Instruments of Devotion: The Practices and Objects of Religious Piety from the Late Middle Ages to the 20th Century

Instruments of Devotion: The Practices and Objects of Religious Piety from the Late Middle Ages to the 20th Century

Instruments of Devotion: The Practices and Objects of Religious Piety from the Late Middle Ages to the 20th Century

Instruments of Devotion: The Practices and Objects of Religious Piety from the Late Middle Ages to the 20th Century

Excerpt

The so-called ‘return of religion’ in world-affairs has by now become rather obvious. At universities special courses, even at undergraduate level, are dedicated to this topic. Peter Berger’s maxim of ‘the desecularization of the World’ has in a surprisingly short time become something of a commonplace. The secularization process in Western culture has proven, if not a myth, at least grossly overrated, and as Berger points out: ‘secularization on the societal level is not necessarily linked to secularization on the level of individual consciousness.’ Peter Berger sees the assumption that we live in a secularized world as false. Perhaps even the supposedly ‘secular’ political theory from the 18 and 19 centuries is really ‘theology in disguise’, as William Cavanaugh argues. The weberian claim of ‘die Entzauberung der Welt’ is perhaps nothing more than a wishful myth of the High Priests of Modernity.

Belief and religion are certainly returning as focal concerns in modern philosophical debate. Interestingly, this religious turn is most clearly seen in so-called post-modern or post-structuralist thinking. As Santiago Zabala states in his introduction to the discussion between Richard Rorty and Gianni Vattimo on the future of religion: ‘Today, […], we are witnessing the dissolution of philosophical

1 See Berger, Peter L. (ed.): The Desecularization of the World. Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Washington D.C. 1995.

2 Berger 1995, p. 3.

3 Cavanaugh, William T.: Theopolitical Imagination. London 2002, p. 2.

4 An important contribution to this debate is the Italian philosopher Mario Perniola’s book: Del sentire cattolico. La forma culturale di una religione universale, from 2001. See also his contribution in the present anthology.

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