The Discipline of Religion is a lively critical journey through religious studies today, looking at its recent growth as an academic discipline, and its contemporary political and social meanings. Focusing on the differences between religious belief and academic religious discourse, Russell T. McCutcheon argues that the invention of religion as a discipline blurs the distinction between criticism and doctrine in its assertion of the relevance of faith as a credible object of study. In the leap from disciplinary criticism to avowal of actual cosmic and moral meaning, schools of religious studies extend their powers far beyond universities and into the everyday lives of those outside, managing and curtailing specific types of speech and dissent.

chapter |12 pages


part |2 pages

PART I Genealogy of credibility

chapter |16 pages

God’s people defending their ivory towers: reassessing the study of religion’s emergence in the U.S

Reassessing the study of religion’s emergence in the U.S.

chapter |29 pages

Autonomy, unity, and crisis

Rhetoric and the invention of a discipline

chapter |16 pages

Classification and the dog’s breakfast

The American Academy of Religion’s research interest survey

part |2 pages

PART II Techniques of dominance

chapter |26 pages

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Looking past the violence of cults and fanatics

chapter |21 pages

“Like small bumps on the back of the neck … ”

The problem of evil as something ordinary

part |2 pages

PART III Reworking the residue from our imperfect past

chapter |22 pages

Methods, theories, and the terrors of history

Closing the Eliadean era with some dignity

chapter |17 pages

The perfect past and the irony of narrative

Bruce Lincoln’s Theorizing Myth

chapter |22 pages

“Religion” and the citizen’s unrequited desires

Chips from the religion industry’s workshop