Faith simply portrayed

December 20, 2002

The front-page headline "Mary Warnock looks for God in a racy text" with a stained-glass image of the patriarch himself, inappropriately signalled your religious studies book reviews (THES, December 13).

The section was appropriated by liberal Christian theology and church-history agendas. Only one reviewer, Robert Segal, is a religious-studies academic. Of seven books reviewed, only David Gosling's was representative of the interdisciplinarity of religious studies. The concerns of authors and reviewers are overwhelmingly confessional, pastoral and theological. The impression given was that "religion" is an unproblematic compound of personal piety, theological reflection and ecclesiastical history, regulated and interpreted overwhelmingly by men. The contested cultural and political realities of religion in today's world vanished. Where were the ethnographical, sociological, gender, postcolonial and multiculturalist authors and reviewers who represent the cutting edge of contemporary religious studies debates?

Steven Sutcliffe
Religious studies department
University of Stirling

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