Understanding Our Present Moment

My colleague tweeted the following the other day:

It was a bit tongue-in-cheek to be sure, but it made a good point, I think, as he elaborated in a few tweets that followed, such as his claim that “religious studies has theorized myth since its foundation & has a set of theoretical tools useful in the case of confederate monuments.” Continue reading

Constructing Judaism and Claiming Christianity: Modern Jewish Philosophy in an Age of Theory

Creator: Doré, Gustave, 1832-1883., French.; Date: 1856.; Material: wood engraving on wove paper; Measurements: sheet: 55 x 38.9 cm. ; image: 39 x 30.2 cm.; Repository: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Dept. of Prints, Drawings and Photographs.; Williamstown, Mass.; 1977.55B.; http://www.clarkart.edu

Creator: Doré, Gustave, 1832-1883., French.; Date: 1856.; Material: wood engraving on wove paper; Measurements: sheet: 55 x 38.9 cm. ; image: 39 x 30.2 cm.; Repository: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Dept. of Prints, Drawings and Photographs.; Williamstown, Mass.; 1977.55B.; http://www.clarkart.edu

Robert Erlewine is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University where he teaches courses related to philosophy of religion and Judaism. He is the author of two monographs, Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010) and Judaism and the West: From Hermann Cohen to Joseph Soloveitchik (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016).

In recent years, in the academic study of religion there have been rather public disputes about the nature of religious studies. Russell McCutcheon and William Arnal note an important sea-change that seems to have taken place in the field over the last few decades, that there has been a “widespread turn from practicing [religious studies] as if it was a branch of the history of ideas toward studying what is now known as ‘religion on the ground’ or ‘material religion.’” This shift “estranges former close relationships with our cousins in philosophy and, instead, forges affinities with our new friends, the social anthropologists and culture studies.” What does this change in religious studies mean for more philosophically oriented sub-disciplines — other than shrinking job prospects for young scholars? Can recent developments in theories and methods enable a rethinking of subfields in religious studies that remain close to philosophy departments?

Rethinkings that can generate energy and foster vitality? Continue reading

What It Gives With One Hand….

timeenoughI found this over at the Huffington Post this morning — an announcement for a new HarvardX (part of edX) course on religious literacy.

The course is described as follows: Continue reading

Forms and Dimensions and Manifestations — Oh My!

sociologyofreligion2sociologyofreligionSo opens the Wikipedia article on the sociology of religion (presumably poaching the text straight from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research), echoing the language of the US’s Association for the Sociology of Religion (their journal Sociology of Religion — now in its 76th year — is published by Oxford University Press) whose members, as stated in its Constitution, study:

religion in all its social and cultural dimensions.

Continue reading

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. Continue reading

One Bad Apple Don’t Spoil the Whole Bunch

juggalosIn the news this past week was the FBI’s classification of the fans — the so-called Juggalos — of the hip hop duo, Insane Clown Posse (ICP), as members of a gang (a classification that allows law enforcement greater freedoms). The group is now suing the FBI. Continue reading