Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Religion, Modernity and Postmodernity

Religion, Modernity and Postmodernity ed. by Paul Heelas and David Martin (1998)

The back of the book says: "Religion, Modernity and Postmodernity is the first book to engage the study of religion with contemporary theorizing about culture. It addresses important issues such as whether there are postmodern forms of religion, whether theories of religion framed in terms of modernity can be recast to suit new or emerging circumstances, and how the study of religion can be better integrated with recent developments."

Here are some notes from "Introduction: on differentiation and dedifferentiation" by Paul Heelas

1- there are disagreements over what is pomo rel: 1. seeking "sacred unconsciousness" 2. revitalizing premodern pasts 3. opposition to modernity (esp Romantic opposition) 4. rel is changed with capitalism

- some theorists (eg Scott Lash 1990) see modty as differentiation and pomoty as dedifferentiation

4-antoher theory (james beckford 1992) is "that truth provided by the exercise of reason and the transmission of tradition is--at least in measure--weakened, even abandoned."

5-ethics are seen in "pragmatism and relativsim" instead of in authoritative narratives

7-8 pomo: dediff= all cultural products are equal diff=microdiscourses (detraditionalism)
mo: dediff=totalizing universals diff=essential differences and hierarchies of value and discrimination

9- another ? Is moty too complex to be called "post"? durkheim pointed out how complex religions were

The rest of the article gives brief synopses of the stances taken in the books articles which are incredibly varied. Some deny pomoty, some say it is very specific

16- Heelas concludes by noting that "There is little doubt that there has been a shift of emphasis in favour of dedifferentiated rel. Even tho God might remain the ultimate author, when rel is functioning beyond the curch and the chapel the authority of God - as exercised thru the institutionalized - is obviously diminished. Rel can only too readily become swallowed up by individual desire. The X file culture which appears to surround us might benefit by way of detraditionalization; might be (relatively) popular precisely becuz it is not (obviously) policed. But the more that people come to treat rel as a consumer item, the less likely they are to be attracted to the 'real' thing. It might well be claimed that the omens for religion - as something requiring discipline, obedience, the exercise of the suprea-individual, authorial - are not too good."

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