robert orsi

Talking Religion at 30,000 Feet


As I learned in college, religious studies is predicated on a notion of bracketing. “When we study religion academically,” professors tell students every semester, “we bracket our own beliefs and ideas so we can better understand others.” When I tell a stranger that I study religion in America the first question is always “What do you plan to do with that?” But the second question always begins, “so, what do you think about…” Sometimes I try to bend the question to some neutral space where I can offer a well-informed opinion that brings historical clarity without actually taking a side. Other times I just mutter something and go back to my book and wonder if this bracketing is rude, unnecessary, and silly. Shouldn’t I just tell the tourist in seat 17B what I really think?

Read More