Welcome to the third issue of “Discourse”, where our editors and guests take a critical look at how the category “religion” is being used in the media, the public sphere, and the academic field.
In this episode, David Robertson is joined by Essi Mäkelä and Benjamin Marcus to discus everything from Finnish metal bands and the Pope, to Sabrina the Teenage Witch ripping off the Satanic Temple, to hijabs in the House of Representatives, to Trump supporters as a “cult”. In closing, we discuss the AAR’s newly-minted Mission Statement, and how that reflects what we see as our task as critical scholars of religion. (Links to news articles below)
(Be sure to check out the first and second episodes of “Discourse” too!)
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While it is often argued that the secularization thesis only referred to macro-level secularization – the separation of religion from other societal spheres in the process of functional differentiation (cf. e.g. Wilson 1998) – there is no way of denying that most specific secularization theories also refer to a loss of significance of religion on the individual level, explicitly or implicitly,
[I]t is notable how infrequently religion appears as a major theme in the personal lives of famous science fiction authors and how many, including those for whom religion is a major theme in their work, are themselves either atheists or practitioners of idiosyncratic or unorganized alternative spiritualities...
Publish, or be damned! But the world of publishing can be esoteric, especially the cloistered world of academic publishing. In this special roundtable discussion, recorded during the 2012 Australian Association for the Study of Religion annual conference, Zoe Alderton leads a group of academics with experience of all levels of academic publishing in a discussion which aims to demystify the process.
Angels seem always to break boundaries. Neither human nor god, male nor female, whether Christian or otherwise, angels seem always to have functioned as representatives of an unruly popular religious impulse which seems to sit just below the elite constructions with which the study of religion has traditionally concerned itself.
After the keynote, at the EASR, guest interviewer George Ioannides had the opportunity to meet with Professor Meyer to discuss her work, her career, her views on the importance of studying religion and/as material and visual culture, and her advice for students who similarly wish to research topics at the intersection of cultural anthropology and the study of religion.
"Religions are belief systems", "Religions are intrinsically violent", "Religion is Bullshit"... these are just some of the pervasive cliches that we might hear from time to time in the English-speaking world about our central topic of discussion on the RSP, 'religion'.
From piyyutim to zemirot to Yeshiva acapella groups in the United States, the use of music in the Jewish faith is numerous and varied. In this interview, Breann Fallon of the Sydney Jewish Museum chats to Dr Ruth Illman of Åbo Akademi University and Uppsala Universityi n about her research on the role of music as an agent of change within the progressive Jewish community in London that appears in her most recent monograph Music and Religious Change among Progressive Jews in London: Being Liberal and Doing Traditional. In particular, Dr Illman discusses the power of music to fuse the traditional and the liberal in a forward movement of progressive Judaism.
Vernacular religion is a subject which fascinates us here at the RSP, because in keeping with our critical perspective, it challenges that idea that neat categorical boundaries may be drawn, and reminds us that when attempts are made to draw them, particular interests are being served.
"There's always the risk in popular culture studies - first of all, it's so fluid, you know, things change so fast - that the minute you've said something, it's obsolete. And there's always the risk that the material can't bear the weight of analysis," said Kate McCarthy in 2013, shortly after the re-release of her co-edited volume God in the Details. However, ...
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