Religion: A Humanist Interpretation

Religion: A Humanist Interpretation

Religion: A Humanist Interpretation

Religion: A Humanist Interpretation

Synopsis

Religion: A Humanist Interpretation represents a lifetime's work on the anthropology of religion from a rather unusual personal viewpoint. Raymond Firth treats religion as a human art, capable of great intellectual and artistic achievements, but also of complex manipulation to serve the human interests of those who believe in it and operate it. His study is comparative, drawing material from a range of religions around the world. Its findings are a challenge to established beliefs.This anthropological approach to the study of religion covers themes ranging from; religious belief and personal adjustment; gods and God; offering and sacrifice;religion and politics; Malay magic and spirit mediumship; truth and paradox in religion.

Excerpt

This book gives some of the results of my thinking about religion over many years. In particular, its gives my own personal view on the nature and origin of religion more openly than I have tended to do previously, to a degree unusual among anthropologists who have written on the subject.

Six of the nine chapters in the book reproduce with slight modifications articles which I have published in a variety of more specialized books and journals. They have been descriptive and analytical, and they have been meant to depict aspects of religion as studied from an anthropological comparative base. By contrast, the first and last two chapters, more general in form, have been freshly written, and discuss the problems of religion from my own personal humanist point of view. They are somewhat of a challenge to the religious establishment. The results may be provocative to some of my anthropological colleagues, and even more so to some other readers for whom religion still represents supreme, absolute sacred values.

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