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Title: In this world and the next: Political modernity and unorthodox religion in Australia, 1880-1930
Contributor(s): Bongiorno, Francis Robert (author)
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: Historians have sometimes been uneasy in the face of unorthodox religion, possibly because its influence runs counter to some of the dominant narratives concerning the making of modernity. The emergence of antipodean modernity is often assumed to have been propelled by secularisation. Science and rationality marginalised faith. The hold of religion over hearts and minds was gradually loosened in response to major scientific movements and discoveries, especially in geology and biology; developments in biblical scholarship, such as the emergence of the 'Higher Criticism'; and the gradual transformation of traditions and values bound up with class, ethnic and gender hierarchies. Yes as Hilary M Carey has argued, the nineteenth-century radical notion that religious adherence would be swept away in a new country freed by science and democracy from old world superstition has proven misguided. Moreover, the distinction historians often assume between 'secular' and 'sacred' might be misleading when applied in contexts where political actors did not think in such terms themselves. As Mark Bevir has suggested, one-way in which Victorian-era people coped with the crisis of faith was by turning from atonement theology to what he calls 'immanentism', the belief 'that God dwells in the world' and reveals himself through evolution. According to Bevir, this new theology undermined divisions between the sacred and secular, drew attention to the divine qualities within every human, and emphasised Jesus' qualities as a man.⁴ Whether or not one is inclined to lay as much stress on this new theology as Bevir, there is little doubt that new ideas about the relationship between the sacred and secular, the human and the divine, and God and the world, were crystallising in the Victorian period, with the important consequences for 'modernising' political movements such as liberalism, socialism and feminism.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: A C H: The Journal of the History of Culture in Australia, 25(2006), p. 179-207
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Place of Publication: Melbourne, Australia
ISSN: 0728-8433
Field of Research (FOR): 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Other Links:;dn=200705733;res=APAFT
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