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Critics Not Caretakers

A lively critique of the study of religion in the modern academy, one that makes the scholar of religion a cultural critic rather than a caretaker of a religious tradition or a guru dispensing timeless wisdom.
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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Copyright Permissions PART I. Redescribing Religion as Something Ordinary 1. More Than a Shapeless Beast: Lumbering through the Academy with the Study of Religion 2. Redescribing 'Religion' as Social Formation: Toward a Social Theory of Religion PART II. Dispatches from the Theory Wars 3. Writing a History of God: "Just the Same Game Wherever You Go" 4. Explaining the Sacred: Theorizing on Religion in the Late Twentieth Century 5. "We're All Stuck Somewhere": Taming Ethnocentrism and Transcultural Understandings 6. The Economics of Spiritual Luxury: The Glittering Lobby and the World's Parliament of Religions 7. "My Theory of the Brontosaurus...": Postmodernism and "Theory" of Religion PART III. Culture Critics and Caretakers 8. A Default of Critical Intelligence? The Scholar of Religion as Public Intellectual 9. Talking Past Each Other: The Issue of Public Intellectuals Revisited PART IV. Going Public: Teaching Theory 10. Our "Special Promise" as Teachers: Scholars of Religion and the Politics of Tolerance 11. Redescribing "Religion and..." Film: Teaching the Insider/Outsider Problem 12. Methods and Theories in the Classroom: Teaching the Study of Mythis and Rituals 13. Theorizing in the Introductory Course: A Survey of Resources PART V. Afterword Afterword References Index

About the Author

Russell T. McCutcheon is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He is the coeditor (with Willi Braun) of Guide to the Study of Religion, editor of The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, and author of Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia.


"McCutcheon makes a strong case that the study of religion is deeply flawed, and that there are important ramifications for current society and politics in these flaws. Agree or disagree with it, this book provokes the reader to think. McCutcheon's work stands alone as a critique of the pathologies of Religious Studies."- Timothy Murphy, Case Western Reserve University "Critics Not Caretakers represents a new paradigm in the study of religion. All serious students of theory and method in Religious Studies will need to come to terms with McCutcheon's stimulating and challenging critique of the mainstream tradition." - William E. Paden, author of Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion

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