Deep emotions pervade our human lives and ongoing moods echo them. Religious traditions often shape these and give devotees a sense of identity in a hopeful and meaningful life despite the conflicts, confusion, pain and grief of existence. Driven by anthropological and sociological perspectives, Douglas J. Davies describes and analyses these dynamic tensions and life opportunities as they are worked out in ritual, music, theology, and the allure of sacred places.
Davies brings some newer concepts to these familiar ideas, such as 'the humility response' and 'moral-somatic' processes, revealing how our sense of ourselves responds to how we are treated by others as when injustice makes us 'feel sick' or religious ideas of grace prompt joyfulness. This sense of embodied identity is shown to be influenced not only by 'reciprocity' in the many forms of exchange, gifts, merit, and actions of others, but also by a certain sense of 'otherness, whether in God,
ancestors, supernatural forces or even a certain awareness of ourselves.
Drawing from psychological studies of how our thinking processes engage with the worlds around us we see how difficult it is to separate out 'religious' activity from many other aspects of human response to our environment. Throughout these pages many examples are taken from the well-known religions of the world as well as from local and secular traditions.