More Than Discourse: Symbolic Expressions of Naturalistic Faith

SUNY Press
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Discusses the role of symbols in religion and suggests particular symbols appropriate to religious naturalism.

Religious life involves more than prosaically stated beliefs. It also encompasses attitudes, emotions, values, and practices whose meanings cannot be adequately captured in verbal assertions but require effective expression in forceful images, portrayals, and enactments of a nonliteral sort. Indeed, the world’s religious traditions are each marked by rich and distinctive symbols. In More Than Discourse, Donald A. Crosby discusses the nature of symbols in religion and investigates symbols appropriate for religious naturalism or what he terms Religion of Nature. This is a religious outlook that holds the natural world to be the only world; it is sacred but without any supernatural domain or presence underlying it. Warning against a too-literalistic approach to any religion by either its adherents or its critics, Crosby discusses the nature and roles of religious symbols, how they work, and their particular kinds of truth or falsity. A set of criteria for evaluating the effectiveness and meaning of religious symbols is provided along with explorations of specific symbols Crosby finds to be highly significant for Religion of Nature.
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About the author

Donald A. Crosby is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Colorado State University. He is the author of several books, including The Thou of Nature: Religious Naturalism and Reverence for Sentient Life; Faith and Reason: Their Roles in Religious and Secular Life; Living with Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil; and A Religion of Nature, all published by SUNY Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Aug 1, 2014
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781438453767
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Religious
Reference / Signs & Symbols
Religion / Comparative Religion
Religion / General
Religion / Philosophy
Religion / Spirituality
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Explores the spiritual obligations of humans to animals from a religious naturalist’s perspective.

Humans share the earth with nonhuman animals who are also capable of conscious experience and awareness. Arguing that we should develop an I-thou, not an I-it, relationship with other sentient beings, Donald A. Crosby adds a new perspective to the current debates on human/animal relations and animal rights—that of religious naturalism. Religion of Nature holds that the natural world is the only world and that there is no supernatural animus or law behind it. From this vantage point, our fellow thous are entitled to more than merely moral treatment: protection and enhancement of their continuing well-being deserves to be a central focus of religious reverence, care, and commitment as well. A set of presumptive natural rights for nonhuman animals is proposed and conflicts in applying these rights are acknowledged and considered. A wide range of situations involving humans and nonhuman animals are discussed, including hunting and fishing; eating and wearing; circuses, rodeos, zoos, and aquariums; scientific experimentation; and the threats of human technology and population growth.

“There is a significant amount of literature in the fields of animal ethics and environmental ethics. A large subset of this literature is from a theistic point of view. Crosby’s work is unique in that he comes at these issues from the perspective of ‘religious naturalism.’ Both words are necessary in that his approach is nontheistic yet very much concerned with reverence for value in nature, in general, and for value in nonhuman animals, in particular. It is a significant contribution to the scholarly community.” — Daniel A. Dombrowksi, author of A Platonic Philosophy of Religion: A Process Perspective
From cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper to displays of the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina statehouse, acts of cultural significance have set off political conflicts and sometimes violence. These and other expressions and enactments of culture—whether in music, graffiti, sculpture, flag displays, parades, religious rituals, or film—regularly produce divisive and sometimes prolonged disputes. What is striking about so many of these conflicts is their emotional intensity, despite the fact that in many cases what is at stake is often of little material value. Why do people invest so much emotional energy and resources in such conflicts? What is at stake, and what does winning or losing represent? The answers to these questions explored in Culture and Belonging in Divided Societies view cultural expressions variously as barriers to, or opportunities for, inclusion in a divided society's symbolic landscape and political life.

Though little may be at stake materially, deep emotional investment in conflicts over cultural acts can have significant political consequences. At the same time, while cultural issues often exacerbate conflict, new or redefined cultural expressions and enactments can redirect long-standing conflicts in more constructive directions and promote reconciliation in ways that lead to or reinforce formal peace agreements. Encompassing work by a diverse group of scholars of American studies, anthropology, art history, religion, political science, and other fields, Culture and Belonging in Divided Societies addresses the power of cultural expressions and enactments in highly charged settings, exploring when and how changes in a society's symbolic landscape occur and what this tells us about political life in the societies in which they take place.
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