The Plight of Western Religion

The Plight of Western Religion : The Eclipse of the Other-Worldly

3.67 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Religion' can be used to mean all kinds of things, but a substantive definition--based on the premise of superhuman powers--can clarify much. It allows us to attempt to differentiate religion from culture, ethnicity, morality and politics.

This definition of religion necessarily implies a perception of reality. Until recent centuries in the West, and in most cultures still, the ordinary, natural and immediate way of understanding and experiencing reality was in terms of otherworldly or spiritual forces. However, a cognitive shift has taken place through the rise of science and its subsequent technological application.

This new consciousness has not disproved the existence of spiritual forces, but has led to the marginalisation of the other-worldly, which even Western churches seem to accept. They persist, but increasingly as pressure groups promoting humanist values. Claims of 'American exceptionalism' in this regard are misleading. Obama's religion, Evangelical support for Trump, and the mega-church message of success in the capitalist system can all be cultural and political phenomena.

This eclipsing of the other-worldly constitutes a watershed in human history, with profound consequences not just for religious institutions but for our entire world order.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 17mm | 374g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1787381331
  • 9781787381339
  • 1,024,592

Review quote

'Intellectual and brisk, this book will be of great use to those interested in the history of ideas. A very helpful rebuke to simplistic arguments about the changing nature of religion in society and the modern world.' -- Ben Ryan, Head of Research, Theos 'A learned exploration of a compelling issue: why has religion lost its place in the West? Gifford's perspective as an Africanist is invaluable; he sees what scholars in Europe don't. Seamlessly weaving together history, theology and sociology, Gifford wears his erudition lightly. A major contribution and a good read.' -- David Voas, Professor of Social Science, University College London, and Co-Director of British Religion in Numbers
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About Paul Gifford

Paul Gifford is Emeritus Professor of Religion at SOAS, University of London. He is the author of several works on African Christianity, including African Christianity: Its Public Role; Ghana's New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy; and Christianity, Politics and Public Life in Kenya, all published by Hurst.
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Rating details

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