If the previous episode, The Greatest Story Ever Told, was about Money, this episode is about Death, or more precisely, about what the dead can teach to the living. In terms of the storylines, Laura and Mad Sweeney travel to New Orleans and meet Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte, Voodoo loas (spirits) in another attempt for Laura to come back from the dead, and for Sweeney to recover his lucky coin. Shadow, still in Cairo, encounters the spirit of Will “Froggie” James, a black man who was lynched in Cairo in 1909 after erroneously being accused of killing a white woman, and who haunts African Americans in town ever since. Finally, we follow Wednesday, Samir and Jinn in their search for a dwarf who can fix and restore to glory his spear Gungnir.Read more "American Gods Season 2 Episode 5: The Ways of the Dead"
The Greatest Story Ever Told: American Gods Season 2 Episode 4 In the last episode, we saw Shadow making his way to Cairo, Illinois with the help of Sam Black Crow. The Old Gods and the New Gods tried to convince Argus, the God of Surveillance to take sides, only to be killed by Laura […]Read more "Money and Race in America: American Gods Season 2 Episode 4"
A discussion of religious themes in American Gods Season 2 Episode 3 Muninn. In this episode, the war between the old and the new gods continues, and we encounter (new) New Gods, like New Media, and we meet an Old God, Argus Panoptes, the God of Surveillance, who still has not chosen sides. We also meet Sam Black Crow, a Native-American girl who helps Shadow get to Cairo, Illinois, where he will meet Mr. Ibis.Read more "Introducing New Gods (New Media) and meeting Old Ones (Argus) in American Gods Season 2 Episode 3 Muninn"
In the aftermath of the assassination of Zorya Vechernyaya (the Evening Star), the Old Gods are trying to regroup and figure out their best plan moving forward. They are not only being forgotten and replaced by New Gods but now they are also being killed.Read more "American Gods Season 2 Episode 2: The Beguiling Man"
One of the important questions this season presents is the notion of any of the characters being truly free even when they have escaped Gilead.Read more "Blessed be us: The Handmaid’s Tale is back!"
The tragic events of Waco, although different in many ways to those of Jonestown (especially as it regards the role of law enforcement), also forces the scholar as well as any curious person, to ask questions about the nature of religion and human existence: why do some people decide to believe certain individuals even when their claims may seem irrational, or even dangerous? What is the difference, if any, between a cult and a religion? What is the role of government in regulating religious groups? Why are American evangelical groups so obsessed with the end of times? As Smith said, our need to understand is not the same as our approval of the practices we study, but as he warned us “if we do not persist in the quest for intelligibility, there can be no human sciences, let alone, any place for the study of religion within them.”Read more "Revisiting Waco: Prophets, Guns, and the role of the Government in Defining Religion"
Are you a Muslim if you eat bacon? What about if you drink alcohol? Do you need to pray five times a day? Can you pick and choose in order to create your own identity as a Muslim? And what does it even mean to be a Muslim (or a Christian, or a Hindu)? How […]Read more "Eating Bacon and Being a Muslim in Aziz Ansari’s Master of None"
Last week, HBO aired the finale of The Leftovers. For three seasons, the show, examined the social, psychological, and spiritual effects of an event, called the Sudden Departure, in which 2% of the world’s population simply vanished without any explanation. The series was an exploration of loss and grief, but also of the role that religion […]Read more "The Leftovers Finale: An Interview with Damon Lindelof"
On Sunday, HBO aired the series finale of The Leftovers. The show, created by Damon Lindelof and based on Tom Perrotta’s 2011 novel of the same name, examined the social, psychological, and spiritual effects of an event, called the Sudden Departure, in which 2% of the world’s population simply vanished without any explanation. The finale […]Read more "The Leftovers Finale: A Conversation with Reza Aslan"
Welcome to our weekly recap of the third and final season of the Leftovers. If we began the season with the Book of Kevin, we ended with the Book of Nora, making clear that, even though the series presented itself as a grand metaphysical mystery, it also was, at its heart, a love story. Do Kevin and Nora end up together? Do we find out what caused the Sudden Departure? Do we figure out what the hell was up with that National Geographic magazine? As HBO wisely warned us in its description of the episode “Nothing is answered. Everything is answered. And then it ends.”Read more "The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 8 Recap: The Book of Nora"