Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Media and Research on Religion

On October 26, 2011, I wrote on the Black, White and Gray blog about how I am teaching students to integrate peer-reviewed research on religion with what they read in the media (newspapers, magazines, and online).

Here’s part of what I had to say. To see the full post, click here.

“This year, for the first time ever, I will allow students to include newspapers, magazines, and online media in their research papers. To do so, however, they must follow several strict guidelines. First, they must only use newspapers/magazines/online sources in addition to (not instead of) scholarly sources. Second, they can only search a limited set of newspapers/magazines/online sources which I as a scholar know provide generally good information on religion. Third, I worked with UNC’s research library staff to discuss with students how to analyze sources for credibility, accuracy and bias.”

What do We Pray For?

On October 19, 2011, I published a piece for Patheos on the Black, White and Gray blog entitled:  What Do we Pray for?

“So one day, I finally asked a woman I had been helping tutor English to, who I call Julia in my book, “Julia, what do you ask for when you pray?” Her reply really surprised me. “Ask for?” she queried me in return. “First, I give God thanks for all the things I have. We have to be grateful because we are God’s children.” But surely, I insisted, you must be asking God to help you? “I pray for others first. I pray for peace in the world; for an end to violence. Only when I’m done all that would I ask for what I need.””

Click here to read the full post.

Who is a a Convert?

My October 12, 2011, entry for the Patheos blog Black, White and Gray asked: Who is a Convert?

“Writing in the Wall Street Journal opinion page on September 16, 2011, Religion News Service journalist David Gibson asked, who is stronger in the faith, Converts vs. ‘Cradle Catholics?’ This question is one that often comes up in ordinary conversation among Catholics and sometimes among sociologists. Many prominent sociologists of religion of the last half century, such as Peter Berger and Rodney Stark, have emphasized that choice of a faith rather than ascription makes one more sure of one’s beliefs, and hence more committed.  Although there is much truth in the idea that using one’s free will to adhere to a faith likely strengthens one’s commitment to that faith, we should nonetheless ask, why can’t Catholics born into the faith also “choose” to be Catholic?”

To read the full entry, visit the blog.