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Graham Holderness

Jim Crace's novel Quarantine purports to be a text of 'post-Dawkins scientific atheism'. It re-sets the mystical gospel story of the Temptation in the Wilderness into a materialist universe where only the laws of nature preside, and thus converges on a well-established fictional form, the naturalistic biographical representation of Jesus in a fully realised historical setting. The Messianic claims of Jesus are assumed to evaporate under this scrutiny, and the truth-claims of religion itself to crumble beneath the application of scientific observation and the invocation of scientific laws. In the event however the novel discloses an imaginative and visionary realm in which miracles, for which there is no naturalistic explanation, happen. Holderness argues that like other agnostic writers who engage with Jesus, Crace is to some degree of God's party without knowing it.

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Religions and Civil Society

A Jewish Perspective

Michael Shire

Judaism has long been a religion of particularity and universalism. The prophets of ancient Israel propounded universal messages of civilising influence for all Peoples and Nations. However emphasis on the particularity within Judaism has been prevalent in the modern era leaving it open to criticising voices who accuse religions in general of delusion and danger. How must Judaism and its relationship with other faiths become again a force for repair, for justice and for conscience in this fractured world? How can we get our particularistic religious faiths to be reflective of a world working towards a universal hope for the future?

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Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

Drawing on my experience of a Muslim version of exorcism in urban Macedonia, this article continues a methodological discussion of the implications of being an atheist anthropologist when researching religion, a situation known as 'methodological atheism'. Methodological atheism is often linked to the problem of suspending one's intellectual disregard of people's religions as delusions. This article will argue instead that there are barriers to participation in religious rituals that are not covered by questions of disbelief. The notion of 'dispositional atheism' is discussed against the backdrop of the anxieties, uncertainties, and inhibitions experienced by an atheist anthropologist caught up in a moment of religious intensity.

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Psychotic Group Text

A Psychoanalytic Inquiry Into the Production of Moral Conscience

James M. Glass

This essay analyzes the psychological dynamic of disintegration anxiety by examining its presence in the tradition of political theory, its role in the development of group norms, and its impact on ideology. The author contends that whereas psychosis in individuals constrains and isolates them, in group settings psychotic behavior unites and energizes its members, relieving the collective of its anxieties. In looking at Nazi Germany, the author discusses the means by which not just the SS but the entire professional, academic, and scientific communities in the dominant group made mass murder possible. Radical insecurities and paranoiagenic phantasies of the group possess a logic and action component that distinguish them from their effect on the individual. Whereas for the individual, delusion is considered dysfunctional and crippling, on the political level, it becomes dynamic public policy. Psychotic group states, then, possess an instrumentality and consequence far different from psychosis in the individual.

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Play of Mirrors

An Encounter of Personal Biographies with Europe’s Journey

Marcos Farias Ferreira

Abstract

This article deals with the author’s personal narratives and expectations vis-à-vis world-changing events between 1989 and 1991. It illustrates the ways in which the Cold War and its end, as well as the Soviet Union and its end, represent powerful psychological factors in personal narratives of growing up and giving meaning to the world. In an autoethnographic manner, it approaches research and writing from the perspective of the researcher’s experience in order to produce new layers of understanding about the world. It builds on the assumption that big events on the world stage are composed of micro-stories that both nourish them and are nourished by them, and in so doing it makes the micro and the macro two inseparable, interwoven approaches to cultural experience and change. A conversation is forged between past and present, expectations and delusions, life of author and life of Europe, personal new beginnings and continental cul-de-sacs.

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Dan Merkur

Drawing on phenomenology and his clinical practice, the author explores religious experience and the dynamics of the numinous. The article opens with the argument that psychoanalysts, like religious healers, should be able to work with religious phenomena as part of psychoanalytic therapy. The origin of the term 'numinous' is explained, and two types of human religious experience, mysterium tremendum and fascinans, are detailed. The role of anxiety in converting a metaphorical illusion (fascinans) into a private symbol (mysterium tremendum) is described. The terms by which religion can be viewed alternatively as delusion, illusion, and tenable speculation are discussed. A patient's religious concerns with the sacred and the profane are presented as symptoms of the repression of numinous experiences. Therapy can be promoted through a psychoanalytic dialogue on the patient's religiosity and its partial replication of early object relations.

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David Allen Harvey

Classical polytheism or “paganism” presented a challenge to the Philhellenes of the Enlightenment, who found it difficult to accept that the greatest minds of antiquity had been taken in by (vide Fontenelle) “a heap of chimeras, delusions, and absurdities.” Rejecting the claim that “paganism” was a deformation of the “natural religion” of the early Hebrew patriarchs, several Enlightenment thinkers developed theories of classical polytheism, presenting it as the apotheosis of the great kings and heroes of the first ages of man, a system of allegorical symbols that conveyed timeless truths, and the effort of a prescientific mentality to understand the hidden forces of nature. Although divergent in their interpretations of “paganism,” these theories converged by separating its origins from Judeo-Christian traditions and presenting religion as an essentially human creation. Thus, Enlightenment theories of classical mythology contributed to the emergence of the more cosmopolitan and tolerant spirit that characterized the age.

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Nina Witoszek

Religion has long stood at the center of debates on the environmental crisis of late modernity. Some have portrayed it as a malade imaginaire, providing divine legitimation for human domination and predatory exploitation of natural resources; others have looked up to it as an inspirational force that is the essential condition of planetary revival. There is an ongoing battle of the books on the salience of religion in the modern world. Some trendy volumes declare that God Is Back (Micklethwait and Wooldridge 2009). Others advert to The End of Faith (Harris 2004, harp the theme of The God Delusion (Dawkins 2006), or claim that God Is Not Great (Hitchens 2007). Both sides provide ample evidence to support their adversarial claims. In much of Canada and Western Europe, where religious establishments have courted or colluded with the state, religion has come to be viewed as the enemy of liberty and modernity. Not so in the United States, where the Jeffersonian separation of religion from politics forced religious leaders to compete for the souls of the faithful—and thus to make Christianity more reconcilable with the agenda of modernity,

individualism and capitalist enterprise.

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Keeping her Feet on the Ground

A Reader, her Texts, and the World

Teresa Strong-Wilson

smaller version of the same photo that one child dressed up as a Golliwog. Mackey knows that there are times when literate encounters “fail” (330), when they have noxious effects, leaving behind “delusional vapours” (377) contributing to deeply

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Happiness Against All Odds

Incestuous Desires in John Ford's ’Tis Pity She's a Whore

Christoph Ehland

differentiating his physical and his metaphysical existence, Giovanni conflates the two and thus seems to fall into a trap of self-delusion – with obvious allusions to Marlowe's Faustus. 8 The way Giovanni muddles up his happiness with his desires shows to what