Can Newt Woo the Religious Right?

The CNN Belief blog asks about Newt Gingrich:

And that raises a critical question: Can religious conservatives learn to love a man who is twice divorced, carried on an affair while criticizing Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, and fell from power in an ethics scandal?

Yea, they probably can.


Tenured Radical on Tenure Reform: Make It Public

I’m still a long ways away from worrying about tenure but I would love to see this sort of process when I get there.

Therefore, in my view, any real tenure reform has to address the problem of high-stakes evaluations that are done in private.  Secrecy actually permits institutional inequality to thrive, because no one ever “sees” it; alternatively, it allows a larger, skeptical public to believe that a negative tenure decision might be an outcome of prejudice when in fact it has resulted from an honest evaluation of the case.  Breaking confidentiality not only forces people to explain why they believe what they believe, it also creates a far more textured picture than probationary faculty currently have of why some people are tenured and some people are not.All of these things are bad for faculty morale over the long term, and they are bad for how a larger public views the tenure system.

  • Making all materials in a tenure case available to the candidate.
  • Allowing the candidate to respond to questions about hir scholarship that have arisen in the letters and in the departmental discussion.
  • Making minority and majority opinions on each case available in some kind of public document.
  • Allowing all departmental faculty who have voted in the case to identify themselves to the candidate and explain why they voted the way they did.

Breaking confidentiality would have a generative role in positive tenure cases too, since positive decisions are sometimes weighted down with the baggage of negative votes that have been successfully overcome.  These negative votes not infrequently arise from critiques that, although they were not sustained by the majority decision, should not be allowed to disappear either.  Candidates inevitably hear rumors about them, but are justified in not taking them seriously because they are conveyed (often inaccurately) by their “friends” and have been articulated by “enemies.” Flaws in scholarship that are not fatal at the level of the monograph might have serious ramifications down the road if they are not addressed, while originality and risk-taking that has been deliberately muted in pre-tenure scholarship so as not to offend could be usefully cultivated in the post-tenure years.

via Tenured Radical: To Reform Tenure, Consider Breaking Confidentiality: A Novel Approach.


Huckabee Convinced Obama’s a Christian

During a speech at the National Press Club Thursday, Huckabee said it’s time for some conservatives to quit questioning the president’s Christian faith and added he thinks Obama is a role model for the “primacy of the American family.”

via Huckabee defends Obama’s Christianity – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

Didn’t see that coming.


Less Than Half of Evangelicals Are Tea Partying

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has a new analysis of religion and the Tea Party. The whole thing is an interesting read and offers solid evidence for the religious forces driving the movement. Sara Posner and Mark Silk have offered their takes on the findings.

One thing jumped out to me:

Surveys from November 2010 through February 2011 show that white evangelical Protestants are roughly five times as likely to agree with the movement as to disagree with it (44% vs. 8%), though substantial numbers of white evangelicals either have no opinion or have not heard of the movement (48%).

If my math is right, less than half of evangelicals agree with the Tea Party and the rest either don’t care or actively disagree. This is important because while Pew has ample evidence to prove that most Tea Partiers are also part of the religious right (read conservative evangelicals), the majority of evangelicals are not affiliated with the Tea Party. So, Tea Party rhetoric, Tea Party leadership, and Tea Party activists must always be contextualized as a (sizable) minority within American evangelicalism.

When we hear Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, or Michele Bachmann invoking their evangelical street cred we have to remember that half of the folks in churches on Sunday morning don’t care about, don’t know, or don’t like them.


Hacking the Dissertation « THATCamp Southeast 2011

Below is my session idea for THATCamp Southeast. An unconference for digital humanities.

How can digital humanities help us reimagine the dissertation? As a mid-program graduate student, I’m standing at the beginning of my dissertation project and I’m interested in hacking the dissertation.

I’ve been thinking about this from a few angles. First, digital sources provide one new way of rethinking the dissertation. Digital archives and collections that offer full text searching provide new ways to do dissertation research, especially in the current climate where graduate research funding may be difficult to find. Second, the actual dissertation itself can be rethought. For example, how could digital sources for a dissertation be archived online to provide a sort of source book for the research project? What would a “digital dissertation” look like? Lastly, how can digital technology improve the process of writing a dissertation? The dissertation is a young scholars first major project, what sort of technologies are out there that every dissertating graduate student ought to try to help them stay organized and get the thing written?

I would love to see something come out of this discussion that could serve as a guide or toolbox for graduate students wanting to hack their dissertations. There are a lot of great reviews and ideas about writing dissertations with digital technologies (for example, Tonya Roth’s blog “Hacking the Dissertation Process” ) but its very scattered and tough to track down and synthesize. We need a more systematic approach to rethinking a digital dissertation.

via Hacking the Dissertation « THATCamp Southeast 2011.


Ronald Reagan vs College Students, 1967

Over at the Historical Society, Randall Stephens reminds us that the centennial celebration of Ronald Reagan has often ignored the Cold War cultural warrior that Reagan was in the 60s and 70s.

“NEW HAVEN, Dec. 4 [1967]–Gov. Ronald Reagan of California, who said he had never taught anything before except swimming and Sunday school, sat on a desk at Yale University today and conducted a class in American history.” So reported the New York Times on the Gipper’s visit to the ivy, where he was met with student protests and plenty of probing questions (December 6, 1967).

“Should homosexuals be barred from holding public office?” a senior from LA asked. The governor was surprised by the question. Rumors had been swirling that his administration had fired two staff members after their sexual preferences came to light. “It’s a tragic illness,” said Reagan, after a pause. And, yes, he did think that homosexuality should remain illegal. Some students earlier had demanded that the school rescind its invitation to Reagan. The governor, who visited Yale as a Chubb fellow, gave his $500 honorarium to charity.

The confrontation between the 56-year-old governor and Yale students in 1967 speaks to the culture wars that roiled the decade and continue to reverberate to this day. In the video embedded here the students, with haircuts that make them look like clones of Rob from My Three Sons, square off with Reagan on poverty, race, and Vietnam.

via The Historical Society: Ronald Reagan vs College Students, 1967.


Tenured Radical: Deep Cleaning, And Other Cosmic Issues: A Review of “Clutter Busting”

The Tenured Radical has a review up of Brooks Palmer’s book Clutter Busting:  Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back. Here’s a bit of it:

Palmer’s central argument is this: culture producers tell us that we are what we own, and many of us are persuaded that having consumer goods and things of great monetary value makes us happy.  Some of us acquire these things on the street, unable to pass an item that looks useful without stuffing it in the car.   Whatever we acquire, whether it is the magazines that we subscribe to in order to better ourselves, the multiple cats we can’t bear not to bring home from the shelter, or the makeup we buy to look pretty, we become briefly exhilarated as we possess the object, then depressed when we realize that, like all the similar objects our home is filled with, it hasn’t solved anything at all.  The objects then more or less taunt us, and fill our houses in such a way that they overwhelm us.  Worse, they become objects of sentiment, holding feelings that we are unwilling to let go.

Like all successful self-help people, Palmer tells stories about people who, under his guidance, have recovered from this cycle.  Usually the process of recovery involves identifying what role objects of various kinds play in your life, how you are failing to value yourself by allowing them this power, and what they actually have to do with either real people you refuse to let go of or feelings of your own that are undermining you but which you hold dear.  Disabling one’s self by clinging to unwanted objects and people (yes, people, pets and services are clutter too under the right circumstances) is a problem for psychotherapy, but it is also something that is amenable to action.

The power of the commodity in modern society immediately jumped out to me in this review. Self-help books like Palmer’s and TV shows like Clean House are built around helping people manage the power of things. I’m not sure how, yet, but the commodity and the power of the commodity has to be tied up with the idea of the autonomous subject/self. Does the commodity work in the formation of the self–what Foucault called a “technology of the self?” Or does the subject empower the commodity–the object? Not sure.

Oh, and yes, there are all sorts of sacred and religious themes in TR’s review, in the book itself, and in the entire self-help market.


The Tea Party is Unconstitutional

David Sehat has a great opinion piece up at the Christian Science Monitor where he argues that the current Tea Party has more in common with the antifederalists that opposed the Constitution than they do with the Constitution’s federalist framers.

This argument is instructive, but not quite in the way that tea partiers imagine. Though the tea party’s philosophy is clear enough, it obscures a telling irony: Even though tea partiers appeal to the Constitution to support their position, they often sound more like Antifederalist opponents of the Constitution than the Constitution’s supporters.

This is because the original vision of the Constitution did not seek to keep the national government small and in its place, as the tea partiers claim. The Constitution sought, instead, to strengthen the national government in order to solve the problem of federal taxation.


I Got a (Kinda) New Blogging Gig

I’m taking a small step up as a blogger. I’ve been blogging as a guest blogger over at Religion Dispatches for a while now. I’ve been writing a weekly review of religion in the news and I’ve also done some other posts here and there. I usually post a portion of these peices here and a link to the full text at RD. Anyways, now the fine folks over at RD have asked me to come on as regular blogger and write a few blog posts a week.  So, that means I’ll be doing a lot more writing there and a lot less here–not that I’ve been doing much here lately. I won’t be posting everything I write over at RD on this blog. Instead, there’s a nifty new RSS feed from my RD blog on the right hand sidebar here.

I will still use this blog to write about academic stuff, my research, history, and other things but please read my blog at RD to find great stuff on religion, culture, and politics. I’m really excited to take this chance to  branch out and find ways to relate my academic training to news and opinions going on everyday. I’m a big fan of public scholarship and our role in the academy as public intellectuals. This a chance to begin learning how to write for a general audience as a young scholar.

If you read this blog in an RSS reader, please add the RD Blog RSS feed or the RSS feed for my RD blog. Its going to be some great content, I promise.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,969 other followers