From US presidents holding Bible Studies in the Oval office, the massacre of Muslims in Buddhist Myanmar or the complex negotiation of Sunni and Shia alliances in the Middle East, religion currently dominates world affairs. Meanwhile the number of people who don't follow a particular faith, but consider themselves 'spiritual', continues to increase. Some scientists and anthropologists now think that religious feeling might be hard-wired into our DNA, a fundamental aspect of what makes us human.
Graham Ward argues that the study of theology and religion, as a single academic discipline, plays a vital role in helping us to understand politics, world affairs, and the nature of humanity itself. Religions can be used to justify inhumane actions, but religion also feeds dreams, inspires hopes, and shapes aspirations. By invoking a sense of wonder about the natural world, religion can promote scientific discoveries, and by focusing on shared experiences, religion helps bind societies together. Because religion is rooted in the imagination itself, its study involves staring into the profundities of who we are. Religion will not go away, so it needs to be understood. That's why the study of it matters.
'Graham Ward makes a bold and original case for studying theology and religion together. In a breathtaking journey across space and time, he explores why religion has captured the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of billions of people the world over, and why theological and religious literacy is vital for living wisely today.'
Jolyon Mitchell, University of Edinburgh
‘Readers will be grateful for the compelling examples, the accessible prose, and the generous tone of this book by a distinguished scholar.’
Thomas Tweed, author of Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion
“An engaging personal reflection on Theology and Religious Studies, how they have come together, and what they can tell us about who we are.”
Professor Linda Woodhead MBE, Lancaster University