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This is a book on a social theory of religion and culture. A survey of the meanings of the term 'religion' from Columbus to Jonathan Z. Smith sets the pace. Examples are taken from ethnography, the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman age, and Christendom in order to develop the concepts of "imagined world," "social formation," "mythic grammar," and "cultural mentality." What has been learned from the study of other peoples and their religions about the function of myths and rituals is then applied to an analysis of the Christian myth-ritual system and its social logic. The odd combinations of mythic world and ritual presence, monotheism and sovereignty, righteousness and power, all peculiar to Christianity, are analyzed historically and followed into the twenty-first century. The study offers a meditation on the recent public discourse about the "Christian nation" in light of the current social situation in the United States and ends with an invitation to rethink the role of religions in constructing a polycultural social democracy.