A Far Glory

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

A FAR GLORY is a philosophical examination of religion written around a core of three William Belden Noble lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1991-1992. Berger is a Protestant liberal, with a background in sociology, interested in the fate of Christianity in a modern world of secularization and pluralism.

Berger examines the conflict between orthodox religious fundamentalism with agnostic freethinking while searching for a more moderate Christian position to embrace. Berger’s insights on the sociological grouping in New Class Theory in modern America and its relation to religious views is particularly insightful. Using Max Weber’s theory of the “Protestant ethic” as a basis, Berger examines the changes in American class systems and in cultural pluralism.

With reference to Martin Heidegger, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Descartes, and other philosophers, Berger examines the Nicene Creed. He shows in great detail how belief is related to the changing concept of self. He devotes a short chapter to examining the novels of Robert Musil (1889-1942), an Austrian writer who examined in his fiction the many facets of the modern self.

Citing Rudolf Otto, among others, Berger examines the transcendent experience and debates the merits of Christianity and the various Eastern religions. He also considers the place of Christian community and moral responsibility in the modern world. Finally, Berger is most enlightening in his historical examination of religious faith and philosophical interpretations of religion. He concludes that our tumultuous age is similar to the period of the early Church and may bring about a revitalization of true belief.