This week, our Resource List of the Week concentrates on Religion. Before starting, let’s give a definition to his topic.
What is Religion?
According to the Merriam Webster, religion can be defined as
“a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.”
To better understand the topic, we suggest you read the following titles and resources.
1. The Languages of Religion – Mukherjee, Sipra
This book discusses the power that religion wields upon the minds of individuals and communities. Also, it explores the predominance of language in the actual practice of religion. Through an investigation of various forms of oral traditions, sacred texts, evangelical prose, and national rhetoric, the chapters reveal the dependence of religion upon language. Furthermore, the book demonstrates how religion draws strength from a past which is embedded in narratives, infusing the ‘religious’ language with the current political conflicts.
2. Theology – McGrath, Alister E.
This title introduces readers to the central ideas, beliefs, key debates and the leading thinkers of Christianity. Firstly, the aim of the book is to clarify the core topics of theology, considering both the traditional and contemporary context. Secondly, it outlines the doctrines which form the Christian belief system, focusing on their history and the intellectual nuance behind them. Finally, the title explores all the major Christian denominations as well as their differences and shared customs and beliefs.
3. Religion and Politics – Lane, Jan-Erik/Redissi, Hamadi
This book explores how Muslim societies are struggling under the need for modernization as well as their drift towards an Islamic fundamentalism. Firstly, the book explains how the modernisation and fundamentalism are balanced differently in the Muslim societies, depending on the constellation of groups as historical legacies. Secondly, it looks at the underlying social consequences of religious beliefs which account for the political differences between major civilizations. Finally, the title offers a timely new appraisal of the Islamic political and social impact.
4. Predicting Religion – Heelas, Paul and Davie, Grace
This title discusses how religion in Western countries is changing rapidly, offering the points of view of twenty experts who present their predictions about the future of religion in the 21st century. These predictions are based on careful analysis of the contemporary religious scene, from traditional forms of Christianity to new spiritualities. The range of predictions is broad and a number of authors predict further secularization, with religion in the Western countries as a state of terminal decline. Furthermore, other experts question this approach, stating that people are not witnessing a decline but a transformation, understood in different ways: a shift from theism to pantheism; from outer to inner authority; from God to self-as-God; and above all from religion to spirituality. This contemporary book offers fresh insights into the future of religion and spirituality in the Western countries to students who are learning the sociology of religion and theology.
5. Sociology of Religion – Cipriani, Roberto
This book is an introduction to the history of sociological thought which is applied to religious phenomena. Firstly, it examines both the substantive and functional definitions of religion which are more open, pluralistic, and not constrained within a single perspective. Secondly, the title shows all sides of the argument by outlining the contributors’ concerns are carefully written to show all sides of the argument. In the whole volume, the author argues for the simple definition, that the sociology of religion is an application of sociological theories and methods to religious phenomena.
If you want to keep up with the latest news on religion around the world, the Guardian website is a good place to visit. It is updated daily and covers issues from all types of religion.
This Journal explores how the interest in theories of religion has never been greater. Usually, scholars debate single theoretical approaches in most scholarly journals; nevertheless, the ‘new atheists’ such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett criticize the whole idea of religion. For everyone eager to understand the current state of the field, this piece thoroughly surveys the neglected landscape in its entirety.
This academic paper analyses religion from a social constructionist perspective, and how cultural differences are neither good nor bad. Firstly, it explores the pattern in the process of construction of clashing cultural identities. Secondly, it discusses how most religious conflicts are usually accompanied by great economic, political and social fears, grievances and vulnerabilities.