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The Religious Critic in American Culture
The Religious Critic in American Culture
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William Dean - Author
Price: $60.50 
Hardcover - 256 pages
Release Date: August 1994
ISBN10: 0-7914-2113-9
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-2113-0

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Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 256 pages
Release Date: August 1994
ISBN10: 0-7914-2114-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-2114-7

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Winner of the 1995 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion for the Outstanding Book in Constructive-Reflective Studies

“William Dean has written a powerful book for our time—the best case for serious public intellectuals we have!” — Cornel West, Harvard University

"This book engages the reader in an exploration of a related set of ideas, ideas that are timely, complex, challenging, and open-ended. Every page, including many of the footnotes, is an invitation to look further and to reconsider received opinion. Few readers will have read as widely or as carefully." -- Robert L. Payton, Indiana University

"A thoughtful, persuasive case for the overdue reunion of religion with intellect in the public square. William Dean restores perspective to the most important debate of our time." -- Hodding Carter

This book provides a new rationale for "religious criticism" in American society. First, Dean shows why today's academic intellectuals are relatively indifferent to questions of meaning in America, pointing to the loss of American "exceptionalism," the professionalization of the academy, and the rise of post-structural criticism. He then shows how intellectuals may reclaim a prophetic role by offering a new theory of the nature of religious thought. Tracing this theory to a twentieth-century emphasis on conventions, Dean provides a way to understand how imaginative social constructions can become active historical conventions, with real historical force. He suggests that the sacred itself begins as an imaginative construct and becomes a convention, thus working as an active, "living" force in history. Finally, Dean argues that religious critics must now reclaim a responsibility for shaping their society's sacred conventions.

William Dean is Professor of Religion at Gustavas Adolphus College. He is currently Chair, Philosophy of Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion and Vice President of the Highlands Institute for American Religious Thought. He is also the author of American Religious Empiricism, and History Making History: The New Historicism in American Religious Thought, both published by SUNY Press.


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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Part I: Abandoning American Culture

1. The Religious Critic and the End of an Era

2. The Rise of the Professional Intellectual

3. William James, Public Intellectual

Part II: Recovering Religious Theory

4. Religious Narrative and the Avoidance of Nature

5. Religious Naturalism and the Avoidance of Ambiguity

6. The Religious Thinker and the Acceptance of History

Part III: Grounding Religious Theory

7. The Reality of Conventions

8. The Reality of the Sacred Convention

Part IV: Reclaiming American Culture

9. The Religious Critic in the Third Sector

10. The Religious Critic and a Myth of America

Notes

Bibliography

Index



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