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Dave, I scouted around on Prothero's site, I can't see where he calls the "News" section a blog. He does point visitors to the WaPo's On Faith site, where he is one of many 'celebrity' panelist bloggers.

As a religious studies scholar in training, the concerns Prothero addresses in his essay are more than academic to me. I like that he draws attention to the problems caused when scholars bracket their own beliefs: this "objectivity" essentially justifies an intellectual moral high ground (while obscuring this action). Objectivity implies disinterest, and academics are anything but politically, socially, ethically and morally disinterested. I'm not saying that objectivity isn't a worthy goal, only that scholars should recognize that they aren't there, even as they strive for it.

That said, I'm uncomfortable with Prothero's attempt to bracket religion scholars into one mode of examining religion. I like the approach he describes--scholars shouldn't consider themselves so far removed from their subjects and shouldn't 'otherize' them, and it's one an attitude I try to adopt in my own research. I just don't think that all religion scholarship should adopt this mode.

Religion scholars should be permitted to moralize as well (something Prothero engages in in the "On Faith" forum). As public intellectuals, they should be willing to be morally and ethically critical of aspects of religion, even in their scholarship. But when they do so, they should throw off any pretense at objectivity, and make it clear where they are coming from.

John, the link I followed to get there (from The Revealer, I think) called it "Prothero's blog," and it is set up using Blogger. It's actually a nice way to put up a site showcasing one's books, publications, etc.

I know when I'm reading an article on an LDS topic or a general religious topic, some disclosure by the author of "where they're coming from" is much appreciated. If they've got an agenda (and aren't blind to it), it helps to know. Most authors make that sort of attempt in the Preface or Introduction, in a book, but in articles or essays I see it less frequently. And I think it has more application to religion, as a topic, than to other topics.

Prothero noted there were several formal responses to his essay. I'll try to dig them up online.

I would say there is a lot to be critical of concerning any religious philosopher's interpretation of any subject.
How does it help the accuracy of a view point if the author "discloses" where they are coming from in advance? Every viewpoint should either stand or fall on its merits. Either you have a epistemological foundation for what you state or you don't.
In my humble opinion, if an author reveals his viewpoint, most people will either tune in or out, depending on their personal predilections.
I say, don't announce in advance and maybe you will expose someone to a viewpoint they would otherwise avoid considering. Heaven forbid, someone should learn something new. Consider everything!!!
Of course, where people are insecure in their beliefs, they want advance warning that they are going to be exposed to something anathema to those beliefs.

Thanks for the link; I find these questions fascinating. As an (aspiring, at least) theologian, I've often wondered about the current situation in which theology is seen as suspect in the academy because those in the discipline work from an explicit faith commitment—-but explicit commitments of other varieties (to feminism, to Marxism, etc.) are frequently valued rather than seen as problematic. I can imagine a kind of approach to religious studies which combined things like rigorous honesty, willingness to seriously engage evidence which might potentially undermine your beliefs, and genuine efforts to understand other religious worldviews, with straightforward acknowledgment and even perhaps use of your own religious commitments and perspective. I honestly don't think they have to be a liability. A Catholic studying religious topic x, for example, might well have a unique and valuable perspective on the subject not in spite of her Catholicism but rather because of it.

Lynette, I found the contrast Prothero made between "scholars of religion" and "theologians" to be revealing. The "scholars" are expected to be secular, objective, and bracket their faith commitments (or better yet, hide them or just lost them). "Theologians" can express faith commitments, but thereby take themselves outside the "scholar" category. Seems like politics and quibbling over labels to me.

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