The Joy of Religion: Exploring the Nature of Pleasure in Spiritual Life

The Joy of Religion: Exploring the Nature of Pleasure in Spiritual Life

by Ariel Glucklich


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All religions describe spiritual experience as pleasant, and the goal of the religious pursuit as profoundly joyful. But many religions also condemn sensory pleasures and the desire for objects of pleasure. In this book, Ariel Glucklich resolves this apparent contradiction by showing how religious practices that instill self-control and discipline transform one type of pleasure into the pleasures of mastery and play. Using historical data and psychological analysis, he details how the rituals, mystical practices, moral teachings, and sacred texts of the world's religions act as psychological instruments that induce well-being. Glucklich also shows that in promoting joy and pleasure, religion also strengthens social bonds and enhances an individual's pursuit of meaning.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781108460163
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 01/09/2020
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Ariel Glucklich is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC. A scholar of Hinduism, he has also published in the field of religious psychology. His book Sacred Pain won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in 2002.

Table of Contents

Introduction: religion, pleasure and evolution; 1. The variety and mystery of religious pleasure; 2. The nature and cultivation of complex pleasure; 3. The discovery of mastery pleasure; 4. Philo's mastery, Plotinus' play and the mystic's joy; 5. Pleasure, play and magical thinking; 6. Church-sect theory and pleasure; 7. Narratives and rituals of pleasure; 8. A scholar's Shabbat in central Virginia; Conclusion.

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