by Robert N. Bellah. Edited and with introduction and conclusion by Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton.
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Pub Date 26 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 03 Jul 2024
From the 1960s until his death in 2013, Robert N. Bellah was the preeminent figure in the study of religion and society. He broke new ground in mapping the religious dimensions of human experience, from the great breakthroughs of the first millennium BCE to the paradoxes of American civic life. In three final essays, published here for the first time, Bellah grapples with the contradictions of modernity, and seven leading thinkers respond with profound, exhilarating new perspectives on our present predicament.
Challenging Modernity critically assesses the modern project to shed light on the tensions between its transcendent aspirations and the perils we now face. Its contributors analyze the roots of the collapse of the political, economic, and cultural institutions that have promised perpetual progress but now threaten global catastrophe. Reflecting the range of Bellah’s scholarship, they span the disciplines of history, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. They extend Bellah’s insight that only deep historical, cultural, and religious understanding can help us meet modernity’s harrowing challenges by sharing responsibility for the global interdependence of our common fate.
About the author:
Robert N. Bellah (1927–2013) was the Elliott Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His many books include Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (2011).
Richard Madsen is distinguished research professor and director of the UC-Fudan Center for Research on Contemporary China at the University of California, San Diego.
William M. Sullivan is senior scholar at the Center for Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College.
Ann Swidler is a professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley.
Steven M. Tipton is Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Religion at Emory University and its Candler School of Theology.
Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, and Tipton are coauthors of the landmark book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1985).