Recent writings

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  • Green Remains

    The spiritual and secular afterlives of bodies

    Dead bodies create dilemmas. Whether or not you believe in a soul and its afterlife, we all—saints, secularists, and spiritual seekers alike—have to cope with corpses.

    The body itself has its own afterlife, its own place in the world, and these days there is a staggering array of ways to take care of the dead body. As climate change has become a greater threat, many new funerary practices have turned to so-called green burials, environmentally sustainable modes of laying the dead to rest. Such burials enable people to have afterlives by returning their bodies into the cycle of nature in a gentler way than most modern methods have allowed.

    [Read the rest at Spiral Magazine]

  • The psychology behind our love of Christmas movies

    If you are one of those people who will settle in this evening with a hot cup of apple cider to watch a holiday movie, you are not alone. Holiday movies have become firmly embedded in Americans’ winter celebrations.

    The New York Times reports a massive increase in new holiday movies this year. Disney, Netflix, Lifetime and Hallmark are now in direct competition for viewers’ attention, with both new releases and reruns of the classics.

    Holiday movies are so popular not simply because they are “escapes,” as my research on the relation between religion and cinema argues. Rather, these films offer viewers a glimpse into the world as it could be.

    [Read the rest at Popular Science]