Tag Archives: authority

In this second of a two-part series, Richard Ascough adds his voice to Sharday Mosurinjohn’s reflections on a new blog post assignment used in a course on Spirituality, Secularity, and Nonreligion taught through the School of Religion at Queen’s University. In the earlier post, Sharday noted that she learned two key lessons: that students are concerned about what it means to be “critical” in a public posting and that they do not have a level of digital literacy that one might expect in a generation that grew up fully immersed in digital technologies. In this follow-up post, Sharday and Richard discuss strengths and weaknesses in students’ digital literacy and explore how understanding one of the weaknesses might actually help us understand a particularly troublesome religious studies concept – what they consider a “threshold concept.”

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Sexual ethics and Islam? How might one begin to study such a vast and “problematic” topic? What are some of the most prescient issues that recur in this contested field? And what is the broader significance of this discussion for Religious Studies in general?

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While I respect Masuwaza’s work on many levels, I mostly like it because she reminds me, again and again, to look at my tools of inquiry and see how my tools have shaped what I have found.

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In Part 2 of this week’s interview, Meredith McGuire continues to speak to Martin about the multiple issues of power, normativity and embodiment of religious life that can be observed through her concept of Lived Religion.

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Dr. Meredith McGuire talks about the multiple issues of power, normativity and embodiment of religious life that can be observed through her concept of Lived Religion. Part 2 on Wednesday!

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I am interested in how displays by religious paragons which contradict expressed statements of belief may be uniquely corrosive to the religious certainty of believers.

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Since the 1980s, social and economic pressures to stay within mainstream society have become more prominent, and spiritually minded individuals often seek more limited, loosely bonded participation in New Age-style modes of thought.

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Given its contextual and perspectival malleability, the notion of ‘authority’, and even more so of ‘religious authority’, is challenging to define and to study. In today’s interview with Paulina Kolata, Dr Erica Baffelli discusses the notion of authority and charismatic leadership in the context of her research on New and ‘New’ New religions in contemporary Japan.

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“Buddhist religious authority online is an area which needs further exploration, so that we can truly understand how the internet is providing an opportunity for new forms of religious authority and leadership to develop, while at the same time establishing traditional religious authority. It will also help us to answer questions, such as who has the “true legitimate voice for a particular religious tradition or community” (Campbell 2012, p.76).”

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“Given its rich and variable nature, authority itself is challenging to define and study… Studies focused on religious authority online have been few, compared to studies centered on religious community and identity. Despite interest and acknowledgement of the concept, there is a lack of definitional clarity over authority online, and no comprehensive theory of religious authority…”

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“Central to questions of authority is the ability to define the tradition; to define how scripture should be interpreted, and to tell orthodoxy from heresy.”

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