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Lecture 1

RLG100Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Bruce Lincoln, Religious Vows, Christopher Columbus

Course Code
Arti Dhand

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016
World Religions
Introduction; Religion and Religious Studies
The first misconception is about what the discipline of religious studies is.The second is,
what comes under the purview of religion.
When you tell people you’re studying religion they think you’re pious or more virtuously
oriented. Some people are suspicious about your study.
We must distinguish religious studies from the discipline of Theology.
Theology is the rational investigation/analysis of ideas that you already profess as a
religious person. Theology begins from the premise of a commitment to a religion - it
explains and analyses the ideas through rational argument of religion. It begins with a
faith commitment and works within the tradition.
The study of religion is characterized as a multidisciplinary analysis of the subject of
religion. We study the phenomenon of religion, the history, the anthropology, sociology,
literature and philosophy. We study it strictly from a critical academic perspective. No
attachment to the traditions. Our attachments do not enter into our investigation of
The relationship between religion and various methodologies used to study it can be
seen through Bruce Lincoln. He outlines what we aim to do in the study of religion. He
says that the study of religion and the academic study of religions are different. Our job
as scholars of religion is to investigate these claims, to situate them contextually. How
did these ideas evolve within different traditions? Who came up with these ideas? What
are the historical circumstances? What are the various power structures embedded in
the institutions, practices & point of view?
Our concerns as scholars are different from studying a religion where you are forming
ideas, however we are interested in the questions underlying religion.
The second misconception, is about what does is religion comprised of. It is often said
that we live in a post-religious era. Religion isn’t important anymore. Religious people
are from an older generation of people. Only extremists employ religion. This is not true.
Religion is much more embedded in our everyday lives. It is in the ways that we do
ordinary things. To illustrate: looking at the ubiquity of religion in very ordinary things in
our lives. Most of us we are used to dressing hair and grew up with it. But our
relationship with hair and ideas of hair has to do with religion. Many people wear their
hair differently, some let it grow long, some pile their hair on their heads and cover with
a head-cloth. Some people take religious vows and weir veils. Other people wear wigs.
Some people cover only cover some parts of their hair. most cultures cover their hair
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