Amanda Marksdottir (ragnvaeig) wrote in dublincircle,
Amanda Marksdottir

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Religion without Beliefs by Frederic Lamond

I have finished the first 40 pages of Religion without Beliefs: Essays in Pantheist Theology, Comparative Religion and Ethics, and I am sad to report that I'm already quite disappointed. I had accepted that, as a book of essays, the writing would convey a less scholarly tone than that to which I am generally accustomed, but even the first two "meat" sections of the book are...well, not good scholarship in the least.

Lamond is attempting to convince the reader of the need for Paganism in Western society. In doing so, he equates the economic collapse of the Communist Bloc and the Soviet Union with the post-WWII decline of monotheistic, proselytising religions (i.e. Christianity, Judaism, Islam) due to their individual 'totalitarianist' attitudes. India is raised as a spiritual ideal because of its pluralistic religious tolerance. Christian Protestantism is then claimed as the impetus behind male sexual repression, which leads not only to scientific and economic breakthroughs, but also to war. The return of female sexual freedom since the introduction of the birth control pill has led to a resurgence in 'female' issues such as music, art and the environment, has paved the way for a re-introduction of a female anthropomorphic representation of deity (or at least a personification as a 'she'), leading to a "rejection of the patriarchal monotheist paradigm." These are some of the arguments so far.

Many of Lamond's arguments seem to be based on gross misunderstandings of many modern mainstream religions. The rest of the arguments seem to be geared toward a rationalist rejection of the religious climate within which the author grew up; his invective seems to be directed toward Northern European Protestantism in particular. Rebellious spiritual teenager? Sounds like it to me.

It makes me sick to say that it smacks of the Paganism of a person who is not as yet wholly comfortable with his own chosen beliefs (or lack thereof). This is only made laughable by the author's assertion that "people at peace with themselves are rarely intolerant of those with different myths from their own" (p. 11). Under the guise of religious objectivism, Lamond himself is engaging in a more politically-correct flavour of intolerance through the propagation of utterly ignorant stereotypes of mainstream religions. It's the usual anti-mainstream prattle, dressed up as educated prose.

I'd call this Fluffy Paganism at its faux-intellectual worst. No stars unless it gets much better after page 50.
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