1st Edition

Death, Life and Laughter Essays on religion in honour of Douglas Davies

Edited By Mathew Guest, Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon Copyright 2017
    288 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Birth, death and the rituals that take us from one to the other tell us a lot about humanity and our quest to understand ourselves. It is cross-disciplinary analyses of the life course that have generated the most profound insights into religion and spirituality, challenging the concepts and methods we commonly use to understand these universal aspects of human experience. Douglas Davies' work is a rare example of this kind of scholarship, challenging the boundaries that separate theology from the social sciences and that divide academia from public life. This book serves as a tribute to Davies' work and a critical commentary on the questions that arise from it. Featuring essays by renowned international scholars, this book brings cutting-edge research into conversation with ongoing debates about disciplinary difference and the nature of scholarship.

    Introduction: Transgressing Boundaries

    Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon and Mathew Guest


    Part I: Cultures of Meaning and Religious Identity

    1. The Book of Mormon: The American Gospel?

    Seth Kunin

    2. Death, Sometimes, Has its Price? How Douglas Davies and Sergio Leone Cope with Capitalism and Change

    James Crossley

    3. Mormonism and the Fourth-Century Search for a Christian Doctrine of God

    Grant Underwood

    4. Words and Deeds against Exclusion: Deprivation, Activism and Religiosity in Inner-city Birmingham

    Christian Karner and David Parker


    Part II: Ritual, Symbolism and Identity

    5. Religion and Ritual Markers between the Public and the Private: Funerary Rites in Sweden

    Anders Bäckström

    6. Facing existential meaning challenges through a post-secular clinical model: Swedish case illustrations following abortion

    Valerie DeMarinis

    7. The Cedar of Lebanon in England: the Introduction and Reception of a Sacred Tree

    Charles Watkins


    Part III: Disciplinary Identity and the Boundaries of Understanding

    8. Hope and creativity: the shifting nexus between religion and development

    James Beckford

    9. Theology, Social Science, and the ‘Power’ of Religion and of the Spirit

    David Martin

    10. Called to Speak: Language, Meaning and the Status of Research Data

    Matthew Wood

    11. Where does Islamic Studies Fit?

    Hugh Goddard

    12. From Jevons to Collini (via Douglas Davies): Reflections on Higher Education and Religious Identity

    Mathew Guest

    13. A Break from Prose: Defying the Boundaries of Genre

    Eleanor Nesbitt

    14. An Inquisitive Presence: Thinking with Douglas Davies on the Study of Religion

    Michael Thate

    Epilogue: A Response

    Douglas Davies


    Mathew Guest has published widely on contemporary British Evangelicalism and on Christianity in general, addressing such topics as the sociology of spirituality, creationist belief and the reproduction and transmission of religious identities. His recent research has focused on the status of religion within university contexts. He has worked with Douglas Davies on several research projects and as a teaching colleague in Durham for the past fifteen years. With Douglas Davies, he has co-authored Modern Christianity: Reviewing Its Place in Britain Today (2000) and Bishops, Wives and Children: Spiritual Capital across the Generations (2007). He has also co-edited Congregational Studies in the UK: Christianity in a Post-Christian Context (with Karin Tusting and Linda Woodhead; 2004), Religion and Knowledge: Sociological Perspectives (with Elisabeth Arweck; forthcoming), is the author of Evangelical Identity and Contemporary Culture: A Congregational Study in Innovation (2007) and co-author (with Kristin Aune, Sonya Sharma and Rob Warner) of Christianity and the University Experience: Understanding Student Faith (2013).

    Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon has worked with Douglas Davies on the UK case studies within the framework of two European research projects. The first, 'Welfare and Religion in a European Perspective', resulted in, among other projects, reports in one of the chapters in the volume Welfare and Religion in 21st Century Europe: Volume 1 Configuring the Connections (2010). It also provided the empirical material for her PhD thesis (supervised by Douglas Davies), later published as The In-between Church: A Study of the Church of England's Role in Society through the Prism of Welfare (2009). From the second project, the European Commission-funded 'Welfare and Values in Europe: Transitions Related Religion, Minorities and Gender', a number of project reports were produced and published online, as well as various articles, including 'Care and Career: A Value Conflict with a Woman's Face, Beliefs and Values' (forthcoming). She is currently engaged in research into values and family life in Sweden and is editing a volume (in Swedish) on Welfare and Religion.