cover image The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics

The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics

. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $19 (143pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-4691-4

In the 1950s and 1960s, Berger, Harvey Cox and others were fearless proponents of ""secularization theory."" This theory held that as technology improved and modernity advanced upon culture, religion would begin to decline and we would live, according to Cox, in a ""secular city."" Cox reversed himself in Religion in the Secular City (1984), declaring that the future of religion lay in grassroots movements such as fundamentalism, Pentecostalism and liberation theology. Now, Berger gathers a number of essays contending that, far from being in decline in the modern world, religion is actually experiencing a resurgence. In his opening essay, Berger asserts that ""the assumption we live in a secularized world is false.... The world today is as furiously religious as it ever was."" He points out that religious movements have not adapted to secular culture in order to survive but have successfully developed their own identities and retained a focus on the supernatural in their beliefs and practices. Berger then examines the origins, and ponders the future, of this global religious resurgence. While he acknowledges that he cannot predict the future course, he maintains that the ""critique of secularity common to all resurgent movements is that human existence bereft of transcendence is an impoverished and finally untenable condition."" Berger argues that the desire for transcendence is an integral part of the human psyche. He also provides a brief overview of the impact of religion on economic development, war and peace, human rights and social justice. Other essayists contribute ""Roman Catholicism in the Age of John Paul II"" (George Weigel), ""The Evangelical Protestant Upsurge and Its Political Implications"" (David Martin), ""Judaism and Politics in the Modern World"" (Jonathan Sacks), ""Europe: The Exception That Proves the Rule?"" (Grace Davie), ""The Quest for Meaning: Religion in the People's Republic of China"" (Tu Weiming) and ""Political Islam in National Politics and International Relations"" (Abdullahi A. An-Na'im). Berger's collection is replete with compelling writing about the relationship of religion and politics. (Aug.)