FW: 12/18/2003 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education
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From: The Chronicle [mailto:daily@...]
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2003 5:00 AM
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Subject: 12/18/2003 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education
ACADEME TODAY: The Chronicle of Higher Education's
Daily Report for subscribers
Here are news bulletins from The Chronicle of Higher Education for
Thursday, December 18.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS WEEK'S CHRONICLE
DEVIL OF A TIME: A Penn State researcher probes folklore's links
to power and popular culture.
--> SEE http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i17/17a01801.htm
THE DIARY AS WITNESS: In a lawless Colombian town, Michael
Taussig, a professor of anthropology at Columbia University,
tried to capture fleeting truths that didn't lend themselves to
traditional scholarly analysis.
--> SEE http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i17/17b01201.htm
DEEPLY ROOTED: Our desire for wood, in all its states, is innate
-- and voracious.
--> SEE http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i17/17b01901.htm
--> FOR THE FULL TEXT of those and all other articles from the
December 19 issue of The Chronicle, go to "This Week's
Chronicle" at http://chronicle.com/chronicle/
MAGAZINES & JOURNALS
A glance at the summer-fall issue of "The Civic Arts Review": Why
shopping is sacred
Consumerism has not simply encroached on religious holidays, it
has become a religion in itself -- the dominant postmodern
religion, in fact, says Dell deChant, an instructor in the
department of religious studies at the University of South
The economy plays the same role in our culture that nature had
in older religions. "Its order and process are beyond my grasp,
or anyone's for that matter, including the CEO's of giant
corporations and the chair of the Federal Reserve," he writes.
"Its ways are at times capricious, ruthless, sudden, and
uncompromising; it cannot be controlled. Its interest in me is
indifferent at best; it colors all of my activities, even if I
am not immediately aware of it. It tells me who I am, what I am,
and what I am able to do."
The cycle of acquiring, consuming, and disposing of products has
become the core of our common myths and rituals, he says. The
myths center on those whose relationship with the economy seems
exemplary and easy -- those who can afford to buy expensive
things, use them, and discard them to buy more. "We want to be
like the heroes in the myths," he says, and "consume as they
During the holiday season, people engage more seriously in the
rituals of consumption, and "pilgrimages to shrines and temples
(stores and shopping malls) are more frequent," he writes.
However, most Americans do not think much about it. "And this is
exactly the point," he writes. "It is just the way things are.
What 'is' is what 'ought' to be. To say otherwise, or to think
too hard about it, is not appropriate, not normal, not in
harmony with the sacred order and process of the Economy."
The article, "The Economy as Religion: The Dynamics of Consumer
Culture," is available online at
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