RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200
ARNAL - president of the North American association for the study of religion (NAASR),
associate professor of religious studies, university of regina
what is he saying?
there is no such thing as religion
religion is a category or concept some people apply to various actions, ideas,
it must be theorized as a concept.
for him, religion does not exist in the wild as a natural thing, it is not sui
things are self-evidently religious, we have to oppose that category upon those
things. there is no universal or internally consistent thing called religion.
- religion as an object of study, focus of a scholarly discipline.
- this discipline started around 1870 and took awhile to get its footing.
- we should be like gender-studies or post-colonial studies who are still trying to
define their object, but for some reason we are not.
- arnal suggest this is because religion in a sense has a double life. on one side it
is an academic discipline, and on the other side we have religion as an everyday
common sense category used in a variety of ways.
we can't use common sense definitions in academics because they are not precise and
result in inconsistency, incorporating too many variables to no end.
but the problem is that the common sense use of religion is being pulled into the
academic definition of the object of rlst (religious studies).
For Arnal, religion DOES something, he is a culturalist. You need a culture to have a
religion. It cannot exist independently.
to be fair, he doesn't like either substanti