Ridicule and Rationality

Ridicule and Rationality

Mark James has a second post exploring public Scripture up at State of Formation. Calling all Jon Stewart fans:

One of [Stewart’s] favorite strategies is to quote the Bible at Christians who claim to uphold ‘Biblical’ viewpoints.  Last November, the British Supreme Court ruled against two Christian owners of a bed and breakfast, who had a policy of refusing service to gay (and other unmarried) couples.  In a statement, the couple justified themselves by quoting the ‘Biblical’ definition of marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.’

Stewart had some choice words for them: ‘that’s bull-s***!’  But he was not, as one might expect, directly attacking their sexual ethics.  Rather, Stewart was mocking them for their failure to show hospitality to strangers: ‘If you were Christians, you wouldn’t charge weary travelers to stay in your home in the first place,’ he said.  ‘That’s just Jesus 101!’  And to make the point, he hammered them with the New Testament, quoting chapter and verse: ‘Romans 15:7 — therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God! . . . 1 Peter 4:9 — Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.’  And for good measure: ‘Olive Garden 24:7 – when one is with you, he is family!’

Read more at State of Formation.

I Am Not Ashamed

I Am Not Ashamed

Check out this blog post by Mark James, one of our conference organizers, exploring one of the ways Scripture is deployed in the political arena:

You may have heard about Mark Pryor, embattled Democratic Senator of Arkansas, who just released an ad promoting his allegiance to the Bible as his ‘North Star.’ It has invited comparisons with this spot by Rick Perry, particularly since both begin with the words ‘I am not ashamed . . .‘  Both publicly confess their Christian faith.  But while Perry goes on to offer a list of specific conservative grievances — no prayer in school, the presence of homosexuals in the military — Pryor sticks with generalities: “The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers . . . and neither political party is always right.”  Pryor’s ad has produced some sharp reactions among those dismayed by his political calculation that he needs to trumpet his Christian faith to win re-election.

Read more at State of Formation.

Call For Papers

Call For Papers


Public Scripture: Reading out of Context

Graduate Student Colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation and Practice

March 30-31st, 2014

University of Virginia

Plenary Speaker:

Laurie Zoloth, Northwestern University

The 2014 Graduate Colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice welcomes submissions of original research from graduate students on the topic “Public Scripture.”

For many religions, particularly the three so-called ‘Abrahamic’ traditions, the reading and interpretation of Scriptural texts are core communal practices.  But Scriptural texts do not always remain within the bounds of particular communities.  Rather, religious communities have frequently appealed to their Scriptures in the context of public debates and interfaith encounters — with a wide range of surprising, fruitful, or even violent consequences.

With this conference, we seek to gather an interdisciplinary and interfaith group of graduate students to examine concrete examples of the public use of Scripture—what happens when religious people take scripture outside their religious communities? We hope participants will address this topic from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives — historical, legal, theological, hermeneutic, ethical, and more.

Possible paper topics include:

Scripture on billboards
Scripture in early Jewish and Christian apologetics
Scripture in the establishment of governments or constitutions
Scripture in political campaigns or political rhetoric
Scripture in medieval interfaith theological disputes
Scripture in the civil rights movement
Scripture as overheard in the call to prayer
Scripture as read by philosophers
Scripture, sexuality, and sexual ethics
Scriptural allusions in literature
Scripture and biomedical or environmental ethics

Proposals in the form of a 250-word abstract should be emailed to rab5ns@virginia.edu by January 20th, 2014. Acceptance notifications will be sent out by February 3rd, 2014. Final papers, not to exceed 2000 words, must be submitted by March 3rd, 2014.

This colloquium is sponsored by The Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, The Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures, The University of Virginia Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences, The Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life, The Society for Scriptural Reasoning,The University of Virginia Office of Diversity & Equality and The Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Virginia.