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Urinal Talk at the AAR

November 7, 2009

After a session today I raced to the bathroom to relieve my bladder and overheard a group of individuals coming from another session declaring the following: “Wow; that was so wonderful” “Best session ever!”  “That was incredible!”

Then, most importantly, “You know, that wasn’t even the AAR—that was church!”

And we wonder why others are suspicious that the academic study of religion is actually religious in nature.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Beelzebub permalink
    November 8, 2009 2:00 am

    Funny you say that, because I took a religious studies class in college (Religions of the East) and in addition to getting to buy and read some really cool books (can’t believe I lost my copy of the Bhagavad-Gita!) the professor was really awesome in a “I can’t believe it, but I think I might be in a really awesome Sunday school class WTF” kind of way. Really pretty inspiring. But not in a religious way, of course. In an awesome way.

    Sometimes I think about church and I like the concept: get together a couple times a week with some folks, read some boring books, talk about them, maybe have a pot luck supper, etc. Now, if only church was where you read anything from the Bible to the Bhagavad-Gita to Hemingway and so on and didn’t have to deal with silly fundamentalism and closed-mindedness. I like to think that if Jesus were here today, he would throw the money-changers out of the university.

  2. Vidya permalink
    November 8, 2009 3:08 am

    It’s hard for me to evaluate the enthusiastic declaration — vis-a-vis the (mis)perception of religious studies — without knowing more about the situation that sparked it and the people who uttered it, to be fair. Was it meant ironically, perhaps? Or, did ‘church’ here stand in for some positive-but-not-necessarily-religious emotion or experience? (Or are those Biblical studies folks still twinning their conference with the AAR?)
    That being said, it used to drive me bananas when old friends or family members would ask me if I was planning to be a priest/minister/nun/etc when they heard I was studying religion. Now that I’m studying sociology/anthropology/history/science studies, I think they’re even more confused.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    November 8, 2009 10:00 am

    Vidya, I could tell they were NOT being ironic. They gave me the same impression that African-American Pentecostal types do—they seemed to be in a heightened state of some sort of joyful agitation.

  4. Vidya permalink
    November 8, 2009 2:12 pm

    What, you mean good scholarship doesn’t leave *you* feeling that way, too? :-)

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