Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tour of Khadija Mosque

Last night I had the privilege of visiting the Khadija mosque in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is home to at least 20,000 Muslims. The mosque's imam, and a representative of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, spent some time with me and my small group including members from two different churches. We had a great time, and put down a foundation for future conversations and hopefully ongoing relationships. We will be returning in June or July to be a part of their Ramadan celebration.

The Good Samaritan and the Compromise of Convictions

Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most powerful of his illustrations regarding love of neighbor, and it provides an important foundation for how to engage others in a multifaith world. But at the same time, popular interpretations of the story rob it of much of its subversive power.

Rebecca Trotter has written a piece on her blog "The Upside Down World," that steps back to reassess this story in light of a statement that Evangelical often make in relating to others: "You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." On the surface this sounds good, particularly for those of us working in multifaith contexts where conservative Evangelicals are concerned that such efforts are risky, and leave practitioners open to compromise. But Trotter reminds us that the parable of the Good Samaritan challenges this idea. Sometimes you do have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Consider the familiar story again. When the priest and the Levite saw the injured man, they made a conscious choice not to help as acts of faithfulness to their religious convictions, particularly those related to fears about ritual impurity and contamination. But the conclusion of Jesus' story indicates that the one who truly loved neighbor in God's way was the one who ignored these religious convictions and offered aid anyway.

This should give Evangelicals pause for reflection. Our religious convictions concerning how we relate to and engage others in our multifaith world should not be cast aside casually, but there may be times when love of neighbor trumps these convictions. At the very least, we should be willing to engage in more theological self-reflection in such matters.

Read Trotter's piece and give Jesus' parable another look.

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Springer Book Series on Popular Culture, Religion and Society

Announcing the New Springer Book Series Popular Culture, Religion and Society 
A Social-Scientific Approach

What happens when popular culture not only amuses, entertains, instructs and relaxes, but also impacts on social interactions and perception in the field of religion? This series explores how religion, spirituality and popular culture co-exist intimately. Religion sometimes creates and regulates popular culture, religious actors who express themselves in popular culture are also engaged in shaping popular religion, and in doing so, both processes make some experiences possible for some, and deny access to others. The central theme of this series is thus on how religion affects and appropriates popular culture, and on how popular culture creates and/or re-enforces religion.

The interaction under scrutiny is not only between the imaginary and ‘real’ world but also between the online and off-line one, and this revitalises the study of popular religion through its involvement in popular culture and in new social media technologies such as Facebook and Twitter.

Works presented in this series move beyond text analysis and use new and ground-breaking theories in anthropology, communication, cultural studies, religious studies, social philosophy, and sociology to explore the interrelation between religion, popular culture, and contemporary society.

Call for Book Proposals

Book proposals are invited for research monographs and edited collections that fit within the series’ scope and themes. Please email your initial book proposals to the Series Editor.

Series Editor: Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney (

Editorial Board: Stef Aupers, Erasmus University of Rotterdam Netherlands
Roberto Blancarte, El Collegio de Mexico, Mexico
Douglas Cowan, Renison University College, Canada
Giuseppe Giordan, University of Padua, Italy Danielle Kirby, RMIT, Australia
Joseph Laycock, Texas State University, USA
Eloisa Martin, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
John W. Morehead, Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, USA
Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Heinz Scheifinger, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia
Vineeta Sinha, National University of Singapore, Singapore
James V. Spickard, University of Redlands, USA