We explore ethnographic accounts/enactments of exoreligious experiences of the numinous using Bateson's concept of 'grace' (1988) as a key theoretical driver. Through this we seek to reconfigure the current debate and introduce ethnography to an arena dominated by quantitative data.
Religion has always been hard to define (cf Tylor 1891, Geertz 1966, Kunin 2003,) but there is a growing sense that we need to move beyond this formal category in an age that has seen the rise of religious 'nones' (Woodhead 2016) and recognition of the spatiotemporal limits of past formulations. In this seemingly new reality the old concept of the experience of the numinious (Otto 1917) finds fresh life as a way of understanding the phenomenon outside of formally identifiable religious structures (physical, processual, theoretical). This panel seeks to explore these exoreligious numinous experiences through engaging the Batesonian concept of 'grace' (1988), especially the interconnectedness of being, with diverse ethnographic accounts/enactments; reconfiguring the current debate and shifting the focus away from categories of belonging/believing towards empirically grounded phenomena. In particular, we seek to understand the ways that movement (over, under and through) is central to numinous experiences involving the dissolution of a fixed and bounded self, which is always implicit in the notion of grace. How, for example, does a focus on physical movement (such as walking, playing, crafting, farming, dancing and the transposed movements of cyberspace) reshape ethnographic accounts of grace? We therefore invite papers that blend empirical accounts (and embodied performances) of grace in an exoreligious setting to collectively thicken the concepts, deepen understanding of the phenomena behind the statistics/debates and either develop new or redevelop old frameworks of analysis.