chapter  25
12 Pages

Religious Identity in a Post-Modern Culture

ByEoin G. Cassidy

It may be unusual to introduce a chapter with the equivalent of a literary health warning, and yet it is necessary to remind ourselves that describing cultural change is not an exact science. The desire to understand and to name the forces that combine to create what could be described as a post-modern culture is one thing, but the belief that one can achieve this goal is something very different and needs to be realistically circumscribed. We possess a remarkable ability to interrogate our own experiences; nevertheless, the idea that we can in some way stand outside the cultural world that we inhabit and offer anything like an adequate descriptive analysis of the cultural forces at play is utterly unrealistic. We are authors of cultural change, but it must not be forgotten that we are also the creatures of culture. This fact alone all but guarantees that, when it comes to analysing the mores of one’s own or indeed any other culture, nobody possesses perfect vision – all bring a unique set of pre-judgements to bear on all such analysis. In this context, all cultural labelling is inevitably an exercise in hermeneutics, and one that is never free from unquestioned assumptions.2