Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interview by proxy

The first interview candidate for our new Religious Studies faculty position is due in town tonight and tomorrow. I'm wondering if any of you have any questions you'd like me to pose?

(Perhaps pertaining to the kinds of courses you'd like to see from a RS prof, how the candidate conceives the relation between philosophy & religion, etc.?)

For instance: do you think you'd be interested in taking courses on (say) Comparative Religion, Religion in America, Religion & the Law, Native American Religion, "Cults" & Religion... What else?


  1. Give me just one reasonably well established fact about the world that comes from “general philosophical views, moral views, personal experience and judgment” without any verifiable empirical input.

    Borrowed from Jerry Coyne.

  2. Man, I'm glad you didn't interview me!

    Besides substantive stumper questions, can you think of what you would ask a prospective Religious Studies faculty that will help us decide who to hire? Maybe related to course curricula, what they'd offer our students (including our non-religious students), how they conceive the relation between religion & philosophy, etc.

  3. Ok, I suppose that is a little tough. Apparently I'm in a pugnacious mood.

  4. I would ask:

    Given an academic environment, by what method do you settle or justify differences between various religious beliefs and scientific facts.

  5. No offense, but it sounds like neither of you would enjoy taking any sort of religious studies class anyway. O.o

    Dr. Oliver, I'd be interested in religion+law classes religion+social movements. Specifically also be interested in hearing how classes might address not merely comparative religions, but the syncretic aspects where religions have influenced each other, and how culture feeds into religion and then back into culture. I think some classes specifically on those issues (how the religious dialog bleeds into larger culture and in turn is itself changed by that culture) would be fascinating.

    1. No offense taken, and you are surely correct that a religious studies class would likely be pure torture for me. Comparative religions, though? Sure, that's great fun. It evokes a carnival atmosphere for me, pointing and laughing (internally) at the various oddities as I stroll down the midway.

    2. @ Jamie

      No offense taken here either but if you don't know the difference between academic RS and worship I'd be wasting my time explaining it to you.

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  7. Pugnacity has its place. But I don't want to alienate a potential colleague right off the bat. (There'll be plenty of time for that later!)

    I don't think most RS scholars see it as their function to justify religious discourse or to "settle or justify differences." That's the province or presumption of your professional working class philosophers.

    And that, come to think of it, would be a good thing to ask our interviewees about: whether it makes sense to bring religious studies and philosophy of religion together under a single aegis in the first place, and (given that we've been so yoked, like it or not) how we can all make the best of it.

  8. The candidate we met yesterday was terrific and would be an asset to our department. Thanks for your input.