Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $4.34 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics Paperback – July 16, 1999
|New from||Used from|
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Berger's collection is replete with compelling writing about the relationship of religion and politics."
"This is a very useful collection of studies that can help religious leaders to reorient their strategies and political involvement."
- Publisher : Eerdmans; First Edition 1st Printing (July 16, 1999)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 143 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0802846912
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802846914
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.36 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Berger’s premise is this: to assume we are living in a secular world is wrong. The world today “is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more than ever.” Though modernity has secularizing effects it has provoked powerful movements of counter-secularization. Which hearkens back to the Brooks Adams 1896 classic, “The Law Of Civilization And Decay.” In it, Adams notes with no one left to defeat, ideas from around the Empire flooded Rome causing a near universal dis-ease among its population. Their response? Extreme religious eagerness, the sprouting of new mystery religions of which Christianity was but one of many. Berger’s point is made that our upsurge today is primarily among conservative, traditionalist, orthodox movements of Islam, and in the Christian world among Pentecostals and other Evangelicals at the expense of Catholicism and mainline Protestantism like Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Methodists.
Why has modernity had this affect? Berger is clear, because modernity has removed all the old certainties while most people find it impossible to live with uncertainty. Any movement that “promises to provide or renew certainty has a ready market.” Those “dripping with supernaturalism,” he writes, “have widely succeeded.”
Berger claims that the secular crowd, while thin on the ground in numbers, wield excess influence on the media and universities, of which he is a member at Boston U. Without mention of educational differences between secular and non, Berger clarifies a chasm between them, “The religious impulse, the quest for meaning that transcends the restricted space of empirical existence in this world, has been a perennial feature of humanity,” he writes. “It would require something close to a mutation of the species to extinguish this impulse for good… The critique of secularity common to all resurgent movements is that human existence bereft of transcendence is an impoverished and finally untenable condition.” That is, like it or not, religion, mysticism, and mythology have been and will remain part of humanity. Finding a path to balance in the face of warring zealotry—which was of such concern to the Founders—is a subject of concern in this fine book.
Sociologist Peter L. Berger's 1974 book Pyramids of Sacrifice: Political Ethics and Social Change foresaw what we now call "globalization." His 1983 book with sociologist Brigitte Berger The War Over The Family anticipated what has been dubbed as the "cultural wars." And his 1966 classic The Social Construction of Reality was way ahead of its time with regard to what is currently termed "postmodernism." But Berger admits in The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (1999) that he was mistaken in some of his other earlier works that modernization inevitably leads to a decline in religion. As Berger states: "To say the least, the relation between religion and modernity is rather complicated." The Desecularization of the World was written two years before 9-11. One can only guess that Berger was not as surprised as most at such a world-changing event, ostensibly motivated by religious fundamentalism, but less apparently orchestrated by failed secular elites from a politically destabilizing Saudi Arabia. As Berger has written elsewhere: "upsurges of religion" in the modern era are, in most cases, politicized movements "that use religion as a convenient legitimation for political agendas based on non-religious interests" in contrast with "movements genuinely inspired by religion." (Berger, National Interest, Winter 1996-97:3). This more certainly was the case in the recent past Balkan Wars in the Yugoslav states (see V. Perica, Balkan Idols, Oxford, 2002). Berger points out that we have been misled to believe that modernization resulted in secularization mainly because the elite cultural carriers of secularization have been a minority of highly visible academics who have myopically led everyone to believe this is the case.
But beyond the headline events, religion, especially "fundamentalist" religion is growing in every modernizing country, with the exception of already-modernized Europe. Berger has assembled some of the most eminent observers to report on this upsurge.
George Weigel, scholar and official biographer of Pope John Paul II, provides a Catholic perspective on the phenomenon. Citing Pope John Paul II, Weigel perhaps presaged 9-11 and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the following question: "Is pre-emptive military action legitimate against rogue regimes threatening the use of weapons of mass destruction? How is the just-war tradition, which was designed to regulate international public life in a world of sovereign states, to address the serious moral problems for world politics posed by non-state actors - ranging from financial institutions to terrorist organizations - today?"
Sociologist David Martin, sociologist emeritus at the London School of Economics, provides a masterful overview of the upsurge of "evangelical" Christian religion mainly in Africa and South America and its political implications. Martin reports that the political stance of evangelical Christians is often erroneously viewed by outsiders with suspicion as similar to radical Islam or some violent cult. Rather, Martin reports that the most potent contribution of evangelical movements is their creation of voluntary associations that tend to foster democracy rather than totalitarianism or attempts at creating a "Christian society."
Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Britain, observes that history is the tale of vacillating attempts by Jews to define themselves as either a people or a religion. Sacks states that historically Jews defined themselves as the "people of God," but more recently have defined themselves as the "people hated by Gentiles." Many Jews have abandoned their religious roots and embraced secularism to solve their identity conflict and end persecution. But that hasn't diminished the attempts by many neighboring nations to exterminate the nation of Israel.
British sociologist Grace Davie provides a well-written account of how Europe is an exception to these trends, as, unlike the rest of the world, religion has declined precipitously. Perhaps Davie doesn't emphasize enough that this might be the consequence of the sponsorship of Christian religion by many European states. Also, Davie is curiously silent about the influx of Muslims into Europe and the likelihood that Islamic populations may soon dominate some large cities such as Rotterdam, Netherlands. Davie doesn't tell us if the demographic decline of indigenous Europeans is in any way related to secularization.
Tu Weiming, a history professor at Harvard University, reports on the resurgence of Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism following the collapse of worldwide communism. Interestingly, Weiming states that higher education in China has been heavily and positively influenced by Chinese-Christian universities, unlike higher education in the West which is nearly all secularized. Weiming doesn't tell us if China may be motivated by religion to resist modernization or will religion form the impetus to some form of capitalism?
Abdullah An-Na'im, a law professor at Emory University, provides an overview of political Islam and international affairs up to 1999. An-Na'im states that the idea that there is an unfolding "clash of religious civilizations" between the West and Islam is a self-fulfilling prophecy and is not inevitable. But An-Na'im is not a sociologist and doesn't tell us how Muslims can embrace modernization without leaving the "closed circle" of the family and kinship and the "sacred canopy" of the mosque in order to work in the impersonal corporations and bureaucracies of modern societies.
The assumption of most people is that modernization is good and thus religion is backward because it impedes modernization. But, as the world is painfully coming to understand, modernization must also come to recognize and respect socially sacred shelters of meaning. Moreover, those societies that have historically become test cases for pure secularization, such as the former U.S.S.R., Mao's China, and Pol Pot's Cambodia, have made present-day religious conflicts look mild compared to the murdering of millions for the sake of creating a secular rational utopia. For those who want to get a handle on these issues, this is an outstanding overview that neither blindly embraces religion or modernization. Other books I have found of related interest are Steve Bruce, Politics and Religion (2003), Vjekoslav Perica, Balkan Idols: Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslavia (2002) and Douglas Johnston, Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik (2003).
Top reviews from other countries
Ich liebe kurze Bücher, das heisst 100 – 150 Seiten lang. Doch Kürze ohne Würze wäre dann doch wieder zu lange, weil zu fade. Dieses Buch gehört zur Sorte kurz & würzig. Weshalb?
1 .Eine ganz kurze Einleitung bringt das Anliegen auf den Punkt: “The news … was filled with reports of the impact of religion on politics: the evangelical upsurge in Latin America, Muslim-Christian rivalries in Africa, disputes between Arabs and Israelis, secularist-religious struggles in Turkey, Muslim fundamentalists fighting a secularizing military in Algeria, Hindu fundamentalists beating the Congress Party in India. How about taking a longer look at these phenomena?”
2. Eine klare These lenkt die Erwartung. "My point is that the assumption that we live in a secularized world is false. The world today, with some exceptions to which I will come presently, is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever."
3 .Auf wenigen Seiten wird eine komprimierte Übersicht geboten. Das gilt nicht nur für die Aufsätze, sondern auch für die einzelnen Abschnitte. Zum Beispiel diese Übersicht über die evangelikale Bewegung: "The advance of conservative Evangelicalism has been most evident in what used to be called the Third World, especially Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, but it is also notable in the Philippines, the Pacific rim (above all Korea), and China. Sizable conversions have occurred in parts of Eastern Europe, notably Romania. And Evangelical religion can clearly claim to be the liveliest sector in the developed “Western” world, whether we speak of Britain, Holland, the United States, or Australia."
4 .Immer wieder wird die Aufmerksamkeit durch kurze Feststellungen wie diese geweckt: "The Islamic movement is occurring primarily in countries that are already Muslim or among Muslim emigrants (as in Europe), while the Evangelical movement is growing dramatically throughout the world in countries where this type of religion was previously unknown or very marginal."
Fragezeichen und Bewölkungen
Es Fragezeichen wurde bei mir nicht aufgelöst. Irritiert war ich von der alten Leier von der Neutralität und Objektivität am Anfang des Buches. Der Religionssoziologie nimmt einen (vermeintlich) objektiven Stand ausserhalb ein und beschreibt „neutral“. Es werden trotzdem viele Annahmen getroffen. Auswahl der Daten und Bewertungen müssen standpunktgebunden sein.
Zudem waren zwei leichte Bewölkungen beim Lesen auszumachen. Der Aufsatz über Europa ist vom Aufbau her umständlich. Das stört den Lesefluss. Der Beitrag zu China hat mich nicht befriedigt. Das mag daran liegen, dass der Autor Sympathien für das Erstarken des Buddhismus äussert. (So schien mir zumindest.) Zudem geht er m. E. zu schnell über die letzten Jahrzehnte und insbesondere Mao Zedong hinweg. Ähnlich ging es mir beim Beitrag über den Islam.
• These zum Wiedererstarken der Religion: "Modernity, for fully understandable reasons, undermines all the old certainties; uncertainty is a condition that many people find very hard to bear; therefore, any movement (not only a religious one) that promises to provide or to renew certainty has a ready market."
• These zum Initialeffekt des Evangelikalismus: "Something like Weber’s “Protestant ethic” is probably functional in an early phase of capitalist growth—an ethic, whether religiously inspired or not, that values personal discipline, hard work, frugality, and a respect for learning."
• Moralischer Relativismus wirkt selbstzerstörerisch: "... if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. … the “procedural republic”—which removes all moral reference points from our common life on the radically relativistic grounds that a democracy cannot adjudicate between competing moral systems—is an illusion that will ultimately prove self-destructive."
Keine soziologische Analysen ohne Einbezug der Religion: “Those who neglect religion in their analyses of contemporary affairs do so at great peril.”