Category Archives: Features

In this interview on ‘Studying Tantra from the Inside and Out’, Douglas R Brooks allows the listener an insight into his own personal and academic development, and an account of how various factors led him to the study of South Indian Shrividya Shakta Tantrism. There are many interesting elements to

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Paths need not be linear nor our place on them stagnant, rather we can draw from the past and draw it into the present moment, revisiting and revising as we ask new questions in enduring, and uniting, struggles over ethics in sexuality and beyond.

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I can’t help but see the parallels between the Peruvian religious and political history which Fonseca outlines in his interview and the events currently taking place in the United States where religion and politics are more intricately entwined than ever before by a minority Far-Right Conservative Christian movement and its dominant media presence. This intriguing parallel makes Fonseca’s interview timely and important as history repeats itself.

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Claiming that social deficit increases religious belief is also hard without presupposing that some belief was already there. Compensating lack of social interactions by interacting with an invisible, divine, being is easier if the individual already has some prior belief. Without it, jumping to beliefs in invisible beings seems a long jump. Misattributing agency also comes a lot easier if the individual already has some idea about the agent to whom actions can be attributed.

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The Religious Studies Project in the UK and State of Formation in the US stand out as two exemplary religious studies projects, often, as with these two, in collaboration with other universities, (as opposed to individual departments or programmes) that utilise social media daily to reach and interact with their intended audience.

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Extensive research has been conducted by psychologists, and continues to be conducted, exploring beliefs, values and perceptions. However, despite being a central part of the lives of so many people, religion and spirituality continues to be a fringe concern for many psychologists – perhaps because they are frequently perceived as being unscientific.

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One link between yogic practice and museums may come from viewing yogis, yoga teachers, and yoga promoters as performing work comparable to museums in the nearly century and a half history of modern yoga’s global spread. As museums curate, exhibit, frame, spotlight, and annotate their works to an anticipated audience, yoga has similarly been consciously displayed and promoted. Modern yoga’s history can be emplotted through the way it has exhibited itself.

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Using humour to understand in-group dynamics is especially important in this case since McIntyre’s case studies (LDS and evangelicals) are tight-knit communities that can see themselves as set apart from the rest of the world. As such, their in-group solidarity is particularly important for understanding how they construct their popular culture, which in turn supports their religious worlds. McIntyre makes an astute observation that in-group religious comedy is similar to popular music within these subcultures.

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Every discipline has both power and responsibility to contribute to the dismantling of the Patriarchy by declaring its valorization of avarice, egotism, and violence to be wrong. The particular duty and power of religious studies and theology, is to point out that that valorization is hypocritical—that the culture of Patriarchy is itself inimical to the values of the sacred social order from which it claims its authority and for which it claims to offer protection

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The most evocative question raised in the podcast’s conversation is whether yoga and art have something in common—a sort of contemplative aspect—that can help us understand something fundamental about the nature of the sacred. Sullivan is certainly correct in pointing out that art is not meant to be contemplated for its own sake in pre-modern India any more than in pre-modern Europe. Such an approach, if we are to call it spiritual, only makes sense from a modern metaphysical perspective—specifically one geared at the various modes of finding deeper meaning within the self.

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Finbarr Curtis’s recent book, The Production of American Religious Freedom (2016), defies easy categorization. Melding social theory, interpretive biography, revisionist intellectual history, literary analysis, film analysis, and the study of discourse and rhetoric, the book issues a much needed social constructionist inquiry into the largely taken-for-granted concept of “freedom” that

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The things that make us uncomfortable about the interaction is what is sometimes referred to as “the uncanny valley.” Most often this applies to robots who are supposed to look human, but can’t quite pull it off. But it seems appropriate to this interaction as well. You reach the uncanny valley when you get close to “almost human” in looks or interactions.

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Analysing religious affiliation, phenomenon, and experience from a social science approach can reveal far more than a narrow theological or thealogical analysis. Theologians and thealogians appear uninterested in examining religion as an ‘object of interest’ perhaps believing that this perspective denigrates the underlying theological beliefs of the phenomenon being investigated. When, in truth, social science and theology can offer much more when combined into a multidisciplinary approach.

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Fitting neatly within a complexity thesis tradition, Hameed employs what might be called normativizing nuance. By this I mean that by demonstrating the complexity/messiness of things “on the ground,” one version of a tradition can be delegitimized and/or another version of the tradition can be legitimized. In this sense, “Islam and science/evolution” has a great deal of resemblance to work on “Islam and violence.”

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While those that reject the concept of God can never associate the “higher power” with the divine, it is obviously still appropriate to explore whether a metaphysical force might lay behind it power and, if so, what it might be. After all the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in the late 1930s, are undeniably Christian.

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