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S. Brent Plate
S. Brent Plate is Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College. His books include "Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World" and, most recently, A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects. @splate1

Entries by S. Brent Plate

Religion Is Alive and Well in Contemporary Art

(3) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 11:24 AM

On a breezy summer day, I joined a group of artists and writers in the basement of the Liberty Bar in midtown Manhattan to discuss the many places religious life meets the visual arts.* Contrary to the shortsighted views of secular art critics, one thing is clear: religion is alive...

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Why Religion Is More Progressive Than Sports

(4) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 7:57 PM

Many commentators have discussed the ways in which sports spectacles look a lot like religious spectacles: Bands of people gather at specified, special spaces, wearing like colors, chanting songs among a throng of like-minded and like-bodied others. They each have their saints (St. Michael and Babe Ruth), their...

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Digital Memories of Passover and Easter

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 5:06 PM

The confluence of Passover and Easter this week seems to beg for comparisons. The pluralistically-minded among us conjure something auspicious and then are challenged to articulate what the relations really are. Can we talk about Judaism and Christianity in the same breath because they are both "Abrahamic" traditions? Both "peoples...

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Sex! Violence! Religion! Cinema! (Not Another Biblical Epic, But Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 5:12 PM

The final minute of a Lars von Trier movie threatens to make or break every other frame of the preceding spectacle, to justify or condemn all that led up to the punch line. In the case of Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark the finale was a filmic,...

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A History of Religion in 11 Objects

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 1:38 PM

Humans are needy. We need things: keepsakes, stuff, tokens, tchotchkes, knickknacks, bits and pieces, junk and treasure. We carry special objects in our pockets and purses, or place them on shelves and desks in our homes and offices. As profane and ordinary as the objects may be, they can also...

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Religion and the Academy Awards, 2014

(6) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 3:41 PM

Movies make worlds unto themselves and then let viewers peek in, audio-visually participating from our own darkened rooms. We sit in one world and access another, primarily through our eyes and ears but also through our entire bodies: we sit on the edge of our seat or recoil in disgust,...

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Fifty Years On -- JFK and C.S. Lewis

(2) Comments | Posted November 25, 2013 | 3:17 PM

While many in the United States are commemorating, memorializing, and pondering the fifty-year mark of John F. Kennedy's assassination, another way of observing the date has been overshadowed. Some might argue it is actually a more important marker for the day. On the same day that Kennedy was killed, across...

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Arcade Fire's Religious Reflektions

(4) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 5:01 PM

Co-author Luke Ballmer is a first year student at Hamilton College.

Mystical threads have always run deep through Arcade Fire's repertoire. Inversions, upside downs and inside outs emerge in "black mirrors" and the "darkness of light." Opposites are reconciled, and unification is at the core of life itself.


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Seeing God in the Museum

(2) Comments | Posted September 23, 2013 | 12:52 PM

"We're going inside to greet the light." -James Turrell's grandmother

This week, as summer turns to autumn and sunlight grows sparse, the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan will close its blockbuster show, "James Turrell." Turrell's work, as you'll read in the many reviews of the exhibition, presents its viewers with...

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Mormons, Anti-Mormons, and Anti-Anti-Mormons

(546) Comments | Posted August 13, 2013 | 11:55 AM

Co-author Hannah Grace O'Connell is a senior at Hamilton College, double majoring in Sociology and Religious Studies.

It's mid July in Palmyra, New York, a hot day threatening afternoon thunderstorms, almost two centuries since Joseph Smith received visions near here that would lead to the creation of the Church of...

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Apocalypse Now and Then: Four Rules for Watching the World End

(12) Comments | Posted July 24, 2013 | 6:08 PM

The decade leading up to 2000 saw a rash of films about the end of the world. Asteroid was followed by Deep Impact and Armageddon, each premised on a giant rock from outer space ending the human race. Terminator 2 and The Matrix made us fear the machines, while Independence...

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The New Languages of Pentecost

(1) Comments | Posted May 28, 2013 | 1:29 PM

It is Pentecost Sunday and I am sitting in a pew toward the back of a church -- still in the building but not too conspicuous. Foreign tongues are being spoken around me, which seems appropriate since Pentecost is the day celebrated in the Christian Church when, according to the...

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Happy Birthday, Soren Kierkegaard!

(14) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 9:44 AM

On May 5, 1813, Søren Kierkegaard was born in a well-off home next to city hall in the northern European town of Copenhagen. With a population of only around 200,000, it was nonetheless the cultural and intellectual center of Denmark. He died at the young age of 42, though produced...

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Superheroes Get Religion, or the Other Way Around?

(1) Comments | Posted April 7, 2013 | 12:57 PM

In the August 2002 issue of "The Fantastic Four," the superhero known as The Thing finally came out as Jewish. Many knew this all along, and with a "real" name like Benjamin Jacob Grimm and the fact that he grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan the obvious...

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Roger Ebert's Religion

(504) Comments | Posted April 5, 2013 | 9:03 AM

"I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear." -Roger Ebert, Life Itself
His mother prayed he'd become a priest, but he questioned the catechism of his Catholic school. Years later, encounters with...
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Religion at the Academy Awards

(461) Comments | Posted February 3, 2013 | 12:24 AM

As we bow to the golden statue called Oscar, devoting ourselves to the saintly thespians, joining in rituals of exaltation, and reading our sacred gossip columns, we might stop to ponder the continuing place of religious themes, topics, and tropes in the year's top movies. We see it from bullet-riddled,...

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