My latest piece is up over at Sacred Matters. This one is about some similarities between teaching the academic study of religion and teaching Japanese Popular Culture. I wrote it right as I was finishing up my Japanese Popular Culture class in Fall 2015. See a video syllabus for the course below:
Falun Gong. Aum Shinrikyō. The Unification Church. The names of these marginal religious movements have become household words, both in the countries of East Asia and throughout the world. What relationships between religious doctrine, media representation, and political power made this possible, and what historical events have made these groups (in)famous? This course examines cases from Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam to examine the ways that authorities have designated certain movements as heterodox, how allegations of sexual impropriety have formed a key part of media representations of marginal religious movements, and how states and sects alike have wielded violence to protect their interests.