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Language plays a key role in religion, framing how people describe spiritual experience and giving structure to religious beliefs and practices. Bringing together work from a team of world-renowned scholars, this volume introduces contemporary research on religious discourse from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. It introduces methods for analysis of a range of different kinds of text and talk, including institutional discourse within organised religions, discourse around spirituality and spiritual experience within religious communities, media discourse about the role of religion and spirituality in society, translations of sacred texts, political discourse, and ritual language. Engaging and easy-to-read, it is accessible to researchers across linguistics, religious studies, and other related disciplines. A comprehensive introduction to all the major research approaches to religious language, it will become a key resource in the emerging inter-disciplinary field of language and religion.
The final chapter presents the conclusions of the book, looking specifically at how speaking publicly gives people authority, particularly when others listen to and support them. Then it discusses the challenges and opportunities of speaking about one's faith in contemporary, technologically mediated contexts. Finally, how diversity of belief is managed within religious communities is discussed, in relation to the data analysed in the previous chapters.
This chapter focuses on how authority is claimed by individuals in religious traditions and the role of sacred texts as the 'word of God' in both Christianity and Islam. How individuals take on that authority for themselves, using scared texts in their discourse is analysed, with a discussion of how people of different faiths discuss the differences in their sacred texts, and how they establish authority when cultural norms change.
This chapter begins with defining the key terms of religion and discourse, presenting how different approaches to language have influenced the understanding of religious experience and vice versa. A definition of discourse is provided which focuses on functions, embodied cognition, and emergence. Religion and spiritual experience have been described from a variety of perspectives with attempts to understand language with various perspectives (functional, embodied cognition, and emergence) applied to religious language and talk about religious experience. Finally, the emergence and influence of mediatisation and secularisation are discussed in terms of their effects on religious believers.
This chapter focuses on giving theoretical and methodological frameworks for dealing with religious discourse. While religious discourse can be observed in a variety of places, given the focus of this research on language-in-use and the development of religious belief and practice in these contexts, public dialogues about religion, in both supportive and antagonistic settings, are used as the primary data in this study. The data represents the ways in which speakers, foregrounding their religious identity, speak about religious belief and practice together, with a focus on instances in which the speakers are addressing challenges to the beliefs posed by social changes, such as those about homosexuality. Data sources were identified as a part of an ongoing, ten-year longitudinal observation of religious users online following principles of Discourse-Centred Online Ethnography and describing the changes in systems in interaction over time, following the principles of a Discourse-Dynamics Approach and discourse analysis using Positioning Theory.
This chapter focuses on how religion is reprented in contemporary life and how categories like 'Christian' and 'Muslim' are established both within one's own religious community and in contrast to people of different faiths. The role of religion in the wider world is then considered with a particualr focus on how religions adapt to changing cultural norms.
This chapter addresses the opportunities and challenges for believers living in the contemporary world, balancing the pressures of their own communities and their individual belief. The chapter discusses the influence of the market economy on the the presentation of belief in the contemporary world, and how debates between people of the same faith arise and are resolved. The focus on individual choice and personal conviction is analysed in relation to topics of debate within Christianity and Islam.
How do people of faith use language to position themselves, and their beliefs and practices, in the contemporary world? This pioneering and original study looks closely at how Christians and Muslims talk to people inside and outside of their own communities about what they think are the right things to believe and do. From debates, to podcasts and YouTube videos, the book covers a range of engaging texts and contexts, showing how doctrine and beliefs are not nearly as fixed and static as we might think, and that people are prone to change what they say they believe, depending on who they are talking to. From abortion, to hell, to whether it's okay to sell alcohol, Pihlaja investigates how Christians and Muslims struggle with different elements of their own faith, and try to make decisions about what to do when there are so many different voices to believe.
Religious Talk Online investigated the effects of social media on religious discourse by considering the language use of a small set of religious users and considering what their interaction revealed about the effects of the medium on faith and its presentation. The final chapter brings together the main ideas of the book, arguing that the interaction online has the power to shape the ways in which theology develops. Although many of the ideas presented by the different users in the book are not necessarily new, the ways in which beliefs and faith are argued online has an effect on what issues are focused on. The presence of antagonism in particular and a focus on "debate" has a potential to place emphasis on the way in which something is argued, rather than the validity of particular beliefs.
This chapter takes a macro perspective on the dataset, looking at the way in which discourse on the different sites offer insights about Muslim, Christian, and atheist discourse more generally. The analysis focuses on the ways in keywords from the different sites can be compared. Keyword analysis reveals difference in register, particularly the use of 'Allah phrases' in Muslim discourse to mark piety and community inclusion. Finally, the chapter considers the ways in which micro-celebrity affects the power of particular users for their audiences and questions the difference between audience and community on YouTube and social network sites more generally.