Gurdjieff and the Study of Contemporary Religion

David Robertson speaks to two remarkable scholars, Carole Cusack and Steven Sutcliffe, on the significance of G. I. Gurdjieff to the study of religion. How do we approach figures like Gurdjieff whose legacies (and archives) are tightly controlled by their followers, and who often aren’t seen as worthy of study by the academy and publishers?

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  • “For a Secret Teaching, They Sure Do Write A Lot About It” – Is There a Gurdjieff Studies or only a Gurdjieff Industry?

    While there is little disagreement as to the basic content of Gurdjieff’s spiritual teaching, there is currently no concrete proposal about the place of Gurdjieff within the broadly scientific study of religions.

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    Posted in Features by David Pecotic

    Religious Authority in a Post-Religious Society

    Since the 1980s, social and economic pressures to stay within mainstream society have become more prominent, and spiritually minded individuals often seek more limited, loosely bonded participation in New Age-style modes of thought.

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    Posted in Features by Avery Morrow

    Religion and Authority in Asia

    Given its contextual and perspectival malleability, the notion of ‘authority’, and even more so of ‘religious authority’, is challenging to define and to study. In today’s interview with Paulina Kolata, Dr Erica Baffelli discusses the notion of authority and charismatic leadership in the context of her research on New and ‘New’ New religions in contemporary Japan.

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    The Gamrie Brethren: At the Heart of Cosmic Struggle and the Fringes of the Imagined Community, By Liam Sutherland

    I hope I can place Webster’s research [on the Scottish Brethren] in the wider social and historical context, the ‘national level’ alongside the ‘local’ and ‘global’ ones.

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    The Brethren in Scotland

    Gardenstoun is a fishing village in the North-East of Scotland with a population of only 700 and six churches, four of which are branches of the Plymouth Brethren. Anthropology “at home” – within our own culture, rather than that of some exotic Other – undermines many of the assumptions that the study of religion is based upon, and has the power to make “the strange familiar, and the familiar strange”.

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    Pilgrimage as Tension, By Alex Norman

    The reasons people might go on what they call ‘a pilgrimage’ are complex. Amusement may be as important as communion, escape from everyday life as important as prayer. But, and this is an important point that does not come up in the interview, they may not be the reasons a person may give when asked by fieldworking scholars.

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    Posted in Features by Alex Norman

    Where are you going…and Are you a Pilgrim?, by Claire Miller Skriletz

    What is a pilgrim? Who is a pilgrim? Simply visiting a shrine, cathedral, temple, or other ‘sacred’ site cannot be the defining characteristic.

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    Pilgrimage in Japan and beyond: An interview with Ian Reader, part 2

    Professor Ian Reader discusses his publication ‘Pilgrimage in the Marketplace’, which explores the very ‘worldly’ conditions of development, popularisation, and ultimately, survival of pilgrimage centres in connection to the dynamics of the marketplace through which the ‘sacred’ as a category can be sustained. In this interview, Ian offers an insight into the meaning of pilgrimage, particularly in the Japanese context, and discusses the competitiveness of the pilgrimage market, the practice’s connection to tourism, playfulness of religion, and the survival of pilgrimage practice.

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    Pilgrimage in Japan and beyond: An interview with Ian Reader, part 1

    Professor Ian Reader discusses his publication ‘Pilgrimage in the Marketplace’, which explores the very ‘worldly’ conditions of development, popularisation, and ultimately, survival of pilgrimage centres in connection to the dynamics of the marketplace through which the ‘sacred’ as a category can be sustained. In this interview, Ian offers an insight into the meaning of pilgrimage, particularly in the Japanese context, and discusses the competitiveness of the pilgrimage market, the practice’s connection to tourism, playfulness of religion, and the survival of pilgrimage practice.

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    Measuring Secularity, by Jacqui Frost

    While often rigorously testing for variance among the religious, many studies treat the irreligious as if they have a static identity, resulting in an elision of the range of beliefs and behaviors that have been found within this growing group.

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    Posted in Features by Jacqui Frost

    Understanding the secular, with Phil Zuckerman and John Shook

    Making their own contributions to the discourse, Shook and Zuckerman briefly discuss the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Secularism they are co-editing, the growing field of secular studies, what it might mean to ’be secular‘, different secularisms, and offer up two different views of the relationship between categories such as ’religion‘ and ’secular‘.

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    African, Christian… Fake? Explorations in Religious Authenticity, By Emily Stratton

    When Adogame rhetorically asks, “which kind of Christianity is authentic,” he implies that conversations on religious authenticity revolve around evaluating various strains of interpretation and practice. Or, put another way, that religious authenticity is a matter of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But is it?

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    Posted in Features by Emily Stratton

    African Christianity in the West: An Interview with Afe Adogame

    ‘Africa’. ‘Christianity’. ‘The West’. Three seemingly simple terms with clear referents. Three categories which – perhaps unsurprisingly, to regular listeners of the RSP – have been, and continue to be, associated with and invoked in support of myriad competing agendas, truth claims, ideologies, and more. In this interview with Chris, Dr Afe Adogame of the University of Edinburgh provides a stimulating introduction to this vast and complicated triad.

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    Christmas Special 2014 – MasterBrain!

    Photo by Bettina Schmidt

    There are some traditions that make this time of the year special. End-of-year listicles, the “War on Christmas” debate, animations of elves dancing with your family’s heads pasted on… and of course, the RSP “Christmas” Special!

    Photo by Bettina Schmidt

    This year, Jonathan Tuckett is your host

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