The Sacred in the Modern World: A Cultural Sociological Approach

Paperback | March 6, 2014

byGordon Lynch

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It is often claimed that we live in a secular age. But we do not live in a desacralized one. Sacred forms - whether in "religious" or "secular" guise - continue to shape social life in the modern world, giving rise to powerful emotions, polarized group identities, and even the very concept ofmoral society. Analyzing contemporary sacred forms is essential if we are to be able to make sense of the societies we live in and think critically about the effects of the sacred on our lives for good or ill. The Sacred in the Modern World is a major contribution to this task. Re-interpreting Durkheim's theory of the sacred, and drawing on the "strong program" in cultural sociology, Gordon Lynch sets out a theory of the sacred that can be used by researchers across a range of humanities and socialscience disciplines. Using vividly drawn contemporary case material - including the abuse and neglect of children in Irish residential schools and the controversy over the BBC's decision not to air an appeal for aid for Gaza - the book demonstrates the value of this theoretical approach for socialand cultural analysis. The key role of public media for the circulation and contestation of the sacred comes under close scrutiny. Adopting a critical stance towards sacred forms, Lynch reflects upon the ways in which sacred commitments can both serve as a moral resource for social life andlegitimate horrifying acts of collective evil. He concludes by reflecting on how we might live thoughtfully and responsibility under the light and shadow that the sacred casts, asking whether society without the sacred is possible or desirable.

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It is often claimed that we live in a secular age. But we do not live in a desacralized one. Sacred forms - whether in "religious" or "secular" guise - continue to shape social life in the modern world, giving rise to powerful emotions, polarized group identities, and even the very concept ofmoral society. Analyzing contemporary sacred...

Gordon Lynch is Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology at the University of Kent, UK.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:March 6, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198705212

ISBN - 13:9780198705215

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Why do we need a sociology of the sacred?1. Ontological and Durkheimian theories of the sacred2. After Durkheim: the development of a cultural sociology of the sacred3. Dominant and subjugated sacred forms: interpreting the systemic abuse and neglect of children in the Irish Industrial School system4. The mediatization of the sacred: the BBC, Gaza and the DEC appeal5. Living with the light and shadow of the sacredConclusion