The Many Altars of Modernity

Greg Forster | November 21, 2014

Peter Berger. The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age. Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton, 2014. 147 pp. $49.95

In his 1967 book The Sacred Canopy, Peter Berger more or less invented sociology of religion as we know it. It revolutionized the field not only because it was profound, but because it was short and did not assume much prior knowledge. It was not beach reading, but laypeople willing to make the effort could grasp the extraordinary vision Berger laid out for how we can understand the central role of religion in the structure of society.

Berger, professor emeritus of sociology at Boston University, has done it again. The Many Altars of Modernity is even shorter (93 pages) and more accessible to the layperson than The Sacred Canopy. Yet it has the potential to re-revolutionize the sociology of religion.

Like The Sacred Canopy, this book speaks to the huge paradox of modern times. We have overcome so many bigotries and unlocked so many doors to human flourishing, yet we find it harder to know the meaning of it all. Even as we grow to new heights and accomplishments, the basic structures of…

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