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This attempt to be clear about our guiding commitments also promises to help us confront the internal debates among us—including by advancing the conversation about the relation between theology and religious studies.

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And shifting our gaze to the public arena and to our own campuses, I argue that thinking more systematically about values can help us improve the arguments we make to administrators and stake holders about the importance of the study of religion today. So I felt called to address that topic at the Annual Meeting.

Imani Perry and Ruby Sales will join Cornell West to discuss the history of the problem and contemporary efforts to improve things. The third plenary session deals with one of the perennial problems under the big umbrella that is the AAR: the relationship between theology and religious studies. How can the AAR continue to best represent both theological and religious studies approaches while also acknowledging that there are philosophical and methodological tensions?

But more seriously, I do think that this is an enduring and crucial problem. The question is not whether to enact values.

But I suspect that if we can be clearer about our contested and converging commitments we might find that we share more than we suspected, including our concern to make sure that the study of religion in all of its myriad institutional expressions is valued. What are the best ways to take ownership in the guild? I think effective membership in a learned society means enacting the virtue of reciprocal generosity, and that means both giving and taking in their proper proportion.

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It means making sure you do all you can to figure out how the AAR can help you, whether you are a new or long-time member, and discerning what you can give back. If you are a graduate student or early career scholar, that might mean taking advantage of our travel grants or research grants.

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If you are an international scholar, it might mean applying for the collaborative research grants administered by the International Connections Committee or attending the annual reception for international members at the Annual Meeting. Taking and giving might mean nominating yourself to serve on an AAR working group or committee, and then stepping up to serve when asked. If you are in an embattled department you might want help in making the case for the study of religion at your institution; contact us and we will do all we can to advocate for you and your colleagues.

Book review of Tweed’s Crossing and Dwelling – VerySpatial

And, of course, taking advantage of membership means speaking up about the issues that concern you. Make sure you fill out the post-meeting online survey. When we post drafts of policy documents, you might offer public or private comments, as a number of you did this summer. If you have a concern or a question, you can always contact the staff and the board. And, when we start the planning process next year, I hope you will seize the opportunity to express your views—so we can serve you better in the years ahead.


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Employment Services. Join or Renew. In the Field. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. A deeply researched, broadly gauged, and vividly written study of religion such as few American scholars have ever attempted, Crossing and Dwelling depicts religion in place and in movement, dwelling and crossing. Tweed considers how religion situates devotees in time and space, positioning them in the body, the home, the homeland, and the cosmos. He explores how the religious employ tropes, artifacts, rituals, and institutions to mark boundaries and to prescribe and proscribe different kinds of movements across those boundaries; and how religions enable and constrain terrestrial, corporeal, and cosmic crossings.

Drawing on insights from the natural and social sciences, Tweed's work is grounded in the gritty particulars of distinctive religious practices, even as it moves toward ideas about cross-cultural patterns. At a time when scholars in many fields shy away from generalizations, this book offers a responsible way to think broadly about religion, a topic that is crucial for understanding the contemporary world.

Lucid in explanations, engaging in presentation, rich in examples, Crossing and Dwelling has profound implications for the study and teaching of religion in our day.

Crossing And Dwelling A Theory Of Religion

Thomas A. Tweed is W.

enter Table of Contents List of Illustrations 1. Itineraries: Locating Theory and Theorists 2. Confluences: Toward a Theory of Religion 4. Dwelling: The Kinetics of Homemaking 5.

The Academic Study of Religion Explained

And he anchors that definition in widely disparate phenomena of religious life around the globe. It is refreshing to see an analysis that moves wisely beyond the insularity of past debates. Moreover, sometimes people actually pursue pain in the name of religion, such as in the mystical sufferings of Simone Weil or Julian of Norwich. Tweed preempts some of this criticism with his insistence that his definition does not aim at the explanation or prediction of religion.

The necessity of theorizing from a specific position incontrovertibly illuminates some things as it obscures others, Tweed admits, indeed, repeats, again and again, almost like a mantra.


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It turns out that this is about the only position Tweed ultimately takes. Tweed seems to agree with everybody—religionists, historians, anthropologists, cognitive scientists, physicists, physiologists, artists, literature scholars, semioticians, philosophers, theologians, psychoanalysts, poets, and preachers, among others—and everybody is cited favorably.

At the outset of the book, Tweed writes that his theory departs from the five types of theories used by scholars in the humanities and social sciences, which he taxonomizes as deductive-nomological, law-oriented, idealizing, constructivist, and critical. He ultimately rejects what he sees as the shared premise of all five of these types—even amongst constructivist and critical theorists—that the theorist and theorized are static. He argues that theories are always moving representations of moving targets.

Tweed also notes that he intends his theory to be pragmatic and realistic. Tweed is right that the theory of Crossing and Dwelling is definitely not critical theory.