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Author: Jenny H. Pak
Although science was originally broadly conceptualized as a systematic, rigorous activity to produce trustworthy knowledge, psychologists adopted a single philosophy of science and strictly enforced natural science as the only proper “scientific” psychology. Qualitative research has been part of modern psychology from the beginning, but it was obscured for nearly a century as positivist epistemology came to dominate the field. Building culturally robust and intelligible theories capable of responding more effectively to complex problems faced by a rapidly changing world calls for openness in methodological diversity. Deeply rooted in a hermeneutic tradition, cultural psychology has challenged the appropriateness of seeking reductive knowledge because higher mental processes such as religious beliefs, values, and choices are bound by historical and cultural context. As greater interdisciplinary integration and methodological innovations are necessary to keep psychology of religion relevant, narrative inquiry has emerged as a promising integrative paradigm.
Narrative Approaches in Theology and Religious Studies
Stories have always been important in religion, but systematic explorations of the narrative dimensions of religion are more recent and interdisciplinary explorations of narrative approaches in theology and religious studies are scarce. Religious Stories We Live By paves the ground for these much needed interdisciplinary conversations. It first offers philosophical, psychological, and epistemological reflections on the importance of narrative approaches in the study of religion. The subsequent sections contain case studies and disciplinary overviews of narrative perspectives in biblical, empirical, systematic, and historical approaches in theology and religious studies. Combined, the contributions showcase the potential of narrative perspectives in bridging theology and religious studies, as well as descriptive and normative approaches. Narrative perspectives offer a fruitful common ground for the study of religion.

Contributors include Angela Berlis, Marjo Buitelaar, James Day, Maaike de Haardt, Marieke den Braber, Luco van den Brom, Marjet Derks, Toke Elshof, Dorothea Erbele Küster, John Exalto, Ruard Ganzevoort, Joep van Gennip, Annelies van Heijst, Chris Hermans, Liesbeth Hoeven, Anne-Marie Korte, Edwin Koster, Marit Monteiro, Michael Scherer-Rath, Klaas Spronk, Piet Verschuren, Wim Weren, and Willien van Wieringen.
Volume Editor: Aaron W. Hughes
Theory and Method are two words that cause considerable consternation in the academic study of religion. Although everyone claims to be aware of and to engage them, the fact of the matter is that they remain poorly understood. Some see the terms as irritants that get in the way of data interpretation and translation. Others may invoke them sporadically to appear in vogue but then return quickly and myopically to their material and with little concern for the larger issues that such terms raise. To contribute to these debates, the present volume reproduces select articles from Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (MTSR) from the first 25 volumes of the journal, and allows a group of younger scholars to introduce and review them, asking if the issues raised are still relevant to the field.
Author: Paul Cassell
Why is religion so important to individuals and societies? What gives religion its profound meaningfulness and longevity? Enhancing perspectives taken from sociology and ritual theory, Religion, Emergence, and the Origins of Meaning describes how ‘emergence theory’ – developed to make sense of life and mind – explains why religious communities are special when compared to ordinary human social groups. Paul Cassell argues that in religious ritual, beliefs concerning unseen divine agencies are made uniquely potent, inviting and guiding powerful, alternative experiences, and giving religious groups a form of organization distinct from ordinary human social groups. Going beyond the foundational descriptions of Émile Durkheim and Roy Rappaport, Cassell utilizes the best of 21st century emergence theory to characterize religion’s emergent dynamics.
Volume Editors: Luther Martin and Donald Wiebe
Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe together have spent the better part of a century exploring possibilities for a scientific study of religion. The following essays are a record of their conversations together and of their conversations and controversies with a number of leading scholars in religious studies that address that possibility. As with any scientific endeavor, knowledge advances when research assumptions and experimental designs are collegially discussed and critically assessed. It is hoped that these essays might provide the occasion for scholars in the field to discuss the theoretical and methodological issues they have raised, to debate and expand upon them, or, in the spirit of forthright scientific inquiry, to refute the arguments they have made.
Conspiracy theories are a ubiquitous feature of our times. The Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion is the first reference work to offer a comprehensive, transnational overview of this phenomenon along with in-depth discussions of how conspiracy theories relate to religion(s). Bringing together experts from a wide range of disciplines, from psychology and philosophy to political science and the history of religions, the book sets the standard for the interdisciplinary study of religion and conspiracy theories.
In Theoretical and Empirical Investigations of Divination and Magic ten leading scholars of religion provide up-to-date investigations into the classic domains of divination and magic. Spanning historical, anthropological, cognitive, philosophical and theoretical chapters, the volume’s authors invite the reader to explore how divinatory practices and magical rituals, both apart and in interaction, can be reconceptualized in line with 21st century scholarship.

Following an introduction addressing the ever-pertinent discussion of the status and epistemological value of the categories inherited from our scholarly predecessors, the volume includes analyses of divinatory and magic practices in particular historical areas, as well as comparative, theoretical and philosophical discussions, making this an indispensable volume for anyone interested in broader comparative approaches to magic and divination.

Contributors are Lars Albinus, Edward Bever, Gideon Bohak, Corby Kelly, Lars Madsen, Anders Klostergaard Petersen, Jörg Rüpke, Jesper Frøkjær Sørensen, Jørgen Podemann Sørensen, Dimitris Xygalatas.
Author: Barbara Keller
Psychoanalytic and Psychometric Perspectives on Religion suggests to combine perspectives from psychoanalysis and academic psychology, from nomothetic and idiothetic research, for more depth of vision for the current psychology of religion. In this interdisciplinary study, Barbara Keller demonstrates the potential of integrative perspectives by analysing topics such as religious development, religion and personality, and the process of working with religious issues in psychotherapy. Options for the study of lived “religion” are discussed, taking into consideration North American and European contexts of religious experience and of psychological and psychoanalytic discussion.
In Terror Management Theory: A Practical Review of Research and Application, Robert B. Arrowood and Cathy R. Cox discuss relevant research from an experimental, existential psychology tradition. Outlining the past thirty years of research within terror management, the authors discuss such topics as religion, close relations, politics and law, existential growth, and physical and mental health.

Although the inevitable outcome of all humanity is death, according to terror management theory, we adhere to cultural worldviews and establish close relations in order to boost our self-esteem. Through these defences, we deny our death and attain a degree of immortality, staving off existential fear by being part of an enduring cultural system that will outlive any individual member.