Astrology

If statistics are to be believed, close to 100% of people in the UK know their astrological sun-sign. But what is astrology, exactly? Is it merely a “survival” from the medieval worldview, and what is its relationship to modernity and scientific thought? Most pertinently, does it have something profound to tell us about the nature of popular belief, or vernacular religion?
Astrology
David Robertson
nick campion
podcasts
Popular Religion
vernacular religion

Book Reviews

When we were contacted earlier this year by a couple of publishers asking if we’d be interested in reviewing books, we immediately thought “Yes – but how?” We’re not a journal, and didn’t want to do the traditional journal review, but we do love books, and especially talking about them. So when Chris suggested we could combine several reviews into a roundtable format, ...
Christopher Cotter
craig martin
David Goodhew
David Robertson
david wilson
Jonathan Tuckett
marion bowman
R. Scott Smith
reviews
Ule Valk

What is the Public Benefit of the Study of Religion?

Does the public benefit from the social-scientific study of religion? Should it? How do we demonstrate benefit, measure it, communicate it? What are the practical and theoretical issues surrounding the idea of how the study of religion can operate in the, or perhaps as a, public good? For that matter, what do we mean by ‘public’ or ‘benefit’?
Bettina Schmidt
gordon melton
INFORM
marion bowman
Naomi Goldenberg
nick campion
podcasts
public benefit
Suzanne Owen
tim jensen

Brian Victoria on Zen Buddhist Terrorism and Holy War

Is there something particular about religion which makes it a more potent ‘violence enabling mechanism’ than other factors? Are some religions more likely to inspire violence than others? And why should scholars even care? In this interview, Chris discusses these issues and more with Professor Brian Victoria, who, in addition to his scholarly credentials, is a fully ordained Zen Buddhist priest.
Brian Victoria
Buddhism
Holy War
Terrorism
violence
War
Zen

Rudolf Otto

Rudolf Otto was a highly influential figure in the history of Religious Studies, but whether that influence was for good or not is a debatable issue. His ideas about the sui generis nature of the religious experience and of an irreductible numinous or sacred foreshadow the work of scholars such as Eliade, but proved highly divisive for scholars and practitioners alike.
Jonathan Tuckett
numinous
philosophy of religion
podcasts
robert orsi
rudolf otto
Sacred
the Holy

The Sacred

Religion and the Sacred, the Sacred and religion. Two words that seemingly go together like hand in glove but just how accurate is that? When we talk about religion it’s very hard not to talk about the Sacred but when we talk about the Sacred does this mean we have to talk about religion? What does the Sacred even mean? This introduction began with “Sacred” but it may well be more appropriate to write “sacred”.
Durkheim
gordon lynch
Jonathan Tuckett
podcasts
Sacred
Sociology

Druidry and the Definition of Religion

Contemporary Druidry often presents itself as the native spirituality of the British Isles. However, there is not one form of Druidry and there are also significant numbers of Christian and atheist Druids as well as those that combine Druidry with Wiccan or other perspectives and practices. From international organisations to local ‘groves’, there are diverse types of Druid groups, ...
Charity
Christopher Cotter
David Robertson
Definition
Druidry
Indigeneity
Law
Paganism
religion
Rowan Williams
Suzanne Owen
UK
Wicca

Wouter Hanegraaff on Western Esotericism

In this interview, Professor Wouter Hanegraaff tells us about what he dubs “the biggest blank spaces of neglected territories in the study of religion”, namely Western esotericism. He tells how he first came over the German Folklorist Will-Erich Peuckert’s book Pansophie (1936) and discovered a group of renaissance thinkers he had never heard of, ...
academia
Accessibility
Esotericism
knut melvaer
podcasts
religion
Religious Studies
Western Esotericism
Wouter Hanegraaff

J. Gordon Melton on American Millennialism

Why is it that millennialism - the belief in an immanent return of Christ to Earth – has had such a particular fascination for the American people? Millennial prophecy is often analysed with relation to violence and minority “cults”, but it is also infused into everyday discourse, in the rhetoric of politicians and the “rolling prophecy” of talk radio hosts. In this wide-ranging interview, ...
branch davidians
David Robertson
gordon melton
great disappointment
jehovah's witnesses
millennialism
millerites
Mormonism
prophecy

Non-religion

It is fast becoming a tradition in ‘nonreligion’ research to acknowledge that Colin Campbell’s seminal call in Toward a Sociology of Irreligion (1971) for a widespread sociological analysis’ of ‘nonreligion’ had until very recently been ignored (Bullivant and Lee 2012). Although there has been a steady stream of output on secularisation, and more recently on atheism, ...
Atheism
Christopher Cotter
Definition
Ethan Quillen
lois lee
Nonreligion
nsrn
podcasts
Secularism

Digital Religion

The digital realm is a dark continent in which the standard practices of methodology and theory find themselves tested by a whole new landscape. To introduce us to the vast array of topics Tim Hutchings provides us with an introductory discussion into the world of digital religion. We discuss the ways in which religion is finding itself in the digital realm and how this new format of expression differs from its real world iterations.
Digital Religion
History
Jonathan Tuckett
Sociology
Tim Hutchings

Religion, Space and Locality

Over the past decade or so, the academic study of religion has become infused with a (re-)appreciation of the importance and impact of space, place and location upon its field of study. Of course, scholars have for a long time been aware of the need to situate ‘religion’ in context, however, the spatial analysis goes far beyond mere description of physical or cultural spaces, ...
Christopher Cotter
Embodiment
Kim Knott
lancaster
Location
Materiality
Place
religion
Space

Why are Women more Religious than Men?

The relationship of religion to gender is a highly complex and disputed area. However, it is well-documented that (to take some UK-based examples), ‘men are proportionately under-represented’ in (mainstream ‘Christian’) ‘religious’ services, and ‘women outnumber men on all indices of religiosity and spirituality’. In fact, Marta Trzebiatowska and Steve Bruce, ...
Christopher Cotter
gender
Marta Trzebiatowska
men
religion
Secularization
Sociology
women

Material Religion

"...religion happens in material culture - images, devotional and liturgical objects, architecture and sacred space, works of arts and mass-produced artifacts. No less important than these material forms are the many different practices that put them to work. Ritual, communication, ceremony, instruction, meditation, propaganda, pilgrimage, display, magic,...
Christopher Cotter
Culture
David Morgan
Embodiment
Material Religion
religion
Sacred
Space

Roundtable: Building an Academic Career

During her recent trip to the UK, the Religious Studies Project managed (with the promise of copious Pink Gin) to persuade Professor Carole Cusack to take part in a roundtable discussion. She suggested that we discuss how to build an academic career – advice which she has been generous with to many people in the past. That having been agreed, ...
academia
advice
Career
Carole Cusack
Christopher Cotter
Conferences
David Robertson
Jonathan Tuckett
Journals
Kevin Whitesides
louise connelly
networking
Publishing
teaching