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Getting Religion in a Religion Class

September 30, 2009

My intro to religion class is a theory course, not a world religions course. My course is very Durkheimian; I focus almost entirely on how religions are about creating, legitimating, or contesting social order.

This focus results in the sort of grumbling I heard at the back of class today:

When are we going to talk about religion? You know, Adam and Eve and Jesus and shit …

This bothers me for two reasons. First, what I am covering is about religion—they just don’t get it because they expect that “religion” is only what they think of as religion. As a result, they sometimes seem to think I’ve performed an unfair bait-and-switch: this was going to be about religion, but really it’s about social theory.

Two, it disturbs me that apparently religion for them means the doctrines and beliefs of Christianity.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2009 6:52 pm

    Amazing the how egocentric some people are. Maybe you should suggest they go back and re-read the course syllabus (I assume that defined the course parameters), and that if they want to talk about “Adam and Eve and Jesus and shit” they should go to their local Christian church.

  2. October 1, 2009 4:12 am

    Maybe they should take theology instead of religious studies. Well at least now *I* am warned and won’t make that mistake ^_^

  3. October 1, 2009 10:20 am

    I have the opposite complaint of the student. So far about half of my Anthropology of Religion class has been spent on comparing the J, E, and P accounts in the Hebrew Bible. Interesting, but not really what I signed up for.

  4. October 1, 2009 3:35 pm

    It is funny how people tend to display that they have the capacity for critical thinking, yet don’t employ it when it comes to religion…

    Its as if our culture has created a mental blindspot in that regard.

  5. fuzzytheory permalink
    October 26, 2009 1:27 pm

    In my Intro to Hinduism class I have so front-loaded it with power/knowledge discussions that the grumbling comes mostly from myself and my TA. We have a bet to see if I can go one class without pointing it out.

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    October 29, 2009 7:54 am

    fuzzy theory, that’s hilarious. I can totally see that happening.

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