Bob’s Burgers, Clifford Geertz, and the Complexities of “Religion”

BobsBurgers-617_Aquaticism_09A_10_previewFor those who don’t know, I’ve spent this semester working as a TA for an undergraduate course in American religious history. The professor has been gracious enough to allow me to lecture on occasion, and today was one of those times. We spent last week talking about new trends in religion in the US, with the class reaching the conclusion that it was difficult to say what was and wasn’t a religion. In the back of my head during that class, I was thinking about an episode of a tv show I had seen a few weeks before, but I figured I wouldn’t be able to do anything with it. But, thanks to an unforeseen problem with the syllabus and a learning module that had failed to upload to the Blackboard site, we found ourselves needing new material. So, that’s how I came to spend this afternoon giving a lecture based on a cartoon and a renowned sociologist. Here’s what that looked like.

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The Power of Presence

So, this past Sunday I was the on-call chaplain at the hospital. The Sunday on-call, in addition to typical chaplain Imageduties, also leads two chapel services. So, naturally, I had to prepare a sermon. I more or less follow the Revised Common Lectionary; but, I am a Baptist after all, so I reserve the right to reject the establishment whenever I feel like it. So, I tweaked some parts of the reading and decided to do my sermon on Job 2. The Power of Presence. Good title, right? It was too bad there were no bulletins or anything, so nobody in the congregation saw the title unless they looked at where it was scrawled across the top of my notes. But, it didn’t really matter, because I never got to preach. I was halfway through the Psalm reading when my phone starts going off in my pocket. I was really hoping it was just one of my friends asking why I wasn’t at church. No such luck. I was needed in ICU to work a case that wound up lasting well into the afternoon. So, my sermon never saw the light of day, although, it really could be said that I practiced what I never got to preach. All the same, since I really kinda liked the message that I almost delivered, I thought I’d share a brief version of it here. Still a bit of a lengthy read, but stay with me. So, on to Job…
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