On the Spot with Russell McCutcheon

“On the Spot” backs members of Culture on the Edge into a corner to talk about their backgrounds, their ongoing work, and what might be gained by an alternative understanding of how identity works.

408087_4444399780723_964551050_nQ: Russell, what types of theoretical and methodological shifts have your work taken throughout the years as it pertains to the category of religion?

A: Much as our initiative, here at Culture on the Edge, makes apparent, I think that it’s tougher work to read an author in his or her historical setting and thus far easier to generalize across what are in fact discrete, situationally-specific works that each engaged discrete issues. I say this in answer to your question because—at least judging from my own point of view, with regard to how I see my own work—I think that my early work is far different from what I’ve been doing these past few years. Continue reading “On the Spot with Russell McCutcheon”

Blind Confidence

blindfaithNot long ago I posted about a paired example (one scholar in India and one in North America), each debunking what they both called other people’s superstitions. Apart from being curious as to why one of those critics met a tragic fate (the topic of my earlier post), I also find interesting the way in which the side they both share — what shall we call them: Modernists? Rationalists? Empiricists? Scientists? Secularists? — portrays those on the other; for “they,” as indicated just above, are superstitious people who rely on archaic beliefs in black magic, hocus pocus, faith (in fact, it is often called blind faith) whereas “we” boldly rely on our own cool-headed rationality and cold hard facts.

But is it as simple as that? Continue reading “Blind Confidence”