Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society

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9780195143690: Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society
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This book attempts to articulate the nature of a secular society, describe its benefits, and suggests the conditions under which such a society could emerge. To become secular, argues Fenn, is to open oneself and one's society to a wide range of possibilities, some interesting and exciting, some burdensome and dreadful. While some sociologists have argued that a "Civil Religion" is necessary to hold together our newly "religionless" society, Fenn urges that there is nothing to fear--and everything to gain--from living in a society that is not bound together by sacred memories and beliefs, or by sacred institutions and practices.

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About the Author:

Richard K. Fenn is at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Richard K. Fenn is one of the most creative minds in the sociology of religion and moves with consummate ease over the disputed territory between sociology and theology. In this book he sets out a critique of idols, which undoes sociological concepts like 'Civil Religion' as well as the
pseudo-sacred at large. The message is severe and has few comfortable words, the expression is eloquent, and the effect is to make us rethink what we take for granted. --David Martin, London School of Economics and Political Science

Taking as his departure point the assumption that secularization is the outcome of the Christianization of western societies, Richard Fenn cuts through the Gordian knot of the secularization debate in sociology to articulate a more encompassing vision of the significance - for religion as well
as for society - of the secularization process. Fenn challenges the parameters of contemporary discussion, mounting a powerful and persuasive case in eloquent prose for the benefits, even for religion, of a secular society. No one who is concerned about the problems of social cohesion or the
current dilemmas of Christianity can afford to ignore Fenn's penetrating analysis. --Bryan Wilson, All Souls College, Oxford

"Richard Fenn is one of the most original and dulcet voices in the study of religion."--Nicholas Jay Demerath, III, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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