Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rajdeep Singh Podcast on Sikhism

The lastest Research on Religion Podcast is an interview with Rajdeep Singh about Sikhism and religious liberty.  Listen and enjoy .. and be sure to do the homework question.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Religious Themes in Star Wars

Read this article from the Washington Post about religious themes in Star Wars.  Written by a theology lecturer, the article identifies a number of religious images and concepts found in the popular sci-fi trilogy.  What are some of those religious themes?  To what extent did George Lucas intentionally insert religious themes into the trilogy?  Had you viewed them as religious before reading this article?  Does reading this article alter your appreciation of the films?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Cost of Being Jewish in America

The latest Research on Religion Podcast is an interview with economist Carmel Chiswick.  She discusses her book that uses economics to understand patterns in Judaism.  The entire podcast  is about an hour and very worthwhile, but everyone should especially listen to the last half.  The part beginning around the 29:40 mark is particularly relevant given our recent class discussion on church attendance.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Surf Chapel

In some circles, religion has the reputation of being old, dusty, and creaky, but in the American religious marketplace, we see lots of innovation.  One way to innovate is to take a long-known message but repackage it in an appealing way.  We see this Surf Chapel at Pepperdine University.  Students meet early in the morning at Zuma Beach to first listen to Bible passages, then break up into small groups for discussion about life events, and then hit the waves in their wet suits.  Read this L.A. Times article.

Why is this packaging appealing?  Who are the intended "customers?"  Why does the university provide funds to pay for beach permits and a lifeguard?  Why does attendance vary based on the weather?

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Future of the Religiously Unaffiliated

The Pew Research Center just released some new projections of the growth of the religiously unaffiliated.  Read their summary here.  The first two paragraphs give the basic picture (italics added):
During the next few decades, the number of religiously unaffiliated people around the world is projected to grow modestly, rising from about 1.1 billion in 2010 to a peak of more than 1.2 billion in 2040 and then dropping back slightly.42 Over the same 40-year period, however, the overall global population is expected to increase at a much faster pace. As a result, the percentage of the world’s population that is unaffiliated is expected to drop, from 16% of the world’s total population in 2010 to 13% in 2050.

This decline is largely due to the advanced age and low fertility of religiously unaffiliated people globally relative to other religious groups. The three largest unaffiliated populations live in China, Japan and the United States; there also are significant numbers of religiously unaffiliated people in many European countries. All of these areas have older populations and lower fertility rates than the global population overall.

Some questions for you to consider:  Why is the Asia-Pacific region the region with the highest proportion of religiously unaffiliated population?  In which few countries are the religiously unaffiliated are heavily concentrated?  How do different fertility rates between the religiously affiliated and the religiously unaffiliated factor into the projections?  Does accounting for religious switching have a large impact on the projections?