Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life.
Sheffield: Acumen (Forthcoming).
Food, Sex and Strangers attends to more widespread religious activities than believing in or even worshipping deities. It challenges definitions of “religion” that emphasise “belief in God” because this is only one element of what only some religious people do when they do religion. It is interested in the braiding of religiosity with other everyday activities. Beginning with the Maori scholar T.P. Tawhai’s definition of religious activity as “doing violence with impunity”, this book argues that religion is an integral element of many people’s relationships with the wider world, an aspect of their dwelling among other beings (human or other-than-human) — including those one might eat, meet or marry. In particular, it is a negotiation of differences and similarities between individuals and communities of many kinds. It is best seen in rules of encounter or avoidance rather than in affirmations of belief. Food, Sex and Strangers gives definitional priority to commonplace activities among religious people rather than to peculiar metaphysics. It aims to provide a new foundation for studying religion(s) that does not give preference to themes arising from the history and polemics of only one religion.
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