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246 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Science to define. While this book thus enhances one=s fascination with Burdon Sanderson, it also feeds the hope that Romano will one day give him the fuller analytical and contextualized treatment to which he remains entitled. (SUZANNE ZELLER) Charles Taylor. Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited Harvard University Press. 127. US $19.95 The subtitle of Charles Taylor=s new book, William James Revisited, resonates with one of the touchstones of English Romanticism, Wordsworth=s >Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798.= Revisiting and reviewing James=s book of 1902, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, Taylor comes to it >with a very specific agenda, asking what it can tell us about the place of religion today.= James remarks (and Taylor cites): >At the outset we are struck by one great partition which divides the religious field. On the one side of it lies institutional, on the other personal religion.= James defines >institutional= religion (worship, sacrifice, ceremony, priests, sacraments) as >an external art, the art of winning the favor of the gods=; in >personal religion,= on the other hand, it is >the inner dispositions of man himself which form the centre of interest, his conscience, his deserts, his helplessness, his incompleteness .= I am struck by James=s word >partition= with its echo of Paul=s letter to the Ephesians: >For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [Greek phragmou] between us= (Ephesians 2:14, AV). Addressed to >Gentiles in the flesh,= Paul=s letter makes a fateful distinction between salvation by works (ritual, food laws, ordinances, circumcision, feasts, and sacrifices B metonymies for >the commonwealth of Israel=), and faith: >For by grace [chariti] are ye saved through faith; and in that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast= (Ephesians 2:8B9, 12). Taylor revises James=s model of the >great partition= between inner and outer religion: >The point of declaring that salvation comes through faith was radically to devalue ritual and external practice in favor or inward adherence to Christ as Savior.= It=s an easy ride, tracing the historical development of >personal religion= in antithetical terms: faith and works, flesh and spirit, intellect and intuition, expression and doctrine, inner and outer, heart and head, intuition and reason, enchantment and disenchantment , and so forth. But as Taylor suggests, >personal= and >institutional= religion might be combined in one religious life. One might even claim that they ought ideally to complement each other. I myself certainly lean in this direction, if I may step for a moment beyond the role of neutral commenta- humanities 247 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 tor. But the fact is that they have frequently been polarized, and opposed to each other. Taylor=s second chapter focuses on melancholy and James=s >religion of the twice-born,= the religion of >sick souls, who must be twice-born in order to be happy.= Acquainted with evil, some people (Tolstoy and Bunyan, for example) go through hell and, in Taylor=s words, >come out the other side.= In contrast to the >sick souls,= James invokes the cheerful >healthy-minded,= for whom (I quote James), >the way of the sick soul seems unmanly and diseased. With their grubbing in rat-holes instead of living in the light; with their manufacture of fears, and preoccupation with every unwholesome kind of misery, there is something almost obscene about these children of wrath and cravers of a second birth.= Prompted by Taylor=s vigorous little book, a series of lectures delivered in 2000 at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, I turn again to James. Buddhism and Christianity >are essentially religions of deliverance: the man must die to an unreal life before he can be born into the real life.= Is James=s >real life= related to Taylor=s idea of >authentic= life? Jesus says to Nicodemus, >except a man...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 246-247
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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