Religion-Related Research in Leicester - 11 June Programme

Series Name 'Religion-Related Research in Leicester'
Speaker Dr Simona Guerra (Politics and International Relations), Dr Elke Weik (School of Management), Rev Dr Stephen Foster (Chaplaincy), Rev Theresa Jones (School of English), Rev Jill Marsh (Chaplaincy, and University of Chester)
Type Lectures & Talks
When 11 Jun 2015, 01:30PM - 04:30PM
Venue Attenborough Seminar Block Second Floor SR 210
Open To University staff and students
Ticket Price Free
For Bookings Contact Clive Marsh 0116 2525914,

The 'Religion-Related Research in Leicester' group seeks to promote gatherings and events in the broad area of research into religion centring on (but not limited to) the University of Leicester. There are members of the following departments and centres currently linked to the research group: American Studies, Archaeology and Ancient History, Criminology, English, History, Law, Lifelong Learning, Media and Communication, Medical and Social Care, Medical Humanities, Politics and International Relations, Sociology, as well as members of the University staff more broadly (e.g. library, chaplaincy).

Five topics will be explored at the ‘Religion-Related Research in Leicester’ seminar on 11 June:

1. Dr Simona Guerra (Politics and International Relations): Religion and Euroscepticism or Identity and Secularization

Comparative research on the involvement of religious actors across societies is quite infrequent, although the role of religion itself is fundamental to examine identity, the state and institutional actors. This is critical in the post-Communist region where the repression of the Churches from the Communist regime froze affiliations, but did not often halt people’s beliefs. This paper examines why, when and how religion can use a Eurosceptic narrative before and after EU accession in the post-Communist region.

2. Dr Elke Weik (School of Management): Do Ideas move the Economy? An exploration of Max Weber's switchmen metaphor

Since the mid-1980s, Economic Sociology has provided an alternative to Neoclassic Economics. Scholars have argued that markets are not purely economic phenomena guided solely by rational calculus and self-interest but that economic relations, resources and discourses have social and cultural foundations. They are socially constructed phenomena of a particular time and space and are not “natural” or “basic” arrangements of human interaction, but relations that change and can be changed in accordance with the social and cultural assumptions underlying them. My question is how culture, and more specifically ideas, relate to markets. As I find studies of religion very useful in conceptualising culture, I draw on Weber’s Introduction to the Economic Ethics of the World Religions to explore if and how ideas can be independent of economic actors’ social status. (If they were not, culture could be reduced to social structure.)

3. Rev Dr Stephen Foster (Chaplaincy): ‘The Parousia’… a sustainable belief?

From the Ptolemaic period to the second century of the common era "parousia' was used in the East as a technical expression to denote the arrival or visit of a king or emperor, and celebrated the glory of the sovereign publicly. In various Christian guises the idea of ‘parousia’ has been understood or misunderstood over the ensuing centuries, based in part on the seventeen references to the Second Coming of Christ in the New Testament. Where are we today in this credal doctrine which some find immutable… and others find extraordinary?

4. Rev Theresa Jones (School of English): The Concept of the Numinous in Rudolf Otto’s work: Reflections on its Meaning and Contemporary Significance

In 1917 Rudolf Otto (1869-1937) published Das Heilige, (The Idea of the Holy). He coined the word ‘Numinous’ which he linked with mysterium tremendum et fascinans (aweful and fascinating mystery). This paper explores and explains the meaning of these terms and considers whether they have relevance to contemporary theology.

5. Rev Jill Marsh (Chaplaincy, and University of Chester): “People don’t have to become like us to become part of us”: how do British Methodist ministers seek to build up ethnically diverse congregations in the context of today’s ‘super-diverse’ communities

Based on data from empirical research with Methodist ministers I explore the ecclesial practices which encourage a sense of belonging together and consider how these contribute to the development of a congregation’s ethos. I then describe how the respondents see their own role within these congregations and conclude that the key factor in building up ethnically diverse congregations is the enabling of power-sharing, to which ministers contribute but which they cannot determine alone.

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