I am still not sure exactly what religion is and have given up hope of ever figuring it out. Instead I am interested in the great variety of ways people use the term religion and other words like ‘holy,’ ‘sacred,’ and ‘divine.’ Do these words actually help us understand people’s motives, actions, identities, and beliefs? Or do they distract us from what is really going on? I am interested in how religion works, what it does, and why we can’t seem to stop talking about it. I examine these and other questions in courses such as Religion and Politics, Religion and Violence, The Religious Animal, Fanaticism, and Is God Dead?<p>I have published several articles on the way sacrificial violence helps form political and religious identity and my forthcoming article in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion criticizes the use of the word ‘religion’ in contemporary evolutionary biology.