Tweeting on High
Religion Prof Prothero tries to explain a faith in 140 characters| From Commonwealth | By Jessica Ullian
Stephen Prothero is offering a quick overview of eight major world religions on his Twitter feed, @sprothero. Photo by Vernon Doucette
Providing a synopsis of each of eight major world religions in Twitter-speak takes creative condensation. On Stephen Prothero’s feed, an “Ahh!” at the end indicates that a religious philosophy includes a final payoff. The eightfold path in Buddhism becomes “Path=let go(d),” and his shorthand for atheism is “There is no uknowwho but Freud & Marx is his prophet,” because the words “delusional” and “oppressive” are too long.
The professor and chair of the religion department in the College of Arts & Sciences was already well known before he took to tweeting last summer — his 2007 book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn’t, landed him appearances on The Daily Show and Oprah — but his effort to post on eight major world religions, plus atheism, has attracted hundreds of followers. The core principles are distilled from Prothero’s upcoming book, The Great Religions, due out next year. And the goal? “Part of what I’m trying to do is to get people to understand that religion matters, that it’s a huge political and social force,” Prothero says. “And I’m interested in bringing the conversation in academia into the public square.”
Buddha to Baseball
Here’s a look at Prothero’s Twitter-based course “Religion140: wiping out religious illiteracy 140 characters at a time.”
- Islam140: Allah told Gabriel told the prophet Muhammed (PBUH): Just 1 God, pray to Him 5x day, give alms, fast, hajj to Mecca. Submit! Ahh!
- Buddhism140: Life=suffering. Clinging=the disease. Nirvana=the cure. Path=let go(d), be good/wise/mindful. Buddha=dried sh-t. Wake up! Ahh!
- Hinduism140: Goal=escape life/death/rebirth. How? Know u r God or love Vishnu/ Shiva/Goddess (u pick) or offer work&breath 2 God. Om Apu Ahh!
- Judaism140: 1 God, 1 chosen people. Do the Law (all 613), tell the story (Egypt to Zion, exile to return), repair the world. 2010 in 97500!
- Xianity140: Adam&Eve hungry so we=sinners. JC died&rose so we=saved. Is God3in1/Bible true/ Kingdom coming/Pope Catholic? Believe/Love! Ahh!
- Atheism140: Warning: religion=hazardous 2 ur health. There is no uknowwho but Freud & Marx is his prophet. Faith=D’oh. Be good w/o god(sic)!
- Confucianism140: C says social harmony comes by selfcultivation. Heaven=silent, goodness speaks. So revere the old, do the rites. Be human!
- Daoism140 (Tao of Twitter): Confucius sucks. Ritual=empty. True Way=wu-wei, natural as flowing water. Be free, be qi, live 4 now 4 ever. Ahh!
- Yoruba140: Ashe=power 2 make things happen. Gods have it. U2. So divine ur destiny. Connect w/ gods by sacrifice. Life=dance. U r the wise 1
- Red Sox140: Church=Fenway. Fans=Faithful. Saints=Ted/ Yaz/Fisk/Pap/Papi/ Youk. Devils=NYYs. Redemption=2004/2007. “Gods don’t answer letters.”