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Circling the ElephantA Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity$
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John J. Thatamanil

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288526

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288526.001.0001

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Defining the Religious

Defining the Religious

Comprehensive Qualitative Orientation

(p.152) 5 Defining the Religious
Circling the Elephant

John J. Thatamanil

Fordham University Press

This chapter takes on the following tasks. First, it contends that genealogy of religions does not dispel the possibility of advancing new theories of the religious. Genealogical inquiry can provide a clearing in which new critically self-conscious definitions of the religious can be deployed because here is no doing without the category altogether. Second, this chapter offers a definition of the religious that attempts to avoid the kinds of reifications that have plagued theories that have not passed through the turbulent waters of the genealogical project. To be religious is to seek comprehensive qualitative orientation by means of interpretive schemes and therapeutic regimes assembled from the always fluid repertoires of religious traditions. Because religious traditions have always been composed of contested and fluid repertoires, no religion is a reified self-identical and static something that admits of no porosity and thus forestalls interreligious learning.

Keywords:   Peter Berger, Robert Campany, comprehensive qualitative orientation, John Dewey, interpretive schemes, Robert C. Neville, repertoires, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, stipulative definitions of religion, therapeutic regimes

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