Jason Smith’s book Religious but Not Religious: Living a Symbolic Life is a concise and thoughtful exploration of the question of religion, its value, and meaning. Smith explores religion from two perspectives, as an organizing container provided by collective traditions and as an individual quest for meaning necessitating attention to the unconscious. He shows that belonging can be very important for one’s psychological health, but it must be accompanied by a sustained uncovering of the religious dimensions of life. Remaining unconscious can produce a state of god-like inflation. Throughout the book Smith examines the dangers of scientific rationalism that, as a rule, result in a naïve relationship with religion, religious symbols, and religious institutions. Wonder and the emptying of one’s mind to the experience of the transcendent (kenosis) are the essential attitudes for pursuing the symbolic life.
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