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The Uses of Idolatry

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  • 2024

  • Engelsk

In The Uses of Idolatry, William T. Cavanaugh offers a sustained and interdisciplinary argument that worship has not waned in our supposedly <"secular>" world. Rather, the target of worship has changed, migrating from the explicit worship of God to the implicit worship of things. Cavanaugh examines modern idolatries and the ways in which humans become dominated by our own creations. While Cavanaugh is critical of modern idolatries, his argument is also sympathetic, seeing in idolatry a deep longing in the human heart for the transformation of our lives. We all believe in something, he argues: we are worshipping creatures whose devotion alights on all sorts of things, in part because we are material creatures, and the material world is beautiful. Following an invisible God is hard for material creatures, so we-those who profess belief in God and those who don''t-fixate on things that are closer to hand. Ranging widely across the fields of history, philosophy, political science, sociology, and cultural studies, Cavanaugh develops an account of modernity as not the condition of being disenchanted but the condition of having learned to describe the world as disenchanted. For a better description of the world, Cavanaugh turns to scriptural, theological, and phenomenological accounts of idolatry as inordinate devotion to created things. Through deep explorations of nationalism and consumer culture, The Uses of Idolatry presents a sympathetic but critical account of how and why we sacrifice ourselves and others to gods of our own design.

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