Lindbeck on The Intepretive Schemes of Religion

Religions are seen as comprehensive interpretative schemes, usually embodied in myths or narratives and heavily ritualized, which structure human experience and understanding of self and world. Not every telling of these cosmic stories is religious, however. It must be told with a particular purpose or interest. It must be used, to adopt a suggestion of William Christian, with a view of identifying and describing what is taken to be “more important than everything else in the universe,??? and to organizing all of life, including both behaviors and beliefs, in relation to this. If the interpretative scheme is used or the story told without this interest in the maximally important, it ceases to function religiously. To be sure, it may continue to shape in various ways, the attitudes, sentiments, and conduct of individuals and of groups. A religion, in other words, may continue to exercise immense influence on the way people experience themselves and their world even when it is no longer explicitly adhered to.

Nature of Doctrine, George Lindbeck p.32)

Published by Wess Daniels

Teacher, author, Quaker, ​and public theologian. Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College.

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