August 19, 2013

NSRN Annual Lecture 2012 – Matthew Engelke: In spite of Christianity

We’re delighted to bring you a bonus podcast during our summer break – we’ll be back to our normal weekly schedule by mid-September. This is a recording of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network’s Annual Lecture 2012 with Matthew Engelke, recorded in London in November 2012. This comes as part of a continuing relationship between the NSRN and the RS Project – we have previously released recordings of their Annual Lecture 2011, with Jonathan Lanman, and the four keynote lectures from the NSRN Biennial Conference, July 2012. These recordings are available here.

Details of Matthew Engelke’s lecture are given below. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you can also download this podcast, and subscribe to receive it weekly, on iTunes. And if you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us, or use our Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com link to support us when buying your important books etc. And don’t forget that you still have time to submit questions for our Psychology of Religion Panel Session at the International Association for the Psychology of Religion World Congress.

In spite of Christianity: Humanism and its others in contemporary Britain – Dr Matthew Engelke

matthew-engelkeWhat do we talk about when we talk about religion? What do we recognize as essential and specific to any given faith, and why? In this lecture, I address these questions by drawing on fieldwork among humanists in Britain, paying particular attention to humanism’s relation to Christianity. In one way or another, humanists often position themselves in relation to Christianity. In a basic way, this has to do with humanists’ commitment to secularism—the differentiation of church and state. In more complex ways, though, it also has to do with an effort to move “beyond” Christianity—to encourage a world in which reason takes the place of revelation—while often, at the same time, recognizing what’s worth saving and even fostering from the legacies of faith. All these various relations and perspectives suggest how we should understand social life in contemporary Britain as what it is in spite of Christianity—and not.

Dr. Engelke has recently completed a year of ethnographic fieldwork in the offices of the British Humanist Association [BHA] and is soon to publish his findings. As part of this research project Dr Engelke worked with BHA accredited celebrants and also trained as a funeral celebrant. This work leads the way for a happily increasing number of similar research projects and this will be further encouraged by the recent launch the Programme for the Study of Religion and Nonreligion at LSE, which is coordinated by Dr. Engelke .

The full text of this lecture is available to download here.

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