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Historians of religion explore the reflexive relations among religions, myths, mentalities, and cultures. Burton L. Mack has proposed that the concept of social interest should be added to this list of factors involved in the human enterprise of social formation. His social theory of religion argues that the picture of the world portrayed in the medieval Christian myth, though sufficient for the Western kingdoms until the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution, has been fragmented by the many projects that now describe our social interests and practices.
Christian Myth and Social Theory: The State of the World asks what it was that fragmented the medieval picture of the world, and tarnished its comprehensiveness. This study describes the many social projects that have evolved as understandable and attractive human interests in their own right. Since many of these projects now appear to be separate and independent interests, some out of control, and since each is often at odds with the others in the political arena, do we need a new comprehensive picture of our social enterprise to rationalize the significance of our social formations? Arguably, such a picture might function in the place of the erstwhile religious myths.
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Burton L. Mack is Professor Emeritus at Claremont Graduate School, USA.
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