Thursday, June 26, 2014

"It can happen here"

"the claim that only Hindus should teach about Hinduism betrays the same misunderstanding of the nature of secular education, of the academic discipline of religious studies, that colors [Dina Nath] Batra's contentions.  Growing up in a tradition does not necessarily produce the knowledge and understanding required of a scholar of religion.  There is an essential difference between preaching and teaching, between teaching religion (which the parents or, more often nowadays, grandparents of many American Hindus may do) and teaching about religion (which Hindu or non-Hindu instructors in school may do).
     "Comparative religion . . . is not the same thing as interreligious dialogue, in which only Hindus can publicly speak for Hinduism.  Both approaches . . . are valuable, but they have very different goals and limitations.  Of course there is always bias, from inside or outside the religion.  But writing and teaching in the academic study of religion should never depend upon the faith of the writer or teacher."

     Wendy Doniger, "India:  censorship by the Batra brigade," New York review of books 61, no. 12 (May 8, 2014):  52-53 (51-53).
     "Both approaches are valuable", but Doniger's is in some senses parasitic upon the other.

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