Beyond Religious Symbols and Insight: Understanding Religious Life as Processes of Valuation


  • Frederick J. Streng


A continuing central question in the comparative study of religion is how to understand the nature of religious life in light of both the ultimate claims made by religious people and the differences in concrete religious forms found in human history. To analyze the quality and nature of "ultimacy", scholars of religious life have called attention to the character of holiness or sacredness, the importance of ethical and obligatory social behavior, - the need for a special state of consciousness, and the use of symbolic forms (myths and rituals). However, the identification of the nature of religion with only one or two of these important aspects found in religious life has made difficult an understanding of both the ultimate quality and significant differences in the religious claims about the nature and means for attaining that ultimacy.