Critics Not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion

SUNY Press, 29 .. 2001 - 266 ˹
Critics Not Caretakers argues that the study of religion must be rethought as an ordinary aspect of social, historical existence, a stance that makes the scholar of religion a critic of cultural practices rather than a caretaker of religious tradition or a font of timeless wisdom. From a general introduction written for a wide audience and a theoretical essay that outlines the basis of an alternative, socio-rhetorical approach to studying religion, the book moves on to a series of dispatches from the theory wars, each of which uses the work of such writers as Karen Armstrong, Walter Burkert, and Benson Saler as a point of entry into wider theoretical issues of importance to the field s future. The author then examines the socio-political role of this brand of critical scholarship a role that differs dramatically from the type of sympathetic caretaking generally associated with scholars of religion who feel compelled to go public. Concluding the work is a consideration of how scholars as teachers can address issues of theory and critical thinking in the undergraduate classroom. Written with verve, Critics Not Caretakers provides a viable alternative for all those dissatisfied with the covertly political, liberal humanist approach that currently dominates the study of religion.

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More Than a Shapeless Beast Lumbering through the Academy with the Study of Religion
Redescribing Religion as Social Formation Toward a Social Theory of Religion
Dispatches from the Theory Wars
Writing a History of God Just the Same Game Wherever You Go
Explaining the Sacred Theorizing on Religion in the Late Twentieth Century
Were All Stuck Somewhere Taming Ethnocentrism and Transcultural Understandings
The Economics of Spiritual Luxury The Glittering Lobby and the Worlds Parliament of Religions
My Theory of the Brontosaurus Postmodernism and Theory of Religion
Going Public Teaching Theory
Our Special Promise as Teachers Scholars of Religion and the Politics of Tolerance
Redescribing Religion and Film Teaching the InsiderOutsider Problem
Methods and Theories in the Classroom Teaching the Study of Myths and Rituals
Theorizing in the Introductory Course A Survey of Resources

Culture Critics and Caretakers
A Default of Critical Intelligence? The Scholar of Religion as Public Intellectual
Talking Past Each Other The Issue of Public Intellectuals Revisited

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˹ xi - The starting point of these reflections was usually a feeling of impatience at the sight of the "naturalness" with which newspapers, art and common sense constantly dress up a reality which, even though it is the one we live in, is undoubtedly determined by history.

ǡѺ (2001)

Russell T. McCutcheon is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He is the coeditor (with Willi Braun) of Guide to the Study of Religion, editor of The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, and author of Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia.