My research is guided by an ongoing interest in how we use religious concepts to understand our lives. This means that I am primarily interested in the interpretation of religion, not merely a passive conceptual interpretation but also the active practical interpretation that takes place through action and behavior.
I am particularly interested in the way humans use these concepts to instantiate social and personal change. This has led me to focus on what might seem initially like an eclectic assortment of particulars, most of them having to do with modern understandings of religion. Those can be broken down into three basic foci:
- The study of religion as it developed in the modern era outside of the religious institutions themselves, with a specific focus on ritual
- The development of religious movements in the United States, particularly ones which bring out alternative strains of religion from those traditionally associated with major religious institutions in the West
- The study of interpretation itself, particularly in interpretation as a disruptive and creative act
- The use of ritual as a mode of enacting religious knowledge
So far this had led to
- minor research projects (think article length) on
- Gaia Theory
- The concept of nature in contemporary Paganism
- The category of magic in the study of religion
- major research projects (think book length) on:
- An ethnography examining a year of activity in a ritual magic lodge in Portland, Oregon
- The Concept of Ritual
- The Development of Esoteric Masonry in the 18th Century
Right now, most of my work is anchored on the ethnography of the ritual magic lodge and in working through theoretical issues related to the study of ritual.