In seeking to make sense of modernity in the classical tradition of sociology as a field, the body of Robert Bellah’s work spans the social sciences and comparative cultural inquiry to embrace the global diversity and coherence of religion as the key to culture across civilizations and epochs within the framework of human evolution. Formally trained as a student of tribal cultures, East Asian civilization, and Islam, Bellah engages the West, and America in particular, as problematic cases that can only be understood in the broadest comparative perspective on human cultural development. This global perspective informs Bellah’s conceptions of religion and human evolution as they have deepened and grown over a half century.
Posts Tagged ‘salvation’
As against Grace Davie’s vision of European secularization as a form of “believing without belonging,” here we see the genesis of a theological justification for an extreme form of “belonging without believing.” It’s one that I think forces us to rethink how we define membership to a religious tradition, by pointing to the possibility that individual will may not be the primary determinant of religious inclusion or exclusion, any more than a hand can repudiate the body to which it belongs. But it is equally worth considering what kind of ideological work such organic metaphors of embodiment perform in authorizing these kinds of inclusivist models, as well as their ambivalent political implications.
What could Obama’s take on Iranian democracy, early-modern theodicy, and twentieth-century leftist thought have in common? Despite these wide variations in subject-matter, it seems to me that recent posts by Justin Reynolds, Alex Hernandez, and James Robertson nevertheless gesture towards a similar problematic. All three point to the profound tension which marks the relationship between human action in historical time, and the transcendent telos of the Christian salvation narrative. They point, in other words, to the thorny question of how much agency humans possess in the achievement of their own salvation.