chapter  1
22 Pages

SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION Enchantment, Disenchantment,

The process of modern Western secularization, according to Max Weber, began with ancient Jewish monotheism and took a decisive step in capitalism’s debt to Calvinism. “Die Entzauberung der Welt,” the elimination of magic from the world, is a religious impulse whose genesis resides in “the old Hebrew prophets and, in conjunction with Hellenistic scientific thought.”1 It was Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a Psalmist who denounced “idols” as no more than blocks of wood and stone: “Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust them” (Psalm 115: 8). The figures were not inhabited by spirits or gods, but consisted only of dead matter. The emptiness of idols was a way of pointing to the real architect of the universe and human affairs-the one, true God in heaven whose people was Israel. For the prophets, the magic did not leak from carved figures like some vital fluid; it was never there to begin with. Idols were nothing but the product of human folly.