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November 2013
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Don’t forget about the new book

Posted in: General by Tom Beaudoin on November 30, 2013

You know, “the” new book? It’s been a while since I reminded R&T readers about Secular Music and Sacred Theology, the book featuring various R&T contributors. Check it out at the publisher’s website here or Amazon here.

Black Friday

Posted in: General by David Nantais on November 29, 2013

Take a break from shopping and enjoy a little music!

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Dave Nantais, Detroit, MI


Randy Kennedy wrote a story for Thursday’s print edition of the New York Times on the intense and widespread appreciation of seventeenth century Dutch painting. In it, he quotes Tracy Chevalier, author of the bestselling novel Girl With a Pearl Earring, to this effect: “I think one of the reasons people are drawn to Dutch painting now is because it’s not religious, by and large. It’s people sitting around playing cards or a woman mopping the floor, or it’s a fish market or an interior of a home. I think we like to see that window onto a middle-class world that is not all that different from our own. There’s something like us in there.”

Her comment situates art appreciation in the complexities of class identity in which it almost always resides, and in so doing it also says something suggestive for R&T readers about why art continues to attract, fascinate and compel. Her emphasis (I imagine) on the “now” (“people are drawn to Dutch painting now“) suggests to me that she is speaking specifically about the present post/secular moments in global culture, in which one acceptable place for religion is as a secondary pursuit, an option, or a pragmatic handle on navigating life.

Perhaps religion has “always” been this way (so long as we have had “religion” as we understand it in the West, which according to recent research we have not always had), but it should make us curious, we who care about people’s continued devotion to music, as we try to make theological sense of it.

Are theologians to shepherd “secular” people back to “religion”? By no means! Instead, theologians can model a way of being with reality that lets through the insistence of its “more”. In that way, we honor the contemporary instinct for release and liberation through art and music while being the agents of life’s deepening.

Tommy Beaudoin, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

“Thank you, thank you” amidst the Festival of Lights

Posted in: General by Tom Beaudoin on November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and a lovely Hanukkah to those in the States and everywhere else who are celebrating today!

Here is Natalie Merchant singing “thank you, thank you” as part of the chorus of her song “Kind and Generous”:

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And here is my favorite Hanukkah song, by the Maccabeats:

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“Deconversion and Catholic Multiplicity” Short Summary

Posted in: General by Tom Beaudoin on November 27, 2013

Here is a short summary of the paper that I gave last weekend, with Dr. Patrick Hornbeck of Fordham’s Department of Theology, at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in a Practical Theology Group session titled “Beyond Single-Identity Politics.” The research reported in this paper was generously underwritten by this grant from the Louisville Institute.


Catholic theology, from conservative to liberal, has typically been invested in single identity politics, including the claim that Catholicism is sufficient as a total religious identity. In recent years, however, new research has begun to trouble the assumption that Catholic identity is a singularity. Here, we aim to contribute to these conversations by sharing findings from our ongoing practical theological study of “deconversion” among U.S. Catholics. Drawing upon existing practical theological and social scientific research into religious disaffiliation and deconversion, and including questionnaires and hour-long interviews with Catholic “deconverts” and with pastoral workers, our findings point to several ways of pluralizing Catholic identity, theologically understood, to include Catholic subjectivities that are “non-normative.” We conclude by relating the results of our research to emerging discussions in theology concerning multiplicity, hybridity, and polydoxy, and by commenting on prospects for future research in deconversion studies in particular and practical theology in general.

From the Vault: Punk Rock Theology

Posted in: From the Vault,General by Tom Beaudoin on November 26, 2013

From Michael Iafrate, June 2009.


A Capella Royals

Posted in: General by Tom Beaudoin on November 25, 2013

A new a capella “Royals” — go Florida State!

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And Oils. And R&T on Royals.



Alanis Morissette + the Dalai Lama

Posted in: General,Is This The New Face of Religion? by Tom Beaudoin on November 25, 2013

Over two thousand Twitter followers have responded already to this picture. Stay curious about where religion goes in “secular” culture.

I’ve written about Ms. Morissette several times at R&T, including here.

This is the Alanis who gave us the religious/anti-religious “Baba,” in one of my favorite performances:


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Here is a more recent acoustic version:

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Adjuncts-R-Us: The Labor Crisis in US Higher Education

Posted in: Teaching by Tom Beaudoin on November 24, 2013

I am writing from Baltimore, Maryland (USA), at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, where thousands of professors and graduate students are gathered to share research and reconnect with each other around an incredible array of topics from almost every religion you’ve ever thought of, and many things you may never have considered to be religious. The program book is here.

I am presenting some research at the conference, and will write about that later. But for now, I want to share with R&T readers a reality about labor in higher education that once again confronts me by being in the company of so many colleagues all at once, and especially being around so many young scholars who are in doctoral programs and looking for job prospects or who have a doctoral degree in hand — and looking for jobs.

Full-time, tenure-track jobs are more scarce than ever. Approximately three quarters of all faculty in colleges and universities are adjunct, which means they are work-for-hire employees who usually have little to no job security, no access to tenure, and often no benefits (like insurance), and frequently scrape for access to an office, basic materials for their courses, and other things that full-time tenure track faculty are accorded by their status. Many adjuncts do not feel respected by their institutions in general and by full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty in particular. They typically exercise almost no influence on how schools work: curricular decisions, salary negotiations, travel/research support, and other aspects of university life often part of faculty’s “shared governance” with administration. There are many websites that track adjunct information and gather adjuncts and allies for conversation. Adjunct Nation is here. New Faculty Majority is here.

Here is a video about an adjunct protest at East-West University a few years ago:

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In short, adjunct faculty are teaching the most, and paid (and otherwise acknowledged) the least. Most professors are aware of this situation, though in my experience most professors do not see this as an ethically serious or urgent scenario. Doctoral programs continue to over-produce people with (more…)

“Oils” — a religion-pop parody

Posted in: General by Tom Beaudoin on November 22, 2013

Recently at R&T I wrote about Lorde’s hit “Royals.” Just in time for the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah convergence is a parody called “Oils.”

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