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The Post-Secular in QuestionReligion in Contemporary Society$
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Philip Gorski, David Kyuman Kim, John Torpey, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814738726

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814738726.001.0001

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What Is Religion?

What Is Religion?

Categorical Reconfigurations in a Global Horizon

(p.23) 2 What Is Religion?
The Post-Secular in Question

Richard Madsen

NYU Press

This chapter considers the secular categories used today for understanding or misunderstanding religion across cultures. It first discusses the disputes that arise when Western scholars try to make sense out of religious cultures in non-Western societies, and particularly when it comes to defining and classifying religious phenomena. It then explores how the opening of new global horizons is now forcing us to name things anew and to alter the frames of reference that give names their meaning. It also proposes a narrative approach to make intellectual sense out of the vast variety of constantly changing religious cultures that confronts us today. Finally, it explains how the West's forms of dialogue about the “immanent frame” and transcendence are thrown into confusion by citing the debate that started in the 1990s over Samuel Huntington's article and book on the “clash of civilizations”.

Keywords:   secular categories, religion, religious cultures, religious phenomena, West, immanent frame, transcendence, Samuel Huntington, clash of civilizations

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