Aging and the Religious Dimension

Aging and the Religious Dimension

Aging and the Religious Dimension

Aging and the Religious Dimension

Synopsis

Aging and religion has been badly neglected in the field of Gerontology. There has been a growing awareness that the loss of the sense of the sacred has left each individual to cope with issues of meaning and purpose as best he or she can. This collection addresses the needs of the elderly who find themselves grappling with basic issues of existence in the final years of life: coherence and purpose.

Excerpt

Harry R. Moody

It was Hegel who said that the owl of Minerva takes flight only as the shades of dusk are falling. Wisdom, Hegel believed, only comes when a particular epoch -- whether in a civilization or an individual life -- reaches its final limit so that its character at last becomes known. Today, in the closing decade of the twentieth century, we are conscious of approaching a limit and pondering the character of our epoch. At this moment it ought to be the beginning of wisdom to acknowledge, at last, the enduring power of religion in human affairs. We stand at the end of the most self-consciously secular century that the world has ever known. Yet it would astonish the secular philosophers of the Enlightenment to acknowledge the persistence of wars of religion, wars which rage on, whether in Bosnia or the Middle East or elsewhere on the planet. But we must acknowledge the facts. While the great secular ideologies -- notably communism -- have lost their allure, religion has lost none of its power. Intellectuals, including gerontologists and other social scientists, ignore this fact at their peril.

But they have ignored this fact or repeatedly denied it, and the deniers have included some of the greatest minds of the epoch. Freud warned about the "return of the repressed" but what he had in mind was the subterranean force of sex and aggression. Religion, in Freud's view, was merely the tool of repression and self-deception, a factor destined to disappear with the advance of selfconsciousness and rationality. Today, nearing the end of the twentieth century, and far removed from Freud's Victorian childhood, we might take a very different view of the matter. Sex and aggression are everywhere on display, no matter . . .

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