Past Events

April 20, 2018

Santa Muerte: Insights on Deeming “Bad Religion” by Teresa Rios Martinez

FESTIVAL OF SCHOLARS - “Hard to Digest” Panel

Santa Muerte is a folk saint in Mexico with origins in the old religion of the Aztecs that has an increasingly growing following not only in Latin America and the United States among Latinx populations, but also in the broader occult milieu. She is known as the patron saint of criminals or narcos, as a large portion of her devotees are involved in gangs, drug trafficking, and prostitution, however that is not the full demographics of her following. This paper examines why the cult of Santa Muerte is considered a “bad” and “dangerous” religion. Jason Josephson’s work on heretical anthropology, Ann Tave’s “specialness” theory, cult theory, and new religious movement theory is employed to gain deeper insights on the factors surrounding the labels attached to Santa Muerte and her followers. The Catholic Church claims that she is satanic and the Mexican government actively targets her followers and associates their crimes to her. To her followers she is a religious figure that helps them in a time of need, especially to those who are constantly surrounded by violence and death. By looking at Santa Muerte from these three different perspectives we can see that she is ultimately labeled a bad religion because of the challenge she poses the steadily declining Catholic population in Mexico.

November 27, 2017

“Spirit/Medium/Media: A Critical Examination of the Relationship Between Animism, Animators, and Anime” by Jolyon Thomas (University of Pennsylvania)

This talk critiques the oft-repeated argument that Japanese animation (anime) is thematically and aesthetically unique because it draws upon Japan’s ancient animistic traditions. I argue that when professional observers describe anime as “animistic,” they use a politically fraught and technically inaccurate term to engage in certain political projects related to environmentalism or cultural nationalism. I also argue that when these professional observers repeat the essentialist idea that “Japanese people believe that spirits exist in everything,” they categorically ignore the potentially “spiritual” qualities of the material objects that are actually used to make anime in the first place (celluloid, ink, computer screens, cameras, cables). I conclude by offering alternative language that can more accurately depict what anime directors and their audiences do when depicting or observing relationships between spirits and nature in animated film. These attitudes and ideas can be deemed meaningful and even religious, I argue, without relying on the loaded language of “animism.”
October 19, 2017

Religious Studies at Lewis & Clark

A quintessential liberal arts discipline!

A social hour with food, drink, and good conversation with faculty members, majors, minors, and other interested students about what the discipline of religious studies has to offer to the liberal arts; as well as a preview of courses to be offered in Spring 2018!
May 5, 2017

Senior Reception with Family and Faculty

Come join the Religious Studies department as we celebrate our seniors! Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP with Claire Kodachi at ckodachi@lclark.edu with the total number of people in your party. The event will be held in the Frank Manor House.
March 2, 2017

“’By the Sweetness of the Tongue’: Stories, Lives, and Hindu Holy Women in India” by Antoinette E. DeNapoli (University of Wyoming)

This presentation calls attention to the uncommon religious lives and worlds of Hindu holy women (sadhus) in India.
February 15, 2017

“Queering Vedic Culture: Paths to Celebrating LGBTQ Relationships in India’s Devout Hindu Communities” by Claire Robison (Lewis & Clark College)

Prof. Robison will speak on research conducted along with a colleague in 2014-2015 on the Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association in Mumbai (GALVA). GALVA Mumbai is a local chapter of a transnational grassroots organization dedicated to increasing acceptance of LGBTQ identities within devout Vaishnava Hindu communities. For people in Mumbai who identify as LGBTQ, the organization seeks to foster a space that is not exclusive of or in opposition to the Hindu religious communities in which many of their members were raised. This project traces their efforts and the interpretative steps they take to construct a space for queer identities in Vaishnava Hindu communities today.
April 15, 2016

Festival of Scholars

It is our pleasure to invite you to the Festival of Scholars, an opportunity for student-scholars and artists to present their research and art, while also learning from one another.

October 29, 2015

“Oh, Hell! The Horrible and the Hilarious in Secular Japanese Picturebooks” by Heather Blair (Indiana University)

Authors and illustrators of picturebooks for Japanese children often appropriate characters, imagery, and plotlines with recognizably religious pedigrees in order to transfer them into the secular world of children’s education and entertainment. In this talk, I examine the transformation of Buddhist hell from dreadful to hilarious in picturebooks for pre-literate children and emerging readers ages 4 to 7. Arguing against conventional interpretations that frame these books as wholly irreligious, I show that hell has become a cornerstone in a national vernacular tradition and that it continues to serve moralizing purposes even as it makes us laugh.
October 15, 2015

Meet Your Major

It time to Meet Your Major! We’ll be gathering as a department on October 15th at 5:45 p.m. in the Howard 302. Current and former majors will be talking about their research projects (past life regression therapy, the Asideo community in Sellwood, Islamic law, and more!) and about their experiences in the major. Come hear from students about some really engaging projects and about why they chose Religious Studies for a major or minor. Of course, they’ll be food and drink. We hope to see you there!
March 13, 2015

Religion/Modernity: Living on the Slash by Robert Orsi (Northwestern University)

This lecture challenges the widespread agreement today among scholars of modern history and culture that modernity did not mean the end of religion, that modernity itself is a religious, as well as political and legal, project. This may be true, but such an account of the modern fails to capture the fate of special, supermundane beings since the sixteenth century: gods, ghosts, ancestors, spirits, demons, and so on. The “religion” that endured in modernity—that was legally codified, epistemologically sanctioned, and diagnosed as psychologically healthy—was purified of these beings. Modern “religion” consigned them to the past of the species and the infancy of the person. Looking at the experience of a Catholic survivor of clerical sexual abuse as she makes her way between the normative modern and “superstition,” which is the necessary other of the modern, the lecture considers what it means to live everyday life in a world of plural and incommensurate ontologies.
February 4, 2015

Discussion with Ian Blair and Rob Kugler

Join us for the first departmental gathering of the semester. Senior major Ian Blair will show us a video he created based on his research on religion during his semester abroad in Russia last year. Professor Robert Kugler will also talk about a recent conference trip that he took to Israel. We’ll have questions and informal discussion after each presentation. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome to attend.
November 4, 2014

“A Religion of Convenience: The Universal Life Church, Contemporary Weddings, and the Secular Sacred” - Dusty Hoesly CAS ’02

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN TIME.

Major national news outlets have observed that weddings in the United States, especially for young educated people, are increasingly performed by ministers who are friends or relatives of the couple and who become ordained online just for that purpose. The primary organization licensing these ministers, and thus authorizing these weddings as legally valid, is the Universal Life Church (ULC), which has ordained over 20 million people since 1962. To date, there has been no focused study of the ULC or weddings conducted under its auspices. According to my initial research findings, both ULC ministers and the couples who use them self-describe as non-religious, usually as agnostic, atheist, apathetic, secular, or spiritual. Similarly, they describe their weddings in non-religious terms, emphasizing the personalization of the ceremony to match their particular beliefs and tastes as well as the conscious exclusion of most religious language. These secular or spiritual wedding ceremonies reveal non-religious couples’ desires for an alternative apart from bureaucratic civil ceremonies or traditional religious rites. Using original archival, survey, interview, and participant observation data, mostly based in California and the Pacific Northwest, this paper explores why “secular” people employ ULC-ordained ministers for their weddings, and how ULC ministers and couples married by them label and valuate their “non-religious,” personalized wedding ceremonies. My examination of ULC weddings reveals not only the diversity of non-theistic self-identification and lifecycle ritualization, but also how constructs such as religious and secular can be co-constitutive rather than oppositional.
April 26, 2014

Festival of Scholars

It is our pleasure to invite you to the first Festival of Scholars, an opportunity for student-scholars and artists to present their research and art, while also learning from one another.
April 9, 2014

Panel of Religious Studies Alums

We will be having a panel of three recent religious studies alums – Ashley Kikukawa works in financial aid at OHSU, Travis Flye is a school teacher here in North Portland, and Matt Karsh is an army chaplain and also in a MDiv program in PDX. They’ll share a little bit about how they made their transition to post-college life and any advice they would give you based on their experiences.
January 20, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

MLK Jr. Week of Service kick-off celebration
November 8, 2013

Standing at Armageddon: The Rise of American Fundamentalism in a Global Age by Matthew A. Sutton (WSU)

NEW CHANGED TIME

Sutton’s talk, based on a forthcoming book, will focus on the role that apocalypticism played in the origins and evolution of American Christian fundamentalism from the late nineteenth century to the rise of the modern Religious Right. Fundamentalists believed that the world was going to end—imminently, violently, tragically. This conviction shaped who they were, how they acted, and how they related to those inside and outside of the faith. It conditioned their analysis of politics and of the economy. It impacted how they voted and for whom. It determined their perspectives on social reform, moral crusades, and progressive change. It influenced the curriculum they brought into their schools and their views of American higher education. It defined their evaluation of alternative expressions of Christianity as well as competing religions. It framed their understanding of natural disasters, geo-political changes, and war. In sum, fundamentalist and later evangelicals’ anticipation of the soon-coming apocalypse made them who they were.
November 1, 2013

Gender and Politics in the New Middle East

Gender and Politics in the New Middle East- A Panel Discussion
Friday, November 1st,4:00 – 5:30 PM in JRH 202

October 22, 2013

Religious Studies: Meet Your Major

Unsure about your major? Come and meet the Faculty and upper-level students of the Religious Studies Department to discuss the benefits of majoring and/or minoring in Religious Studies. 

Already declared? Learn from faculty and upperclassmen about what’s coming up - in the next few years and afterward.

We will be holding an informal meet and greet on to discuss all of these!

Refreshments will be served.
 
To RSVP, please click here:
September 23, 2013

Meet Your Major: Religious Studies

Religious Studies Department Gathering
May 7, 2013

Senior Thesis Presentation - Kayla Aronson

Apocalypse Then: Applying a New Theory of Apocalyptic to the Byzantine Apocalypse of Anastasia

Composed during the late tenth or early eleventh century, the Apocalypse of Anastasia is a unique Byzantine apocalyptic text. Representing a non-elite voice in Byzantine society, the text targets individuals, aiming at nothing less than complete moral reform in order to achieve salvation. My thesis aims to illustrate how, and especially why the author of Anastasia used apocalyptic to communicate this message of moral reform. I use a theory of apocalyptic developed by Professor Rob Kugler during a seminar on apocalyptic imagination taught at Lewis & Clark College in the fall of 2012. Beginning with the idea that apocalyptic is one strategy of responding to a real or perceived threat of injustice, the theory helps explain the behavior of groups in crisis. Using this framework, I argue that the author of Anastasia used apocalyptic to create its own societial epistemology through the construction of a moral map for hearers to either accept or reject, knowing full well the cosmic consequences of either decision. Anastasia thus provides an example of an apocalyptic community that promotes a homogeneous shatter zone.



May 7, 2013

Senior Thesis Presentation - Drayton Cousins

The Future of Islam:The Repercussions of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Theories of Mohsen Kadivar
The 1979 Iranian Revolution was a watershed moment, one that exposed the tensions between the Western, modern world and the historic tradition of Islam in a global society. The first part of this paper is a historical exploration of the responses to the Iranian Revolution through a case study of Mohsen Kadivar, a liberal and reformist Iranian Shia jurist. Kadivar articulates the many contradictions between the historical/traditional approach to Islam (as seen currently in the Islamic Republic of Iran) and modern human rights before proposing a solution in the form of “new-thinker” or “goal-oriented” Islam. The second part of this paper is a comparative and theoretical analysis of Kadivar and his proposal. I compare Kadivar’s theories to those of Reform Judaism for a historical perspective and employ Max Weber’s ideas on rationalization and secularization for a theoretical analysis.
May 7, 2013

Senior Thesis Presentation- Lonnie Kleinman

Remembering the Future: Jewish Youth Pilgrimage to Poland and Israel as a Means of Identity Construction


In this thesis, I tell the story of American Jewish youth group trips that visit Holocaust sites in Poland, and then Israel. The emergence of such trips in the late 1980s marks a turning point in the way American youth learn about the Holocaust. To ground my analysis, I focus specifically on United Synagogue Youth’s summer trip, called Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar. I argue that affiliated youth feel a responsibility to visit these sites that are made sacred by memory. The trip operates within the purview of Conservative Judaism and emphasis on religious practice throughout the summer marks it as a distinctly religious phenomenon. I examine the use of ritual commemoration at specific sites, which creates distinct meaning and marks ritual space as sacred. I investigate how ritual contributes to the characterization of these trips as modern pilgrimages that take place in moments of liminality. Finally, I examine the potency of lived interactions in these sacred spaces, which represents a commemorative narrative that situates youth within a greater American Jewish mega-narrative. This experience contributes to the collective memory of the group, leaving a lasting impact on the identity of individual participants. The various means of interacting with space are highly controlled and representative of Conservative Judaism’s ideology that links the destruction of the Holocaust and Poland to redemption of the Jewish people and Israel. Ultimately, These trips represent a successful method of identity construction for American Jewish youth.
May 7, 2013

Senior Thesis Presentation- Casey Emmerling

Finding Your Box-Top: Eckankar and the Pacific Northwest


This essay analyzes Eckankar, an international New Age religion, as it fits into the religious landscape of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Sources cited include original interviews with members of the Eckist community in Portland, Oregon, as well official Eckist literature. The essay is centered around three related arguments: First, that Eckankar’s broad and ardent emphasis on individualism, including a personal experience of divinity, libertarianism, and a highly elastic form of religiosity, runs parallel with general trends in the Pacific Northwest. Second, that “nature religion,” another Northwestern theme, occupies a complex and somewhat paradoxical place within Ecknkar, as it does within other New Age movements. Third, that theories of postmodern religion and rational choice are useful hermeneutic tools for understanding Eckankar and Northwestern religiosity more generally, while secularization theory is less instructive. 
April 11, 2013

“The Interrupters” Film Screening

“The Interrupters” documentary film by Steve James follows local activism in Chicago against inner city violence. All are welcome to this free film screening and food will be provided!
March 19, 2013

Faculty Bookwarming

An event to celebrate the release of Religion & Hip Hop written by Visiting Professor of Religious Studies Monica Miller.  The book will be discussed followed by questions from the audience. 
Coffee and cookies will be served.
This event is open to the public.
Job Talk with Jessie Starling
December 11, 2012

A Family of Clerics: The Making of a Female Buddhist Professional in Contemporary Japan by Jessica Starling

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN ROOM# – JRHH 259

Since the governmental reforms of the Meiji period (1868-1912), Buddhist priests in Japan have been permitted to openly marry, and parish temples have been passed down from father to son.  While much has been made of the “corruption” and “laicization” of the Japanese Buddhist clergy, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the essential role that priests’ wives often play in temple operations and in the propagation of Buddhism at the local level.  This presentation draws on two and a half years of fieldwork among temple wives in the Jōdo Shinshū, or True Pure Land School of Buddhism, to bring this untold story to light.  Using detailed accounts of two temple wives as a window into the dynamics of Japanese Buddhism “on the ground,” I will show that regardless of their official ordination status, the wives, sons and daughters of temple priests are considered de facto religious professionals, their lives intimately tied to the operation of the temple.
December 6, 2012

“To Revitalize Buddhism and Save the Nation: Buddhist Education in Republican China” L. Rongdao Lai

China’s twentieth century opened with educational reform as its most dominant discourse. There was optimism shared by government officials and intellectuals that an educated people would solve China’s myriad problems and social ills. Similarly, reformist Buddhists believed that a modern monastic education would produce a new generation of monks who would revitalize Buddhism and save the nation. Taking into consideration issues in modernity and secularism, as well as modern Chinese historiography, this talk will look at the ways in which young monks who attended these seminaries engaged in identity production. Although very small in number, these “student-monks” formed an “imagined community” which exerted a huge impact on the trajectories of modern Chinese Buddhism.

McGill University
December 4, 2012

Asian Religious and Liberal Arts by Leena Taneja

This talk will present my scholarship on Medieval Devotional Hinduism. It will outline the aims and methods I employ in my scholarship and what questions drive my research into emerging fields of knowledge.   Examples will be drawn from current and ongoing research projects.  Finally, the talk will highlight how my scholarship informs my strategies as a teacher in the classroom and advances the goals and objectives of a liberal arts curriculum.
November 27, 2012

Apocalyptic Film Series

Tuesday 11/27, we finish the Apocalyptic Film Series that we are running to go along with the Apocalyptic Imagination class. Our last film is Zombieland. Please feel welcome to join the class for this showing.


Showings will be in Olin 301
November 13, 2012

Apocalyptic Film Series

Tuesday 11/13, we continue the Apocalyptic Film Series that we are running to go along with the Apocalyptic Imagination class. Our next film is Take Shelter. Please feel welcome to join the class for this showing.


Further films are:

11/27, 6:45, Zombieland

Showings will be in Olin 301
November 7, 2012

Papyri and Religious Imagination in Ancient Egypt By Rob Kugler (Lewis & Clark College)

The recent publication of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife brought the papyri from ancient Egypt into public imagination. There is, though, far more to the story of payrological remains and their implications for understanding religion in the ancient world than that nine-line fragment, and the rest of the story is also surprisingly much more engaging than the recent item splashed across the pages of local and national newspapers.  

Prof. Rob Kugler, Religious Studies and Classics, offers a glimpse into that larger world with the year’s first Religious Studies Department colloquium, to be held on November 7, 2012, at 3:30 pm in JRHH 124.
October 23, 2012

Apocalyptic Film Series

Tuesday 10/23, we continue the Apocalyptic Film Series that we are running to go along with the Apocalyptic Imagination class. Our next film is 12 Monkeys. Please feel welcome to join the class for this showing.

Further films are:

11/13, 6:45, Take Shelter

11/27, 6:45, Zombieland

Showings will be in Olin 301.
October 4, 2012

Apocalyptic Film Series

Starting this Thursday, 10/4. at 6:45 pm, we begin the Apocalyptic Film Series that I am running to go along with my Apocalyptic Imagination class. Our first film is The Tree of Life. Please feel welcome to join the class for this showing.



Further films are:
10/23, 6:45, 12 Monkeys
11/13, 6:45, Take Shelter
11/27, 6:45, Zombieland

Showings will be in Olin 301.
September 20, 2012

FREE VEGGIE DINNER TO FIRST 25 TO RSPV

Want to know more about Religious Studies as a major? Come to our first Chat and Chew and find out what we are up to this year! FREE VEGGIE DINNER from Veggie Grill! Come meet faculty and students and hear the many different ways students are exploring and studying Religious Studies! RSVP here.
September 7, 2012

Kaśmir to Prussia, Round Trip: A Comparison of Monistic Śaivism and Hegel by Sarah Ann Lownstein, Meredith Margaret Nelson, and JM Friztman (Lewis & Clark College)

We elucidate 9th-12th centuries monistic Kaśmiri Śaivism through
comparisons to contemporary science.  We show that Kaśmiri Śaivism can
be transposed into Fichte’s philosophy and so set on a trajectory
towards Hegel.  While Kaśmiri Śaivism reaches Prussia, the resources


to articulate Hegel’s Absolute are in Kaśmir. 
May 5, 2012

Departmental Senior Reception

By invitation to department majors and their families.
For more information, please Claire Kodachi at ckodachi@lclark.edu or (503) 768-7450.
April 27, 2012

Senior Thesis Presentations

Please join us for our year-end academic and social gathering. On Friday, April 27 (the first “reading day”), 2:00-5:30pm, JRHH 202, our senior majors will present capstone projects (seminar or thesis papers):

Natalie Saing
Georgia Cary
Nathan Tucker
Hannah McCain
Lizzy Leider
Helen Vernier
Khnik Haefner


Each will present for about 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for questions and comments from the audience.
 
March 19, 2012

Opportunity to Discuss Life with a Religious Studies Degree!

The department will welcome an alumnus, Dusty Hoesly, who graduated in ’02 with a double major in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Having finished a master’s degree in ‘04 at Yale Divinity School in the history of Christianity (and an MAT at the LC Grad School in ’06), Dusty is currently a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He will be on campus to visit classes in the Philosophy Department and has also graciously agreed to make himself available to RELS majors and minors who are interested in discussing life after LC for Religious Studies students.

Come join us in the department lounge for light refreshments and conversation. Bring your interested and interesting friends!    
February 23, 2012

Living Humanism: Material Culture and the Remaking of Religion

What’s this religion in material culture? How does the performativity of religion in material cultural practices often remake religion into forms of humanist expressions? Although the Pacific Northwest, in particular, has been dubbed the ‘None Zone’ due to low rates of institutional religious participation, scholars have suggested that the cultural cartography of religion points towards a more “spiritual” remaking of religion. What does this landscape look like, especially among young people in Portland, Oregon?
     
     This one day symposium brings scholars together, whose scholarship, in divergent ways, gives thought to the shifting context, understanding, classification, and modalities of how material culture (broadly understood), reshapes how we think about the category of religion, both theoretically and methodologically. The shape shifty landscape of contemporary culture offers a robust terrain to interrogate and rethink how we give thought to categories such as religion, as expressed in the multiplicities of material cultural products.
     
     This symposium is dedicated to the theme “Living Humanism” to consider the complex ways in which religion and religious rhetorical housing often provides a space to negotiate human interests, means, and ends. Here, we consider how material culture, as both product and context, forces a rethinking of how religion is remade, often providing a cosmology of Humanism as both practice and posture in seemingly un/conscious ways.


3:30 - 5:00 Panel Discussions:

       Patricia O’Connell Killen, Gonzaga
       University

       Cassie Trentaz, Warner Pacific
       College

       Susanna Morrill, Lewis & Clark
       College

       Diabolus Rex, Chaos Imperium

       Monica Miller, Lewis & Clark
       College

7:30pm Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, Keynote Speaker
What Are We to Each Other?
Thoughts of Ethics in the Age of “None” 
September 7, 2011

Tenth Anniversary Commemoration of 9/11

In honor of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, Lewis & Clark will host an academic symposium featuring perspectives from across the institution.

Janet Bixby, associate professor of education and associate dean of the graduate school, will moderate the panel of Lewis & Clark speakers, who will focus on the following subjects:

Barry Glassner, president of Lewis & Clark: “9/11 and The Culture of Fear”

Paul Powers, associate professor of religious studies: “Americans, Muslims, and Modernity after 9/11”

Heather Smith, assistant professor of international affairs: “9/11 as a Test of Commitments to Human Rights”

Tung Yin, professor of law: “The Legal Architecture of Counterterrorism since 9/11”
March 30, 2011

“And the Word Became Flesh in Hip-Hop Culture” by Monica Miller, Visiting Post-Doc Candidate in Religious Studies

The Department of Religious Studies welcomes a candidate for the 2011-12 Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences:

Monica R. Miller
(Ph.D. 2010, Chicago Theological Seminary)

She will teach a class session on the topic:

“And the Word Became Flesh in Hip-Hop Culture”

Dr. Miller is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Africana Studies, School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania; and Senior Research Fellow, The Institute for Humanist Studies, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia University (IRAAS).
October 20, 2010

Meet Your Major - Religious Studies Dept.

Are you thinking about majoring in Religious Studies? Below are some topics that will be discussed: – Highlights of course work – what’s exciting about work in your major
– Opportunities outside the classroom–internships, research opportunities
– What can you do with a Religious Studies major? What are some of your majors doing?
 So please stop by our offices and meet some of our Professors and majors. Pizza will be served.
Click Here to RSVP
 
October 15, 2010

Islamic Law in the (Bulging) Eyes of al-Jahiz: (Rep)resenting Shari`a in Early Islamic Culture by Paul Powers (Lewis & Clark College)

Abu `Uthman `Amr b. Bahr al-Fuqaymi al-Bahri, known famously as al-Jahiz (“the goggle-eyed”), lived and died (d. 868 CE) in Basrah, Iraq, then one of the major centers of Islamic cultural activity. He is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in shaping early Muslim Arabic prose literature. I show that al-Jahiz, though no jurist himself, was well-informed about the emergent legal-ethical frameworks of his day, and he robustly took part in trying to shape them. He deftly parodies the highly symbolic figure of the qadi, or Muslim judge, a stoic dispenser of justice brought low, in al-Jahiz’s portrayal, by a pesky fly. He further skewers what he sees as the convoluted and self-serving formal reasoning of legal theorists and sharply attacks the leading scholarly lights of Mecca and Medina while systematically defending the legal status of nabidh, or date-wine. All this in the service, I assert, of promoting a Mu`tazilite “rationalism” and a broader self-reliance in ethical and legal matters. This is part of a wider project exploring the ways Islamic legal discourses are reflected in and shaped by their wider cultural contexts, especially in the pre-modern, Arabophone Muslim world.