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Kessler vs. Molloy: What is Religion and Religious Studies?

             Although these two pieces are both about religion and religious studies, they offer knowledge in very different and unique ways. It is important to understand that even though these two authors are different, they incorporate important ideas that stimulate discussion on religion and how we should study it. Without scholars to make us think about the world around us we would have no knowledge of other cultures. They bring about change in our thinking and experiences, but most importantly make us step outside of ourselves and our beliefs to consider the beliefs of others.
             When it comes to religion and defining it, many people take different approaches and these two writers are no exception. There are far more differences between these two works than similarities. .
             Kessler begins by giving the reader characteristics of a good definition. He does not go into great depth to describe different types of religion, but describes things to look out for when developing definitions of religion. He shows how unidimensional measures are no very useful and explains how multidimensional definitions help us understand a religion more clearly. Kessler also gives the reader three types of definitions and explains them all to they can be used effectively. The cluster definitions quite accurately define an individual religion because it uses many different criteria, and no single criterion describes that religion wholly. He also warns of biases, and gives a few to look out for. He believes "None of us can totally escape our biases because we must necessarily study the subject matter from some perspective. However, we can become aware of our biases. This awareness allows us to correct for bias when we formulate definitions." (Kessler, pg. 37). This statement is true for the whole of humanity and helps further our commitment to accurate objectivity. He leaves the specifics up to the reader to figure out, and that is essential because it gives the reader a chance to use his guidelines and tips to work through their own ideas.

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