the suitability of a Scottish university student population as a subject-group, and to the methodology employed, which uses electronic questionnaires and in-depth interviews to elicit unscripted narratives from selected participants. The author demonstrates that current typologies based on internally and/or externally selected and defined nonreligious identity labels, tend to be inadequate and inaccurate. Nonreligious students are shown to be highly aware of the subjectivity of their interpretations of key identity terms, and in many cases they maintain multiple identities simultaneously, in a situational and pragmatic fashion. These identities also vary in terms of concreteness and salience, and are informed by a wide variety of relationship- and education-based subjective experiences. A more nuanced approach is then proposed, based on the questionnaire and interview evidence, categorising individuals according to the overarching narrative through which they claim to interact with (non)religion. The thesis concludes by returning to the initial motivating questions – particularly concerning the reified status given to (non)religion  in traditional representations – and calling for future research investment in order to continue fleshing-out the nonreligious field, and for a continued movement away from attempts to explain nonreligion from a perspective of normative religiosity.