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In the Critic vs. Caretaker Dichotomy A Magic Dwells: Parroting McCutcheon, Policing “Religion” (A Rejoinder to Merinda Simmons)1

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AbstractThis essay rejoins Merinda Simmons’s protection of Russell McCutcheon’s critic vs. caretaker dichotomy in her response to my “Can a Critic be a Caretaker Too? Religion, Conflict and Conflict Transformation” (JAAR 2011). While Simmons aims to preserve McCutcheon’s binary as a purportedly benignly unavoidable opposition, I expose the perils of epistemic anti-realism at the heart of that dichotomy, as well as the fetishizing of discourse analysis and ignorance of real world cases which hold this would-be field defining dogma in place.

Affiliations: 1: Sociology/Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame303 Hesburgh Center, Notre Dame, IN,


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1. Lederach John Paul , Appleby R. Scott Philpott D. , Powers G. F. "Strategic peacebuilding: An overview" Strategies of Peace: Transforming Conflict in a Violent World 2010 Oxford and New York Oxford University Press 19 44
2. McCutcheon Russell Critics not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion 2001 Albany State University of New York
3. McCutcheon Russell "A direct question deserves a direct answer: A response to Atalia Omer’s “can a critic be a caretaker too?”" Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2012 Vol 80 4 1077 1082 [Crossref]
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6. Omer Atalia When Peace Is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice 2013 Chicago and London University of Chicago Press [Crossref]
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10. Smith Jonathan Z. Patton K. C. , Ray B. C. "Epilogue: The “end” of comparison: Redescription and rectification" A Magic Still Dwells: Comparative Religion in the Postmodern Age 2000b Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA University of California Press 237 241
11. Springs Jason "What Cultural Theorists of Religion Have to Learn from Wittgenstein; Or, How to Read Geertz as a Practice Theorist" Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2008 Vol 76 4 934 969 [Crossref]
12. Stout Jeffrey Frankenberry Nancy "Radical Interpretation and pragmatism: Davidson, Rorty, and Brandom on truth" Radical Interpretation in Religion 2002 Cambridge Cambridge University Press 25 52 [Crossref]
13. Stout Jeffrey Misak C. "On our interest in getting things right: Pragmatism without narcissism" New Pragmatists 2007 Clarendon Oxford University Press 7 31

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