This morning I was lucky enough to spend some time with Mark C. Taylor, Chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. I remember having some questions as I stepped into his office, maybe something about Obama or China, but those quickly evaporated. Taylor is one of those wild and brilliant thinkers whose conversations effortlessly cover time and space and everything in between. And once he gets going, it’s hard to keep up and impossible to stop him. The following is a little morsel of the awesome urgency he brought to religion, just enough to whet the appetite.
ME: How did religion get to be where it is today politically? It’s so prevalent in one sense, but it doesn’t seem any deeper than the word itself.
MT: As somebody who’s spent his life reading and thinking about all this stuff, it’s interesting that you have religion back as such a preoccupation in the minds of everybody and yet the understandings of religion are simplistic.