Religion as Metaphor: Beyond Literal Belief

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9781412856102: Religion as Metaphor: Beyond Literal Belief
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Biblical stories are metaphorical. They may have been accepted as factual hundreds of years ago, but today they cannot be taken literally. Some students in religious schools even recoil from the "fairy tales" of religion, believing them to be mockeries of their intelligence. David Tacey argues that biblical language should not be read as history, and it was never intended as literal description. At best it is metaphorical, but he does not deny these stories have spiritual meaning.

Religion as Metaphor argues that despite what tradition tells us, if we "believe" religious language, we miss religion's spiritual meaning. Tacey argues that religious language was not designed to be historical reporting, but rather to resonate in the soul and direct us toward transcendent realities. Its impact was intended to be closer to poetry than theology. The book uses specific examples to make its case: Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the Kingdom of God, the Apocalypse, Satan, and the Resurrection.

Tacey shows that, with the aid of contemporary thought and depth psychology, we can re-read religious stories as metaphors of the spirit and the interior life. Moving beyond literal thinking will save religion from itself.

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About the Author:

David Tacey is Emeritus Professor of Literature at La Trobe University. He has written extensively on spirituality, religion, youth experience, and mental health. His most recent books are Gods and Diseases: Making Sense of Our Physical and Mental Wellbeing and The Darkening Spirit: Jung, Spirituality, Religion.

 

Review:

"[T]his book is an eloquent, impassioned, and erudite plea for the renewal of Christianity that draws on extremely diverse sources, including G. W. F. Hegel, F. W. J. Schelling, Ludwig Feuerbach, David Strauss, Friederich Nietzsche, Matthew Arnold, Northrop Frye, Rudolph Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Harvey Cox, Karen Armstrong, and Dominic Crossan, among others."

—Daniel Burston, PsycCRITIQUES

"In an environment where a mindless biblical fundamentalism has been identified with Christianity and where, as a direct result, the culture has become both non-believing and thoroughly secular, David Tacey, a proponent of a modern understanding of Christianity does his work.  Rejecting both the hysteria of the biblical literalists and the emptiness of modern secularism, this book dares to engage both a deeply held Christian faith and the thought forms of the 21st century. As a Christian I welcome his contribution to the debate of our generation."

—John Shelby Spong, VIII Bishop of Newark and author of The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

“In this ground-breaking work David Tacey shows in terms a general audience can follow, and without preconceived theories, how the truth of Christian myth and Gospel shift into metaphor, with its indirectness, and inter-connectedness and meaningfulness; even what might seem to be literal and propositional is basically metaphorical. The effect is to deepen faith consciousness and to call for such a deepening. . . . A must-read for every Christian and atheist.”

—Matthew Del Nevo, Catholic Institute of Sydney

“This book is a major achievement. David Tacey has set himself a significant challenge: to refute the obtuse literalism of many believers without at the same time appearing to be destructive of faith and negative towards scripture. To accomplish this he has combined the insights of depth psychology with the best of contemporary scripture scholarship. In reading the gospels as myth—which, as he argues, is how they were written, he has demonstrated the difference between faith and belief, and brilliantly repudiated both Christian and atheistic fundamentalism. In an age when the conventional expressions of the religious message appear increasingly absurd, this is exactly what we need.”

—Bernie Neville, Swinburne University

“David Tacey challenges the reader to find a deepened personal and cultural meaning in narratives such as those of the virgin birth and the resurrection, not as historical truths which confound science and reason, but as myths to live by. . . . I found this book compelling and life-affirming. . . . Tacey takes us on a spiritual journey, peeling layer from layer, the full meaning of which is only revealed in his exuberant and spine tingling conclusion. In a world riven with fundamentalist extremism born of literalism, this book has the potential to be profoundly consequential. Read it!”

—Anne Boyd, University of Sydney

Religion as Metaphor is a sustained and provocative attack on religious literalism. Tacey spells out the consequences of reading scripture and its major themes, the figure of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection, the demonic and the apocalypse, through a symbolic lens. The parameters of his effort are his rejection of two fundamentalisms, religion on one side and scientism on the other. He makes a compelling case that the restoration of symbolic awareness would enhance religion and the contribution it could make to our wider culture. The work is an attempt to save religion from itself.”

—John Dourley, Carleton University, Ottawa 

“In his latest book, David Tacey a distinguished author, lecturer and scholar, addresses a critical issue in Christianity viz, how to understand and appreciate the Christian scriptures in the intended form as sacred myths and not as literal history. . . . Professor David Tacey's book is of vital concern for those who are confronted with the challenges facing religion and especially Christianity in the Western world. The churches possess a vast treasure of spiritual wisdoms to offer a barren wasteland of cultural consumerism. The question is whether organised religion will become awake to the mythical roots of their inner truths or whether they will persist in promoting beliefs in a literal mode that no longer has meaning to everyday lives. Tacey leaves us with the tantalising question as to how this challenge might be met.”

—Kevin Treston, www.catholica.com/au

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Book Description Taylor Francis Inc, United Kingdom, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Biblical stories are metaphorical. They may have been accepted as factual hundreds of years ago, but today they cannot be taken literally. Some students in religious schools even recoil from the fairy tales of religion, believing them to be mockeries of their intelligence. David Tacey argues that biblical language should not be read as history, and it was never intended as literal description. At best it is metaphorical, but he does not deny these stories have spiritual meaning. Religion as Metaphor argues that despite what tradition tells us, if we believe religious language, we miss religion s spiritual meaning. Tacey argues that religious language was not designed to be historical reporting, but rather to resonate in the soul and direct us toward transcendent realities. Its impact was intended to be closer to poetry than theology. The book uses specific examples to make its case: Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the Kingdom of God, the Apocalypse, Satan, and the Resurrection. Tacey shows that, with the aid of contemporary thought and depth psychology, we can re-read religious stories as metaphors of the spirit and the interior life. Moving beyond literal thinking will save religion from itself. Seller Inventory # AAS9781412856102

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Book Description Taylor Francis Inc, United Kingdom, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Biblical stories are metaphorical. They may have been accepted as factual hundreds of years ago, but today they cannot be taken literally. Some students in religious schools even recoil from the fairy tales of religion, believing them to be mockeries of their intelligence. David Tacey argues that biblical language should not be read as history, and it was never intended as literal description. At best it is metaphorical, but he does not deny these stories have spiritual meaning. Religion as Metaphor argues that despite what tradition tells us, if we believe religious language, we miss religion s spiritual meaning. Tacey argues that religious language was not designed to be historical reporting, but rather to resonate in the soul and direct us toward transcendent realities. Its impact was intended to be closer to poetry than theology. The book uses specific examples to make its case: Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the Kingdom of God, the Apocalypse, Satan, and the Resurrection. Tacey shows that, with the aid of contemporary thought and depth psychology, we can re-read religious stories as metaphors of the spirit and the interior life. Moving beyond literal thinking will save religion from itself. Seller Inventory # AAS9781412856102

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