New forum topic - Alternative Approaches to Introducing Religion(s): Engaging Method and Theory in the Classroom

At this past Congress meeting in Fredericton in May, 2011, a panel on "Alternative Approaches to Introducing Religion(s): Engaging Method and Theory in the Classroom" had incited important, insightful and inspiring discussions amongst the presenters and audience. Everyone present at the panel felt that the discussions should continue throughout the year, and in many venues, including the CSSR website, where others could participate in sharing their insights and experiences.

Please find the papers from the panel on the forum discussion board under the "Connect" menu to the left, or click here, and feel free to use this board for discussion.

Panel Title: Alternative Approaches to Introducing Religion(s): Engaging Method and Theory in the Classroom
Introduction to Religion or World Religions, as it is currently taught, tends to assume the phenomenological existence of religion while ignoring the problems with this position. The major ―world religions‖ are presented in terms of their teleological histories and their essentialized beliefs. This approach is not unique to the introduction to religions, but is, perhaps, most problematic in this setting. The papers presented at this panel will challenge this teleological/essentialist framework, and suggest alternative approaches to introducing religion. Based on the work of Jonathan Z. Smith and Bruce Lincoln, we explore the ways in which we can introduce religion without relying on the essence of belief. Instead we suggest analyzing the conceptual frameworks which have typically been used to define religion (especially myth and ritual, but also classification) while utilizing a comparative method which does not privilege one data set over another, be it religious or secular.