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An Author Meets His Critics

Around Manuel A. Vásquez’s “More Than Belief: A Materialist Theory of Religion”

Manuel A. Vásquez, Abby Day, Lionel Obadia, David Chidester, and Chad E. Seales

Manuel Vásquez begins his book by describing university courses that frustrate his students by being text-based and divorced from real life. He rightly concludes that analyzing sacred texts does not alone explain lived religion and complex issues such as globalization, transnationalism, and hybrid identities. He is writing from a Religious Studies perspective that, as he says, sometimes suffers from an overly theological bias. Moves within the discipline to abandon ‘religion’ for something as equally diverse and difficult to pin down as ‘faith’ do not, he argues, take us any further, particularly because religion really matters to many people and therefore cannot be dismissed just because we scholars find it problematic. To adopt an approach that explores how religion is understood and lived by the people who practice it is, I agree, the most important task for people studying religion. If this serves as a wake-up call for people who still study religion as something, in Vásquez’s words, of angels rather than of people, then the book has done a great job.

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Jon Bialecki, Erica Weiss, Hillary Kaell, Christopher Hewlett, Sibyl Macfarlane, Grit Wesser, Emma Gobin, James S. Bielo, Sindre Bangstad, and Thorgeir Kolshus

SHULTS, F. LeRon, Iconoclastic Theology: Gilles Deleuze and the Secretion of Atheism, 242 pp., illustrations, index. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. Hardback, $104. ISBN 9780748684137.

BARBER, Daniel Colucciello, Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-secularism and the Future of Immanence, 232 pp., index. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. Hardback, $113. ISBN 9780748686360.

DROEBER, Julia, The Dynamics of Coexistence in the Middle East: Negotiating Boundaries Between Christians, Muslims, Jews and Samaritans in Palestine, 256 pp., notes, bibliography, index. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. Hardback, £58.00. ISBN 9781780765273.

ENGELKE, Matthew, God’s Agents: Biblical Publicity in Contemporary England, 320 pp., notes, references, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. Paperback, $34.95, £24.95. ISBN 9780520280472.

FAUSTO, Carlos, Warfare and Shamanism in Amazonia, 368 pp., illustrations, maps, tables, references, annex, index. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Hardback, £62. ISBN 9781107020061.

HARVEY, Graham, Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life, 244 pp. Durham: Acumen, 2013. Paperback, $23. ISBN 9781844656936.

NYNÄS, Peter, and Andrew Kam-Tuck YIP, eds., Religion, Gender and Sexuality in Everyday Life, 173 pp., index. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012. Hardback, £45. ISBN 9781409445838.

PALMIÉ, Stephan, The Cooking of History: How Not to Study Afro-Cuban Religion, 360 pp., notes, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Cloth, $85. ISBN 9780226019420.

SEALES, Chad E., The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town, 238 pp., illustrations, notes, index. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Paperback, $24.95. ISBN 9780199860289.

SELBY, Jennifer A., Questioning French Secularism: Gender Politics and Islam in a Parisian Suburb, 241 pp., illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Hardcover, $73. ISBN 9780230121010.

TOMLINSON, Matt, and Debra MCDOUGALL, eds., Christian Politics in Oceania, 260 pp., illustrations, maps, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2013. Hardback, $90. ISBN 9780857457462.