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The Importance of Religion: Meaning and Action in our Strange World

The Importance of Religion: Meaning and Action in our Strange World

Gavin Flood

ISBN: 978-1-118-22791-6

Mar 2012, Wiley-Blackwell

272 pages

$97.95

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Description

The Importance of Religion reveals the significance of religion in modern times, showing how it provides people with meaning to their lives and helps guide them in their everyday moral choices
  • Provides readers with a new understanding of religion, demonstrating how in its actions, texts and world views religion is enduring and vividly engages with the mystery of the world
  • Offers striking arguments about the relationship of religion to science, art and politics
  • Engagingly written by a highly respected scholar of religion with an international reputation
Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: Religion and the Human Condition 1

Mediating Our Strange World 6

Theories of Religion 8

Religion and Religions 12

Defining Religion 14

The Argument 17

Alienation and the Human Condition 17

The Primacy of Perception and the System of Signs 23

The Invisible and the Transcendent 24

The Truths of Religion 26

Conclusion 27

Part One ACTION

1 Clearing the Ground 37

Reification: The Marxist Legacy 40

Rationalization: The Weberian Legacy 44

Knowledge and Action 46

Methodology 49

Conclusion 50

2 The Meaning of Religious Action 53

The Sociology of Religious Meaning 55

Meaning and Action 58

Moral Acts 60

Ritual and the Body 63

A Rite of Affliction 66

The Meaning of Sacrifice 69

A Phenomenology of Sacrifice 71

The Meanings of Death 73

Conclusion 74

3 The Inner Journey 80

Languages of Spirituality 83

The Spiritual Habitus 91

Conclusion 95

Part Two SPEECH

4 The Reception of the Text 101

Routes to the World of Life 102

Theories of the Text 106

The Reception of Sacred Texts 109

Sacred Text and Act 111

Conclusion 113

5 Tradition, Language, and the Self 115

Linguistic Universals 117

Linguistic Relativity 118

Language and Religious Experience 122

Language as a Model of Religion 125

Conclusion 127

6 Religion and Rationality 130

What is Rationality? 131

Rational Religious Communities 139

Rationality and Cosmology 141

Conclusion 146

Part Three WORLD

7 The Mystery of Complexity and Emergence 153

A History of Antagonism 155

Complexity and Constraint 159

The Ontology of Process 164

Conclusion 166

8 The Union of Nature and Imagination 171

Art and the Real 172

Cosmological Art 175

Pavel Florensky 177

Abhinavagupta 178

Secular Art 180

Re-Spiritualizing Art 182

Conclusion 185

9 Religion and Politics 189

Religion in the Public Sphere 190

The Secular Public Sphere 195

The Traditionalist View 197

Fundamentalism 200

The Religious Citizen 201

Conclusion 205

Summary 210

Epilogue 217

References 221

Index 237

“Well presented, with a wealth of interesting primary sources and secondary literature discussed ... the book should contribute to the ongoing debate between religionists and reductionists within our field.”  (Numen, 1 May 2015)

“Recommended [for] upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.”  (Choice, 1 January 2013)

  • Reveals the importance of religion and its role in providing meaning in the lives of both individuals and communities
  • Provides readers with a new understanding of religion, demonstrating how in its actions, texts and world views religion is enduring and vividly engages with the mystery of the world
  • Offers striking arguments about the relationship of religion to science, art and politics
  • Engagingly written by a highly respected scholar of religion with an international reputation