Studying Christianity: The Critical Issues (Studying World Religions)
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Not only new forms of individualism, but also new social forms are emerging. Methodology tells scholars how to proceed. They also fill our toolbox. If we wish to extend our field, as is proposed here, to include worldviews, whether religious or secular, the same condition prevails. We may have to change the contents of our toolbox. In this part of the book, to take stock of concepts, of views on the mission of ou trade or on the type of knowledge we wish to gather, and of the changes that are occurring in our field.
One reason to do so is the current variety in worldviews, ending the monopoly that religions had in that area.
From Religious Studies to Worldview Studies
Of course we should continue studying religion and religions, but under the current circumstances the inclusion of secular worldviews is an appropriate update. Besides, after working for decades with the contrast between religion and science, neglecting the common characteristics between religious and secular worldviews, the worldview banner opens a new perspective.
Finally, in defining worldview, it will be suggested that doing academic work also presupposes a worldview. Accordingly, when looking for commonness between science and religion, the comparison between scholars in the study of worldviews and the people they study, whether religious or secular, can be included.
Thinking of methods in the current study of religion, two families of methods and techniques dominate the field, either working in a quantitative way, or taking a qualitative approach. The difference is common in the social sciences. In Chapter 3 the alternatives are compared, making the options explicit.
The choice for a particular view on the mission of science, either neopositivist or more constructivist, will be shown to be central to the comparison. Another option regards the combination of the two or, in contrast, their exclusive use. In any case, the current worldview situation appears to demand a more ample use of qualitative methods.
Chapter 4 discusses an underlying problem in these discussions, which is that very often the options regard two contrasting and exclusive positions.
The Academic Study of Religion | Religious Studies | University of Colorado Boulder
Thus the opposition is presupposed between science and religion, quantitative and qualitative approaches, neo-positivist and constructivist views of science, and many other sets of alternatives. Though the contrast is fuel for the debate engine, the arbitrariness of many standpoints must be acknowledged as well. As a way to deal with this aspect of the academic worldview, play is proposed as a way of dealing simultaneously with alternatives. This is not a plea for eclecticism, though it may result in such a position.
However, the playful approach opens the possibility to better appreciate the other point of view. For example, in studying religion from a secular scientific perspective, the playful way of looking at phenomena can be fruitful. VU University, Amsterdam. In Part II of this volume on the methodology of studying religion, we find five case studies in which such dealing with dichotomies and tensions in the field is illustrated.
In each of the case studies one aspect of a form of modern religion is highlighted. She has recently published a monograph entitled Faith in the Familiar: Religion, Spirituality and Place in the South of the Netherlands Brill , based on her research into Catholicism and contemporary spirituality in the Netherlands. The academic study of religion as we know it today can be traced to the 19th century encounter of Western scholars and theologians with non-Western cultures.
In the United States, departments of Religious Studies began to emerge in public universities beginning in the late s and s. Today, departments of religion and Religious Studies are integral parts of humanities divisions on college and university campuses throughout the United States, promoting further understanding and appreciation of the many ways human beings express themselves in modes that can be called "religious. This distinction is central to the U.