Mayblin, “When God talks back about…”

December 29, 2013

Mayblin, Maya. 2013. When God talks back about When God Talks Back. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(3): 381-87.

Excerpt: “What’s an anthropologist of religion like you doing with a book like this?” This is what God says to me as he catches me reading Tanya Luhrmann’s monograph When God talks back one night. I look up, surprised, then back at the book again.
But God isn’t leaving the room. He knows I’m confused. He knows that although I do not know what I am doing with a book like this, I’m enjoying spending time with it. There is something about Luhrmann’s style of writing that has properly transported me: concise, poetic—she writes with a bold, “straight-from-the-heart” sort of voice that makes me want to follow. Absorbed in the moment, I sense the sofa dip down beside me with God’s great weight. It’s not that I can see Him as so many waves of light hitting my retina, or as I see the coffee mug sitting on the corner of that folded up newspaper; I see him in my mind’s eye which, because of my particular upbringing, makes Him old, white, and sort of hirsute: Marx and Gandalf, rolled into one.

GOD: You know there’s nothing wrong in enjoying a book if it’s good.

MAYA: But isn’t the whole psychology-oriented epistemology central to this book something I should be eschewing?

GOD: Not if you’re also interested in where the anthropology of religion has to go.

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