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Beyond IdolsThe Shape of a Secular Society$
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Richard K. Fenn

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143690

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195143698.001.0001

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Stifling the Sociological Imagination

Stifling the Sociological Imagination

(p.133) 6 Stifling the Sociological Imagination
Beyond Idols

Richard K. Fenn (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A secular society makes up its rules and values as it goes along in a process of negotiation among a wide range of parties. A secular society allows free play for the Sacred and thus releases a wide range of otherwise suppressed energy, longings, and capacities for innovation in social life, the arts, and the sciences. Certainly a secular society weakens the tendencies of public religiosity and civil religion to reinforce the sort of chauvinist and expansionist tendencies that dominated the U.S. and Japan during the years leading to the Second World War. Finally, a secular society not only gives free play to religious opinions in the public sphere but also allows public opinion to challenge the relevance and legitimacy of religion in the political arena. Thus, in a secular society contests for public authority focus on the right to give testimony or to withhold information, and the institution of language becomes even more important and contested than religion itself.

Keywords:   civil religion, information, Japan, language, public religiosity, secular society, sociological imagination, the sacred, United States

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