Scott Davis begins Believing and Acting (2012) with an anecdote of a person new to New York who commutes daily on the subway and soon comes to understand why some people regularly wait for the train at certain spots along the platform, why certain individuals sit or stand, and how they respond when a car is especially crowded or empty. This person may not spend much time explicitly attending to such things, but he soon develops his own routine informed by what he has noticed and by his own beliefs and desires. Davis says that understanding religion, itself a collection of similar subroutines, is much like that both for practitioners and for those who study religious beliefs and practices. It requires nothing more than “the sensitive and imaginative reading of human phenomena informed by the best available ethnography set in the best available historical narrative” (2012,...

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