The Oberlin Review

In Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech for Some

Chloe Vassot, Contributing Writer

February 6, 2015

For obvious and grim reasons, January was a difficult month for France. Thinking about the massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 7, and the complex and heated reactions that followed, has made my mind run in confused circles. The recent attacks revealed many contentious problems France has faced as a country. But perhaps no issue is as delicate as what many perceive as the hypocrisy in France’s laws regarding freedom of speech and expression. France is not America. There is no First Amendment that guarantees a near-absolute right to verbal liberty. French laws draw complicated lines around what types of speech are permissible, and hate speech directed against individuals or groups based ...

Protests Challenge Oberlin Students to Provide Unreciprocated Tolerance

CJ Blair, Columnist

September 26, 2014

I was sitting in Professor Erik Inglis’s Art History class last week when he proclaimed the goal of the day’s lecture was to ask how Jesus came to be represented as he is today. He meant this, of course, in a pictorial sense, but my mind flashed back to 18 years spent living in the Bible Belt, inspiring me to consider that question more generally. When events occur like the picket staged by Brother Jed and his fellow preachers last week, it can seem all too easy to deem one particular display as the “accepted” representation of God, and therefore of Jesus. However, this situation is no different than other controversial topics, in that there’s much more to it than meets the eye. My opinion, of course just...

Off the Cuff: Kelly Brown Douglas, priest and “womanist” scholar

Kate Gill, News Editor

October 11, 2013

Kelly Brown Douglas is a priest and a professor of religion at Goucher College.  She specializes in womanist theology and the black church. She spoke with the Review about her faith, Alice Walker, and communities of support.  How did you first become acquainted with theology, sexuality and the black church? What specifically attracted you to this field of study?  There are two sort of prongs [to] that. One, being aware, even [while] growing up, of who I was as a black person in a society that was very racist [and] segregated, in which being a black body meant that you were a marginalized, oppressed body. Having that sensibility of what it meant to be different, what it meant to be marginalized. I didn’t grow...

Status Quo Reigns Supreme at Vatican

March 15, 2013

When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope on Wednesday, the event was hailed as a sign that the Catholic church was finally, mercifully beginning to evolve to reflect the interests of its 21st-century membership. Bergoglio — or Francis I, as he will be known from here on out — is a native of Buenos Aires, making him the first pope not born in Europe in over a millenium. And such a shift is apt, considering that the majority of the world’s Catholics now reside in the global South; in the Church as elsewhere, Europe is losing its supremacy. But before we fall over ourselves congratulating the cardinals on their progressivism, it bears repeating that Bergoglio is hardly a revolutionary choice. Though...

Column on Church Rife With False Dichotomies

David Leach

February 22, 2013

While Sean Para’s Op-ed piece “Pope’s Resignation May Lead to Reform for Aging Institution” [Oberlin Review, Feb. 15, 2013] raises important critiques of the conservatism and corruption within the governing body of the Catholic Church, Para makes several unwarranted and insensitive generalizations about Catholicism and organized religion. To be clear: I do not consider myself a part of any one organized religion, I am not Catholic and I make no defense of the Vatican’s continued condemnation of birth control and refusal to ordain female priests — not to mention the deplorable matter of clerical sex abuse. The need for reform is clear, but Para takes his argument too far, stating, “The Church and the papacy...

The Role of Religion in a Secular Bubble: Part 2

Julia Herbst

April 22, 2011

While the specifics of each student’s situation vary, being religious at Oberlin can be a challenging and even isolating experience for many. Presidential scholar of Islam Jafar Mahallati has seen this isolation manifest in Muslim students soon after their arrival on campus. “In my conversations with Muslim students, one of the religious minorities on campus, I have realized that upon their arrival, some of them feel very isolated and homesick,” he said. “With the Muslim Student Association and courses offered on Islam, however, they become self-confident… They learn, again in a new way, that the religious ‘others’ are not a threat, but in fact a blessing.” Another challenge for some reli...

The Role of Religion in a Secular Bubble: A Two-Part Feature

Julia Herbst

April 15, 2011

As a school with a diverse religious and spiritual population and a long religious history, questions about how the administration does and should manage religious life are cause for much discussion. This debate is especially active in recent years due to the creation of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and the development of many new faith-based organizations. Today, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and its affiliated organizations have the challenge of both adjusting to the changing religious beliefs of students and also promoting multifaith dialogues that include all viewpoints. This current multi-religion model is significantly different than other models for spiritual life that have existed over...

The Pull of Passivity: Reconsidering the Rationality of Religion

Monica Klein, Opinions Editor

December 11, 2009

Religion is irrational. The religious adhere, after all, to unprovable theories that often stem from a fictional, outdated book. And yet those who scorn the religious are often oblivious to the literature that they themselves adhere to, often with an even more dogmatic reverence. The largest difference between Darwin’s Origin of Species and the Bible may be the attitudes of their readers. Both books offer explanations for human behavior. In admittedly oversimplified terms, one argues that human behavior stems from an inherent need to survive, while one implies that scientific explanation does not dictate human behavior. Yet adherents to the Bible see this explanation as acceptably incomplete. They acknowledge,...

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