Department of Religious Studies

News & Events

RSNewsAndEventsImage1New Publications from Religious Studies Faculty

The Contribution of Ziauddin Sardar's Work to the Religion-Science Conversation World Futures,
Volume 63, Issue 8 December 2007 , pages 599 - 610

The article claims that Ziauddin Sardar's contribution to the religion-science conversation is primarily a performance situated in a social location that gives him access to a highly significant perspective. Sardar places Western science within the context of the Western culture from which it emerged and which it continues to serve. The contemporary hegemonous science of today is one form of science. Its acceptance as a universal and objective form enables its users and promoters to exercise imperialistic control over much of the world. Sardar's critique receives its effective bite from his social location as an immigrant Muslim, raised and educated in Western culture. The article examines the relevance of his social location to the issues with which he is most concerned, such as promotion of the rights and responsibilities of cultures, in particular Islamic cultures, traditionally cast as "Other" by the West. They too have their sciences and these sciences function often within worldviews that are "religious." Sardar's critique of science and his call for the recognition of the so-called Other cultures is significant for its performativity. His work is not merely a descriptive or explanatory account, but bears also the performative characteristics that seek to effect the change for which he calls.

RSNewsAndEventsImage2Moral Habitat: 
Ethos and Agency for the Sake of Earth

By Dr. Nancie Erhard

A work of environmental ethics that looks at how “otherkind”—and humankind—contributes to our moral imagination.

Moral Habitat explores how our moral imaginations and moral norms have been shaped by and even cocreated with Earth in diverse biotic communities. Weaving together science and religion with indigenous and womanist traditions, Nancie Erhard uses examples from a variety of sources, including post-Cartesian science, the Old Testament, and the Mi´kmaq tribe of Eastern Canada. She demonstrates how each portrays the agency—including the moral agency—of the natural world. From this cross-cultural approach, she recasts the question of how we conceive of humans as moral agents. While written for “the sake of Earth,” this thought-provoking book goes well beyond the issue of ecology to show the contribution that such an approach can make to pluralist ethics on a range of timely social issues.

“This is a powerful work that achieves a radical undermining of anthropocentrism. The author's treatment of culture and the many ways it is generated and expressed is excellent.” — Daniel C. Maguire, Marquette University 

Nancie Erhard is Assistant Professor of Comparative Religious Ethics at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Please go here to order your copy.

RSNewsAndEventsImage3Nationalism, Globalism and the Re-establishment of the Trúc Lâm Thi?n Buddhist sect in Northern Vietnam 
By Dr. Alec Soucy

Chapter 10 in: Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam (Philip Taylor, editor ) 
By Dr. Alec Soucy

Chapter 10 in: Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam (Philip Taylor, editor )

In recent years Zen ( Thi?n ) Buddhism has started to emerge as an alternative to the traditional beliefs and practices of Pure Land ( T?nh Ð? ) Buddhism that has predominated in northern Vietnam. Lay Buddhists in Hanoi have begun to make meditation a central focus of their Buddhist practice and to speak of the Zen school of Buddhism as being foundational for Vietnamese Buddhism. The re-establishment of the Trúc Lâm school of Buddhism, which proclaims Trúc Lâm Zen as a uniquely Vietnamese school, stands at the centre of this movement. The Trúc Lâm school was reintroduced only recently to its historical birth place at Yên T? Mountain by the students of the southern master Thích Thanh T?. Three years ago a monk from Hue, who had studied in Ðà L?t under Thích Thanh T?, founded Sùng Phúc Thi?n T?. This monastery and meditation hall in Gìa Lâm, on the outskirts of Hanoi is the first in the area that, to my knowledge, specifically opens meditation to members of the laity. The research for this paper was conducted over several weeks in 2004-2005, with most of the information coming from interviews with lay followers and monastics at Sùng Phúc Thi?n T?, and augmented with information from web-based and print publications.

This paper examines the appeal of new styles of meditative practice to contemporary lay practitioners in suburban Hanoi while also investigating the strategies that they use to differentiate themselves from other lay practitioners of Pure Land Buddhism, which remains the normative Buddhism in northern Vietnam. It also looks at the way in which followers of this school have internalized discourses of nationalism, superstition and globalization in the self-conception of their practice. Finally, it explores the contributing role played by the state's discourses on religion and national culture and the influence of transnational Buddhism in the unique reinterpretations of what constitutes authentic Vietnamese Buddhism.