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Yearly Archives: 2015
In Support of BASR and the Study of Religion at Stirling
Below is the text sent on 4 September 2015 to the University of Stirling on behalf of NAASR’s Executive Council.
On behalf of the Executive Council of the North American Association for the Study of Religion, a member of the International Association for the History of Religions, we are writing you to offer our strong support of the September 3rd statement issued by the British Association for the Study of Religion. We agree that “Colleagues and students from Stirling have been at the forefront of critical study and debate about religion,” and that the academic and nondenominational study of religion “has a key role within higher education institutions.” Consequently, we echo their call for you to “reconsider the closure of an independent department that is greatly valued nationally and internationally.”
Books of Interest: Building God’s Kingdom
Julie J. Ingersoll, Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction (Oxford 2015).
For the last several decades, at the far fringes of American evangelical Christianity has stood an intellectual movement known as Christian Reconstruction. The proponents of this movement embrace a radical position: that all of life should be brought under the authority of biblical law as it is contained in both the Old and New Testaments. They challenge the legitimacy of democracy, argue that slavery is biblically justifiable, and support the death penalty for all manner of “crimes” described in the Bible including homosexuality, adultery, and Sabbath-breaking. But, as Julie Ingersoll shows in this fascinating new book, this “Biblical Worldview” shapes their views not only on political issues, but on everything from private property and economic policy to history and literature. Holding that the Bible provides a coherent, internally consistent, and all-encompassing worldview, they seek to remake the entirety of society–church, state, family, economy–along biblical lines.
Tracing the movement from its mid-twentieth-century origins in the writings of theologian and philosopher R.J. Rushdoony to its present-day sites of influence, including the Christian Home School movement, advocacy for the teaching of creationism, and the development and rise of the Tea Party, Ingersoll illustrates how Reconstructionists have broadly and subtly shaped conservative American Protestantism over the course of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. Drawing on interviews with Reconstructionists themselves as well as extensive research in Reconstructionist publications, Building God’s Kingdom offers the most complete and balanced portrait to date of this enigmatic segment of the Christian Right.
Books of Interest: Jenseits von Religion?
Steffen Führding, Jenseits von Religion?: Zur sozio-rhetorischen “Wende” in der Religionswissenschaft (Transcript 2015).
Seit mehr als 40 Jahren drehen sich viele Diskussionen in der Religionswissenschaft um eine genaue Ortsbestimmung der Disziplin in Abgrenzung zu anderen religionsbezogenen Fächern. Mit einem in Anlehnung an den nordamerikanischen Religionswissenschaftler Russell T. McCutcheon »sozio-rhetorisch« genannten Ansatz stellt Steffen Führding eine aktuell kontrovers diskutierte Position in dieser internationalen Debatte vor. Er verortet den Ansatz kontrastierend in der nordamerikanischen und europäischen Disziplingeschichte, wendet ihn exemplarisch an und zeigt Perspektiven auf, wie damit theorie- und methodikbezogene Herausforderungen in der Religionswissenschaft produktiv angegangen werden können.
Announcement: Position at Georgia Southern University
The Department of Literature and Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences invites nominations and applications for the position of Department Chair at the rank of Associate or Full Professor.
Reporting to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the position of Department Chair requires vision, leadership, administrative talents, teaching (two courses per year), research, and service, as well as a terminal degree. The Chair will work in a collaborative department administrative structure, representing 24 full-time faculty members. The position is a tenured or tenure-track, 12-month appointment, and the salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.
New Issue of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion (44.2)
Religious Proximity and Cultural Distance: An Introduction on the East/West Dichotomy Philip L. Tite
“Never the ‘Twain Shall Meet”: Disorienting East and West in Teaching and Scholarship
James Mark Shields
The Grey Matters: The Use and Abuse of East/West Taxonomies
Sarah F. Haynes
The Pedagogical Issues of Teaching “Eastern” and “Western” Traditions
T. Nicole Goulet
“Weasternization” of the West: Kumbh Mela as a Pilgrimage Place For Spiritual Seekers from the West
Marianne C. Qvortrup Fibiger
Roundtable on East/West
Philip L. Tite,
North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR): An Interview with Russell McCutcheon
Matt K. Sheedy
Matt K. Sheedy
Tips on Teaching
Getting Students Out of the Classroom and into the Pews
Books of Interest: Writing Religion
Steven W. Ramey (ed.), Writing Religion: The Case for the Critical Study of Religion (University of Alabama Press 2015).
In 2002, the University of Alabama’s Department of Religious Studies established the annual Aronov Lecture Series to showcase the works of nationally recognized scholars of religion capable of reflecting on issues of wide relevance to scholars from across the humanities and social sciences. Writing Religion: The Case for the Critical Study of Religions is an edited collection of essays that highlights critical contributions from the first ten Aronov lecturers.
Section one of the volume, “Writing Discourses,” features essays by Jonathan Z. Smith, Bruce Lincoln, and Ann Pellegrini that illustrate how critical study enables the analysis of discourses in society and history. Section two, “Riting Social Formations,” includes pieces by Arjun Appadurai, Judith Plaskow, and Nathan Katz that reference both the power of rites to construct society and the act of riting as a form of disciplining that both prescribes and proscribes. The writings of Tomoko Masuzawa, Amy-Jill Levine, Aaron W. Hughes, and Martin S. Jaffee appear in section three, “Righting the Discipline.” They emphasize the correction of movements within the academic study of religion.
Steven W. Ramey frames the collection with a thoughtful introduction that explores the genesis, development, and diversity of critical analysis in the study of religion. An afterword by Russell McCutcheon reflects on the critical study of religion at the University of Alabama and rounds out this superb collection.
The mission of the Department of Religious Studies is to “avoid every tendency toward confusing the study of religion with the practice of religion.” Instruction about—rather than in—religion is foundational to the department’s larger goal of producing knowledge of the world and its many practices and systems of beliefs. Infused with this spirit, these fascinating essays, which read like good conversations with learned friends, offer significant examples of each scholar’s work. Writing Religion will be of value to graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and scholars interested in the study of religion from a critical perspective.
Resources of Interest: Body and Religion
Equinox is pleased to announce the launch of a new journal commencing in 2016. For more information about submissions and subscriptions please visit the journal home page:
“Body and Religion is an internationally peer reviewed, interdisciplinary journal devoted to all issues of body and religion. We welcome English-language submissions from scholars who use diverse methodologies and approaches, ranging from traditional to innovative, to explore issues of “body” as a fundamental analytical category in the study of religion. We seek to publish the widest possible diversity of critical inquiry into the relationships between all manner of bodies; concepts of “body,” and both traditional and alternative religious traditions, popular culture, literature, the arts, psychology, philosophy, the natural sciences, national and social movements, gender and sexuality, modification and transformation, underground/alternative culture, time periods, and regions.
The journal provides a forum for the study of all manner of ancient and contemporary practices, concerns, ideals, and connections or disconnections between body and religion. Essays and analyses are capable of being delivered on a multi-media platform, assisting in examining performances, rituals, and other topics that are not easily captured in print. However, alternate and innovative presentations must include a significant written portion for print, while corresponding extra color art, video, and other media will be included on the journal website and in other electronic forms.”
Books of Interest: New Religiosity in Contemporary Sweden
Liselotte Frisk and Peter Åkerbäck, New Religiosity in Contemporary Sweden: The Dalarna Study in National and International Context (Equinox 2015).
The contemporary popular or new religious landscape in Sweden — arenas with religious elements outside the established churches — is large and multifaceted. Religion is today expressed in different localities, like retreat centers, health centers and gyms, and can manifest as for example healing, mindfulness, seances, coaching and body therapies. The boundaries between religious and secular arenas are becoming increasingly blurred. The popular or new religiosity is firmly rooted in older traditions, but also expresses creative innovation as a result of globalization, secularism, individualism and the impact of psychological and therapeutic orientations.
The book is based on a local study of contemporary popular or new religiosity in the area of Dalarna, Sweden. Religious expression always reflects its time. One of the book’s purposes is to explore how religion is perceived in our time and how Christianity has shaped our view of what belongs to the “religion” and what is seen as “superstition”. To understand religion it is necessary to study its practical everyday expressions.
Books of Interest: Fabricating Origins
Russell T. McCutcheon (editor), Fabricating Origins (Equinox 2015).
Fabricating Origins builds on a series of posts that originally appeared, in earlier forms, at the blog for Culture on the Edge. In these posts each member of the group focused on the problem of origins, examining how we repeatedly conjure up an authorized past that suits the needs of the continually changing present. Fabricating Origins presses these short studies further by inviting ten early career scholars to each work with Culture on the Edge by applying, extending, even critiquing the group, to further illustrate for readers how talk of origins in the present is so much more interesting that being preoccupied with long past origins themselves.
The volume, like all books in the Working with Culture on the Edge series, is introduced and concluded by original, theoretically challenging but engaging essays. It provides a selection of ten main articles which draw on a variety of examples to make the case, followed by original commentaries on each, all of which are pithy but substantive. Although not a textbook, and while challenging for any reader unaccustomed to making the switch from origins to the discourse on origins, Fabricating Origins is especially aimed at the early career reader. The volume therefore includes an annotated set of suggested readings on how to rethink origins as the product of contemporary and always tactically useful talk and action.
Announcement: Job Posting for Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
The Chair of Religious Studies (Prof. Dr. Robert Yelle) in the Faculty for Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Religious Studies at LMU Munich, seeks beginning with October 1, 2015: A scientific co-worker (PhD candidate—part time 65%).
- Research on your own PhD project and in the general field of the Chair.
- Teaching in the amount of 3.25 semester hours, as well as student advising.
- Active participation in the administration of the academic program.
- Scientific development is an intergral component of the work and will be actively supported.
For more information please see this pdf.