By Richard K. Fenn
This publication makes an attempt to articulate the character of an earthly society, describe its merits, and indicates the stipulations lower than which this type of society may possibly emerge. To turn into secular, argues Fenn, is to open oneself and one's society to a variety of percentages, a few attention-grabbing and fascinating, a few burdensome and dreadful. whereas a few sociologists have argued "Civil faith" is important to carry jointly our newly "religionless" society, Fenn urges that there's not anything to fear--and every thing to gain--from residing in a society that's not certain jointly via sacred stories and ideology, or by way of sacred associations and practices.
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Extra info for Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society
A truly secular society, however, would symbolize selfhood in ways that could never become the property or product of an institution of social system. It would be, as I have suggested, a society without idols or idolatry. The Sacred is also the repository and expression of the fundamental wish for a primitive, certain, unmediated, and unequivocal sense of one’s own being. Without this sense of solidity at the core of one’s own being, one is vulnerable to sudden panic, to a need for rescue, and to the urgent hunger for direct access to another whose being can guarantee one’s own.
It might persist and appear to be important even though its beliefs and ceremonies are beginning to command less conviction and assent. Finally, we may ﬁnd societies in which public religiosity seems to be alive and well, of vital importance for the society as a whole and entirely credible and authoritative to its people. Among sociologists there is an assumption that any form of social life rests on a certain amount of imagination. Since we cannot know all the members of a society, we have to imagine who they are and what they are like.
Those words and gestures are timeless, then, in the sense of being out of time and for all time. The signiﬁcance of this is that we should perhaps see the origin of religion in this special strategy of leadership, the use of form for power, which we have found in a lesser form in our study of the communication of traditional authority; we would then see the performance of religion as serving a special form of authority. (Bloch 1989, 45) It would also seem reasonable to hope that once the sacred has been subjected to this sort of critical investigation, it no longer will seem to be , , part of another, transcendent world that is known only in its absence.
Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society by Richard K. Fenn