Category Archives: religion

long live the fact/value distinction

Phil Gorski’s argument that the fact/value distinction is bankrupt is out in Society, along with a marquee of big-name responses. Phil and I had an interesting and productive exchange on the article this fall. The exchange follows here, with Phil’s permission. I still think I’m right!

on teaching durkheim at the high holidays

Many Septembers I find myself teaching Durkheim right around the Jewish high holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). I’ve often felt a degree of connection between the two: the juxtaposition between ritual and scholarship that characterizes the high holiday services, the emphasis on separating the holy from the ordinary, the sacred from the profane. My […]

butler, parting ways: jewishness and the critique of zionism

This is another in a series of notes on things I read this summer. Toward the end of the summer I read Judith Butler‘s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (Columbia UP, 2012). Then, as I was preparing to write these thoughts about it, I ran across the Jerusalem Post’s attack on Butler’s […]

bad science not about same-sex parenting

There’s lots to say about the recent article by Mark Regnerus on outcomes of adults who remember a parent having had a same-sex relationship and the other articles and commentaries surrounding it in the journal, and much has already been said. The bottom line is that this is bad science, it is not about same-sex […]

perils of automated web advertising

We got the attached invitation to a Jewish holiday celebration (not our congregation) via email. Note the advertisement evite chose to pair with a Jewish event!

on the value of religious experience to sociology

Krippendorf asks why I suggest: I think lacking religious experience of some sort probably makes it harder to be a good sociologist. The short answer is that religious experience is an amazingly widespread social phenomenon, and it has a sui generis quality to it that makes it difficult to explain without some sort of experiential […]

sociologists behaving badly

David Rubinstein, emeritus at UIC, has now made far more waves as a self-styled “whistleblower” than he ever made as a practicing sociologist. In that career he was apparently undistinguished and even lazy, having rarely updated the sociological theory classes he taught (“who wouldn’t?” he sniffed in his defense. I would!) and produced virtually no […]

religion and institutions

NPR carried two stories on Sunday that go to an interesting juxtaposition between the separate magisteria of religious belief and institutional workings. Each was interesting in its own right; in combination they make for a fascinating comparison because they are so very different.

science and morality, harris-style

Sam Harris is back. Since writing The End of Faith, apparently while an undergraduate at Stanford, he wrote Letter to a Christian Nation; he’s also been completing a Ph.D. at UCLA’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program. In his new book, The Moral Landscape, he seeks to bring his new field to bear on one of the thorniest […]

stratification and religion conference

Posted on behalf of a reader– Bringing Stratification Processes “Back In” to the Scientific Study of Religion A Penn State Stratification and Social Change Conference Nittany Lion Inn on the Penn State Campus May 20 – 21, 2011

bender, the new metaphysicals

The Immanent Frame asked me to participate in a discussion/forum on Courtney Bender’s great new book, The New Metaphysicals. The book, like the discussion, is really interesting and a fun read on its own. Also interesting, from a disciplinary-boundary sort of perspective, is the way in which this portion of the study of religion transcends […]

theodicy, politics, basketball, and progress

A year ago, we had recently inaugurated an African-American president who ran on a visionary, if not radical, platform. Health care reform looked truly within reach. And the Heels had just won the NCAA national championship. A year later, that president is in hot water, health care reform passed only by being an essentially Republican […]

the strong program in the sociology of religion

The Immanent Frame has an interesting working paper by David Smilde and Matthew May on the state of the subfield of the sociology of religion. Highlights, quickly, are that there’s a lot of work on the sociology of religion; that most of it focuses on the US and on Christianity, and in particular on Protestants; […]

one scoop of my book, with tina topping, please!

The ASA conference will be an extravaganza of awesome, what with the blog party, the blog baseball game, and the fabulous sociology people everywhere. But wait! There is even more still. For those particularly hard-core conference-goers, who will stretch their visit to San Francisco well beyond the bounds of the conference dates, please consider attending […]

the hollow state: economism and the evacuation of the public

A common concern raised lately about the incoming Obama administration is that the past eight years have vastly reduced the capacity of the US federal state to do anything. This is principally a function of the incredibly reckless economic behavior of the Bush administration, but it’s also because the rhetoric of “Homeland Security” and “War […]


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