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Encountering ReligionResponsibility and Criticism After Secularism$
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Tyler Roberts

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231147521

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231147521.001.0001

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Religion and Incongruity

Religion and Incongruity

(p.23) 1 Religion and Incongruity
Encountering Religion

Tyler Roberts

Columbia University Press

This chapter looks at Mircea Eliade's argument that a “religionist” approach to religion is irreducible to social or biological factors and so must be explained on its own terms, as a manifestation of the sacred. It is this idea that the critics of “theological obscurantism” and “religionism” strive to change. One of the first scholars to challenge the Eliadan paradigm was J. Z. Smith, who questions what he describes as Eliade's “locative map” of religion, and argues that it is only one possibility for mapping religion. Smith identifies two others: one called utopian, where the religious impulse is not to preserve but to escape from a given order; and the other which goes unnamed but focuses on the problem of “incongruity.” The chapter concludes with an explanation about how locativists are defending not a secular but a secularist study of religion, taking the distinction between secular and secularist from Jorge Casanova's and Charles Taylor's analyses of secularity.

Keywords:   Mircea Eliade, religionism, theological obscurantism, J.Z. Smith, incongruity, locativists, secularist

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