Food, Faith, and Fraud in Two “Cult” Restaurants
Friday, January 25th, 12pm
Cramer Hall 382 | 1721 SW Broadway
A number of new religious movements, sometimes called “cults,” operate restaurants and over the years these have been the sites of different kinds of conflicts. Two of the most visible conflicts developed in San Francisco, a city where the mixture of food and faith is relatively commonplace. In the nineteen eighties, tensions at the San Francisco Zen Center’s Greens Restaurant led some members to view their work as a product of exploitation, while others sustained their commitment. Last year, the line between dedication and exploitation blurred in different ways at restaurants in the small Café Gratitude chain, when outsiders mobilized against unfair labor practices while devotees saw their work as a path to personal growth. Both cases illustrate the complicated relationships between work and worship in alternative religions and the more general ways that faith-based labor can create conflicting expectations.
Marion Goldman studies cults and new religious movements. Her 1999 book, Passionate Journeys, explores the lives of high achievers who followed Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to central Oregon. The American Soul Rush, published in 2012 , examines how many popular practices such as yoga, meditation, holistic healing, and humanistic psychology were Americanized and popularized at Esalen Institute, a spiritual retreat on the California coast. Her current research deals with the dynamic relationships between faith and food. She is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of Oregon. She is currently a Scholar in Residence at the Portland Center for Public Humanities.
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