Back in 2009, when Sects and Violence in the Ancient World started out, there was a fair bit of interest. At one point I was listed among the top fifty “biblioblogs.” Back in those days I got to know James McGrath, the curator of Religion Prof, a great blog now hosted on Patheos. If you want a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in religious studies, you should read him. With an energy I can’t conceive, he posts interesting stuff every day, even while being a professor. And like me, he’s fascinated by religion and pop culture. He also understands something—links and likes and shares are important. People in my generation and beyond often don’t think that clicking that little thumbs up will do anything. It does. More so, that share button.
I was really pleased when James agreed to do a virtual interview with me about Holy Horror and Nightmares with the Bible. You can find the interview here—and be sure to recommend and share it. James has several interesting books of his own. You should check them out. The world of religious studies (and dare I claim it, biblical studies) is hardly moribund. Underfunded, yes. Socially devalued, certainly. But alive nonetheless. James’ blog is proof of that. My regular readers will know my usual jeremiad about how higher education has been treating religious studies. You see, I’m an historical thinker. Where we come from is important. Higher education began because of religion. Its origins lie in monastic communities preserving learning—some of it secular—for the good of the world. Now administrators looking for a department to cut know just where to turn. Shouldn’t we treat our ancestors with a little more respect?
I’m forcefully reminded of the many times analysts have declared that religion would fade away. The claim has been made multiple times over the centuries. At the same time scientists studying humankind conclude that religion is good for us, and that we’re naturally inclined to it. Of course we should cease studying it! Well, Sects and Violence in the Ancient World has also evolved over the years. Not all of my posts are about religion anymore. Most of them touch on it, however, because I’ve studied it my entire life. Not only did religion make Homo sapiens what they are, it also formed some of us individually in ways so profound that we’ll never escape it. Some of us even wear it proudly. Great job with the blog, James, and thanks for the shout out!