In Secularization without End: Beckett, Mann, Coetzee, Vincent P. Pecora elaborates an alternative history of the twentieth-century Western novel that explains the resurgence of Christian theological ideas. Standard accounts of secularization in the novel assume the gradual disappearance of religious themes through processes typically described as rationalization: philosophy and science replace faith. Pecora shows, however, that in the modern novels he examines, "secularization" ceases to mean emancipation from the prescientific ignorance or enchantment commonly associated with belief and signifies instead the shameful state of a humanity bereft of grace and undeserving of redemption. His book focuses on the unpredictable and paradoxical rediscovery of theological perspectives in otherwise secular novels after 1945. The narratives he analyzes are all seemingly godless in their overt points of view, from Samuel Beckett’s Murphy to Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus to J. M. Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. But, Pecora argues, these novels wind up producing varieties of religious doctrine drawn from Augustinian and Calvinist claims about primordial guilt and the impotence of human will. In the most artfully imaginative ways possible, Beckett, Mann, and Coetzee resist the apparently inevitable plot that so many others have constructed for the history of the novel, by which human existence is reduced to mundane and meaningless routines and nothing more. Instead, their writing invokes a religious past that turns secular modernity, and the novel itself, inside out.
Can secularism continue to provide a foundation for political legitimacy? It is often claimed that one of the cultural achievements of the West has been its establishment of secular democracy, wherein religious belief is respected but confined to the sphere of private belief. In more recent times, however, political secularism has been increasingly called into question. Religious believers, in numerous traditions, have protested against the distortion and confinement that secularism imposes on their faith. Others have become uneasily aware of the way in which secularism no longer commands universal assent in the way it once did. Confronting Secularism in Europe and India adds to this debate by staging a creative encounter between European and Indian conceptions of secularism with a view to continuing new and distinctive trajectories of thought about the place and role of secularism in contemporary times. Looking at political secularism, the relationship between secularism and religion, and religious and secular violence, this book considers whether there are viable alternatives to secularism in Europe and in India.
A radically new way of understanding secularism which explains why being secular can seem so strangely religious For much of America’s rapidly growing secular population, religion is an inescapable source of skepticism and discomfort. It shows up in politics and in holidays, but also in common events like weddings and funerals. In The Secular Paradox, Joseph Blankholm argues that, despite their desire to avoid religion, nonbelievers often seem religious because Christianity influences the culture around them so deeply. Relying on several years of ethnographic research among secular activists and organized nonbelievers in the United States, the volume explores how very secular people are ambivalent toward belief, community, ritual, conversion, and tradition. As they try to embrace what they share, secular people encounter, again and again, that they are becoming too religious. And as they reject religion, they feel they have lost too much. Trying to strike the right balance, secular people alternate between the two sides of their ambiguous condition: absolutely not religious and part of a religion-like secular tradition. Blankholm relies heavily on the voices of women and people of color to understand what it means to live with the secular paradox. The struggles of secular misfits—the people who mis-fit normative secularism in the United States—show that becoming secular means rejecting parts of life that resemble Christianity and embracing a European tradition that emphasizes reason and avoids emotion. Women, people of color, and secular people who have left non-Christian religions work against the limits and contradictions of secularism to create new ways of being secular that are transforming the American religious landscape. They are pioneering the most interesting and important forms of secular “religiosity” in America today.
The increasing secularization of political thought between the mid-seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries has often been noted, but rarely described in detail. The contributors to this volume consider the significance of the relationship between religious beliefs, dogma and secular ideas in British political philosophy from Thomas Hobbes to J.S. Mill. During this period, Britain experienced the advance of natural science, the spread of education and other social improvements, and reforms in the political realm. These changes forced religion to account for itself and to justify its existence, both as a social institution and as a collection of fundamental articles of belief about the world and its operations. This book, originally published in 1990, conveys the crucial importance of the association between religion, secularization and political thought.
"In this compelling intellectual and social history, Moorhead argues that for mainline Protestants in the late 19th century, time became endless, human-directed and without urgency.... Moorhead offers some brilliant observations about the legacy of postmillennialism and the human need for a definitive eschaton." —Publishers Weekly In the 19th century American Protestants firmly believed that when progress had run its course, there would be a Second Coming of Christ, the world would come to a supernatural End, and the predictions in the Apocalypse would come to pass. During the years covered in James Moorhead’s study, however, moderate and liberal mainstream Protestants transformed this postmillennialism into a hope that this world would be the scene for limitless spiritual improvement and temporal progress. The sense of an End vanished with the arrival of the new millennium.
Originally published in 1985, this distinguished and constructive critique of modern culture introduced into our language a brand-new term, ‘PN’, standing for ‘psychic nutrition’, which at the time promised to become a household expression. Drawing on his first-hand knowledge of oriental civilizations; on discoveries of Jung, especially his concept of psychic energy; on the ideas of the cultural anthropologists; and not least on the New Science implicit in microphysics and microbiology, E.W.F. Tomlin, whose philosophical books have been translated into several languages, shows how the human psyche requires its own kind of nourishment just as urgently as the body needs food. In the industrial societies of the West, this need has often been ignored. Reformers, in their earnest though sometimes inept endeavours to create a better world, have too often exposed us to the dangers of psychic starvation and the noxious effects of what may be called ‘neg-PN’. Here lie the roots of violence and the lack of direction so conspicuously afflicting modern man and woman. Examples of PN, positive and negative, are given, lending the book an immediacy and practical character often lacking in studies of this kind. In the new scientific approach here adopted, the divisions between matter and life, and life and mind, are discarded, and the old conflict between science and religion shown to belong to an out-of-date world view. The result is a radical reappraisal of the nature and function of religion and art, the two great psychic forces in history. Indeed, the present crisis is shown to originate in the psychic sphere rather than in the political and economic order. Deeply felt and elegantly written, yet not lacking in wit and humour, the book ends with some concrete ideas on how a more balanced culture may be achieved.
Worlds of Common Prayer exposes the surprisingly radical potential of nineteenth- and twentieth-century book-length liturgical poetry. Major authors as dissimilar as Christina Rossetti and T.S. Eliot used the Anglican liturgical calendar as a weapon to break the order of clock time and destabilize the secular world order.
Literary histories of the novel tend to assume that religion naturally gives way to secularism, with the novel usurping the Bible after the Enlightenment. This book challenges that teleological conception of literary history by focusing on scenes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century fiction where the Bible appears as a physical object. Situating those scenes in wider circuits of biblical criticism, Bible printing, and devotional reading, Seidel cogently demonstrates that such scenes reveal a great deal about the artistic ambitions of the novels themselves and point to the different ways those novels reconfigured their readers' relationships to the secular world. With insightful readings of the appearance of the Bible as a physical object in fiction by John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Frances Sheridan, and Laurence Sterne, this book contends that the English novel rises with the English Bible, not after it.
This book tells the story of how nineteenth-century writers turned to the realist novel in order to reimagine Jesus during a century where traditional religious faith appeared increasingly untenable. Re-workings of the canonical Gospels and other projects to demythologize the story of Jesus are frequently treated as projects aiming to secularize and even discredit traditional Christian faith. The novels of Charles Kingsley, George Eliot, Eliza Lynn Linton, and Mary Augusta Ward, however, demonstrate that the work of bringing the Christian tradition of prophet, priest, and king into conversation with a rapidly changing world can at times be a form of authentic faith-even a faith that remains rooted in the Bible and historic Christianity, while simultaneously creating a space that allows traditional understandings of Jesus' identity to evolve.
We are all haunted by histories. They shape our presuppositions and ballast our judgments. In terms of science and religion this means most of us walk about haunted by rumors of a long war. However, there is no such thing as the “history of the conflict of science and Christianity,” and this is a book about it. In the last half of the twentieth century a sea change in the history of science and religion occurred, revealing not only that the perception of protracted warfare between religion and science was a curious set of mythologies that had been combined together into a sort of supermyth in need of debunking. It was also seen that this collective mythology arose in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by historians involved in many sides of the debates over Darwin’s discoveries, and from there latched onto the public imagination at large. Flat Earths and Fake Footnotes takes the reader on a journey showing how these myths were constructed, collected together, and eventually debunked. Join us for a story of flat earths and fake footnotes, to uncover the strange tale of how the conflict of science and Christianity was written into history.
This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated collection of essays conveys a vivid picture of a fascinating and hugely significant period in history, the Fin de Siècle. Featuring contributions from over forty international scholars, this book takes a thematic approach to a period of huge upheaval across all walks of life, and is truly innovative in examining the Fin de Siècle from a global perspective. The volume includes pathbreaking essays on how the period was experienced not only in Europe and North America, but also in China, Japan, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, India, and elsewhere across the globe. Thematic topics covered include new concepts of time and space, globalization, the city, and new political movements including nationalism, the "New Liberalism", and socialism and communism. The volume also looks at the development of mass media over this period and emerging trends in culture, such as advertising and consumption, film and publishing, as well as the technological and scientific changes that shaped the world at the turn of the nineteenth century, such as the invention of the telephone, new transport systems, eugenics and physics. The Fin-de-Siècle World also considers issues such as selfhood through chapters looking at gender, sexuality, adolescence, race and class, and considers the importance of different religions, both old and new, at the turn of the century. Finally the volume examines significant and emerging trends in art, music and literature alongside movements such as realism and aestheticism. This volume conveys a vivid picture of how politics, religion, popular and artistic culture, social practices and scientific endeavours fitted together in an exciting world of change. It will be invaluable reading for all students and scholars of the Fin-de-Siècle period.