As I mentioned briefly yesterday in a post, I was recently a respondent on a panel at our field’s main annual conference; the panel was devoted to whether there could be a consolidation of different trends in inter-religious/interfaith dialogue. Now, this is not what I work on and, as I made plain in my response, my own work would take those who aim toward identifying so-called mutual understanding across religions as being themselves an object of study, inasmuch as it represents but one position along a complex continuum — after all, not every so-called religious person wants to talk to others; for some want to convert them while others may either ignore those who strike them as different or, yes, do something rather worse.
So I see no reason to champion but one of these many positions when I could, instead, study each of them as differing responses to, well…, difference. Continue reading →
Listening to a radio story this morning, on a church in Denver that prides itself on being diverse and on the social/political edge — one that, predictably, aims to “create an authentic Christian experience without the pretension that can come with church” — it occurred to me just how deeply reductionist, materialist theories of religion have seeped into daily life. For, despite how dangerous these theories are seen to be by some (when they’re applied to their own lives, that is), they’re surprisingly easy for people to draw upon when accounting for other people’s behaviors and institutions. Continue reading →