Creative Inquiry 4: Connie Jones - Creativity in the Study of Religion

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Constance Jones, PhD, is a sociologist of religion who researches new religious movements, Hinduism and Buddhism in the West, Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Knowledge, Transdisciplinarity, Heuristic Methods, J. Krishnamurti, the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, and the meeting of East and West in intellectual history. In this episode, we discuss the social/psychological variables affecting how people relate to religion today; knowing and not knowing in religious pursuits and he ability to dwell in uncertainty; new religious movements as creative inquiry; the interplay of self-inquiry and outer inquiry; and objectivity vs. subjectivity in the study of religions. After receiving a doctorate with honors, Dr. Jones was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of New Religious Movements of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Beginning with her doctoral dissertation on the caste system in India, she has pursued a life-long interest in the cultures and religions of India, including the adoption of Eastern beliefs and practices into Western systems of thought. She has served on faculties of a number of graduate programs of religion, including the Graduate Theological Union; the Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara; and Columbia Theological Seminary. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, and the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars. As a Fulbright scholar in India, she taught at Banaras Hindu University and Vasanta College and conducted research at the Krishnamurti Study Center, Varanasi. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, Santa Barbara, California and Waco, Texas; is an active member of CESNUR, Association for the Study of New Religions, Torino, Italy; and is a member of the International Advisory Board for “The Complete Teachings of J. Krishnamurti, 1910-1986.” For the last 13 years, Connie has been a member of a multi-disciplinary team of scholars that investigates new religious movements around the world. The team has done research on a wide range of new religions, including the Kashi Community in Roseland, Florida; the Church Universal and Triumphant in Boseman, Montana; Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment in Yelm, Washington, the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness in Los Angeles, California; and the True Buddha School in Seattle, Washington. This research analyses the dissemination of Eastern thought in the West through religious movements with Hindu and Buddhist roots. For the last six years, Connie has been a member of an international team of scholars working with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing researching “The Future of Religion in China.” Following four visits to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, the team will publish a multi-disciplinary volume with analyses of religion and culture in traditional Chinese culture areas. You can hear the podcast at the Soundcloud link below, or on iTunes or Stitcher. Please subscribe and rate/review if you enjoy, and follow us on Twitter: @CreativeInqPod.

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