The Patheos Portal and this Blog

Some time ago a colleague commented on a comment of my own that this blog was not as interesting as many appearing on the Patheos portal.  http://www.patheos.com

This has bubbled away in the background of my mind until this morning.  I jumped off my exercise machine [aka attempts to extend my life long enough for me to finish several books] to write my reaction before it evaporated from my misfiring synapses.

The Patheos portal – and most religious blogs – is primarily theological in its outlook.  That is, it contains blogs by theologians and by those who are employed professionally in Religious Studies departments or Departments of Religion, etc. at universities or seminaries.  I, on the other hand, am not a theologian, or a scholar trained in the religious studies stream.  I am firstly an historian.  My special focus and interest is the history of religion and of spirituality – I say ‘and’ here, but that is a mistake – students of mine will know my terms ‘religio’ and ‘spiritus’, two labels I invented to stick onto institutional religion and onto the sense of the numinous that individuals feel either as individuals or in a community of believers [or, non-believers!].  But I must develop this further to emphasize that they are integrated and integral to one another – humans are social animals mostly, and we experience ‘spiritus’ as part of a group – we ‘feel’ it inside our own heads and hearts, but reinforcement, growth, … watering and feeding of spiritus comes from a community.

Well, what does this tangent have to do with my approach and my reasoning for not entering this blog as part of the Patheos portal?  Well, as an historian, my principle interest is the integration and dis-integration of religion into culture [that is, in its anthropological sense, not its ‘artistic’ sense] and how this changes over time.  Theology is a part of this picture, but for my interests a lesser part.  In the Patheos portal, theology takes pride of place and is central.  I am less interested in what religious professionals, well, profess…than I am in how real people function as religious and spiritual beings in society over time.  As an historian, I focus in this blog on the overall social and cultural setting of religion and all the factors in this maelstrom called life.

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