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What have I been up to since January? The Religious Studies Project at a Glance

The Religious Studies Project – my other life –  has been on the go since January and, as such, we have accumulated quite a vast range of material already. I wanted to give you, an easy way to access everything that we have done in the one place, so that you can find material quickly, and easily share this information with friends and colleagues… and so that you can maybe understand why this blog has somewhat gone down the tubes in recent months.

If you haven’t already, if would mean a lot if you could subscribe on iTunes, follow us on Twitter, and/or ‘like’ us Facebook.



Compilation Podcasts:

What is the Future of Religious Studies?

James Cox, Carole Cusack, Armin Geertz, Bettina Schmidt, Donald Wiebe, Graham Harvey, Markus Davidsen, and George Chryssides

Should Scholars of Religion be Critics or Caretakers?

Grace Davie, Steven Sutcliffe, Eileen Barker, Linda Woodhead, Timothy Fitzgerald, Lois Lee, Jolyon Mitchell, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, and Russell McCutcheon


Roundtable Discussions:

What is the Future of Religious Studies?

Christopher Cotter, Ethan Quillen, David Robertson, Liam Sutherland and Jonathan Tuckett, Kevin Whitesides

Can We Trust the Social Sciences?

Katie Aston, Christopher R. Cotter, Matthew Francis, Ethan Gjerset Quillen, David Robertson, Kevin Whitesides

Should Religious Studies be Multidisciplinary?

Krittika Bhattacharjee, Maegan C. M. Gilliland, Ethan Gjerset Quillen, Liam Sutherland, Jonathan Tuckett, Elizabeth Ursic, Kevin Whitesides

Critics or Caretakers?

Katie Aston, Anna Clot i Garrell, Christopher Cotter, Ting Guo, Ethan Quillen, David Robertson and Jonathan Tuckett




The Religious Studies Project

For the past few months I have been alluding to a secretive project that I have been working on… now it is finally here, and I could use all the support I can get in terms of spreading the word, facebook liking etc etc.

It is a website called “The Religious Studies Project” and it has been founded by myself and David G. Robertson, and presented in association with the British Association for the Study of Religions.

Every Monday, we’ll be putting out a new podcast featuring an interview with a  leading international scholar, presenting a key idea in  the contemporary socio-scientific study of religion in a concise and accessible way. Our first podcast features Professor Emeritus James Cox (University of Edinburgh) speaking to David about the phenomenology of religion. You can find the podcast and accompanying notes here, or alternatively subscribe on iTunes.

Every Wednesday, we’ll feature a resource to help postgraduate students and aspiring academics. And every Friday, we’ll be publishing a response to the podcast, reflecting on, expanding upon or disagreeing with the Monday podcast. Plus conference reports, opinion, publishing opportunities, book reviews and more when we have them.

In the meantime, please have a look around the site, follow us on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook, rate us on iTunes, tell all your friends about us… and let us know what you think!

Many, many thanks!


Free to Download Articles on Secularism and Irreligion

Although I have not had a chance to read any yet, I have just downloaded ten articles from the ISSSC stream on Scribd. I don’t much like Scribd, and I cannot comment on the quality of the articles, but they are written by some excellent folk including Frank Pasquale, Barry Kosmin and Ryan Cragun, so if their usual standard is anything to go by I should have something interesting for you in a few weeks…


Goddess Thealogy, An International Journal for the Study of the Divine Feminine

If you are interested in this sort of thing…

The Institute for Thealogy & Deasophy is pleased to announce the first issue of “Goddess Thealogy, An International Journal for the Study of the Divine Feminine”

It can be found as a pdf file at


Editorial Introduction
Angela Hope and Patricia ‘Iolana

Thealogy: Mapping a Fluid and Expanding Field by Patricia ‘Iolana and Angela Hope

A Few Thoughts on the Breath, the Soul, the Divine Female and the Virgin Mary in Engagement with Luce Irigaray and Clarissa Pinkola Estés by Rasa Lucia Luzyte

Moonlight of the Divine Feminine: Magnifying Western Cultural Shadow with Women Espionage Agents by Diane E. Greig Rickards

Ruminations on Gaia Consciousness and Goddess Reverence
by Merlin Stone

The Politics of Eco-Feminist Goddess Spirituality, a Theology for a Sustainable Future by Rev. Karen Tate

Footsteps on the Path to Experiencing the Feminine Divine: A Phenomenological Account of a Collective Thealogical Journey in Academia by Angela Hope, Patricia ‘Iolana, Paul Reid-Bowen and Melinda Grube

In Memory of Merlin Stone
Requiem for Merlin Stone by Zsuzsanna Budapest

Remembering Merlin Stone by Carol P. Christ

In Search of Merlin Stone by Bobbie Grennier

Face the Goddess: Kali-Ma by James D. Rietveld

From Scotland to the Aegean Sea: Diving Deep in Conversation
with Carol P. Christ by E.C. Erdmann

Artist’s Corner: Max Dashú

Review: Testing the Boundaries, by Christopher Roussel

An International Journal on Charms, Charmers and Charming

Not that I have time to read it… this journal sounded so bizarre that I had to share it with you. It’s open access so I’d be interested to hear what is contained therein!

An International Journal on Charms, Charmers and Charming
Issue 1, 2011

General Editor: Mare Kõiva
Guest Editor: Jonathan Roper

To buy this issue, contact the editors. You can see the issue here (PDF) or click on article titles for individual PDF files.


  • Introduction
    P. 6
  • Secrecy and Ritual Restrictions on Verbal Charms Transmission in Greek Traditional Culture
    Haralampos Passalis
    Pp. 7-24The paper focuses on the ritual restrictions and taboos surrounding verbal charms transmission in Greek traditional culture. These restrictions and taboos which are closely connected with a strategy of secrecy based on the wide-spread belief that revealing the verbal part of charm renders the ritual ineffective, aim at protecting the transmission of verbal part which is considered as the main part of the ritual performance. Moreover, they can cast light on issues as the social status of performer, the owned state of magic, the problem of collecting charms in fieldwork, and even on the way of performance (the verbal part has to be recited in such a way so that it is not heard). Special attention is given to how this strategy of secrecy affects the construction of the verbal part by way permitting transformations, innovations substitutions, omissions, even texts which lack logical coherence without disturbing the efficacy of the rituals themselves.
    Key words: Greek traditional culture, performative context, restrictions, secrecy, taboos, transmission, verbal charms
  • Practical Texts in Difficult Situations: Bulgarian Medieval Charms as Apocrypha andFachliteratur
    Svetlana Tsonkova
    Pp. 25-35The objects of this article are medieval Bulgarian charms, written in Old Church Slavonic language and preserved in manuscripts. The article is focused on two issues. Firstly, it deals with the charms as specialized texts, as a specific kind of Fachliteratur, with important practical function in coping daily life challenges and problems. The main purpose of these charms was to meet and solve the crucial quotidian issues, like health problems, provision of good luck and protection against evil forces. Secondly, the article refers to the position of the charms among the canonical Orthodox Christian texts. This position is examined in the context of practicality and of the historical changes in the society. This is also a question of the relations between the content of the charms and the content of the other texts from the same manuscript. In this respect the medieval Bulgarian charms are an interesting phenomenon, as they intermingle among canonical Orthodox Christian books, as service books and books of needs.
    Key words: apocrypha, apotropaic magic, daily life, medieval Bulgarian charms, medievalFachliteratur, oral and written transmission of charms, practical magic
  • Immateria Medica: Charmers and their Communities in Newfoundland
    Martin Lovelace
    Pp. 36-47This paper offers a typology of charmers in Newfoundland, Canada. The ability to charm may be transmitted, often cross-sex, or may be ascribed by the community and adopted as a role by an individual who falls into the recognized categories of being a posthumous child, or a woman who marries a man who shares her own family name. Seventh sons and priests are ascribed the widest range of healing competency and are at the apex of a conceptual pyramid of power. Material is drawn from fieldwork conducted in 2010 and a review of holdings on charming contained in MUNFLA, the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive. It is argued that it may be premature to conclude that charmers have lost their healing and social roles in Newfoundland communities and that in the case of wart charming, and blood stopping, the tradition continues.
    Key words: Ascribed healing roles, charming, folklore archives and appraisal of sources, Newfoundland, scarcity of verbal charms.
  • The Three Good Brothers Charm: Some Historical Points
    Lea Olsan
    Pp. 48-78The charm for wounds beginning “Three good brothers were going/walking” has been documented in written and spoken sources in various languages across the European continent from the medieval period. Ferdinand Ohrt’s article in the Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens contained many examples of the formula from Northern European manuscript sources. There remain many more examples to be assembled from English manuscripts and from other cultural traditions This paper (including the Appendices) does not attempt to offer a comprehensive collection of Three Good Brothers charms. Rather, it seeks to understand and interpret selected instances of the charm’s appearance from the evidence of selected manuscript contexts. The phrase ‘Historical Points’ in the title of this paper signals my attempt to elucidate the cultural contexts for the use of this wound charm at specific moments during, before and after its popularity in the manuscript culture of the medieval period.
    Key words: Tres boni fratresLonginusNeque doluit neque tumuit, encounter charm, Christ as healer.
  • Genre and Authority in the Scholarly Construction of Charm and Prayer: A View from the Margins
    James A. Kapaló
    Pp. 79-101This paper presents a critique and some theoretical reflections on the relationship between the genres of charm and prayer in folklore and religions scholarship. I draw special attention to the construction of the liminal genre of ‘archaic prayer’ in Hungarian scholarship and its relationship to magic and the ‘charm’ genre as elucidated in the work ethnographers Éva Pócs, Zsuzsanna Erdélyi and Irén Lovász amongst others. It is commonly recognised that scholarly distinctions between genres cut across emic categories and insider knowledge structures. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, this paper critiques the discourse on archaic prayer in relation to the dichotomy between magic and religion and the emic/etic distinction through a focus on power/knowledge relations and the politics of language in the religious field.
    Key words: Bourdieu, charms, folklore, folk prayer, genre, folk religion

Successful and Fruitful Model – Lithuanian Charms Collection as a Contribution to the Research of Verbal Magic, pp. 102-103
A New Generation Study on Lithuanian Incantations, pp. 104-106

Charms, Charmers and Charming. International Conference at the Romanian Academy (Bucharest, June, 24–25, 2010), pp. 107-109

Free Online Journal: Religion and Gender


Religion and Gender
Vol 1, No 1 (2011): Critical Issues in the Study of Religion and Gender
Table of Contents

Openings: A Genealogical Introduction to Religion and Gender (1-17)
Anne-Marie Korte

Feminist Scholarship and Its Relevance for Political Engagement: The Test
Case of Abortion in the U.S. (18-43)
Margaret Kamitsuka

Vital New Matters: The Speculative Turn in the Study of Religion and Gender
Paul Reid-Bowen

Implications of Queer Theory for the Study of Religion and Gender: Entering
the Third Decade (66-84)
Claudia Schippert

Macho Buddhism: Gender and Sexualities in the Diamond Way (85-103)
Burkhard Scherer

Male Headship as Male Agency: An Alternative Understanding of a
‘Patriarchal’ African Pentecostal Discourse on Masculinity (104-124)
Adriaan S. van Klinken

Book Reviews
Review of Joseph Gelfer,  Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine
Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy , London: Equinox 2009
Martin Fischer

Review of Björn Krondorfer (ed.),  Men and Masculinities in Christianity
and Judaism. A Critical Reader , London: SCM Press 2009 (130-132)
Ruth Hess

Review of Melissa M. Wilcox,  Queer Women and Religious Individualism ,
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press 2009 (133-136)
Stephen Hunt

Review of Hannah Bacon,  What’s Right with the Trinity? Conversations in
Feminist Theology , Farnham: Ashgate 2009 (137-140)
Heather McDivitt

Review of K. Aune, S. Sharma & G. Vincett (eds.),  Women and Religion in
the West: Challenging Secularization , Aldershot: Ashgate 2008 (141-144)
Hendrika Petronella van den Brandt

Review of M. Osherow,   Biblical Women’s Voices in Early Modern Engeland ,
Farnham: Ashgate 2009 (145-146)
Anne-Mareike Wetter

How an Eerdmans Book is Born (In Sixteen Easy Steps) (via EerdWord)

Does what it says on the tin :)

How an Eerdmans Book is Born (In Sixteen Easy Steps) Rachel Bomberger is the Internet marketing manager at Eerdmans. She loves reading, writing, and accidentally blurting out, "You've just got to read this amazing new book. Oh, wait, sorry, nevermind — I guess you'll have to wait a few more months until it's published." Things have been a little chaotic here at Eerdmans this summer. Eerdfolks have left; … Read More

via EerdWord

Two Excellent Resources

Just a quick post to alert you to two excellent resources I have discovered today.

One is the new documentary series from the BBC, entitled The Life of Muhammad. The first episode was just aired this week and it seems to balance informed but accessible scholarship with a respectful but not deferential tone. Thoroughly recommended to anyone who is interested… and indeed those who are not. I just wish everyone could see this sort of programme. Viewers in the UK can click the link and watch it on BBC iPlayer, where it is available until August 1 2011 (duration 60 mins).

The other resource is a website that I have stumbled across and will have to check out in much greater detail over the coming weeks. It is, which describes itself as:

the premier online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. Patheos is the website of choice for the millions of people looking for credible and balanced information or resources about religion. Patheos brings together the public, academia, and the faith leaders in a single environment, and is the place where people turn on a regular basis for insight into questions, issues, and discussions. Patheos is unlike any other online religious and spiritual site and is designed to serve as a resource for those looking to learn more about different belief systems, as well as participate in productive, moderated discussions on some of today’s most talked about and debated topics.

Whilst I haven’t had much of a chance to look around it, and whilst always being slightly irked at seeing religion being treated as distinct entities and institutions to which a specified number of adherents belong etc (the good old ‘world religions’ paradigm raises its head once more), there seem to be a huge number of resources here, with vast amounts information on certainly all the major religions in the world… and resources for teachers, students, academics, religious leaders, interested laypeople and more…

I hope both of these ‘tips’ prove useful :)

Faith Guides

This is just a really quick post to point you all in the direction of the “Faith Guides” provided  by The Higher Education Academy: Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Although they are designed to give “information to staff in the higher education sector on how best to support students with a variety of religious beliefs”, each guide starts with a proper academically researched introduction to six major “faiths” represented in Great Britain.

I haven’t read them yet myself, but I shall be printing them when I get home. It may turn out that I disagree with something in there… and if I do I shall let you know. But, for now, I think it is a great idea that they have produced these guides, and that they make them freely available on their website.

I hope you find these interesting/useful.