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After God (Religion and Postmodernism) Hardcover – October 15, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"A most engaging example of contemporary American religious thought. . . . Much can be learned from the historicity of critical theory and its expansive socio-cultural analysis."
(Marc P. Lalonde Journal of Religion and Culture)

"If you have never been able to figure out what Mark Taylor is up to, read After God. It brings to a head everything he has been saying over the years in an engaging summa theologiae tayloriensis. Composed in readable English, it is a work of maturity of a major American thinker—clear, sober, interdisciplinary, full of theory, and ending with down-to-earth warnings about what we are doing to the water. Taylor has never made more sense, never made it more sensibly, cognetly, and cautiously. He makes it clear that the 'death of God' . . . is all about life, just the way the seed must die in order to give life."
(John D. Caputo Journal of the American Academy of Religion)

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Hiding and Disfiguring: Art, Architecture, Religion, both published by the University of Chicago Press.


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Product Details

  • Series: Religion and Postmodernism
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226791696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226791692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,305,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Paluga on March 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Complexity theory permeates many facets of life: social, biological, evolutionary, economic, artistic, political and religious, to name a few. Taylor uses the scientific theory of dynamic complex adaptive systems (CAS) to explain and reframe these issues with historical and contemporary relevancy. Using Luther's Protestant Reformation as a springboard, Taylor genealogically interprets religiosity and secularism as parallel vectors, each informing the other, demonstrating that there is codependency and interrelationship in and between religious and secular beliefs and practices. By clearly explaining the process of CAS, Taylor negotiates his notions of religion, language, art, market economies, evolution and global climate change as he uniquely integrates elements of "ethics without absolutes".
Taylor explores the binary opposition between the diachronic and synchronic origins of religion and frames these different but corresponding aspects as inseparable. Taylor compares and contrasts the philosophies of Hegel, Kierkegaard, Kant, and Marx et al. and rejects absolutist views of religion in favor of a relational framework for spontaneous organization in open systems. He holds that what is most important lies not at the center or in the extremes; rather, life develops and expresses itself at the edge of chaos, where creativity emerges over time. He studies the organization and constituents of CAS - recognizing patterns, feedback, adaptation, anticipation, and internal and external competition and cooperation - and in doing so, defines emergent creativity and life-sustaining processes.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Steven G. Ogden on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Taylor's "After God" is a daring yet irresistible and rewarding read. From a Christian perspective, it takes the reader into dangerous territory; dangerous but important, because it is only 'on the edge' that theologians make new discoveries. From an atheistic perspective, it gives pause for thought for those people who think they are immune to the influence of religion in general and Christianity in particular. For Taylor, "religion and secularity are not opposites; to the contrary Western secularity is a religious phenomenon" (p. xiii). To develop this, Taylor focuses on the idea "relationality". This means that the world cannot be understood in terms of divisions, dualisms or oppositions, but rather in terms of connections so that "After God, the divine is not elsewhere but is the emergent creativity that figures, disfigures, and refigures the infinite fabric of life" (p. xvii). Unless I missed something here, however, it was surprising that he did not refer to process theology. Nevertheless, it is a great read, brilliantly written, challenging and enticing. And along the way, there are some gems like his analysis of why religious liberals have gone quiet (p. 26) and Ratzinger's assault on John Kerry's presidential campaign (p. 287).
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rex Styzens on October 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Lynn Paluga's review here presents the framework and the vocabulary that Taylor uses. In that guise, ostensibly it is new. To translate it into theology, however, Taylor resorts to explanations where a mere historical similarity of terminology about the death of God leaves more unsaid than said. The gaps he tries to fill remain yawning.

This review is critical, but it does not deny the worthwhile effort of Taylor's work. Furthermore, Taylor's heart is in the right place, and his head deals wonderfully with some consequences of the most difficult 20th Century erudition. I encourage a wide reading and study of the work, if only because it is one of the most readable and reputable efforts at synthesizing a view of where we have come from and where we are now and avoids the run-of-the-mill vagaries.

When you set yourself the task of showing how religion stands behind everything shaping contemporary culture, then you'd best not alert your readers with such familiar philosophical rules of thumb as "explaining all explains nothing." That images the very resistance that Hegel, Taylor's choice as his primary intellectual guide, met from logical positivists who had their fill, beyond capacity, of words. True, logical positivism has now faded from view as its self-contradictions have appeared. So it is to be expected that some, like Taylor, will sift through the old embers of totalistic systems like Hegel's, attempting to account for everything so far.

(However, one usually reads Hegel for ethics and Kant for epistemology and ontology. On the topic of imagination, I recommend
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Hall, Ph.D.(c) on May 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may well be one of the most important interdisciplinary works of contemporary cultural observation and theory. Although it is remarkably dense, that is a result of Taylor's precision of language in what can otherwise be a very ambiguous field. He connects the development of Western thought from the Reformation through Derrida and beyond with such intricate dovetailing that I needed multicolored highlighters to make sense of it. It was well worth the effort. My only criticism is that in his explanation of "figuring" he ignores both Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, and that his explanation of "schema" ignores anything that has a possible hint of Jung, to which they are clearly related.
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