This year, we will be hosting the 5th Annual Workshop of the Groupe de recherche sur le Christianisme et l'antiquité tardive / Christianity and Late Antiquity Research Group at Concordia on May 5th. Graduate Students and Faculty from ULaval and Concordia will presenting their ongoing research. Here is the program:
This week on the Inquisitive Minds podcast, we will start discussing The End of Biblical Studies (Prometheus) by Dr. Hector Avalos, a biblical scholar at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Iowa State University. Even if Avalos published his book in 2007, it still speaks to the current state of affairs in the field of biblical studies. In his work, Avalos basically says that biblical studies is,
... primarily a religionist apologetic enterprise... (p.16)
... discoveries... show that the Bible is irrelevant, insofar as it is part of a world radically dissimilar to ours in its conception of the cosmos, the supernatural, and the human sense of morality... 'Irrelevant' here refers to a biblical concept or practice that is no longer viewed as valuable, applicable, and/or ethical. (p.17)
Avalos does not advocate the elimination of biblical studies in universities, but rather, that scholars should change the way they teach the Bible. He is convinced that,
... biblical studies should be geared toward helping humanity wean itself off the Bible and toward terminating its authority completely in the modern world. One day... (w)e might then study the Bible as a lesson in why human beings should never again privilege any book to this extent. (p.29)
More is said about Avalos' book and the nature of biblical studies in episode 5 (April 14, 2014) of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast podcast, available on our webpage.
This week’s Inquisitive Minds podcast is entitled “To Pray or Not to Pray”. Many people say they have received an answer to prayer at some point in their life. Some are convinced that God hears prayer. Christians even believe it can serve as a way to influence God. Through prayer, one can obtain financial success, experience salvation, heal the sick, and defeat the forces of evil. But how can we explain that people from different faith traditions – beliefs that are most often contrary from one another – all claim answers to their prayers? How can God answer different (and opposite) requests at the same time? Do Allah and Yahweh both answer prayers? What about unanswered prayer? Believers certainly pray that God would make the world a better place, but suffering and evil are far from being eradicated. Is there really a divine being listening to people’s requests? Listen to our podcast for more on this important question.
Many believers think their religion is the ultimate true religion. If people did not believe this to be so, they would probably just convert to another religion. This implies that other religions are wrong. Is there a unique true religion or are all religions true? How can one explain the different beliefs, practices and experiences of various religious traditions in the world? Can religion be understood in terms of culture? What is the role of culture, cognition and embodiment with respect to religion? How is religion to be defined?
This week's podcast is entitled "Choosing My Religion". Brice and I ask whether people choose their belief system or if they are taught to adopt a particular religious worldview early in life. Listeners can find the third installment of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast on our webpage.
Questions, comments and / or suggestions are welcome. Drop us a note at: email@example.com. You can also follow us on twitter: @CriticalPod.
In our second episode of Inquisitive Minds, Brice Jones and I speak about our former religious backgrounds and our escape from fundamentalism. People or students sometimes wonder if I really know what I'm talking about when I teach about the Christian tradition or various interpretations of the Bible from a critical perspective. Few are aware that I was formally raised as a Catholic who then converted to evangelicalism. The same goes for Brice who grew-up in the "Bible-belt"! It was important for us to say a few words about our past experiences with the Christian faith, and how the critical study of religion and religious texts opened our eyes on the uses and abuses of the Bible. We now have a better understanding of the social dynamics which shaped our former conversion experience. It has become impossible for us to believe in something that is inconsistent with our experience of the world. More will be said about epistemology in a later podcast. Listeners can find the second episode on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast webpage.
If you have questions, comments and / or suggestions, please drop us a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on twitter: @CriticalPod.
I am happy to announce the launch of a new podcast entitled: Inquisitive Minds: Critical Thinking on Religion, History, Culture and Science. Brice Jones and I will host what we hope to be a weekly discussion with the goal of making our academic research relevant to today's world. People often perceive academics as exhibiting an “ivory tower” or “elitist” mentality, disconnected from the “realities” of everyday life. In our podcast, we will investigate the ways religion and contemporary issues intersect. As academics specializing in Early Christian Literature and History, we are particularly concerned about how the Bible is often used to promote policies which are out of touch with our current worldview. In this podcast, we will discuss how and why people believe, practice and experience religion. We will critique fundamentalist interpretations of sacred texts, and explore ways to develop critical thinking. In our first episode, Brice and I explain the reasons we embarked on this journey. If you have questions, suggestions and/or comments, please feel free to contact us by email at: email@example.com. We will periodically try to answer questions on the podcast. For the time being, episodes will be found on my blog, but we would also like to make them available on i-Tunes in the near future. I hope that the topics we address will be helpful in some way. You can listen to the first episode on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast webpage.
I just received an invitation to attend the Quebec premier screening of the shocking documentary God Loves Uganda to be aired at the D. B. Clarke Theater of Concordia University on Feb. 25th at 7:00pm. Here is another prime example of how Christian fundamentalism can also engender devastation. Below is the synopsis and official trailer:
GOD LOVES UGANDA explores the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry.
McGill University's Faculty of Religious Studies, Department of Psychology and Centre for Research on Religion will be hosting an exciting conference entitled: Evolution, Cognition, and History with Professor Emeritus Luther H. Martin (Department of Religion, University of Vermont). Dr. Martin has done extensive work on Cognitive Science of Religion, and among his numerous publications, he recently co-edited, Past Minds: Studies in Cognitive Historiography. The event is also sponsored by the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium (CERC). For more on Prof. Martin's work, you can watch the following interview conducted by LEVYNA, the Laboratory for the Experimental Research on Religion:
Here is also the poster of the event:
I just received the program for this year's meeting of the Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism Network (NGN) that will be held at l'Université Laval on February 28-March 2, 2014. This year, the group will be reading in Coptic the Discourse on the Eight and the Night (NHC VI,6). Here is the schedule:
During Thursday's conference with Dr. Piovanelli, the Chair of the Department of Religion, Dr. Lorenzo DiTommaso gave a list of upcoming events to be held and/or organized by Concordia's Department of Religion. Some students asked if I could send them the information, so I thought I would also share with you this list of upcoming conferences, seminars, and presentations that could surely be of interest to some of you:
12 February: CLARG Luncheon with Graduate Presentations by Joseph Brito and Antoine Paris.
6 March: 19th Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference (contact: Tina Montandon at the Dept. of Religion).
12 March: CLARG Luncheon with Graduate Presentations by Derek Bateman and Sandra Hlavenka.
14 March: Public Lecture by Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine "The Sasanian Empire as a Garden: Rivers and Walls of Iranshahr" (Iranian Studies, Prof. Richard Foltz).
5 May: GRECAT / CLARG 5th Annual Workshop at Concordia (Profs André Gagné, Louis Painchaud and Carly Daniel-Hughes).
8-11 May: SSHRC conference, "Coming Back to Life," Montreal (Prof. Carly Daniel-Hughes).
13 May: ACFAS (at Concordia): Colloque sur « Nouveaux regards sur le phénomène de l'antisémitisme dans l'histoire du Québec » (organized through the Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies by Ira Robinson).
20-23 May: SSHRC conference, 5th biennial Enoch Graduate Seminar, Montreal (Prof. Lorenzo DiTommaso).
6-10 August: 10th biennial International Society for Iranian Studies conference, Montreal (Iranian Studies, Prof. Richard Foltz).