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by Alfred de Grazia


If we were to scan all of the written, graphic, and artistic works of mankind prior to the second World War, we should discover that religion was their chief topic, with political-military subjects a poor second, and commercial records ranking a close third. This fact, significant in itself, daunts whosoever wishes to delve into the literature of religion, or to advise others about doing so.

My direct references are imbedded in the text. To assemble my general sources is an exercise in self-searching that may not profit others. As is the case generally with the humanities and sciences, the ideal reader and critic may have read few of my sources but instead "something else," as good or better, or may have shared few of my experiences that made my sources meaningful, but may have been a keen critic of the language and practices of religion as observed from childhood to old age in his or her own social settings and have read little but thought much, so that he would review his religious materials like Marcel Proust and Thomas Wolfe and James Joyce reworked their lost pasts in their autobiographical novels, making of the past a rich and elegant library.

There are, of course, encyclopedias about religion and philosophy, and a general encyclopedia, excepting the Soviet, will offer perhaps a fourth of its articles as entries related to religion. James G. Frazer's Golden Bough (13 vols.) is itself an encyclopedia of the anthropology of religion. Also creations of Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell pertain here.

Almost encyclopedic, yet entering boldly upon the analytic and systematic, are the studies of Mircea Eliade. His Patterns in Comparative Religions, The Myth of the Eternal Return, Myth and Reality, Images et Symboles, and other books are as indispensable as any particular writings can be in an age when hundreds of books and articles descend upon every subject. It may not be too early to alert the reader to the multi-volume encyclopedia that is being prepared under the editorship of Dr. Eliade through the auspices of Macmillan Publishing Company. [This work is now available]

Every country has had its religious wars, every religion its heretics and apostates, and political history is loaded with religious conflicts. Bibliographies about them can be initially retrieved through encyclopedias and card catalogues. Too, every sect has its sacred scriptures and polemical masters, readily accessed through its leader's name -- Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Wesley, et al, as for instance, one proceeds along a particular Protestant Christian line of thought.

Should not one begin with philosophy, to avoid trivia and a waste of time? Would that such were the case. A careless saunter into the woods of theology and philosophy may end up in the oven of a seminarian. Plato is recommended but not without Aristotle, nor Aquinas without Eckhart, nor Loyola without Kirkegaard, nor Hegel without Marx, and so on.

The sociology of religion seems to me to be continually useful and I am sure that some of the trails of my mind pass through Ludwig Feuerbach, Max Weber, Karl Mannheim, Hans Vaihinger, Benjamin Nelson, and the pragmatists with philosophical links, such as William James and John Dewey. From here it is but a step to the commentators upon science, such as Percy Bridgman and Alfred North Whitehead. In 1873 John W. Draper published a History of the Conflict of Religion and Science, but today one seeks out also various works on the conflict of science itself within science. Among the best of these might be Owen Barfield's Saving the Appearances, David Bohm's Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, D. G. Garan's The Key to the Sciences of Man, and Roger S. Jones' Physics as Metaphor. Norbert Wiener's famous works on communication science are supplemented by God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment of Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion. Roger Shinn and Paul Albrecht have edited a two volume collection on Faith and Science in an Unjust World. Among several dozen journals, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, occurs in this connection. E. A. Shneour and E. A. Olteson have compiled writings and bibliography on Extraterrestrial Life.

Psychoanalysis provides a systematic awareness of the subconscious interaction of religious material with the sexual, familial and symbolic. Sigmund Freud's relevant writings are indexed and readily available. One might read Carl Jung more selectively. As in other fields, an occasional perusal of major journals is called for. Most names in this note are of famous men, and fame breeds fame, so that, as here, lesser luminaries are discriminated against erroneously.

Much is made of catastrophe and quantavolution in this work. The reader will have noticed that a background thereto is contained in other books of the author's "Quantavolution Series;" thus, for the physical evidence of quantavolution and disaster, Chaos and Creation, The Lately Tortured Earth, and Solaria Binaria; for the anthropological and mythological ambiance of religion, Homo Schizo I, God's Fire, and The Disastrous Love Affair of Moon and Mars; for the psychological, Homo Schizo II, as well as the foregoing.

My exposition adopts the format of ordinary language, the structure of whose utterances must be systematic and conventional. Hence the form of communication renders obscure the meanings of mystics, already beset by the problem in their own turn when they write. Such is the case with Meister Eckhart, St. Theresa of Avila, or of Vedanta, Gnosticism, Quakerism, Zen Buddhism, or Sufism; or of the pure symbolists and the occult. Still, laid in the depth psychology of the present work and concealed by its positivistic style are paths that a mystic might perhaps follow in exploring the divine within oneself.

End of The Divine Succession


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