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July 25 , 2009

Religious Consciousness and Experience


It is one of the ironies of our times that, as the practise of religion wanes, a theoretical interest in it on the part of many anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists and philosophers waxes. Among these, only philosophers bring to their task a long history of theological and reli­ gious relations. Hence their renewed interest has been hailed as a break­ down of isolationism, heralding, perhaps, a new era of interdisciplinary peace. To celebrate this new ecumenism, a Chicago seminary, consis­ tently with its purpose, sponsored a colloquium to explore the future of philosophical theology. If some of its participating professional philosophers initially felt a twinge of embarrassment over their presence at an ostensibly theological meeting, they soon were at ease. No one was called upon to define the topic, or even to suggest its relationship to a philosophy of religion. Conveniently, everyone could role up his sleeves and get to work on a job he personally felt needed doing. Can we wonder that the lay observer appeared somewhat confused? Was the purpose to analyze "God talk," or to find a place for 'God' in a metaphysical scheme? Or if not these, something else? It soon became evident that the participants in the colloquium ranged from the free swinger to the severely inhibited, depending upon the role each assigned to dogma and creed.
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