“Do Scholars of Religion Study Texts or Do They Study Religion First Hand, as an Anthropologist Might?”
“Is it Possible to Study Religion Academically and Still be Religious?”Questions from undergraduate students at the University of Alabama
In these two short essays, I attempt to answer each of the above questions, ripped straight from a section of the Introduction of Religious Studies course in a public university. I answer each with insights into how scholars of religion might answer the question, while providing examples that make “the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”
Religion in Five Minutes provides an accessible and lively introduction to the questions about religion and religious behaviour that interest most of us, whether or not we personally identify with — or practice — a religion. Suitable for beginning students and the general reader, the book offers more than 60 brief essays on a wide range of fascinating questions about religion and its study, such as: How did religion start? What religion is the oldest? Who are the Nones? Why do women seem to play lesser roles in many religions? What’s the difference between a religion and a cult? Is Europe less religious than North America? Is Buddhism a philosophy? How do we study religions of groups who no longer exist?
Each essay is written by a leading authority and offers succinct, insightful answers along with suggestions for further reading, making the book an ideal starting point for classroom use or personal browsing.
Richard Newton, “Do Scholars of Religion Study Texts or Do They Study Religion First Hand, as an Anthropologist Might?” in Religion in 5 Minutes, 259-260, and “Is it Possible to Study Religion Academically and Still be Religious?” in Religion in 5 Minutes, eds. Russell T. McCutcheon and Aaron W. Hughes (UK: Equinox Publishers, 2017), 261-264.