Can religion be studied academically? Can one apply the discipline of one trained to analysis of historical periods to faith?
I do this… but is it a sign of one with no faith? Or was Descartes correct that one can isolate parts of your mind, yourself really, into discrete sections that do not touch each other. The man who turned me from an interest in legal and constitutional history to the study of religion in history advised that you should only study a religion not your own. In that way only he thought, could you study with proper scholarly detachment. Among Canadian historians of religion, he is the only one I know of who actually did this, however. He is Michael Gauvreau, simply the best historian of religion in this country. The others are very good, but seem to focus on aspects of Christianity they have a personal connection to. I cheated a bit when I got my union ticket [PhD] – I focussed on Canadian Anglicanism. A cheat because while I researched and wrote my dissertation, I was a Catholic – but I was raised in the Anglican Church of Canada and have kept a soft spot for this complex institution.