The other day I found I might be able to get some funding to revise my World Religions course. When it was first produced in 2004, there was not a lot available on the net that was up to a scholarly level…. The situation is very much better today in 2011. To this point I have fiddled, and adjusted and added piecemeal to bring better linked sites and links to journals and eBooks. But, I might be able to get some cash to spend good time over the summer making the course more interactive and with more mulimedia, the second being more important in terms of understanding religion. Why? Because religion is an experience. It is usually taught in terms of doctrines or dogma – which is how religious professionals see religion – lists of things good and true followers must memorize, and perhaps live, but mostly memorize. My research interests have always been, however, to look at the disjuncture between what the ordinary follower perceives as properly religious, and what any particular religion’s leadership defines as properly religious.
Thus far, the difference lies in that dichotomy between dogma and living a religion…. mostly the dogmas are unreachable by the ordinary follower – unrealistic ideals to be strived for, but never reached.