Summary:

Religion is a cultural practice. And culture is bound up with religious ideas, identities and religion practice. Religion can be understood as a form of culture, and the study of religion is a form of cultural studies.

And what we gain from this is the shift of our point of reference to the practical, the everyday, that is what people do.

Episode notes

If the study of religion is going to be meaningful and helpful, then we need to take off the gloves and get down and dirty with real life. That is what religion is about, or at least that is how we can try to understand religion.

And the means by which I signal this approach is by calling it the study of religion and culture.

Culture is about the everyday, the everything, the world and what we do in it. And religion is too.

Religion is embedded in culture. No… religion is culture. And very often it is the other way around – culture is embedded in religion, and culture is religion.

It is only for convenience that we talk as though these are two separate and distinct categories.

Rather, both are different ways of talking about human behaviour.

In short, religion is a cultural practice. And culture is bound up with religious ideas, identities and religion practice. Religion can be understood as a form of culture, and the study of religion is a form of cultural studies.

And what we gain from this is the shift of our point of reference to the practical, the everyday, that is what people do.

The idea of culture is, in itself, a multifaceted albeit useful tool for analysis. Culture usually refers to two quite distinct areas of life:

(a) culture as cultural products, i.e. what people do in literature, art, music, and so on; and

(b) culture as a shared system or way of life.

But these two ideas of culture are related: a group which shares a culture will identify with particular cultural products, and religion may act to unite the two (for example, the English as a culture share not only Shakespeare, but also the King James Bible).

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About the Religion Bites Podcast

 

 

The Religion Bites podcast gives you quick and simple intros to the study of religion, to help you think a bit further about the issues of religion and culture in the contemporary world. If we want to understand today’s world, we need to ‘get’ why people are religious – why they ‘do religion’ in the many ways that religion is done. This is not a podcast about being religious, it is about understanding religion and the role that religion has in the contemporary world.

ALSO BY MALORY NYE