Meaning

This section of my website is about the importance of meaning. The basic idea is that there is no objective meaning but only the meanings man himself bestows. Man is a sense making animal, giving life meaning in a myriad of ways. I examine the richness of cultural forms that man has created in his endless quest for meaning. To illustrate my articles I use reproductions of works of art by the Dutch painter Bram van Velde (1895-1981) who, according to his friend Samuel Beckett, painted the problems of meaning in life.

Religion, Private & Public

Religion, Private & Public The search for contemporary forms of religion in the West is dominated by the idea of the turn to the self. Religiosity is supposed to become more and more a personal affair. This privatisation thesis however, is too narrow and too one-sided to describe the development of religion in Western Europe in its totality. Its supporters' perception of the processes to which religion is subject are too one-sided. Privatisation is primarily a consequence of the process of differentiation. But the effects social differentiation has on society as a whole on the one hand and religion on the other differs. The process of de-institutionalisa¬tion for example, is another effect (see, for instance, Giddens, 1990; and Bauman, 2000). Read more ....

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Non-institutional religion

This is the lecture by M.B. ter Borg upon accepting the Chair in Non-institutional Religion in Modern Society at the University of Leyden, Netherlands. He opens by outlining a theoretical model which explains why religion is a timeless phenomenon. He goes on to give an impression of the relationship between institutional and non-institutional religion. Then he suggests what the causes are of the growing importance of religion in modern society. He then uses the theoretical model to make it clear why this so-called comeback of religion is partly non-institutional. He then finishes by providing a few examples of non-institutional religion. ....

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Religious Power

In this essay, I will investigate the workings of religious power. How is it possible that people exert power over each other by means of 'religion'; by reference to matters of which the existence cannot be proven, (or indeed falsified) by scientific means? Originally published as 'Religion and Power' in: Peter B. Clarke, ed.(2009), The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 194-210. ....

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