Religion today: Themes and issues
Religion today: Themes and issues

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Religion today: Themes and issues

2 Engaging with the issues

2.1 New perspectives

The purpose of studying religion is to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.

Exercise

We would encourage you now to jot down your motivations for studying this course: it may be a useful and revealing exercise to revisit this subject again when you have finished the course.

People come to the study of religion for many reasons, most of which are so obvious as to not require explication. What I want to draw to your attention is the idea of altered perception implicit in the quote at the top of this page. One of the primary goals in the scholarly study of religion is to encourage you to view the subject from perspectives not your own, and to study religions that are less familiar to you, in cultural and social contexts that you may not have lived in or experienced. We feel sure that you will find this a rewarding, if at tiles challenging, exercise. Ninian Smart, a well-known figure in the field of Religious Studies, has put the same idea well, in the narrower context of Christianity: ‘The beginning of understanding it is noticing its strangeness’ (Smart, 1979, p.312).

AD317_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus