Sunday Syllabus is a round-up of interesting articles and links that I came across over the last week. I sometimes provide a little commentary or raise questions. The content is not necessarily brand new, just new to me. If you have a recommendation, use the contact form. No promises.
Today’s Sunday syllabus has fewer articles but something of a theme. The first two entries address the relevance of a shared understanding of history for group identity. The last two call attention to shockingly bad behavior among the religious or irreligious. From reflecting on all four, a question emerges: how do our current identities and group affiliations affect the way that we incorporate new information of this kind into our sense of self and our picture of the universe? Is there anything preventing us from really coming to grips with some kinds of information?
FEATURED ARTICLE: U of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger talks about the complicated relationship between Hinduism and cows. The practice of refraining from eating cow meat emerged only in the modern era as a core tenet of Hindu identity, but it can be a matter of life or death for today’s Indians.
Who we are depends quite a lot on the stories we tell ourselves. Scientific American addresses collective memory, how groups remember (and forget) their past. My research on the Protestant Reformation touches on these topics.
A church in North Carolina is under investigation for human trafficking and physical abuse. The church has a location (or more than one?) in Brazil and offers young members a chance to come to the US. When they arrive, they’re confined on the church’s secluded campus and forced to work without pay.
Phil Torres’ excoriation of new atheism demonstrates that a loose, non-religious movement can be just as divided over explosive social issues as any formal religious structure.