Sacred

Response

Framing, Observing, and Exhibiting Yoga: A Response to Bruce Sullivan

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.
Podcast

New Horizons in the Sociology of Religion: Beyond Secularization?

In this longer-than-usual episode, Chris and David provide an interlinking narrative between Grace Davie, Joe Webster, Carole Cusack, Jonathan Jong, Paul-Francois Tremlett, Linda Woodhead and Kim Knott, reflecting on current or future developments in the sociology of religion which challenge the ubiquity of the secularization thesis, ...
Podcast

Researching Radicalisation

We discuss what we mean by 'radicalisation', and what its connections to socialisation, terrorism, and 'religion' might be. We take on the methodological question of how one might go about researching such a contested topic, and look specifically at some of Matthew's findings relating to the causes of radicalisation, and the neo-Durkheimian 'sacred'.
Response

The Truthiness of Consciousness as the Sacred

I find it our duty to walk the line that holds us from letting the veracity of a claim dictate our field’s observational models or orientations. A single informant’s truth is anecdote, not evidence. Seven or so minutes into David Robertson’s interview with Rice University’s Jeffrey Kripal, Kripal cuts to the heart of an issue that plagues contemporary religious studies scholars: Do we have the tools and will to seriously examine experiences of the fantastic in the present age?
Response

Human Consciousness & Religious Reality

Essentially, Kripal calls out the religious studies world for not having a sufficient appreciation of the power of imagination and invites scholars and the interested public into a new comparativism that moves away from strict materialism. It was real to me. There I was, curled into a corner, comforter wrapped around my shaking limbs and sweating torso, twisted in terror in the sinister hours of the morning.
Podcast

Emile Durkheim

"...a vital tradition of the study of religion is the Durkheimian intellectual tradition. Generally dismissed by many in the study of religion because of its supposedly narrow "sociological" bent, the school of scholarship represented by Émile Durkheim, Henri Hubert, Marcel Mauss, Louis Dumont, Roger Caillois, Georges Bataille and others is, ...
Response

A Field Little Plowed? The Study of Religion and the Built Environment Today

"[My dissertation] in Religious Studies [...] begins with the premise that the built environment has been over-emphasized to the detriment of other modes of creating and maintaining sacred space." Let me begin with a mythological allusion. The Roman god Janus was often depicted with two faces to signify his interstitial nature. He looked into the future and past, and oversaw beginnings and endings.
Response

A Brief Re-Examination of the Concept of Belief in the Study of Religion

"Belief [...] can be used as a concept to bridge [...] frameworks, to allow scholars to understand and appreciate the framework within which religious actors presume to act without using it themselves (or necessarily having to adopt it)." The work of Professor Martin Stringer is a breath of fresh air for all those who reject both the simplistic belief-centred approach to religion and its attendant backlash.
Response

Why should we keep paying attention to Otto?

"Is it necessary, helpful even, to only study religion if you are not religious? Does the secular scholar of, say Hinduism, stand to be a better scholar than another with the same training but who happens to personally be Hindu? Does having a personal involvement in the group that one is studying assist one in understanding Otto’s numinous?" In this interview with Robert Orsi, Religious Studies Professor from Northwestern University, Jonathon and Dr. Orsi discuss the seemingly evergreen writer Rudolf Otto.
Podcast

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.
Response

Secular Sacreds and the Sacred Secular

"Reframing understandings of (non)religion according to types of sacred which are independent of religious categories, allows (non)religious identities to be conceptualised to acknowledge the simultaneous intersection of multiple subjectively compatible (yet seemingly contradictory) religious and/or nonreligious identities, and paves the way for scholars to take religion seriously whilst avoiding unwarranted reverence."
Podcast

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”.
Podcast

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,...
Podcast

Editors’ Picks 3: Jay Demerath on Functionalist Religion and the Substantive Sacred

Week three of our Editors' Picks. Chris tells us why he (and his fiancée) liked Jay Demerath's interview on substantive and functionalist definitions of religion. Could the difficulties associated with the academic conceptualisation of “religion” be overcome by changing our focus instead to “the sacred”?
Response

Circular Academia: Navigating the Dangerous Waters of Term Re-Assignment

" In our contemporary world we tend to find ourselves more absent-mindedly sailing toward the yawning mouth of that swirling vortex known as “a definition of religion.” We need to be cautious with the application of new terms. We seem too often prone to kneejerk patchwork, slathering layer upon layer of temporary fixes, either impudent in our knowledge of foundational issues, or victims of deep denial. We long to resolve ambiguity by applying more ambiguity, when we should just dig up the foundation and rebuild."
Podcast

Substantive Religion and the Functionalist Sacred

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.