Myth, Loss and Longing
Keywords:myth, aestheticism, religion, Axial Age, spirituality, history of psychology, self, secularization
AbstractWhile the perennial vitality of religion, including “religious” aspects of supposedly secular phenomena, has cast doubt on the so-called “secularization thesis,” the demise of the “demise of religion” story may have been prematurely reported. In popular culture, the new atheism of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris populates (in unintended irony) the “religion” shelves of bookshops. Though academic studies concerned with new manifestations of explicit or implicit religious life proliferate, they do not always or necessarily entail renewed respect for religion’s intrinsic claims. Scholarly fascination and disenchantment can go hand in hand. The books reviewed here all explore, from different angles, the fraught relations between ways of perceiving, thinking, telling or acting which could be called religious, and the intellectualizing drive of the scholarship which addresses them. In different ways, they beg the question how both religion and the study of religion relate to their cultural, historical and philosophical matrices, and in particular, how to understand the relation and opposition between forms of narrative appropriate to religion on one hand, and to science, history or philosophical psychology on the other.
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