Matters of Life and Death

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


What is the significance of the concepts of ‘life’ and ‘death’ for different religious and non-religious groups? This chapter aims to draw out deeper understanding of practices of connection and separation between religious and non-religious groups through examining affinities between how different Christian and non-religious groups engage with notions of ‘life’ and ‘death’, drawing on qualitative sociological research. Although questions of life and death might appear perennial concerns for religion, I explore here the particular contemporary significance of ideas of ‘life’ and ‘death’ within the moral landscapes of different religious and non-religious groups. The chapter considers the significance of the idea of ‘life’ for an ‘open’ evangelical church, the Sunday Assembly, and the School of Life, and practices of reflecting on ‘death’ in Death Cafés, drawing this together with Georg Simmel’s writing on life and its interrelations with death. I conclude by suggesting that attending to modes of practical engagement with ideas of ‘life’ and ‘death’ across these different religious and non-religious groups, rather than focusing solely on the propositional content of beliefs about life and death, opens up opportunities for reflection on common existential grounds of experience, moving beyond assumptions that relations between these groups are necessarily antagonistic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion and Atheism
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond the Divide
EditorsAnthony Carroll, Richard Norman
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781138891913
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2016

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