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Mourning Religion

Edited by William B. Parsons, Diane Jonte-Pace, and Susan E. Henking

BUY Cloth · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813927459 · $60.00 · Oct 2008
BUY Paper · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813927466 · $21.50 · Oct 2008

Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theorists such as Freud, Durkheim, Weber, and Marx built their intellectual edifices on what they thought would be the remains or ruins of religion in the wake of modernization. But today the decline and disappearance of religion can no longer be simply assumed. In the face of contemporary entanglements of religion and violence, the establishment of meaning and morality remains troubling; the experience of loss and change remains, paradoxically, constant; and new theoretical perspectives--feminism, race studies, postcolonial studies, queer studies, postmodernism--have emerged, challenging the works that mourned religion and created meaning in earlier periods. The effects of this ongoing experience of mourning and symbolic loss on culture, on subjectivity, and on the academic disciplines of religious studies, though immense, are poorly understood and underinterpreted.

In order to correct this lacuna in scholarly thought, this volume brings together a notable group of scholars who examine the ways in which recent cultural transformations inform the place of religion in the modern world. Methodologically, they represent the intersection of religious studies and the social scientific study of religion, bringing the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology into this dialogue.


Mourning Religion is an interesting and engaging collection that makes a substantial contribution to the area of religious studies. It develops Peter Homans's well-known theory about the emergence of psychoanalysis as a product of successful cultural mourning of religion by investigating the vicissitudes of mourning and melancholia in a variety of situations related to religion. Until now, the interdisciplinary arenas of religious studies and cultural studies were lacking a book that explores the implications of Homans's thesis. This book fills the gap.

Naomi Goldenberg, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Ottawa

"The topic of mourning is of special concern now, for many reasons, which include not only the widespread fragmentation and dissolution of formerly trusted structures of meaning and hope (whether provided by religion or Enlightenment philosophy or various political ideologies) but also social and personal losses on a wide scale, epitomized in recent history by the AIDS epidemic and, above all, the Holocaust. In this volume, the mourning of religion on the part of modern interpreters of religion and psyche is set alongside the wider modern processes of mourning (or lack thereof) in the face of an array of losses both mundane and massive.

Frank Burch Brown, Christian Theological Seminary and University of Chicago Divinity School

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