Posts Tagged ‘religion’

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Porno-graphics and porno-tactics: desire, affect and representation in pornography. An interview with Emilie Jouvet.

September 4, 2013

Pornography’s inscriptions in representation have troubled feminist writers, who since the 1970s have been critically addressing issues related to the presentation of the female body. Porn, it was contended, is for the most part a heterosexist genre, and its market circulation serves male libidinal pleasure, fixing the position of pleasure for both wo/men and abiding by patriarchal, gendered and sexually imposed norms. Later, the term was reclaimed under a critical re-perception of porn, cast as a gaze upon different others. This time race, religion, class came to the forefront. From Rosi Braidotti (m.s.) who addresses issues of racism in islamophobic representations such as the documentary ‘Fitna’, to the many commentators who related pornography to acts of torture, most notably in Abu-Ghraib (McClintock 2009) – pornography becomes a ‘concept metaphor’ that haunts autonomy (the laws of the self) through an heteronomous (laws of the other) affect (cf. Nancy 2007). Similarly, in debates over forced sex-work, the voyeuristic humanitarian gaze produces its Others either by sexualizing the other’s body, or by desexualizing the human in it.

On the other hand, many newly emerging artworks, documentaries, and porn productions, attempt to exscribe from porn its initial, normatively repressed qualities, and re-inscribe a feminist or queer perception of enjoyment and pleasure through feminine jouissance and the possibilities to push the limits of representation. In such tactics (de Certeau 1984), porn does not only become a concept-metaphor but, rather, it is being worked through a radical metonymic approach which seeks to transgress norms, explore desires and open up to affects. Tactics thus become tactile.

Continue Reading at Re-Public HERE

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Faith in the Unseen: Curtis White’s ‘Science Delusion’

June 8, 2013

Existential angst: The German idealist philosopher Friedrich Schelling, circa 1820.

Most works in philosophy enter the world quietly, but not Thomas Nagel’s recent “Mind and Cosmos.” With its chin-leading subtitle, “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False,” the slim volume met with a firestorm of indignation from critics who thought Nagel had lost his mind or, worse, had thrown in with intelligent design theory. (Steven Pinker tweeted: “What has gotten into Thomas Nagel? . . . a once-great thinker.”) What incited the reaction was Nagel’s questioning whether advances in neuroscience are on the verge of resolving the mysteries of consciousness, and with it issues that have fueled philosophical speculation for centuries, from subjectivity to free will.

Rather like Nagel, but angrier, is the novelist and critic Curtis White. Though neither a research scientist nor a trained philosopher, he is infuriated by the sunny confidence of neuroscience, arguing that it is not just a product of ambitious overreach but, more, a willful act of arrogance. In his rambling book “The Science Delusion,” he writes that the coming battle in this neo-Darwinian culture war will be an all-out assault against imagination by scientists and popular science journalists: “Freed at last from the limits imposed by religion, science has extended its ambitions beyond the debunking of Christian dogma. It has now turned its attention to another old competitor, the secular world of the humanities and the arts.” This may come as news to some of White’s would-be shock troops, who generally haven’t announced their hostile intentions to art and the imagination, but White sees their pernicious effects spreading across contemporary American life.

Excerpt from an article written by ERIC BANKS at NYT. Continue THERE

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Iron in Egyptian relics came from space: Meteorite impacts thousands of years ago may have helped to inspire ancient religion.

May 30, 2013

The 5,000-year-old iron bead might not look like much, but it hides a spectacular past: researchers have found that an ancient Egyptian trinket is made from a meteorite.

The result, published on 20 May in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, explains how ancient Egyptians obtained iron millennia before the earliest evidence of iron smelting in the region, solving an enduring mystery. It also hints that they regarded meteorites highly as they began to develop their religion.

“The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians,” says Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, UK, and a co-author of the paper. “Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods.”

The tube-shaped bead is one of nine found in 1911 in a cemetery at Gerzeh, around 70 kilometres south of Cairo. The cache dates from about 3,300 bc, making the beads the oldest known iron artefacts from Egypt.

Text and Image via Nature. Continue reading HERE

Ancient Egyptians accessorized with meteorites. Via The Open University.

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

March 26, 2013

Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised. Winell is the author of Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion, written during her years of private practice in psychology. Over the years, Winell has provided assistance to clients whose religious experiences were even more damaging than mine. Some of them are people whose psychological symptoms weren’t just exacerbated by their religion, but actually caused by it.

Two years ago, Winell made waves by formally labeling what she calls “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS) and beginning to write and speak on the subject for professional audiences. When the British Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychologists published a series of articles on the topic, members of a Christian counseling association protested what they called excessive attention to a “relatively niche topic.” One commenter said, “A religion, faith or book cannot be abuse but the people interpreting can make anything abusive.”

Is toxic religion simply misinterpretation? What is religious trauma? Why does Winell believe religious trauma merits its own diagnostic label?

Excerpt from an interview with Dr. Marlene Winell by Valerie Tarico at IEET. Continue THERE

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The Science of Compassion

July 23, 2012

ALL the major religions place great importance on compassion. Whether it’s the parable of the good Samaritan in Christianity, Judaism’s “13 attributes of compassion” or the Buddha’s statement that “loving kindness and compassion is all of our practice,” empathy with the suffering of others is seen as a special virtue that has the power to change the world. This idea is often articulated by the Dalai Lama, who argues that individual experiences of compassion radiate outward and increase harmony for all.

As a social psychologist interested in the emotions, I long wondered whether this spiritual understanding of compassion was also scientifically accurate. Empirically speaking, does the experience of compassion toward one person measurably affect our actions and attitudes toward other people? If so, are there practical steps we can take to further cultivate this feeling? Recently, my colleagues and I conducted experiments that answered yes to both questions.

Excerpt of an article written by DAVID DeSTENO, NYT. Continue HERE

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Nature, Science, and Religion: Intersections Shaping Society and the Environment

June 29, 2012

This book is about the complicated and provocative ways nature, science, and religion intersect in real settings where people attempt to live in harmony with the physical environment. Scholars of philosophy, religious studies, and science and technology have been at the forefront of critiquing the roles of religion and science in human interactions with the natural world. Meanwhile, researchers in the environmental sciences have encountered disciplinary barriers to examining the possibility that religious beliefs influence social–ecological behaviors and processes simply because the issue resists quantitative assessment. The contributors to this book explore how scientific knowledge and spiritual beliefs are engaged to shape natural resource management, environmental activism, and political processes.

Table of Contents

1.) Intersections of Nature, Science, and Religion: An Introduction / Catherine M. Tucker and Adrian J. Ivakhiv
2.)Suffering, Service, and Justice: Matters of Faith and How Faith Matters to the Environmental Movement in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest / Colleen M. Scanlan Lyons
3.)On Enchanting Science and Disenchanting Nature: Spiritual Warfare in North America and Papua New Guinea / Joel Robbins
4.)Technologies of the Real: Science, Religion, and State Making in Mexican Forests / Andrew S. Mathews
5.)Surviving Conservation: La Madre Tierra and Indigenous Moral Ecologies in Oaxaca, Mexico / Kristin Norget
6.)Syncretism and Conservation: Examining Indigenous Beliefs and Natural Resource Management in Honduras / Catherine M. Tucker
7.)Do You Understand? Discovering the Power of Religion for Conservation in Guatemalan Mayan Communities / Anne Motley Hallum
8.)Believing Is Seeing: A Religious Perspective on Mountaineering in the Japanese Alps / Scott Schnell
9.)The Productivity of Nonreligious Faith: Openness, Pessimism, and Water in Latin America / Andrea Ballestero
10.)Zimbabwe’s Earthkeepers: When Green Warriors Enter the Valley of Shadows / Marthinus L. Daneel
11.)Religious (Re-)Turns in the Wake of Global Nature: Toward a Cosmopolitics / Adrian J. Ivakhiv

Text and Image via:
Nature, Science, and Religion
Intersections Shaping Society and the Environment

Edited by Catherine M. Tucker

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Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

May 5, 2012

A series of three new studies indicates that less religious people, agnostics and atheists are more likely to be generous to those in need while driven by compassion than highly religious individuals. The works call into question widespread assumptions about the link between religion and compassion.

Researchers from the University of California in Berkeley (UCB) found that people in the latter category are less likely to be driven by compassion when they are generous. Social scientists at the university say that compassion is unrelated to generosity in this group.

On the other hand, people in the first category are very likely to give to the poor, or help others out simply because they are compassionate. In other words, their actions come from a genuine interest for helping others out, not because their religion calls for this behavior.

Details of the three studies appear in the latest online issue of the esteemed journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. The researchers say that acts of generosity and charity may not be driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, as some studies had suggested.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” UCB social psychologist Robb Willer says. He was a coauthor of the new paper.

“The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns,” the expert goes on to say.

For the purpose of this investigation, compassion was defined as the emotion that individuals feel when they see others suffering, an emotion based on which they act to help the latter, regardless of personal cost or risk, and without expecting rewards. Religious people expect a reward in the afterlife.

This is one of the main critiques associated with the stance organized religion takes on helping others. Believers are encouraged to be generous with those in need by being told that this will help them after death.

Atheists, agnostics and less-religious people help others due to a genuine sense of compassion, without expecting the get into the good graces of God for their effort. They are also not guided by a moral obligation instilled in them by religious leaders, churches and doctrines, but rather by their impulses.

The study results can be interpreted as providing additional evidence that morality, good conduct, compassion and generosity, among other behaviors, do not stem from religion, as many religious and spiritual leaders would have people believe. Rather, they stem from our human nature.

An article written by Tudor Vieru at Softpedia

Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers