What is Religious Studies?
A Journey of Inquiry


    Learning about religion from outside any one religion is exciting. But it can be unnerving, too. When students happen upon a religious studies course for the first time, they’re often surprised by what they find. Expectations frequently don’t match experience. Based on years of teaching such courses in the setting of a large state university (Virginia Commonwealth University), my colleague Esther Nelson and I set out to pave a way with What Is Religious Studies?: A Journey of Inquiry. Light and straightforward, it touches on the challenges of defining religion, the relationship between religion and spirituality, what is the sacred, religion and violence, and some of the defining voices and theories that have shaped the academic study of religion over the years. Using the extended metaphor of a mountain climb, we wrote this little book (it’s a quick and easy read) to help prepare people to get the most out of any religious studies course, their first or fiftieth… and to have a little fun along the way. Enjoy!