By Richard K. Fenn
This ebook makes an attempt to articulate the character of a mundane society, describe its advantages, and indicates the stipulations below which this kind of society may possibly emerge. To develop into secular, argues Fenn, is to open oneself and one's society to a variety of chances, a few attention-grabbing and intriguing, a few burdensome and dreadful. whereas a few sociologists have argued "Civil faith" is critical to carry jointly our newly "religionless" society, Fenn urges that there's not anything to fear--and every thing to gain--from dwelling in a society that's not certain jointly via sacred stories and ideology, or through sacred associations and practices.
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Extra resources for Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society
The presence of the devil or of angels thus can suggest a wide range of possibilities that are pressing on the public imagination and waiting to be articulated. So long as they remain off the limits of legitimate debate, however, they remain sacred. The process of turning them from objects of veneration or holy fear into the subject of public discussion is what I mean by the process of secularization. It is not unusual, especially for sociologists, to take such an essentially positive view of the bizarre or the occult.
A secular society incorporates the Sacred into its public discourse by various techniques, including investigation, discourse, and entertainment, , , rather than reducing it to idols that represent the Sacred even while keeping humans at a safe remove from its power. Thus, a secular society is open to the Sacred in the form of a wide range of obscure meanings, of hidden intentions, of dimly disclosed motives, and of hitherto scarcely imaginable possibilities.
There can be “no science of the soul,” as Hacking (1995, 218–19) pointed out, but there can be “sciences of memory” that can provide the subject matter for public discussions of the human potential. When the soul is discussed rather than approached with veneration, some of the possibilities that open up are touching and enlightening: a capacity for faithful love, enduring attachment, and a longing for restoration. Other possibilities, however, are less savory: a capacity for cruelty that compares favorably with what sadists do to their victims or with soldiers on a rampage through conquered territory.
Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society by Richard K. Fenn