The Many Faces of Religion and Society

The Many Faces of Religion and Society

The Many Faces of Religion and Society

The Many Faces of Religion and Society

Excerpt

The essays in this volume contribute to the growing discussion of the multiform relationships of religious faiths, institutions, ideas, and traditions to social life. When these topics are approached globally, it is not possible to speak in the singular about the relationship between religion and society. Rather, as these essays make clear, the relationships between religions and different societies are understood in different ways in different religions and different societies. This fact considerably complicates the task of the editors in writing an introduction to this volume, but it should also alert us to a very important feature of our current situation. At precisely the moment that we are recognizing the presence of different religions and societies on our planet we are also becoming more aware of our mutual interdependence and the fact that we increasingly share a common planetary future. Thus, the universal and the particular now come into a new configuration. This new configuration will be evident to the discriminating reader of these essays.

Although the essays in this volume range widely -- from philosophical analyses of modern Western culture to Buddhist social philosphy -- it is possible to set them against a common backdrop. They can all be seen in relation to a pervasive global situation. We are currently in the midst of a deep, widespread, and perhaps epochal transition. The scope of this transition is not limited to a few nations, it is global. In varying ways and to varying degrees, it touches all peoples, religions, societies, and cultures. Many believe it is a period of epochal transition. Located, as we are, within this period of transition, it is not yet possible to discern fully its shape, nor to fully know its consequences. But we are all aware -- regardless of our judgments of the significance of this transition -- that long-standing relationships between religion and society are under- . . .

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