Monday 16 October 2006

Religion and Alienation by: Gregory Baum

Religion and Alienation
Gregory Baum
ISBN10: 2895078009
ISBN13: 9782895078005
October 2006

Some books are known to have influenced a generation, or a generation of thinkers. This book has the potential to do it a second time. Baum has re-written the entire book, dropping whole chapters and adding new ones.

This book was first published in 1975 as Religion and Alienation: A Theological Reading of Sociology and was immediately recognized as the seminal book on the continuing discussion between religion and sociology. This new edition will challenge a new generation of readers, thinkers, and students of either religion or sociology. This book is designed to help people encounter the gospel as a message of hope and liberation - a guidebook to help set us free from the prisons we have walled ourselves into, or that we have allowed society to place us into.

UW’s own Scott Kline and David Seljak, who both teach at St. Jerome’s University (SJU), wrote the forward to this new edition and give the book high praise.

Baum takes us on a journey through a series of progressive thoughts and areas of study to draw us forward into the study of religion and alienation. Baum looks at religion as both the source of alienation and as a product of alienation. He examines how alienation is also a product of the industrial society. Baum tackles the ambiguity that religion creates, both from a biblical perspective and from the perspective of the social sciences. Then he brings into the discussion the psychologists, with both Freud’s and Durkheim’s perspectives on symbolism. Those are but the beginnings of Baum’s work on this diverse topic.

A book launch can be a fascinating event. I have witnessed book launches that were merely reading excerpts from the book and signing copies, to live choral pieces composed just for the event with media from around the world. You never know what you will find at a book launch until you are at the event.

This new book is being launched here at SJU on October 20th at 7:30 p.m. Baum will be giving a lecture on Christian Muslim Dialogues in a Post 9/11 World at Siegfried Hall. This event will be a book launch and lecture, followed by signings of the book. Baum’s Lecture at SJU last January on the same topic had the highest attendance of any of last year’s Lecture Series at SJU. This, even with the controversy over Pope Benedict XVI’s comments, will be even more significant. So come find out what Baum has to say on this topic and attend the book launch for this new work.

This book will be an excellent addition to any religious thinker’s library. It was thirty years in the making and time has only made it better. Even if you read only the last chapter on the five reasons that theologians should engage in dialogue with social thinkers, it will make the book worth the changes.

(First Published in Imprint 2006-09-13 as ‘Baum revisits religious discourse’.)

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