Chapter 7: On the Edge of the Inside: Contemplative Approaches to the Study of Religion

The Insider/Outsider Debate - New Perspectives in the Study of Religion - George D. Chryssides

Lynne Scholefield [+-]
St Mary's University
Lynne Scholefield is Senior Research Fellow at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where she was previously programme Director for Theology and Religious Studies. Lynne’s research interests focus around religious identity in Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, including in converts between these traditions. Recent publications include - Engaging with Living Religion (Routledge, 2015 with Stephen E. Gregg), ‘Memories and translations in the stories told by converts to Catholicism and Islam’, DISKUS Vol 10 (2009) and ‘Bagels, schnitzel and McDonalds – ‘fuzzy frontiers’ of Jewish identity in an English Jewish secondary school’ in British Journal of Religious Education 26(3), 2004 p237-248.

Description

Feminist epistemology encourages us to practise ‘situated knowing’, an inter-subjective approach which, at its best, enables us to begin to know the ‘other’ without collapsing the differences between us. However, fieldwork with religious communities often demonstrates the challenging nature of this approach - religious ‘others’ are often rejected or punished for their ‘otherness or ‘outsideness’. The chapter examines this issue by reflecting upon participant observation undertaken with religious practitioners influenced by the work of Ken Wilber and others, who have sought to teach a contemplative form of higher consciousness which they believe reflects a harmony between the insights of religious worldviews and contemporary scientific research. This approach to contemplative consciousness is then applied to issues of religious conversion, building on the author’s previous work on the ‘fuzzy frontiers’ of religious identity during conversion narratives. In so doing, it is hoped that a model of engagement which values inter-subjective engagement with our chosen communities of study may be advocated - a reflective approach which encourages the researcher to ‘get on the edge of the inside’ of their ‘subjects’ of study.

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Citation

Scholefield, Lynne. Chapter 7: On the Edge of the Inside: Contemplative Approaches to the Study of Religion. The Insider/Outsider Debate - New Perspectives in the Study of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Oct 2019. ISBN 9781781793442. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=27453. Date accessed: 24 May 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27453. Oct 2019

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