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Returning to Religion: Why a Secular Age is Haunted by Faith (Hardback)
  • Returning to Religion: Why a Secular Age is Haunted by Faith (Hardback)
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Returning to Religion: Why a Secular Age is Haunted by Faith (Hardback)

(author)
£77.00
Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 30/09/2008
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How can one explain the resurgence of religion, even in a western context of rationality, postmodernity and scientific endeavour? The persistence of religious expression has compelled even diehard secularists, or proponents of the 'secularization thesis', to rethink their positions. Jonathan Benthall explains precisely why societies are not bound to embrace western liberal rationality as an evolutionary inevitability. He shows that the opposite is true: that where a secular society represses the religious imagination, the human predisposition to religion will in the end break out in surprising, apparently secular, modes and outlets.Concentrating on what he calls 'para-religion', a kind of secular spirituality that manifests itself within movements and organisations who consider themselves motivated by wholly rational considerations, Benthall uncovers a paradox: despite themselves, they are haunted by the shadow of irrationality. Arguing that humanitarianism, environmentalism, the animal rights movement, popular archaeology and anthropology all have 'religiod' aspects, his startling conclusion is that religion, rather than coming 'back', in fact never went away. A human universal, the 'religious inclination' underlies the fabric of who we are, and is essential for the healthy functioning of any society.

Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
ISBN: 9781845117184
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'Ranging widely and rooted in prodigious learning and many years of omnivorous anthropological observation, Returning to Religion is an erudite, yet delightfully lucid and uncluttered book. Thought provoking and informative on almost every page, it is a fascinating examination of the human as an incorrigibly religious being. From Abstract Expressionism to animal rights, from Nazism to new religions, and from Medecins Sans Frontieres to militant atheism, this analysis of the growth of 'religioid' movements is a breathtaking tour de force. It is one of most enjoyable books I have read for some time. I cannot commend it highly enough.'--""Christopher Partridge, Professor of Religion, Lancaster University""

'Much debate surrounds the question of how religion should be defined - whether narrowly or rather broadly. Jonathan Benthall here follows the second path and makes a convincing case for the persistence of religion, or "religioid movements" as he says, even if these quests for human meaning take many, quite diverse forms. Readers of the book will have their minds stretched as they ponder phenomena as different from one another as animal liberation, environmentalism, psychotherapy, and even Medecins Sans Frontieres as giving expression to religious qualities. They will also rethink whether the so-called "secular world" in which we live today is as secular as they had first thought.'

""- Wade Clark Roof, J F Rowny Professor of Religion and Society, University of California at Santa Barbara""


'Ranging widely and rooted in prodigious learning and many years of omnivorous anthropological observation, Returning to Religion is an erudite, yet delightfully lucid and uncluttered book. Thought provoking and informative on almost every page, it is a fascinating examination of the human as an incorrigibly religious being. From Abstract Expressionism to animal rights, from Nazism to new religions, and from Medecins Sans Frontieres to militant atheism, this analysis of the growth of 'religioid' movements is a breathtaking tour de force. It is one of most enjoyable books I have read for some time. I cannot commend it highly enough.'--""Christopher Partridge, Professor of Religion, Lancaster University""

'Much debate surrounds the question of how religion should be defined - whether narrowly or rather broadly. Jonathan Benthall here follows the second path and makes a convincing case for the persistence of religion, or ""religioid movements"" as he says, even if these quests for human meaning take many, quite diverse forms. Readers of the book will have their minds stretched as they ponder phenomena as different from one another as animal liberation, environmentalism, psychotherapy, and even Medecins Sans Frontieres as giving expression to religious qualities. They will also rethink whether the so-called ""secular world"" in which we live today is as secular as they had first thought.'

""- Wade Clark Roof, J F Rowny Professor of Religion and Society, University of California at Santa Barbara""


'Ranging widely and rooted in prodigious learning and many years of omnivorous anthropological observation, Returning to Religion is an erudite, yet delightfully lucid and uncluttered book. Thought provoking and informative on almost every page, it is a fascinating examination of the human as an incorrigibly religious being. From Abstract Expressionism to animal rights, from Nazism to new religions, and from Medecins Sans Frontieres to militant atheism, this analysis of the growth of 'religioid' movements is a breathtaking tour de force. It is one of most enjoyable books I have read for some time. I cannot commend it highly enough.'--Christopher Partridge, Professor of Religion, Lancaster University

'Much debate surrounds the question of how religion should be defined - whether narrowly or rather broadly. Jonathan Benthall here follows the second path and makes a convincing case for the persistence of religion, or ""religioid movements"" as he says, even if these quests for human meaning take many, quite diverse forms. Readers of the book will have their minds stretched as they ponder phenomena as different from one another as animal liberation, environmentalism, psychotherapy, and even Medecins Sans Frontieres as giving expression to religious qualities. They will also rethink whether the so-called ""secular world"" in which we live today is as secular as they had first thought.'

- Wade Clark Roof, J F Rowny Professor of Religion and Society, University of California at Santa Barbara

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