As religiously unaffiliated people become a larger and larger portion of the US population, scholars are noticing a rise in atheist/humanist/agnostic gatherings that mirror some of the characteristics of Christian churches (i.e. meeting on Sundays, participating in collective rituals such as singing). What can we learn about these gatherings? Can we call this a godless form of religiosity?
Religion is in decline across the Western world. Whether measured by belonging, believing, participation in services, or how important it is felt to be, religion is losing ground. Society is being transformed, and the momentum appears to be unstoppable.
You might be asking yourself two questions. Is it actually true? And even if religion is currently losing ground, could things change in the future?
David is a quantitative social scientist with a background in demography. He serves on the executive committee of the European Values Study and is co-director of British Religion in Numbers (www.brin.ac.uk), an online centre for British data on religion that has received recognition as a British Academy Research Project. He serves on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Sociology and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. With Mike Brewer, David directs the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC). He is also Deputy Director of ISER.
I’ve watched a lot of Stephen Colbert over the years. When you watch enough of one TV show, you start to notice patterns. For Colbert, I noticed he talks about religion a lot…at least more than other late night TV shows. What can we learn about this?
According to the Gospel of Matthew, the magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh as expensive gifts to the young Jesus. We all know what gold is, but what is this frankincense and myrrh stuff? What did the ancients use it for?
Stories about Jesus’ birth are famous. But what about stories about Jesus’ childhood? One early Christian text, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, invents some pretty crazy stories about the schoolboy Jesus. But what did this text mean for an ancient audience?
Halloween was not always a holiday of candy, costumes, and parties. Its history stretches back almost two thousand years. But what is this history? And what extent can we call Halloween a Christian holiday…if at all?