It used to be possible to think that religion was playing less and less of a role in shaping our world, and that it might be destined to disappear into irrelevance within our life times. Yet the events of recent decades have made such a view itself disappear into irrelevance: we clearly live in a world in which religion makes a difference.
That means that, to understand our world well, you need to understand the strange, complex, diverse social phenomena that we call ‘religion’. To put it another way: intelligent citizenship requires religious literacy.
Adam Dinham, Professor of Faith and Public Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Matthew Frances, Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University, have put together a collection of essays exploring this idea of ‘religious literacy’. What is it? Why exactly do we need it? Where can we get it? what does it look like when you have it?
My own essay in the volume, co-written with David Ford from the University of Cambridge, explores how religious literacy requires both religious studies and theology. Theology matters because it is the discipline by which scholars learn to follow the practices of deliberation internal to a religious community, to learn that kinds of moves by which those practices proceed, and to discover how they have been and how they might be deployed.
Understanding these practices of deliberation and what can be done with them is one important facet of the literacy we need in order to live in a world shaped, in part, by religion.
The book is Adam Dinham and Matthew Francis (eds), Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice (Bristol: Polity Press, 2015).
Link to book:
Professor Mike Higton. Professor Higton’s post at Durham is part of the University’s Common Awards partnership with the Church of England and is responsible for academic input into the University’s validation of the Common Awards in Theology, Ministry and Mission offered by the Church in colleges and courses around the country, and for developing collaborative research projects that bring together people from the church and university sectors to discuss the future of theological education. Professor Higton currently supervises or co-supervises several PhD and DThM students at Durham, Cambridge, and Exeter Universities. Research interests include Christian Doctrine, Christology, Postliberal Theology, Anglican Theology, and Theology of Higher Education. More Information can be found on our Contributors page and the Department’s website.