The Genealogy of Secularization

Jan Bremmer is an impressive figure. (–but do not confuse him with the political scientist Ian Bremmer, whom you should follow on Twitter.) I was first acquainted with Jan’s work as a ravenous undergrad taking courses on the classics, when a professor suggested a book of his along with Walter Burkert’s standard tome. He has quite a large list of publications under his belt (you can browse the selection), having written some of the standard secondary texts on ancient Greek (pagan) religion, and branching out into early Christianity and myths and ritual worship in general.

About fifteen years ago Dr. Bremmer took to writing a remarkably concise set of notes, in the form of a narrative, titled “Secularization: Notes Toward a Genealogy“, published in a collection of essays titled Religion: Beyond a Concept edited by Hent de Vries. (The article may be visible in Google Books, and this is great, because the pages of the upload didn’t scan well near the spine.) Continue reading

Peter Berger on Protestantism and Disenchantment


I posted earlier about Charles Taylor’s presentation of disenchantment; here is a long excerpt on the same topic (taking a slightly different angle) by Peter Berger from his book, The Sacred Canopy:

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Richard Crouter’s Friedrich Schleiermacher: Between Enlightenment and Romanticism

friedrich-schleiermacherRichard Crouter’s Friedrich Schleiermacher consists of a series of eleven essays, most of which were published in journals from 1980 to 2003, plus an Introduction. The unity of the collection is found, Crouter argues, in the theme of the book’s title: “Schleiermacher’s cultural location between Enlightenment and Romanticism, the appellations we give to the intellectual movements that name his cultural worlds.” (1) This does not mean that Crouter thinks one can find the essential features of Schleiermacher’s thought by generalizing about either of these movements. (7) Crouter will rather use them as backdrop, for in Schleiermacher, the lines between these two movements are “blurred”. (8) Crouter states that his approach is both historically to situate the religious debates in which Schleiermacher was enmeshed (9), and to draw out the revisions between the various editions of his major works, to show what the edits reveal, and thereby put these editorial judgments in historical profile. (10) Approaching Schleiermacher in vivo, Crouter argues, will help us both in understanding him as he was, and in understanding him as he is for us. (2) To that end, Crouter has organized his essays under three main categories, roughly: Schleiermacher’s work vis-à-vis the works of three notable figures that chronologically frame him, Schleiermacher as socially- and politically-engaged citizen, and Schleiermacher as midwife of a Modern form of Christianity. Continue reading