Jon Bialecki

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Luhrmann “When God Talks Back” Review

My review of Tanya Luhrmann’s book, When God Talks Back, just came out in the latest issue of Magic, Religion, and Witchcraft

“Christianity and atheism are two sides of the same coin”

This is a nice reflection piece/vignette-ethnography, written by anthropologist Matthew Engelke for the Guardian, on Christianity, the New Atheism, Politics, and public ritual in the UK.

The article itself is worthy of attention, but just as striking is the way that the comments section has metastasized in less than a day. What is striking is how, despite the formal and substantive differences regarding religion in the US and the UK, the comments in comparable pieces in the US media read similarly (albeit it at a much lesser order of magnitude in the US case).

Putting aside whatever other points that might be gleaned from the Guardian comments section, and whatever judgements might be made about it, the tone and vigor of the comments suggests something that looks like an immure response to the idea of a role of the religious in politics in the UK. The open question, of course, is whether this is a reaction to an actual pathogen, an act of self-vaccination to ward off an American plague, or an auto-immune response, such as an allergy – or, perhaps, the body turning on its own self?


“New” Publications on Latour, semi-narcissm edition

This post title needs some light explaining – the “New” is in parenthesis, because the title should actually be “untimely,” but that is too precious by half. The publication I’m referring to is an in-press article for the Journal for the Society of the Anthropology of Consciousness, which has recently been turned over to a rather promising editorial team. While my article for it –  “Does God Exist in Methodological Atheism? On Tanya Luhrmann’s When God Talks Back and Bruno Latour” – won’t be out until 2014, the manuscript is temporarily up on in the mean time.

This is also only semi-narcisssm because I feel obliged to also point out that Speculative Grace, a book I relied on a lot when writing the piece, is also just now available. Adam Miller was kind enough to share the manuscript with me before it had been published, and it is the most concise and clear eyed treatment of Latour on religion that I have ever come across.