It’s Alive

materialreligionThroughout times, also Christianity has manifested itself and has been manifested and lived out materially through objects, symbols, the body, and the environment…

So opens the call for papers for an upcoming conference in Finland — making pretty evident, I think, how current, seemingly cutting edge, scholarship on so-called embodied religion or material religion is just a repackaged version of (as I described it earlier this morning on a Facebook post, and as I’ve discussed here before and before that) old school phenomenology of religion.

For all we have to do is inquire just what disembodied thing (if “thing” is even the right word) is being embodied, and what immaterial thing is being materialized, and we soon hear replies that sound remarkably like the timeless essence and historical manifestation talk of a much older generation of scholar.

But a rose by any other name is still subject to the same biting critiques that have been leveled, over the past twenty years or more, at phenomenology’s anti-historical assumptions, no? So, to the enthused scholars now so keen to find the supposed life in bodies, I think it worth reconsidering just how cutting edge your work really is.