Tag: Critical Thinking

Is Guru Ravidas English?

Casey A’Hearn completed their MA in Religion in Culture from the department in May 2024 and will be starting their PhD at Princeton in August 2024. In 2008, a group of Ravidassia practitioners held a parade in Bedford, England to celebrate the birthday of Guru Ravidas. It was this image taken by Mr. Simon Speed that caught my attention. I am not a scholar of Ravidassia, nor am I particularly familiar with their traditions. But I have learned that they […]

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Unexpected Paths to Intended Outcomes: Using Digital Tools in Religious Studies

young man in crimson white Alabama band uniform, standing in formation in football stadium

What happens when a Criminology and Criminal Justice major takes a Religious Studies class? Well, forDrake Jones, a new major and new perspectives were in store. Drake, one of our majors expecting to graduate this fall (and a trombone player in the Million Dollar Band), came to REL for Dr. Richard Newton’s African Diaspora class in the Spring of 2023. With this class, he contributed significantly to the ongoing effort to digitize and analyze data related to the Decoding Diaspora […]

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Taylor Swift, Gameday, and Church

Taylor Swift in green dress on stage with backup singers at Eras concert, fans in background

Taylor Swift’s concert tour has generated significant attention with heartwarming stories of supportive parents, marriage proposals, and the like, along with lots of memes. One author compared the experience with group singing in worship settings, calling the concert “The Church of Taylor Swift”. The post certainly touches on an important element within both Taylor Swift concerts and congregational worship, the experience of group singing. However, thinking critically about who creates the comparison, based on what assumptions, and for what ends […]

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The Relevance of Religious Studies is Not that We Study Religion

Jacob Barrett is a first year M.A. student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. From Colorado Springs, he earned his B.A. from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Philosophy & Religion and Biology. In the Spring he will present his research at the southeast regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Junior year of my undergraduate degree, I was asked by the chair of the Religious Studies department to represent the major at an event where […]

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The Ins and Outs of Archival Research

Prof. Nathan Loewen received funding from the University of Alabama, a while back, to conduct archival research on the Derrida Papers in Irvine, California. So REL MA student, Morgan Frick, posed a few questions to him about what all that archival work entails. Morgan: What was the project and how did you hope to improve your research with this archival work? Nathan: In 2016-17, I was really fortunate to be funded by the Research Grants Committee at UA. My position at […]

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Navigating a Diverse World Critically

The World Religions course is a fabulous opportunity to teach students to think critically about the various representations of the world’s religious traditions. With the critique of the world religions paradigm and its colonial roots (see Masuzawa’s Invention fo World Religions), as well as problematic assumptions contained in any singular description of world religions (see, for example, my Culture on the Edge post The Harm of World Religions), it is vital to challenge singular narratives and to help our students […]

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Always Look at Who’s Talking

As the AAR presents its newly drafted Religious Literacy Guidelines, Sierra Lawson (BA ’17, MA ’19) and Prof. Steven Ramey return to their research on the implications of classification to raise important questions about the politics and consequences of such a framing. Religious literacy, which typically refers to knowledge about religions, differences between religions, and diversity within each religion, can reinforce problematic claims about social groups (as evident in the chart reproduced above). Useful knowledge can easily become harmful, especially […]

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