Bruce Lincoln’s “Theses on Method”
For those of you who are not already familiar, check out Lincoln’s “Theses on Method.” (Dr. Jim, I bet you’ll like them!) Here’s just a taste:
The same destabilizing and irreverent questions one might ask of any speech act ought be posed of religious discourse. The first of these is “Who speaks here?”, i.e., what person, group, or institution is responsible for a text, whatever its putative or apparent author. Beyond that, “To what audience? In what immediate and broader context? Through what system of mediations? With what interests?” And further, “Of what would the speaker(s) persuade the audience? What are the consequences if this project of persuasion should happen to succeed? Who wins what, and how much? Who, conversely, loses?”
Reverence is a religious, and not a scholarly virtue. When good manners and good conscience cannot be reconciled, the demands of the latter ought to prevail.