Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Quick but stimulating read over at Salon today featuring an interview with James P. Carse, author of the new book, "The Religious Case Against Belief." Carse knows his shit, after directing the Religious Studies Program at NYU for 30 years, and he doesn't shy away from controversy.

Looks like a fiery piece of work. In the course of the interview, Carse compares religions like Hinduism and Christianity to belief systems like Nazism and Marxism, questions the notion of transcendence, and argues that religion is defined not by a search for meaning or some-such, but merely by longevity.

But before you think he's a cold hard stone, Carse veers in praise of liturgy, waxing poetic about the beauty and grace of ancient liturgies and calling the true prophets "poets." He warns of the danger of marrying religion to national or ethnic identity - an apt fear these days especially, I believe - and speaks of his ultimate fascination with the notion of mystery - that "question of an unnameable mystery" that keeps him interested in this whole project of religion.

Really interesting perspectives applicable to all of the five major world religions, from a guy who seems to at once occupy the center and the margins. Give it a read.

Religion is Poetry (Salon)


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