Contemporary Western Ethnography and the Definition of Religion (Continuum Advances in Religious Studies)

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9781441141460: Contemporary Western Ethnography and the Definition of Religion (Continuum Advances in Religious Studies)
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Exploring whether the widespread activity of sitting next to a grave and talking to a deceased person is a religious act forms the basis of this book, and the author argues that it is probably much more typical of a fundamental religious act than much of what happens in churches, synagogues or mosques. Beginning with the definitions of religion provided by a number of anthropologists and sociologists this book claims that the large majority of these definitions have been influenced by Christian thinking, so leading to definitions that stress the systematic nature of religion, the importance of the transcendental and the transformative activity of religion. Through a detailed exploration of a number of ethnographic studies of religious activity, these aspects of traditional definitions are challenged. Borrowing Durkheim's language, Martin D. Stringer argues that the most elementary form of religious life in many Western societies today, and by implication in many other societies around the world, is situational, mundane and concerned with helping people to cope with their day-to-day lives.

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Review:

."..draws on several interesting ethnographic studies of the 'religious' lives of ordinary people to illustrate his claim that the elementary form of the religious life is situational, mundane, and concerned with helping people cope with the ordinary problems of day-to-day living." Journal of the American Academy of Religion, November 2009

'This is a thought-provoking book for all who are interested in the study of religion and for all whose concern is with expressions of religion in the UK - and elsewhere - today. Stringer's work is an encouragement to read other titles in this Continuum Advances in Religious Studies series... It is certainly an encouragement to be open-minded and inclusive in our attentiveness to religious behaviour in our society.' --Sanford Lakoff

About the Author:

Martin D. Stringer is Professor of Liturgical and Congregational Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK.

 

 


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9780826499783: Contemporary Western Ethnography and the Definition of Religion (Continuum Advances in Religious Studies)

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