Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
The Invention of Religion
One book which has influenced my thought quite a bit was The Myth of Religious Violence. I recently reread the book and thought I’d share a rather poignant quote:
There was a time when religion, as modern people use the term, was not, and then it was invented. (81)
The notion that religion is a socially constructed concept is essential to Cavanaugh’s work, and he argues meticulously towards this end. His point is not that all so-called “religions” are false. Rather, his point is that the notion that there is such a thing as a secular/religious dichotomy is itself a construct with a historical development. Moreover, this construct, he argues, has been useful for creating an “Other” who is then deemed “religious” in order to separate this Other from spheres of influence. It’s a highly interesting book, and one I recommend strongly. I have reviewed it here.
What do you think? How might you define “religion”? If Cavanaugh is right, how might this notion influence your thought?
The Myth of “Religion”: Constructing the Other as an enemy– Here, I draw out more of Cavanaugh’s claims regarding the usage of the term “religious” and how it is used at times to create an “Other” to repudiate.
Book Review: “The Myth of Religious Violence” by William T. Cavanaugh– I review the book which has led me to discuss the ways the category of religion is used to stigmatize the other and also forced me to rethink a number of issues. I highly recommend this book.
William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (New York: Oxford, 2009).