What do we talk about when we talk about religion? Is it an array of empirical facts about historical human civilizations? Or is religion what is in essence unpredictable-perhaps the very emergence of the new? In what ways are the legacies of religion-its powers, words, things, and gestures-reconfiguring themselves as the elementary forms of life in the twenty-first century?Given the Latin roots of the word religion and its historical Christian uses, what sense, if any, does it make to talk about religionin other traditions? Where might we look for common elements that would enable us to do so? Has religion as an overarching concept lost all its currency, or does it ineluctably return-sometimes in unexpected ways-the moment we attempt to do without it? This book explores the difficulties and double binds that arise when we ask What is religion? Offering a marvelously rich and diverse array of perspectives, it begins the task of rethinking religionand religious studiesin a contemporary world. Opening essays on the question What is religion?are followed by clusters exploring the relationships among religion, theology, and philosophy and the links between religion, politics, and law. Pedagogy is the focus of the following section. Religion is then examined in particular contexts, from classical times to the present Pentacostal revival, leading into an especially rich set of essays on religion, materiality, and mediatization. The final section grapples with the ever-changing forms that religionis taking, such as spirituality movements and responses to the ecological crisis.Featuring the work of leading scholars from a wide array of disciplines, traditions, and cultures, Religion: Beyond a Concept will help set the agenda for religious studies for years to come. It is the first of five volumes in a collection entitled The Future of the Religious Past, the fruit of a major international research initiative funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.
What has happened to religion in its present manifestations? In recent years, Enlightenment secularization, as it appeared in the global spread of political structures that relegate the sacred to a private sphere, seems suddenly to have foundered. Unexpectedly, it has discovered its own parochialism-has discovered, indeed, that secularization may never have taken place at all.With the return of the religious,in all aspects of contemporary social, political, and religious life, the question of political theology-of the relation between politicaland religiousdomains-takes on new meaning and new urgency. In this groundbreaking book, distinguished scholars from many disciplines-philosophy, political theory, anthropology, classics, and religious studies-seek to take the full measure of this question in today's world. This book begins with the place of the gods in the Greek polis, then moves through Augustine's two cities and early modern religious debates, to classic statements about political theology by such thinkers as Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt. Essays also consider the centrality of tolerance to liberal democracy, the recent French controversy over wearing the Muslim headscarf, and Bush's God talk.The volume includes a historic discussion between Jrgen Habermas and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, concerningthe prepolitical moral foundations of a republic, and it concludes with explorations of new, more open ways of conceptualizing society.