About Russell McCutcheon

Russell McCutcheon is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. Interested generally in issues of theory in the study of religion, and specifically in the social and political utility of the very term "religion" itself, he has worked at three different public universities in the US. He teaches a variety of courses -- from the intro course to theories of myth -- and continues his research on such topics as religion and modernity. He also has a dog, Izzy.


Jack knew a thing or two, like how to cope with a splitting headache after losing to a faculty member at badminton.

So we’ll see you later this afternoon, for pizza, birdies, and goodbye to the Spring semester (and, yes, hello exams and essay-writing). Check the REL FB page’s Event for details.

Oh, and by the way: BYO Bromo Seltzer.

Faculty Relinquish the Cup: Students Rejoice

Yes, it’s that time of year again — the Spring semester’s classes are winding down but the competitive spirit is ramping up, in preparation for the what is now almost a decade old tradition: the Manly Cup. Continue reading

A Lesson in Comparison

Yes, that’s the reaction Symone Sanders had to her fellow CNN commentator’s comments favorably comparing Donald Trump to Martin Luther King.

Didn’t catch this yesterday, or the fall out for much of the rest of the day? Continue reading

A Time to Mark Transitions

Yes, another Honors Day has come and gone; judging from the banners that we hang on our balcony this time each year, we’ve celebrated a few of them.

In fact, we might need to start hanging them on the third floor next year. Continue reading

A Lesson on Origins at #REL50th

Our 50th anniversary celebrations have come to an end (but we’ll post a fun fact each Monday for the rest of the semester) — and, if you ask me, it was a great success.

We filmed parts of it (i.e., the two faculty lectures, by Profs. Altman and Trost, and the opening to the next night’s Grad Tales panel — featuring five grads who returned to help mark the occasion [scroll down here to see who they were]); these movies are now being produced in the main office. They’ll probably be posted in a few weeks. Continue reading

Outlawed Violation of Human Rights or Protected Religious Practice?

Given the prominence of debates over classification in my classes I’m always on the look-out for a good e.g., something useful in getting us thinking about the interests driving classification systems and their practical effects — and, perhaps, illustrating how naming something as religion plays a role in all this. Continue reading

Yes, Patches O’Houlihan is My Pedagogical Mentor

You seen “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (2004)?


Well it provides some important pedagogical lessons. Continue reading

“Are You in There, Satan?”

Ok, on the heels of a post, earlier today, about explaining the behavior of turkeys, I just came across this video and a friend’s fun comment about this possibly being evidence of the gates of hell.

It’s in a cemetery, after all. Continue reading

“The Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Seen”

Over on social media the other day, I came across the following tweet, posted at NPR’s site.

My comment, used above as this post’s opening pic, wasn’t completely sarcastic. Continue reading

On Religion, Words, and Things: A Reply

Brent Nongbri, from whom this response was invited, is a Visiting Associate Professor at Aarhus University. He recently completed a three-year project at Macquarie University (sponsored by the Australian Research Council) that explored the earliest Christian manuscripts from a number of angles, focusing on issues of construction and dating as well as provenance and collection history. The results of the project will appear in his forthcoming book on the archaeology of the earliest Christian manuscripts.

I’m grateful to the curators of “Studying Religion in Culture” for this opportunity to reflect a bit on “words and things,” and I would also like to thank the previous posters in this series for their insightful contributions on this topic and on the problems and prospects of working with the concept of religion.

I’ll start off my own comments, however, on a word other than “religion.” Continue reading