American Gods Season 2 Episode 5: The Ways of the Dead

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.

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Introducing New Gods (New Media) and meeting Old Ones (Argus) in American Gods Season 2 Episode 3 Muninn

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.

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Revisiting Waco: Prophets, Guns, and the role of the Government in Defining Religion

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.”

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