Religion and Communitas: Structure and Anti-Structure

One of the reasons that religion persists in human civilization is because it is able to incorporate what the anthropologist Victor Turner calls communitas into structure, or normal society. Turner is a philosophical anthropologist, and in his classic study The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, he points out how the liminal or transitional experiences of rituals …

The Role of Justice and Ethics in Interfaith Dialogue (VIDEO)

I gave a talk down in Nashville recently with a group called the Family of Abraham, a multi-faith organization that formed in response to intense religious intolerance following the attempt to ban shariah law in Tennessee.  The local newspaper in Nashville, the Tennessean wrote a nice piece on the event, which you can read here, …

The Special Case of Islam

I've been reading Wilfred Cantwell Smith's The Meaning and End of Religion and finding his argument for going beyond the term religion obviously compelling. In the context of today's new atheism, however, Smith's text is far too sophisticated and actually grounded in theology to be taken too seriously by the pop new atheist movement. For …