Emotion, Identity, and Religion: Hope, Reciprocity, and Otherness

ISBN : 9780199551538

Douglas J. Davies
336 Pages
162 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2011
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Deep emotions pervade our human lives and ongoing moods echo them. Religious traditions often shape these and give devotees a sense of identity in a hopeful and meaningful life despite the conflicts, confusion, pain and grief of existence. Driven by anthropological and sociological perspectives, Douglas J. Davies describes and analyses these dynamic tensions and life opportunities as they are worked out in ritual, music, theology, and the allure of sacred places. Davies brings some newer concepts to these familiar ideas, such as 'the humility response' and 'moral-somatic' processes, revealing how our sense of ourselves responds to how we are treated by others as when injustice makes us 'feel sick' or religious ideas of grace prompt joyfulness. This sense of embodied identity is shown to be influenced not only by 'reciprocity' in the many forms of exchange, gifts, merit, and actions of others, but also by a certain sense of 'otherness, whether in God, ancestors, supernatural forces or even a certain awareness of ourselves. Drawing from psychological studies of how our thinking processes engage with the worlds around us we see how difficult it is to separate out 'religious' activity from many other aspects of human response to our environment. Throughout these pages many examples are taken from the well-known religions of the world as well as from local and secular traditions.


1. Dynamics, feelings, and meanings
2. Ritual, values, and emotions
3. Identity depletion
4. Grief, intensive living, and charisma
5. Gender, identity, and purity
6. Love, mercy, humility, and betrayal
7. Merit, grace, and pardon
8. Moral-somatics, hope, despair, and suffering
9. Revelation, conversion, and spirit power
10. Sacred place, worship, and music

About the author: 

Douglas J. Davies is Professor in the Study of Religion at Durham and Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies. He trained in both anthropology and theology and has taught the study of religion for many years both at Nottingham and Durham Universities. His specialist interests and many publications include work on death, funerary ritual and afterlife beliefs, as well as the Mormon and Anglican religious traditions and theoretical questions of the links between anthropology and theology, with a special interest in how the human desire for meaning becomes a sense of salvation.

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