In Theory...

Gerardus Van Der Leeuw, 1890-1950

As you near the end of your degree, they throw a capstone class at you. In the humanities, that means a theory class. Senior Seminar, the capstone for my English major was a craptastic pile of readings by Freud and Jung and Foucault and Derrida and a host of others - but I survived it. After that, I figured that I could handle any capstone class they might throw at me.

And then I met the capstone for my Religion major; RELI 4000, Theory and Method.

Below is an excerpt from one of our required readings. It comes from Religion in Essence and Manifestation, a fun little text on Phenomenology by Gerardus "Please, call me Jerry" Van Der Leeuw. The italics, seemingly random capitalization, and odd punctuation are all reproduced here exactly as it is in the original. Which isn't an original at all, but a translation from Jerry's native Dutch.

"That which those sciences concerned with Religion regard as the Object of Religion is, for Religion itself, the active and primary Agent in the situation or, in this sense of the term, the Subject."

Did he just say that the Object was the Subject? Mmmkay. The next paragraph is even better...

"Religious experience, in other terms, is concerned with a “Somewhat.” But this assertion often means no more than that this “Somewhat” is merely a vague “something”; and in order that man may be able to make more significant statements about this “Somewhat,” it must force itself upon him, must oppose itself to him as being Something Other."

I think the people who translated this are also the ones responsible for the manual that came with my VCR.


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