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Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 21.2 (2005) 106-114

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The Contribution of JFSR to Shaping the Field

i find the notion of "the field"

to be a curious one

this was heightened when i typed in field

in the "look it up" line of my Visual Thesaurus program1

as you can see

an interesting set of options emerges

the field can be an enclosed piece of land that is treeless

a battle region

a place where practical work is done or data collected away from the studio or office or library or laboratory

the space around a radiating body

a particular environment or walk of life

a piece of land used to play games

an extensive tract of level open land [End Page 106]

a region in which active military operations are in progress

all of the horses in a particular horse race

all of the competitors in a particular contest or sporting event (i tried to ignore the fact this diagram is the same as the one for the horse race)

a geographic region (land or sea) under which something valuable is found

the area that is visible (as through an optical instrument)

a place where planes take off and land

a branch of knowledge

a playful reading of these options

can locate jfsr 's contribution in each of these

but it is the last

a branch of knowledge

    that i want to give attention to tonight in my brief remarks

    perhaps because it is the most obvious

      or maybe even the most tedious

but i want to take it on to think through

for a bit

what it means for jfsr to shape a branch of knowledge

turning again to the visual thesaurus as an image and imagination prompt

there is one definition

    the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth [End Page 107]

      that i want to focus on

because here is where a visually imaginative program

gets predictable, if not conservative, if not extremely limited

    but serves my purpose well, because this is exactly what i think is jfsr's strongest suit

      in contributing to a branch of knowledge

the best that the visual thesaurus comes up with is

the branch of theology that is concerned with angels

the branch of theology that is concerned with the defense of christian doctrines

the branch of theology that is concerned with the nature and constitution and functions of the church

the branch of theology that is concerned with such final things as death and judgment; heaven and hell; the end of the world

the branch of theology that deals with principles of exegesis

the branch of theology that deals with sermons and homilies

the study of liturgics

the branch of theology that defends god's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil

as the old black women i grew up with used to say about such narrow visions of life and sanctioning a siege-mentality intellect

ummph . . . ummph . . . ummph

aside from the fact that so many of the disciplines we find represented in the pages of any given issue of jfsr

    are missing from this list [End Page 108]

    or we have a different methodology than the one suggested

      is the absence of any notion of an engaged pedagogy 2

and this is why, i think, jfsr exists and why it does what it does

as editorial board

as reviewers

as contributors

as readers

as supporters

as critics

there is a deep-walking commitment that our scholarship not be a monument to trivialities and utter irrelevancies

    but that it engage us and our readers in critical discourse

      that will have a transformative effect in our disciplines

        in our classrooms

        and in society

and rather than see this as only politics (after all, what in life is not politics?)

    we see this as a mark of scholarship, intellect, rigorous research, and comprehensible writing

simply put, jfsr 's contribution to shaping the field [End Page 109]

  is that...


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