Category Archives: Commentary

The Social Functions of Obligatory Denunciations

In preparation for a new course I’m teaching this fall, I’ve been reading a great deal on Islam. I’ve surveyed both scholarly and popular narratives on Islam, particularly as I hope to compare and contrast such narratives in my course. One … Continue reading

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A Canadian Myth of Origin

The following is an excerpt from a chapter I’m writing for a book on mythmaking and identity formation at public tourist attractions, edited by Erin Roberts and Jennifer Eyl. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to share this … Continue reading

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Self-Radicalized?

Whenever there is a “terrorist” attack by anyone who identifies as Muslim, the first tendency of the press is to blame some reified, monolitic “Islam” for the event. By contrast, when there is a mass shooting by a white man … Continue reading

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No One Misunderstands Their Own Religion

The claim that “this person/group does not understand their own religion” should be eliminated from academic prose. If we think someone misunderstands their religion, it’s we who misunderstand. Of course it’s clear that many Christians don’t know the history of … Continue reading

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When Your Theory of Religion Is Part of the Problem

Yesterday the New York Times ran a story about a “decorated Army Reserve officer” and veteran of the war in Iraq who “left bacon at a mosque and brandished a handgun while threatening to kill Muslims.” One of the men … Continue reading

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