Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World

Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World

Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World

Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World

Synopsis

Beyond Belief collects fifteen celebrated, broadly ranging essays in which Robert Bellah interprets the interplay of religion and society in concrete contexts from Japan to the Middle East to the United States. First published in 1970, Beyond Belief is a classic in the field of sociology of religion.

Excerpt

Religion is still something of a stepchild in the American university. in some major universities there is no department devoted to this aspect of human experience. in others the department is only uncertainly institutionalized and deals with but a fraction of man’s religiousness. in a few places excellent programs exist that point the way to what can be done more generally. Like so many others I have come to the field of religion from a particular discipline, in my case, sociology. But I have in recent years become increasingly impatient with the sociology of religion as an isolated perspective. To be genuinely fruitful, it seems to me, the sociology of religion must join other approaches to the actual phenomena of religion. the study of religion seems at the moment to attract a number of mavericks and wanderers in the academy and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had in pursuing it to move outside the established structures and across the usual divisions of the university.

If I have learned much from my colleagues in various fields I have learned even more from my students. It is hard to say what I owe specifically to the students from history, psychology, anthropology, theology, ethics, and comparative religion as well as sociology, who have worked with me. But much of the movement of my thinking has resulted from their unrelenting pressure.

The chapters in this volume were all written independently, though they seem to fit together as aspects of a single process. I am grateful to Donald Cutler for helping me form disparate elements into a whole.

My intellectual indebtednesses are documented at many places in the following chapters and footnotes. But much of my deepest indebtedness is to people who have been close to me and whose . . .

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