New Atheism is characterized by a binary logic that pits religion against science, belief against doubt, a pre-modern past against a modern present. It generates a temporal sensibility and attitude toward being modern that is a 'survival' of late-nineteenth-century anthropology, where religious belief and the past were bound together in opposition to science and the present. We analyze this binary logic and then, in response, present two ethnographic accounts—one from the Philippines, the other from Taiwan—to support our contention that religion is not just a matter of personal convictions. Rather, it is a public practice in which belief and doubt are constituted socially and dialogically.
Notes toward an Ethnography of Religious Belief and Doubt
Paul-François Tremlett and Fang-Long Shih
Repairing Jewish Life in the Former Soviet Union
I have shared with you stories about the Torah: the Torah that was forbidden to have at home, held captive behind the glass in the Museum of Atheism, whose blessing was unknown to even the learned leaders, that was almost ripped and whose letters once faded are now being filled in by the loving and determined hands of a new generation – letters from our holy language being written for the first time by Jewish children. Together, we have a holy opportunity to partner with the Jews of the FSU to write the next chapter in the Torah of Life of our people.
State-church relationships and the vernacularization of the politics of memory
Since state atheism was abandoned in the 1990s, the Russian Federation entered what can be called a postsecular phase. Religion, formerly limited to the private sphere, reappeared in the public and underwent an astonishing religious revival. During the time of my fieldwork in 2006/2007, a tendency to favor the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and to facilitate its return to the public reached its climax. In this article I draw attention to how the political, the secular, and the religious are interconnected and allow for new vernacular forms of legitimating power and authority. One example is the introduction of new public holidays and public rituals. They connect local and national narratives and relate to ideas about the communality of the Russian people. They create new forms of a divine kinship, which draw heavily on religious and national symbols and merge the sacred and the profane.
Jon Bialecki, Erica Weiss, Hillary Kaell, Christopher Hewlett, Sibyl Macfarlane, Grit Wesser, Emma Gobin, James S. Bielo, Sindre Bangstad and Thorgeir Kolshus
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arrive. Turning to Boas’s intellectual heirs, Margaret Mead (1972) opens her autobiography with an epigraph she recalls from her adolescence. On the walls of her town physician’s clinic hung the New Testament words: “All things work together for good to