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After God: The Future Of Religion (Masterminds Series) [Hardcover]

By Don Cupitt (Author)
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Item description for After God: The Future Of Religion (Masterminds Series) by Don Cupitt...

Cambridge's Don Cupitt takes us through the evolution of religious belief from the dawn of the gods to their twilight. Drawing on examples ranging from Plato to Donald Duck, Cupitt eloquently steers us back to an understanding of the supernatural world that every child instinctively has. In an age of rootlessness and high technology that seems to make religious faith irrelevant, here is a strong, clear voice that redefines religion as less an ideology and more a set of techniques for enhancing our lives. Index.

Publishers Description
What is it about religion that, despite all odds, allows it to survive? In After God, the renowned scholar Don Cupitt considers the fate of religion, now that we have effectively killed off our gods. The author, a trained theologian and an ordained priest in the Church of England, takes us through the evolution of religious belief from the dawn of the gods to their twilight--as well as to the morning after.Tracing the postmodern pilgrimage from traditional belief to cynicism to faith after God, Cupitt says we need to build a new religious vocabulary. He challenges us to see religion less as an ideology and more as a tool kit, a set of techniques--perhaps an art form--enhancing our lives the way that literature and art do."A heretic's heretic" and "an atheist priest," Cupitt has respect for both skepticism and devotion. He neither accepts nor denies religion at face value; he takes faith to pieces, throws away what he can't use, and assembles the remainder into new and extraordinary shapes, challenging us to creatively reshape it, give it new language, reinvent it."After God" is for those who find it hard to be among the congregation of an orthodox religion but who miss the discipline and rewards of practicing a faith, and for the person who will understand Cupitt when he writes, "I actually think that I love God more now that I know God is voluntary. Perhaps God had to die to purify our love for him."

Citations And Professional Reviews
After God: The Future Of Religion (Masterminds Series) by Don Cupitt has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Kirkus Reviews - 04/01/1997 page 515
  • Library Journal - 04/01/1997 page 98
  • Booklist - 04/15/1997 page 1366

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Basic Books
Pages   143
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.57" Width: 5.94" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   0.83 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2000
Publisher   Basic Books
Edition  New  
ISBN  0465045146  
ISBN13  9780465045143  

Availability  111 units.
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More About Don Cupitt

Don Cupitt Don Cupitt was born in 1934 in Lancashire, England, and educated at Charterhouse, Trinity Hall Cambridge, and Westcott House Cambridge. He studied, successively, Natural Sciences, Theology and the Philosophy of Religion. In 1959 he was ordained deacon in the Church of England, becoming a priest in 1960. In the early 1990s he stopped officiating at public worship, and in 2008 he finally ceased to be a communicant member of the church.

After short periods as a curate in the North of England, and as Vice-Principal of Westcott House, Cupitt was elected to a fellowship and appointed Dean at Emmanuel College late in 1965. Since then he has remained at the College. In 1968 he was appointed to a University teaching post in the Philosophy of Religion, a job in which he continued until his retirement for health reasons in 1996. At that time he proceeded to a Life Fellowship at Emmanuel College, which remains his base today. He is married, with three children who all now live and work in London, and five grandchildren.

Don Cupitt's books began to appear in the early 1970s, without attracting much public attention. He first provoked hostile notice by his participation in the symposium The Myth of God Incarnate (1977), and then became nationally known for his media work — especially the three BBC Television projects Open to Question (1973), Who was Jesus? (1977), and The Sea of Faith (1984).

Cupitt's notoriety peaked in the these years of the early 1980s, his most important book of that period being Taking Leave of God (1980), which shut down his career and made him in the eyes of the Press an atheist and perhaps ‘the most radical theologian in the world’. He survived, partly because the then Archbishop of Canterbury and the then Master of Emmanuel defended his right to put forward his views. Since that time he has devoted his energies to developing his ideas in a long line of books.

In his writing, and in the various societies he has tried to foster, Don Cupitt attempts to develop new thinking for a new epoch: a new philosophy, a new ethics, and a new religious thought. His thinking develops continuously and is not easy to summarize, but the best introduction to it has been given by the Australian Nigel Leaves in his recent two-volume study. The Sea of Faith TV series can be sampled on YouTube, and obtained on DVD from Sea of Faith UK; and the book is still in print. It is reasonably accessible to beginners in philosophy and theology. Readers with more time and energy should simply read Cupitt’s recent books in the order in which they were written — beginning with Impossible Loves (2007). A short crib to his ideas is provided by Turns of Phrase, 2011.

Don Cupitt currently resides in Cambridge. Don Cupitt was born in 1934 and has an academic affiliation as follows - formerly of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Don Cupitt has published or released items in the following series...
  1. MasterMind
  2. scm classics

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Reviews - What do customers think about After God: The Future Of Religion (Masterminds Series)?

After Spong   Apr 5, 2008
A challenging book indeed. Cupitt's challenge makes Spong's challenge seem easy, Spong's challenge, while not easy, seeming intellectually a far simple one for those of us who have already long ago dismissed supernaturalism as anything other than a convenient deception. Cupitt's wide sweep though Western history can be mind-blowing but it's especially the views he has arrived at that pulled the rug out. Cupitt claims to be "at home with nihilism" albeit an ethical nihilism and able to "do without roots, identity, stability, or provenance". [ I admit I had to look up "provenance", it means, in case you also didn't know "place or source of origin" ]. He speaks of the value of "deferring objectivity" to arrive at a subjective and "nonrealist" vision. Not easy to follow and certainly something I would need not only a second read but much thought to make useful sense of. Cupitt (who has launched a Sea of Faith movement after a British TV series he conceived of the same name) seems to find a value in traditional religions simply in the "tricks and techniques" they have gathered to help us be a self and relate to the world. Otherwise, he seems eager to explore the creation of a new world religion, one not at all easy for him or others, he admits, to define, but all the more critical if we are to respond to the crises of our time. That he does not advocate the abandonment altogether of religions, old or to be created, is one of the challenges of this book and Cupitt. He addresses that challenge especially at the end of the book, turning to such themes as "The Eye of God", "The Blissful Void", "Solar Living" and "Poetic Theology" to try to communicate his insights.

If postmodernity has led to Tillich, Spong, and Altizer, it now comes full weight upon us in Cupitt. It's hard to know what to make of it but there is a sound logic and sense of historical development in Cupitt's thought that seems to me to deserve further and serious consideration. As to where it might lead me,if anywhere, of value, I don't know. But I don't think I can ignore Cupitt's challenge.
The Unanswered Question  Sep 4, 2003
In 1906, the American composer Charles Ives wrote a short orchestral piece called "The Unanswered Question". He described the music as a "cosmic drama." The piece is indeed a musical picture of the human search for meaning and religion and a world full of skepticism about both. (Ives himself was a believer of a rather traditional sort.)

I thought of Ives, and his "Unanswered Question" in reading Don Cupitt's short study "After God". Cupitt is a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and his written widely on religious subjects. He is the founder of the "Sea of Faith" movement, which is an attempt to provide meaning for religion in a non-theistic, non-traditional sense.

The book is modernistic in tone. It is addressed to the many people who attempt to find a form of religion in their lives separate from theism. In setting out his topic Cupit states: "Religious life is an expressive, world-building activity through which we can get ourselves together and find a kind of posthumous, or retrospective, happiness". (page xiv)

The book is in three parts. In the first part, "The Coming of the Gods", Cupitt tries to give a historical, genetic account of the origins of theistic belief, based on the development of cities and ruling hierarchies from more primitive hunting or agrarian societies. He finds both religion and early philosophy deriviative of this change in human social organization.

In the second section, "The Departure of the Gods" Cupitt explores the difficulties in the concept of a transcendent God separate from the imminent world of the everyday. He talks insigtfully, if too briefly, of the development of philosophy from the objective realism of Plato (both the chief hero and the chief villian of the book) through Kant's internalization of the sources of human knowledge, through Nietsche and modern philosophy of language. His position straddles, I think, postmodern thought, which denies the possiblity of any absolute truth separate from the observer, and a more traditional philosophical naturalism (denial of supernaturalism) where I think it is ultimately more comfortable.

The third part of the book "Religion after the Gods" offers a new version of religion stripped of its theological trappings. Cupitt adopts a three-fold religious practice from the wisdom of the past, consisting of 1. attempting to see one's life through the eye of eternity 2. meditation on emptiness and 3. "solar living" -- a radiant, outgoing way of life based on emotion and human need, receptive to change and to the moment, and concerned with immanences here and now rather than fixed absolutes. Cupitt sees religion as ultimately global in character, breaking down the tendency of believers to separate themselves and their creed from other parts of humanity. Strangely enough, he closes the book with advice that people remain in their current religious traditions, but follow them in a manner consistent with the teachings of his book.

Cupitt writes eloquently and well. I am in sympathy with much of his programme, but he moves too quickly at times. There is a sense in his book of the mystery and enigma that Ives presents so well in "the unanswered question"; although, paradoxically, Cupitt seems too eager to disolve the mystery by creating a dogma of his own.

Those wanting to hear more of Cupitt might be interested in looking up his interview with Steven Batchelor in the Fall, 2003,issue of "Tricycle, the Buddhist Review."

"After God"  Apr 3, 2000
Don't get me wrong, this is a god book for what Bishop John Shelby Spong would call "beleivers in exile", but at times the author comes off with a Eurocentric justification of past wrongs done by the church as in page 106 where he states,"It may indeed be that an overwhelming and annihilating system of religious TERRORISM was needed in order to discipline the hunter-gatherers into becoming GOOD CITIZENS". This kind of talk does little for the advancment of religious though!
oh dear  Mar 17, 2000
Cupitt is one of these Christians who don't believe in God... hmm... while he writes very well and explains his position at length and with great literary talent, in terms of actual logical philosophy, next to Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, Aristotle or even fellow postmodernist types like Derrida or Foucalt, Cupitt's mistakes are all too obvious - and there's one on almost every page.
Insightful look toward resolving the modern religious crises  Dec 11, 1999
I think Don Cupitt makes some visionary steps toward outlining workable religious practice for the future. As a more secular thinker myself, I have always felt that religion as it endures today remains largely unworkable. Yet I have always felt that there remains a need for the roles that religion has filled in the past, even though I haven't felt clear on exactly how it might do so in a workable fashion. Don Cupitt shows some very plausible ways it might. He boils down religion to recurrent essentials, and tailors them together in a way that does not offend the sensibilities of rational thinking people.

He takes a very good metaphorical approach instead of getting bogged down in issues of literal existence where inevitable clashes with science would otherwise turn off more empirically minded people. I came to read his book after reading George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's "Metaphors we Live By" and "Philosophy in the Flesh." This gave me a much deeper appreciation for the metaphorical undertaking that Cupitt delves into as well as providing a deep context of cognitive science within which Cupitt's thinking manifestly makes a lot of sense. Fundamentalists and hard core atheists may not like his approach. I think otherwise most people will appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Cupitt points in the right direction with his emphasis on the linguistic, however he seems to lack the cognitive science background to flesh out those theories with the more primordial cognitive underpinning structure. Lakoff and Johnson prove good for that purpose. Of course that would have made his task unwieldy for such a concise and to the point book. Though he may not understand the things that he does, he does them well. After leaving his introductory reverie on language he delves into a masterful use of metaphorical thinking that much of the secular world could desperately use.


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