Arien Mack, Editor
[reprinted in 51:2 50th Anniversary Issue Pt. 2] Discusses Protestant secularization, the effects of American civil religion and socialism upon it, and the current relationships between religion and social and cultural movements.
Argues that while current writings on American religion are abundant, little is being done to upgrade the quality of these works or to understand the array and impact of trends and fads in religion.
Argues that historians of religion have not made available materials which the public needs in order to understand religious issues.
What has happened to dialectic theology? The question is in some ways a nasty one. Even so, I could not care less about it—I mean, about what has happened to dialectic theology—were it not for the fact that in the fate of dialectic theology is also sealed the fate of theology tout court. Dialectic or otherwise, it makes a difference how any theology originates, how it develops and spreads, how it shrinks or becomes the seedbed for another theology.
Terrorism is of two kinds: the regime of terror and the siege of terror. The first refers to terrorism as the instrument of an established order, the second to revolutionary movements that are bent on overthrowing a dominant regime. Undoubtedly the former is more important. Camus once observed that most of the crimes of the twentieth century have been committed in the name of the state. But revolutionary terrorism. derivative and reflexive though it may be, exposes a level of perception into the universe of killing and being killed that may be even more revealing than state terrorism.
If cults are simply deviant, do they become sects as they incorporate Christian elements or as they accommodate to the "conventional consensus"? Can they become sects at all? Such a conceptualization may have theological utility, but it seems unlikely that any useful basis for a sociological conception of the cult concerned with its dynamics of development is to he founded on this view.
Religion, like electricity, is a kind of energy with which we are quite familiar but of which we actually know very little. Though its essence remains concealed, electrical energy can be made subject to man's will, but religious energy seems to have an unfathomable will of its own. It may transfigure a criminal in prison, erupt as a social movement, glorify a political order—and then depart suddenly, leaving men stranded in the desert of the utterly secular.
The question of the scope of "the religious factor" has concerned sociologists of religion, as indeed it has concerned a large variety of other students of religion. There has long been present in thought about religion, generally, some propensity to extend the meaning of that term beyond what are conventionally, and virtually without dispute, regarded as "properly" religious phenomena. That sociologists have appreciably shared this tendency is something quite plain and not at all difficult to document.
The psychology of religion has come to a fundamental impasse in its development as a science of religion. Most psychologists of religion consider the theoretical constructions of traditional psychology of religion to be too limited. On the other hand, the same psychologists tend to accept the validity of the philosophical assumptions which have undergirded the preferred research methods of the discipline. Indeed, a strong argument against the theoretical constructs of traditional psychologists of religion is that they are incompatible with the assumptions implicit in accepted methods of research. The task now confronting the psychology of religion is to formulate a new theoretical stance more congruent with the philosophical assumptions which undergird its preferred research methods. I shall develop this general argument in the discussion which follows.