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?
2. Death, Sometimes, Has its Price? How Douglas Davies and Sergio Leone Cope with Capitalism and Change
3. Mormonism and the Fourth-Century Search for a Christian Doctrine of God
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
6. Facing existential meaning challenges through a post-secular clinical model: Swedish case illustrations following abortion
7. The Cedar of Lebanon in England: the Introduction and Reception of a Sacred Tree
Part III: Disciplinary Identity and the Boundaries of Understanding
8. Hope and creativity: the shifting nexus between religion and development
9. Theology, Social Science, and the ‘Power’ of Religion and of the Spirit
10. Called to Speak: Language, Meaning and the Status of Research Data
11. Where does Islamic Studies Fit?
12. From Jevons to Collini (via Douglas Davies): Reflections on Higher Education and Religious Identity
13. A Break from Prose: Defying the Boundaries of Genre
14. An Inquisitive Presence: Thinking with Douglas Davies on the Study of Religion
Epilogue: A Response