Could the difficulties associated with the academic conceptualisation of “religion” be overcome by changing our focus instead to “the sacred”? Jay Demerath tells Chris why we should define religion substantively – that is, in terms of specific attributes like rituals, deities or dogmas – but the sacred in terms of the function it serves in the lives of individuals and cultures. From this perspective, religion can be considered one of a number of potential sources of the sacred.
Like with many of Grace Davie’s conceptualizations, the notion of “vicarious religion” is destined to garner much attention and debate. I must admit that when I first read about it, I rolled my eyes without really knowing why. Perhaps I predicted that the same puddle of ink would be spilt
“My intentions rather are to assist applicants to understand a little better what all is involved in evaluating applicants for a position, and perhaps to help applicants prepare themselves better to participate in the application and interview processes.”
In the 1960s, most sociologists consciously or unconsciously bought into idea of the ‘death of god’ – religion became effectively invisible to academia. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, a number of events – most notably the ‘Satanic Verses’ controversy – dramatically increased the ‘visibility’ of religion: it became a political problem. Now, in the 21st century, religion is increasingly being construed by politicians, educators, the media etc, as a useful resource to be exploited. In this interview, Professor Davie discusses the place of religion in modern Europe, paying particular attention to the place of the United Kingdom within the European context.
Meeting at the crossroads of public and private: sexuality and religion
By Jillian Scott.
Published by the Religious Studies Project, on 24 February 2012 in response to the Religious Studies Project Interview with Sarah Jane-Page on Youth, Sexuality and Religion (27 February 2012).
In a recent podcast on Youth, Sexuality and Religion, Dr
By Russell T. McCutcheon, University of Alabama
Too many graduate students seem unprepared for what awaits them once they complete their dissertations. Sadly, in many cases their professors seem not to have considered it to be their responsibility to provide them with some of the tools necessary for navigating the job
The Religion, Youth and Sexuality: A Multi-faith Exploration project, based at the University of Nottingham, looked at 18 to 25 year-olds from a variety of faith backgrounds in order to understand attitudes and practices around sexuality and how this was negotiated in relation to religious traditions. Dr Sarah-Jane Page, one of the research fellows, talks to Chris about the project’s findings, which were sometimes surprising. Religion is found to be a significant influence, but one influence among a number of others.
“What my own position may speak to is the categorisation of “religion”; when talked of in isolation, “religion” remains something fixed and visible. But in fact it intersects heavily across cultural domains, and having been in this ‘piggy in the middle’ situation, it is interesting to note the Christian heritage which is shared both by my family, myself and my non-religious participants: we are all insiders to a point.”
Today marks a special occasion in the life of The Religious Studies Project – we’re giving our first ‘talk’. As part of Innovative Learning Week at the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, we’re presenting a session where students and staff can come and learn a bit more
“Over the last few years, I’ve compiled a fairly large number of resources and points of advice that I offer [undergraduate] students. While some of the advice is biased by the particular field (psychology) and degree-type (PhD at a US research intensive institution) I have chosen, I think that there are some common elements that can be adapted to any field.”
The Insider/Outsider problem, relating to where scholars position themselves relating to the subject matter (whatever that may be), is one of the most perennial problems in the academic study of religion. Does one have to be a member of a community for your testimony about that community to be valid? Or does your membership of the community invalidate your objectivity? Does an academic training permanently exclude you from insider status regardless of your personal ‘beliefs’ or sense of belonging? These questions and many more form part of the theoretical backdrop for this interview with Dr Chryssides.
An Evaluation of Harvey’s Approach to Animism and the Tylorian Legacy
By Liam Sutherland, University of Edinburgh
Published by the Religious Studies Project, on 17 February 2012 in response to the Religious Studies Project Interview with Graham Harvey on Animism (13 February 2012).
The interview with Graham Harvey on Animism was of particular
“Managing your bibliography is one of the most essential skills you can develop as an academic. For some, the system will be a matter of organised chaos; a personalised mess of paper, online files, post-it notes which makes sense to you and only you. And that’s fine. In the end, no one else needs to understand your system for organising your personal reference library. For others, there will be a complex system of neatly ordered cards or word-processed documents. And for others, like me, there will be bibliographic software.”
We decided when we launched the Religious Studies Project that we wanted to have a reasonable amount of content available on the site before we started a major publicity push. Now that we have published our fifth podcast – David’s interview with Graham Harvey – we are ready to start
Animism is often taken as referring to worldviews in which spirits are to be found not only in humans, but potentially in animals, in plants, in mountains and even natural forces like the wind. It was of central importance in early anthropological conceptions of religion, most notably in the work of E. B. Tylor. More recently, however, Graham Harvey has challenged the traditional conception of animism, seeking to understand it as “relational epistemologies and ontologies”; in other words, it is a way of living in a community of persons, most of whom are other-than-human.