chapter  9
13 Pages

Berger’s vision in retrospect

ByRICHARD K. FENN

Of all the sociological images that Peter Berger has given us, two, I suggest, will be a permanent part of the disciplinary lexicon. One is the notion of ‘the sacred canopy’, a world of meaning that transcends the passage of time and anchors this world in the next. The other image has to do with the experience of the world as anything but anchored in the sacred: the ‘precarious vision’ in terms of which the social order seems to have little if any foundation at all. The first image requires an openness to the role of religious ideas in social life; the second image requires the sociologist to suspend belief in approaching the mysteries of the social world. One works, as Berger points out, without the assumption of the existence of God (1997a, p. 209).