Sacred Quest : An Invitation to the Study of Religion

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  • Edition: 5th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-06-18
  • Publisher: Pearson
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This text provides a thematic and comparative approach to the study of religion. The focus of individual chapters gives equal weight to both theoretical issues and to practices as they are reflected in the major religions of the world. It examines the main ideas that characterize all religious thought and practice, focusing on such fundamental topics as ritual, sacred language, ethics, salvation, and the problem of evil.

Author Biography

Lawrence Cunningham is a Rev. John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame University. Cunningham's research interests are in the history and practice of Catholic spirituality as well as the intersection of theology and culture. The author or editor of twenty books, he writes regularly for journals both learned and pastoral. Twice honored by the university for his teaching, he also received a Presidential Award in 2001 for his service to the church and the academy. He is currently finishing a book on Roman Catholicism for Cambridge University Press and is the Christianity editor for the the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions.


John Kelsay is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Religion at Florida State University.  He is the author of Arguing the Just War in Islam (Cambridge, Mass:  Harvard University Press, 2007) and other works dealing with Muslim and Christian teaching about war.  A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he also serves as co-editor of the Journal of Religious Ethics.



Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Breadth and Depth of Religious Experiencep. 1
A Brief Outline of the Phenomenological Methodp. 3
Attitudes and Institutions in the Study of Religionp. 6
A Final Wordp. 8
Notesp. 9
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 10
Toward a Definition of Religionp. 11
The Search for a Definition of Religionp. 12
Elements of Religionp. 13
Religion and Human Thoughtp. 13
Religion and Feelingp. 14
Religion and Actionp. 14
Individual and Social Existencep. 15
Values and Religionp. 15
Substance or Function?p. 16
Toward Resolutionp. 18
A Proposalp. 20
In Conclusionp. 22
Notesp. 23
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 24
The Nature of the Sacredp. 25
The Complex Character of the Sacredp. 25
The Concept of Sacred Realityp. 26
Specially Distinctivep. 27
To Some Extent, Beyond the Volitional Control of Human Beingsp. 30
Specially Prominent with Respect to Human Welfarep. 32
Properly Determinative of Various Aspects of Human Existencep. 34
Summaryp. 35
Notesp. 35
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 36
The Appearance of the Sacredp. 37
Types of Sacred Appearancep. 39
Varieties of Mediap. 39
Sacred Personsp. 39
Sacred Objectsp. 44
Sacred Timep. 46
Sacred Spacep. 49
Sacred Appearance and the Complexity of Traditionsp. 51
Notesp. 53
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 54
The Language(s) of the Sacredp. 55
Mythp. 56
Storiesp. 59
Story as Parablep. 61
The Preservation of Sacred Languagep. 62
Oral Culturesp. 62
Scriptural Culturesp. 63
A Summary and Synthesisp. 64
The Language of Theologyp. 65
The Visual Language of Religionp. 67
Language and Truthp. 68
Notesp. 70
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 70
Ritualp. 71
Myth(os) and Ritualp. 72
The Passoverp. 72
Holy Communion (The Eucharist)p. 73
Rites of Passagep. 74
Birth Ritualsp. 75
Rituals of Initiationp. 75
Rituals of Mourning and Deathp. 76
Temporal Rites and Celebrationsp. 77
The Religious Meaning(s) of Ritualp. 78
Adorationp. 79
Thanksgivingp. 79
Petitionp. 79
Penance/Purificationp. 80
Ritual as a Problemp. 80
Ritual as a Systemp. 82
Notesp. 83
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 83
Sacred Communitiesp. 84
The Social Character of Religionp. 85
Religion and Social Resistancep. 86
Heresy/Schism/Divisionp. 89
Tradition and Innovationp. 93
The Social Aspects of Worshipp. 95
A Word of Conclusionp. 97
Notesp. 98
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 98
The Problem of Evilp. 100
Identifying Evilp. 101
Responses to Evil: Some Classic Patternsp. 105
Evil and Karma: The Indian Contextp. 105
The Consolation of Promisep. 107
The Appeal to Sovereigntyp. 108
Dualismp. 110
Are the Answers Adequate?p. 112
Notesp. 113
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 114
Religion and Moralityp. 115
Defining the Issuesp. 116
Religion, Morality, and Justificationp. 117
Justification: General Considerationsp. 118
Practical Justification: Three Casesp. 119
Hinduism: The Caste Systemp. 120
Islam: The Justification and Limitation of Warp. 122
Christianity: Why Pray?p. 125
Religion and Morality: Patternsp. 127
Notesp. 128
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 129
The Quest for Salvationp. 130
Concepts of Salvationp. 131
Individual Salvation in This Worldp. 131
The Search for Meaningp. 132
The Desire to Be Rememberedp. 132
The Ideal of Completionp. 133
Individual Salvation in Another Worldp. 134
Joining the Spirit Worldp. 134
Cosmic Cycling or Expansionp. 135
The Idea of Judgmentp. 136
Group Salvation in This Worldp. 137
Salvation Through the Peoplep. 137
Salvation Through the Traditionp. 138
Salvation in the Kingdom of God in This Worldp. 138
Group Salvation in Another Worldp. 139
Now That Distinctions Have Been Madep. 139
Paths to Salvationp. 140
The Path of Knowledgep. 140
The Path of Actionp. 140
The Path of Aestheticsp. 141
The Path of Submissionp. 141
The Path of Gracep. 142
A Closing Reminderp. 143
Notesp. 143
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 144
Glossaryp. 145
Indexp. 151
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