Sounding on Thematic Interests for March 10, 2010

  • Oooh! The US Supreme Court will hear a case that pits the Freedom of Religious Practice against the Freedom of Speech: Can the charming gentle folk of Westboro Baptist Church constitutionally protest funerals with their “God Hates Fags” and other (equally charming) signs?  Exciting stuff.  My sense is that the viral campaigns to directly undermine the WBC protests are much more effective, but as a professional student of religion especially interested in funerals, this is a good one for me to watch.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that in the five years in which I lived in Topeka, Kansas as a young adolescent, I had occasion to meet and discuss these issues with several members and supporters of Phelps’ church, some of whom went to my high school.  They are unabashedly hateful and evil, in my personal experience, but – and here’s the takeaway point – they are not as dumb as they appear.
  • My continued appreciation for the great work over at MindHacks is unabated: this post on the ‘hyper-priming’ effects of cannabis usage has a lot of promise for further investigations of the importance and usage of drugs (including but not limited to pot) in religious practice.
  • My friend Anna M. Gade, new Islam professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be talking on Wisconsin Public Radio today on Qu’ranic chanting. Go listen!
  • Also: awesome classroom notes on Marx from John Rawls’ old lectures!