An Introduction
Published on: July 9, 2010
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  • GC

    Mr. Berger I will be pleased to follow your blog, hopping you can shed some light over the complex relation between society and religion.

  • WigWag

    “Ever since my graduate studies, my approach to sociology in general and to the sociology of religion in particular has been very much influenced by Max Weber. This is an approach which takes history seriously, which is broadly comparative, and which tries to be objective.” (Peter Berger)

    If Peter Berger, as a “Weberian” tries to be objective, I wonder why he bothers telling us about his personal feelings about religion at all.

    Economists, as practitioners of the “dismal science” may be Keynesians, neo-Keynesians, monetarists, Marxists, or supply-siders; their professional perspective clearly impacts their writing and analysis. Nevertheless, they rarely feel compelled to share with us exactly how they’re investing their 401Ks.

    Chemists may be interested in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry or even molecular biology; nevertheless, they rarely feel obligated to share with us their deeply personal feelings (if any) about the periodic table.

    Cosmologists and astrophysicists are invariably interested in understanding the origins of creation and they work hard to catalog the series of events that began from the inception of the “big bang” but they rarely feel motivated to report their beliefs about what happened before the “big bang.”

    I wonder whether at the inception of his blog (which I am excited to start reading) Dr. Berger might be better off not sharing his personal views about religion with us. Would his being a “Godder” or even a “theologically liberal Lutheran” have mattered to Weber?

    Should it matter to us?

  • John Barker

    I don’t think all significant experience of a spiritual nature is contained in religious doctrine or practice. What about the 16th century Family of Love or the writings of the modern American mystic Jane Roberts.Will you explore such phenomena?

  • ” Media coverage is generally very poor, subsuming it under a vague category of “fundamentalism”, with peaceful missionaries being put in the same box with suicide bombers.”

    Have there been that many Protestant suicide bombers or do you mean to cast a wider net?

  • Steve

    Great post
    Do you think you could blog about the Twelfth in Northern Ireland?
    Discussion on Slugger O’Toole has reawakened my interest.

  • Being a Godder myself I did more than a few courses at Union Theological when I was an undergraduate at Columbia in the early sixties. The comparative approach I learned has been amazingly helpful in my personal search for God – I accept help from anywhere – any tradition, any direct experience. 🙂 Naturally I ended up a Taoist which would permit me to take up the suggestions with which you opened your essay – but alas a modest pension does not run to such splendid comforts. Welcome to the Bolgosphere, mate!

  • K2K

    Memo to Weberian Central Committe: the conflict between Israelis and Arabs, and then Palestinians was never about territory.
    That is a very western, liberalist frame that has greatly complicated any chance for peace.

    Just like Kashmir is not ‘merely a border dispute’.

    Neither long-running conflict is solely about religion either.

    Perhaps you could start with explaining Turkey. Why are some Kurds Alevi and others Sunni? Why are most Zazas Alevi?
    Why are Alevis considered Shi’a instead of a third sect of Alevi? The answers are needed to figure out the next parliamentary election in Turkey, assuming there will ever be another election.

    Ok, if Turkey is too hard, please start with the separatist movements in Africa based on Christianity v Islam (Nigeria, Sudan, possibly Ethiopia and Kenya).

    The last thing we need is another liberal framing Israel as a territorial dispute. Go look at any map in Damascus or Ramallah and see if you can find Israel.

    • John Larson

      As a Calvinist by birth and training, I will be interested in your blog. As to media bias, I think one should distinquish between those living in NY and DC from the rest of the world. Many local TV media folks are religious, and their stations allow reporting of church and religious events that seem out of the ordinary, say a funeral for a slain child or a prominient person, a politician preaching at a local church, etc. Many small town media report even routine religious events. Academia is another world entirely……Thanks for your work.

  • Matthew

    Thank you Mr. Berger. I will look forward to reading your blog “religiously.” I would be very much interested in your take on the possible consequences of Muslim immigration to Europe. Are we seeing 476 AD redux?

  • Kevin

    Thank you for taking the time to contribute. I hope you will do a book list (Kindle owner here) for those who want to read more deeply on these and other issues you will be discussing. I’m very excited to read your upcoming posts!

  • As an Evangelical Calvinist Baptist (say that three times fast!) I’m grateful for your even handed presentation of Evangelicals. As for your explanation of religion being sui generis, it would seem that many on the internet seem to quickly jump on religion as being “the opiate of the masses” or “the search for a father figure” a crutch” or the risingly popular “an evolutionary development meant to help us cope with the unknown etc…” It would be nice to get your thoughts on that. I might add, that Parchment and Pen blog will soon be releasing it’s findings for the Association of Historic Evangelicals on a definition of “Evangelicalism”. The graphic on their blog is worth the view. It would be great to see you interact with that. As you know, in some circles, there seems to be a debate as to what ‘evangelical’ means anymore, as in many cases (like mine) the term is used, while dying the death of a hundred qualifications.

  • Having read some of your “cave drawings,” I am exciting to see what comes of this blog.

    One note, though: I would suspect that there are more double predestinationists around than you assume. Obviously, I have no hard evidence, but one runs across such people often in Evangelical and Fundementalist churches, and the more confessionalist strains of Reformed faith are finding plenty of fertile soil in the Southern Baptist Convention, among other places.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    It is a delight to find Dr Berger’s blog, albeit belatedly.

    In reply to commenter WigWag above, you nonetheless may find Dr. Berger’s books of “non-professional” theology interesting. To give you a flavor you might read my review of his book A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural posted at, link below:

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    I should have added in my post above, that it is delightful that Dr. Berger has found a blog home after he was “outed,” or rather departed, from in 1997 over the contentious issue of the Supreme Courts usurpation of democracy involving the abortion issue. Professor Berger no longer has a “homeless mind” (see his book The Homeless Mind).

  • Julie Leighton

    Although the phraseology may be different, is there a fundamental change between Putin’s March and April rhetoric? Has his message altered? Are his goals different? Has his overall direction shifted course?

    No, everything remains the same. March’s “Terminator” and April’s “Mr. Congeniality” are two sides of the same coin. What did change, and what can account for us seeing both of sides of Putin’s personality in such quick succession, was the format of the announcements.

    In March, Putin delivered his address to the nation while standing at a podium. He was tense, brash, aggressive, and overly defensive about Crimea and Russia’s involvement. The international community had discredited the referendum. Western politicians were openly questioning his competence and sanity; pundits were accusing him of beginning a new Cold War; and others were openly comparing him to Hitler. He was effectively being attacked from all sides, and this was very apparent in his conference. He alone was accountable, and he was pinned to the wall.

    April’s telethon saw a very different character. He was seated and surrounded by officials, casual, congenial, agreeable, willing to interact and debate, he even entertained questions from the dissenting intelligentsia. Why? This was Putin as a man of the people. Here he was accountable to his domestic audience, who he is largely popular with. The questions were carefully and obviously filtered, the quoted statistics, histories and facts were easily amended to accommodate Putin’s actions. Anything that verged on being disagreeable or unpleasant was literally laughed off. Everything was carefully staged and scripted. Putin was cheerful–and why shouldn’t he be? Surrounded as he was by supporters and admirers?

    Has Putin really changed? Is there a true difference between the March and April versions? No, he is the same. The West should not be fooled by April’s stagecraft.

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