As of 2018, our scope has shifted a bit. See our current About section for more on this.
Welcome to Nomos Journal. At this point you may be wondering about the nature of this fledgling project, and you may find the following to be of some utility. This brief editorial aims to provide readers and potential contributors with a modest raison d’etre for the enterprise Nomos Journal (henceforth, NJ). Through offering this short explanation of NJ‘s purpose we hope not only to justify its existence, but also to share our hopes and aspirations for its future. We expect that you will find its teleology and direction refreshing, as no doubt you share many of our fascinations and concerns already or you would most likely be in a much different corner of cyberspace.
The direction we are seeking at this time is for NJ to establish itself as a unique online journal, publishing a revolving array of material engaging the intersection between contemporary expressions of religion and popular culture. While many similar publications examine the broad interplay of dynamics characterizing the interaction of religion within various sociocultural spheres and disciplines, NJ seeks to directly engage the manner in which contemporary religiosity pervades popular cultural artifacts and mediums. Traditional academic journals, generously decorated with their distinctive marks of erudition, certainly have their place, and at times, niche, among scholars exploring these areas, but that dialogue is not one in which NJ seeks to enter. Our goal is to establish a unique community among our readers and contributors that engages this particular intersection in ways that are typically neglected in other venues. Sure, we are interested in traditional – albeit concise – academic articles, but we are also interested in works of poetry, artwork, and photography, along with those pieces of writing out there – oftentimes reflective or existential in nature – that do not fall into the category typically reserved for explicitly academic treatises, but engage the scope of the journal nonetheless.
In the future, perhaps, we might expand these areas to include original music compositions and videos. The point, however, is that we maintain the understanding that some of the best explorations of these cultural dimensions take place outside of a more traditional academic approach, and Nomos Journal seeks to do just that. By providing an accessible venue for the presentation and discussion of these dimensions, NJ aims to increase the understanding of the role religion plays throughout society and culture in ways that are most immediate and familiar.
That said, you still might find yourself wondering what “nomos” has to do with this endeavor, and why we feel its designation best characterizes our aim. As you may know, the Greek word “nomos” literally means “law,” and refers to the rule of order and law in human society. It can also be contrasted with the word “cosmos,” meaning the natural order of the universe. It is between these two balancing spheres, namely the human and natural orders of existence, that religion finds one of its most important functions for human life, and it is here that you will discover the central axis of NJ’s vision. Thus, following sociological understandings of world-creation, the journal takes its name from the socially constructed “meaningful orders” characterizing the plausibility structures of humankind. And, following Peter L. Berger more specifically, it is the intended “meaningful totality” of such structures that NJ recognizes as a continuously burgeoning front for religious discourse. “Every society is engaged in the never completed enterprise of building a humanly meaningful world,” Berger claimed many years ago.1 It is in this “humanly meaningful world,” and the popular cultural forms indicative of such meaning, where the focus of NJ resides.
By means of a vision that centers on the forces of world construction, which have much in common with what is typically called “religion,” NJ hopes to inspire more discovery and analysis of how these ideological and cultural movers construct, direct, and justify our social reality through contemporary cultural material. Although our emphasis will rest upon the interaction of popular cultural forms and religious experience, the expressive nature of the journal could also end up furthering scholarly knowledge in the process, and perhaps help us all to better understand where we are heading in the future. We would not be displeased.
So, welcome to the beginning of this burgeoning young project. If this is your first time navigating to the website, be sure to explore the different areas and initial contributions, and feel free to enter into some of the discussion that might already be taking place. We look forward to the development and growth of the journal, and welcome your involvement along the way!
Seth M. Walker and Stephen G. Wright
- Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Anchor Books, 1967), 27. [↩]