11. Religious Traditions from Japan

Religions of the World - A Critical Introduction - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Leslie Dorrough Smith [+-]
Avila University
Dr. Dorrough Smith's most recent research focuses on the cultural significance of American Conservative Protestant rhetoric, with special emphasis on the Christian Right. Many scholars who study the Christian Right (NCR) often account for the movement's popularity and distinction by pointing to its absolutist moral positions, its religious fervor, and its selective embrace of seemingly anti-modernist platforms. Unlike other theories of conservative power that focus on the allure of such moral absolutes, Dr. Dorrough Smith's work shows how these absolutes are really not the defining quality of the movement. Rather, they are the byproduct of a certain type of rhetoric (which she calls "chaos rhetoric") that uses chaos, rather than order, imagery to induce persuasion and thereby secure social power. Her work focuses on the linguistic engineering involved in producing chaos rhetoric, and how such movements depend on the strategic manipulation of specific cultural symbols to naturalize and "sell" their political interests.
Steven W Ramey [+-]
University of Alabama
Steven W. Ramey is a Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he also directs the Asian Studies Program. His specialty is in contemporary issues surrounding identifications in India, which he addresses in his book Hindu, Sufi, or Sikh (Palgrave 2008), where he analyzes specifically the practices and contested definitions of communities identified as Sindhi Hindus. He has extended this analysis to reflect on issues in the academic and public discourse surrounding the category religion and issues of identifications in the United States and other contexts.


Religions of the World provides a critical introduction to the various practices and ideas that people identify with religions around the world, emphasizing the discourse about specific religions and the interests and assumptions of those who contribute to it. Each central chapter focuses on one religion or regional tradition. Collectively, the ten chapters present 6 “religions”, treating each as a distinct entity, and 4 “Regional Traditions” that reflect the problems of applying the distinct religions model universally. Each chapter introduces four different descriptions of a particular religion or regional tradition. Following each representation will be an analysis of what this representation accomplishes for those who promote it and what the representation leaves out. After the analysis of the representation, a more specific case study addresses one movement or issue that illustrates elements related to that particular representation. The text does not attempt to erase the contradictions between the different representations, so that students do not finish the chapter with the idea that one representation is correct or that all four can be stitched together easily to make a full picture. Instead, students take away from each chapter knowledge about some of the details and issues related to a set of practices and conceptions and the complexity that any single representation hides. The objective is to make more transparent the activity of constructing a representation and the interests and contemporary consequences of particular representations, as people use them to legitimize groups and negotiate for social, legal, and economic resources. Thus, throughout the text, students interrogate who determines what represents each religion and the interests informing those decisions. From the Introduction through the Afterword, the text also highlights the various ways that these debates about what is included in each religion have significant legal, social, and political repercussions, among others, for people who engage the religions of the world. The Afterword also discusses ways the skills of analyzing representations that students will develop apply to areas beyond the study of religious discourses.

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Dorrough Smith, Leslie ; Ramey, Steven. 11. Religious Traditions from Japan. Religions of the World - A Critical Introduction. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. May 2022. ISBN 9780000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=41318. Date accessed: 20 Sep 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.41318. May 2022

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