“Better Know a Religion Blog” and “The State of the Study of Religion”



Looking to add some substantial religious studies scholarship to your blog diet? The North American Association for the Study of Religion has you covered with their fantastic new series, “Better Know a Religion Blog.” This has been a great way for us to keep track of what our colleagues are doing in the field.

Last week, Dr. Matt Sheedy (University of Manitoba) interviewed curator Dr. Richard Newton about the story behind Sowing the Seed.

The site has since changed in relation to my professional interests, but its always been inspired by the famous Jonathan Z. Smith quote regarding “religion as solely a creation of the scholar’s study.” I’m particularly fascinated with the idea of the scholar’s study as both a place and activity. Sowing the Seed is just that: it’s where you can see me doing the teacher-scholar thing. And I’m at my best when I’m doing that with others—students and professional scholars alike.

BSOR: What are some of the more common themes this blog takes up?

RN: The blog’s unifying theme is the notion of difference-making. Our eyes are trained on the fine lines people draw between making difference and making a difference in the world. That tension opens up opportunities for us to not only consider discourses (e.g. religion, culture, race), but also the sites where they take place (e.g. the classroom, the public square, holy ground, bully pulpit, the judge’s bench).

You can read the full interview here.

On another note, save the date for NAASR’s 2017 Annual Meeting (Boston November 17-18, 2017). The theme is “The Things We Study When We Study Religion.” Some of the brightest minds in the field are weighing in on a discussion you won’t want to miss.

Subjects: Annette Reed (University of Pennsylvania)

Objects: Matthew Baldwin (Mars Hill University)

Scholars: Craig Martin (St. Thomas Aquinas College)

There will also be a roundtable on the state of the study of religion. Richard Newton will be discussing the site of teaching in religious studies scholarship. Steven Engler (Mount Royal University) will chair the panel and be joined by the following participants.

Labor: Sarah Dees, Labor (Northwestern University)

Departments: Rebekka King, (Middle Tennessee State University)

Research: Greg Alles, Research (McDaniel College)

Both the blog series and the annual meeting are great ways to get current on what’s happening in critical religious studies.


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