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Coasting: A Private Voyage by Jonathan Raban

By Jonathan Raban

Placed Jonathan Raban on a ship and the consequences might be interesting, and not extra so than whilst he’s crusing round the serpentine, 2,000-mile coast of his local England. during this acutely perceived and fantastically written ebook, the bestselling writer of Bad Land turns that voyage–which coincided with the Falklands battle of 1982-into an social gathering for meditations on his kingdom, his early life, and the elusive inspiration of domestic.

Whether he’s talking to bored tax exiles at the Isle of guy, wrestling down a mainsail in the course of a vast gale, or crashing a Scottish condominium social gathering the place the kilted visitors grow to be americans, Raban is alert to the slightest nuance of which means. it is easy to learn Coasting for his specific naturalistic descriptions or his mordant reviews at the new England, the place the crucial seems the selling of Englishness. yet one constantly reads it with excitement.

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Extra resources for Coasting: A Private Voyage

Sample text

I have described the origins of the term secularization and its subsequent development as an analytical concept for examining and understanding social and religious change. As I have noted, academic acceptance of what has come to be known as the secularization thesis has not been universal and the idea has increasingly been subject to sustained criticism. Moreover, theories of secularization are necessarily tied to theories of what religion is. The more open and inclusive the definition of religion, the harder it is to identify secularizing currents.

It follows that statistics of church decline (merely one indicator of secularization) are wrongly taken as heralding the withering away of religion itself. While employing the term, he questions whether secularization, in the sense of the widespread decline of religious beliefs, can really exist, as religion is an enduring constituent feature of society, coextensive with social life itself. For Luckmann, because religion is rooted in existential experience, it cannot die. Institutional transformations can and do take place, and in this sense we may talk of ‘secularization’, but religion can never be eliminated.

Notwithstanding such a diversity of opinion, in recent years, particularly among those theorists operating at the more empirical level (Gill, 1993; Hornsby-Smith, 1992; Finke, 1992; Davie, 1994), criticism of the secularization thesis has grown apace, further undermining its paradigmatic status. Academic rivalries apart, one could be forgiven for wondering how so many theorists, and the list is not exhaustive, could come to such a diverse set of conclusions about the same subject, religion. Sharpe suggests that much of this discourse is merely a reflection of continued confusions as to what secularization might be in the first instance, rather than how it might be measured (Sharpe, 1983).

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