Demons, possessions, and exorcisms: Sean McCloud on “Spiritual Warfare”

How should one approach the study of demons and spiritual warfare? In this conversation with University of North Carolina, Charlotte professor Sean McCloud, demons, possessions, and exorcisms that might have once been considered fringe or marginal elements of the American religious scene are now part of a robust “haunted” or supernatural landscape.

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  • Psychology of What? Religion, Spirituality, or Meaning: In Search of a Proper Name for The Field of Psychology of Religion, by Sevde Düzgüner

    In many writings, the term spirituality is credited with the positive and the term religiosity is credited with the negative. Dr. Schnell shifts the focus from the content and valence of these concepts to how valuable these concepts are for individuals.

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    Sources of Meaning and Meaning in Life – An interview with Tatjana Schnell

    Recently, scholars have placed the concept of ‘meaning making’ as an important area of focus within psychology of religion. Some people find meaning in religious or spiritual experience and beliefs while others find meaning on more secular mediums in life. However, if humans are truly on a “search for meaning”, as Frankl has argued, what might be some of the sources of such meaning?

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    Welcome to the Theological Dispatch!

    BREAKING NEWS: Today, the RSP is “born again” – as the Theological Dispatch.

    Due to a huge donation from the Templeton Foundation, we are now going in a slightly different direction. As of today, our mandate is to investigate how religion and spirituality brings positive change to society, and helps make

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    THATCamp Roundtable on Digital Religious Studies

    What does it mean to teach or research religious studies digitally?
    Does religious “data” make digital religious studies distinct within the digital humanities?
    What is a digital religious studies research project you think more people should know about?
    How can departments and the field better support digital methods and pedagogies?

    Six scholars gathered at the AAR’s groundbreaking THATCamp to discuss these questions and more!

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    The Collaborative Experience of Religion and Health Research, by Kevin Halvorsen

    I am beginning to worry that clergy feeling the need to conduct their own research to prove their value in healthcare settings may be a sign that the faithful are starting to identify with (or at least play by the rules of) their scientific captors.

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    ‘Religion, Spirituality and Health’ – An interview with Dr. Harold Koenig

    Religion, spiritualty and health – oh my! In this day and age, we might be inclined to ask if these three words, when combined, can contribute anything resembling a positive health outcome. In other words, can being religious or spiritual actually contribute to an individual’s overall health? Dr. Koenig answers the questions with a resounding yes!

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    Roundtable on Religious Studies and Academic Credibility beyond ‘World Religions’

    A while back a few of us gathered for what became the first of a ‘successful’ bout of roundtables conducted by a cadre of ‘amazing people’ with differing and ‘unique’ opinions. In that first ‘test’ for the ones that would follow, six of us gathered together to discuss the ‘future of religious studies.’

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    “Would You Still Call Yourself an Asianist?” An interview with Steven Ramey

    Over the course of Ramey’s career he has gradually and smoothly made a significant shift. Of course he still studies material relevant to his earlier training, but a shift in research focus from inter-religious cooperation to diaspora religion, eventually studying south Asian communities in the U.S. south, led the way to a far broader interest not only in social theory but in the practical implications of categorization for creating identities.

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    Habermas and the Problem with the ‘Problem’ of Religion in Public Discourse, by Daniel Silliman

    The starting assumption is that religious people will be fundamentally unable to speak to those who don’t share their faith. But why start with the assumption that translation will be a problem?

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    Michele Dillon on Habermas, Religion and the Post-Secular

    Habermas mostly ignored religion, contending that it was not rational enough to be included in public debate. But over the past decade, he has begun to reexamine religion in light of its persistence in the modern world, calling this a turn toward post-secular society. He argues that religion deserves a place in public debate, but that religious people need to translate their views into rational, secular language if they want to participate in the public sphere.

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    An Outline of Norenzayan’s ‘Big Gods,’ by Michael Doane

    When belief in God was distilled into belief in a mean God (i.e., vengeful, and punishing) versus belief in a nice God (i.e., compassionate and forgiving), participants endorsing a mean-God concept were less likely to cheat relative to nice-God supporters.

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    Ara Norenzayan on ‘Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict’

    Big Gods: 1. Watched people are nice people, 2. Religion is more in the situation than in the person, 3. Hell is stronger than heaven, 4. Trust people who trust in God, 5. Religious actions speak louder than words, 6. Unworshipped Gods are impotent Gods, 7. Big Gods for Big Groups, 8. Religious groups cooperate in order to compete.

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    Religion in the Age of Cyborgs, by Egil Asprem

    What happens to religion if the future belongs to the cyborgs?

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    Merlin Donald on Ritual, Religion, and the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Culture

    Cognitive neuroscientist Merlin Donald discusses the role of ritual in human evolution, and its continued importance in all forms of society and culture. In this interview, Professor Donald outlines his perspective on the evolution of human cognition, and the importance of both embodied communication and mind-sharing networks. He is then asked about the way in which his work has been used in Robert Bellah’s landmark study, Religion in Human Evolution (2011).

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