I’m currently writing a methods paper, laying out how I will conduct my field research among Quaker congregations. In the section where I’m dealing with culture and the role of the church I found Slavoj iek’s quote below to be insightful and to the point.
The social order in which religion is no longer fully integrated into and identified with a particular cultural life-form, but acquires autonomy, so that it can survive as the same religion in different cultures. This extraction enables religion to globalize itself (there are Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists everywhere today); on the other hand, the price to be paid is that religion is reduced to a secondary epiphenomenon with regard to the secular functioning of the social totality. In this new global order, religion has two possible roles: therapeutic or critical. It either helps individuals to function better in the existing order [Yoders Constantinianism], or it tries to asset itself as a critical agency articulating what is wrong with this order as such, a space for the voices of discontent [Sectarian Withdrawal?] – in this second case, religion as such tends toward assuming the role of a heresy.
Slavoj iek, The Puppet and the Dwarf, 3