Podcast: Carole Cusack on Invented Religions

Please find details below of the latest podcast from the Religious Studies Project, with Carole M. Cusack discussing invented religions, including New Atheism. 

What is an “Invented Religion”? Why should scholars take these religions seriously? What makes these “inventions” different from the revelations in other religions? What happens when an author does not want their story to become a religious text?

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes.

In this interview with David, Carole M. Cusack (Associate Professor in Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney) answers these questions and more, exploring her notion of “Invented Religions” and introducing the listener to a wide variety of contemporary and unusual forms of religion. Discussion flows through a range of topics – from Discordianism and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to Scientology, Jediism and the New Atheism – and demonstrates how the works of authors such as Thomas Pynchon and Robert A. Heinlein can be transformed by others and take on a life of their own. In her own words, “This is a fiction so good it should be true…”

Carole Cusack trained as a medievalist and her doctorate was published as Conversion Among the Germanic Peoples (Cassell, 1998). Since the late 1990s she has taught in contemporary religious trends, publishing on pilgrimage and tourism, modern Pagan religions, new religious movements, the interface between religion and politics, and religion and popular culture. She is the author of The Essence of Buddhism (Lansdowne, 2001), Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith (Ashgate, 2010), and The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), 2011.

View Carole’s page on Academia.edu. Of particular relevance to the topic of this interview is her article 
Science Fiction as Scripture: Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and the Church of All Worlds in Christopher Hartney, Alex Norman, and Carole M. Cusack (eds), Creative Fantasy and the Religious Imagination, special issue of Literature & Aesthetics, Vol. 19, No. 2, SSLA, 2009, pp. 72-91. The full text is available here if you have an Academia.edu account (and if you don’t have an Academia.edu account, and are looking to increase your networking and ability to access the most up-to-date research in your area, we suggest that you get one now!).

If you have institutional access to the International Journal for the Study of New Religions, you may also find the following article of interest: Discordian Magic: Paganism, the Chaos Paradigm and the Power of ParodyInternational Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol. 2, No. 1, May 2011.

“What is Phenomenology?” First Report for the Religious Studies Project

The Religious Studies Project  (RSP) website and podcasting project launched today, 16th January 2012.  It features a weekly audio interview (of around 30 minutes) with leading scholars of Religious Studies (RS) and related fields, which shall be available through the website, iTunes and other portals. In addition to the podcasts, the website will also feature weekly articles from postgraduate students and other scholars of religion on the themes of the interview that week, in addition to other useful resources and articles relevant to teachers and students of religion in the modern world.

Every Friday, the RSP will publish feature articles on the topic of the week’s interview. The first response,   to be published 20 January 2012, is entitled “What is Phenomenology?” has been written by Jonathan Tuckett (University of Stirling)

You can find details of the podcasts and reports at the Report for Religious Studies Project site.

The RSP was founded by David G. Robertson and Christopher R. Cotter, and is presented in association with the British Association for the Study of Religions. For more information on this relationship, see here.

The Religious Studies Project Launches Today

Today saw the launch of the Religious Studies Project, directed by Christopher R. Cotter and David G. Robertson in association with the British Association for the Study of Religions.

The project will allow some great dialogue between scholars, researchers, in fact anyone with an interest in contemporary issues in Religious Studies. Every Monday, they’ll be putting out a new podcast featuring an interview with a  leading international scholar, presenting a key idea in  the contemporary socio-scientific study of religion in a concise and accessible way. You can find the podcast and accompanying notes here, or you can also subscribe on iTunes to make sure you always get the latest episode.

Each Wednesday, they will also feature a resource to help postgraduate students and aspiring academics. And on Fridays  a response to each of the podcast will be put up, reflecting on, expanding upon or disagreeing with the Monday podcast. Plus much more, including conference reports, opinion, publishing opportunities, book reviews.

Please take some time today to have a look at the Religious Studies Project site, follow them on Twitter, “Like” them on Facebook or rate them on iTunes. Feel free to share this with friends, on you facebook wall or  post to interested networks.