I h ave been watching the debate over the pulping of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus by Penguin India, with curiosity and deep concern. I have good friends who are Hindu-Americans. I understand their desire to have their religion presented in a way that they recognize. I would want that for my own faith. I also understand the feeling that Western scholars may not understand their faith from the inside and may impose perspectives they don't affirm. At the same time, I'm concerned that there is within some of this response an anti-intellectualism that I see present in other faith traditions, including my own. I've not read the book, so I can't comment on it. That said, Wendy Doniger is a highly regarded scholar, having doctorates from Harvard and Oxford. She is on the faculty of one of America's leading research universities. She's an expert in Sanskrit. But she's not a Hindu. Does the latter preclude her from interpreting a faith tradition not her own?
So, I share this essay from Sightings (published by the University of Chicago's Martin Marty Center). I invite you to consider what the author has to say. And to all people of faith, I need to ask -- is it necessary to be a believer to legitimately study a faith tradition?