* This post originally appeared as part of the Religion in Culture Lectures in association with the University of Alabama.
by Russell McCutcheon
One of the curious items from [last week’s] announcement from the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down at the end of February was that he made his announcement, at a meeting of Cardinals, in Latin. So few reporters there understood Latin that it gave quite a competitive advantage to Giovanna Chirri, who works for ANSA (Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata), Italy’s main news wire service. As noted on the UK’s The Guardianreal-time news blog:
Might this be a pretty good argument for the value of a liberal arts education that includes the study of foreign languages? After all, unlike the video that was uploaded later…
…, reality moves in real-time and doesn’t come with translations, subtitles, replays, or highlighting.
Russell McCutcheon is a Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. Interested generally in issue of theory in the study of religion, and specifically in the social and political utility of the very term “religion” itself, he has worked at three different public universities in the US. He came to Tuscaloosa in 2001 to be the Chair of the Department, a role he played until 2009. He teaches a variety of courses in the Department, on such topics as the rhetoric of religious experience or authenticity, and continues his research on such topics as religion and modernity. He also has a dog, Izzy.