I’m going to start taking this blog in a new and more focused direction. I will keep former posts in the archive, but it will start honing in on religion as it relates to gender and sexuality. So far you may have read intermittent posts about theology, philosophy of religion, or politics, but not much about what I have been studying. I also see some of the posts as not exceptionally good. I want to change that with a sharper focus.Posts will now come twice weekly. On Wednesdays, I will post some links with tl:dr annotations, and substantial posts on Saturdays (today is an exception). I’m going to be including more media content. I used to think this was flashy or “low-brow,” but I’ve come to see that media is just a part of life. Blogs themselves are media. I guess this move reflects an evolution in how I see religion and learning. I used to see religion as how well a group conformed to a set of texts. However, religious life includes not only texts, but rituals, gestures, national history, cultural history, group history, tweets, blogs, news, politics, customs, group myths, Facebook, YouTube, audio lectures, photographs, paintings, architecture, clothing, body decoration, bodily alterations, and many other things that I had regarded as secondary to a category called “religion.” I reduced religion to theology. If I do happen to comment on theology, I will indicate so with the tag “Personal Theology,” though I will do this less in upcoming posts. This change in direction emerged from a conversation about blogs in general and in response to a collaboration at The Religious Studies Project entitled “What Is the Future of Religious Studies?”. Rather than speak merely within the academy, I want to think about my research with the interest of a broader public in mind. One of the problems in religious studies academia is communicating dialogues going on within it to a public, in my case, the United States public.
Posts will also range between 300-1000 words. I feel this is a good way to engage in discussion without bogging readers down. If I go over 1000 words, I will include a tl:dr at the top. If you have any suggestions for the blog, contact me at ilostmyprayerhanky AT gmail dot com with the subject line “Blog Suggestions.” Suggestions such as “Your blog sucks. Fix it.” will elicit one-mouth-corner smiles, and possibly a chuckle, from me.What’s fun about this for me is I’m trying to plot my approach in religious studies. The field of religious studies doesn’t really have its own unique methodology, but draws from such diverse fields as literary studies, history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, theology,and other fields. I have come to lean more toward the social sciences. I like a lot of what thinkers such as Bruce Lincoln and Russell McCutcheon have to say, for they critique the very categories of what people call “religion.” Their approach is called “critical” as it applies to religious phenomena. I also like the ethnographical approaches of scholars like Robert Orsi who show how religions behave in a particular time and place. I haven’t read a whole lot in gender studies, but I have enjoyed the provocations of Anne Fausto-Sterling so far. She challenges conceptions of biological sex with her research on intersex persons. My approach will be eclectic. Hopefully it will be fun for readers to see my thought emerge over time.