chapter
13 Pages

Introduction

The body of St Cuthbert
WithTim Hutchings, Joanne McKenzie

St Cuthbert is the focus for discourses in which religion is intertwined with politics, power and identity, just as he always has been. Sociologists of religion will recognise parallels with debates in our own field, including not only the critical study of the concept of "religion" but also emerging attention to non-religion and the long-running debates over the origins and extent of secularisation. According to S. Brent Plate, the key point of "material religion" is the primacy of materiality. Plate systematises the ideas to propose a several-part summary of the interests of "material religion", defined as: first, an investigation of the interactions between human bodies and physical objects, natural and human-made; second, with much of the interaction taking place through sense perception. Other ideas are in special and specified spaces and times; in order to orient, and sometimes disorient, communities and individuals. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.