Sacred Selves, Sacred Settings (Ashgate 2015)- is an edited collection, subtitled ‘Reflecting Hans Mol’, exploring his important work on identity and the sacred. Having survived Nazi imprisonment Mol spent a lifetime engaging in sociology and pastoral forms of ministry as an active Presbyterian. His notion of the sacralization of identity is probably more germane in today’s world of competing ‘sacred selves’ that easily offend or are offended than when he first saw the import of human survival through religiously intensified identities decades ago. There is much here on religion in Canada and Australia and New Zealand that takes issues of ‘secularization’ and many other social factors beyond their usual contexts of western-Europe and the USA.
The volume will be presented to Hans Mol in Australia in February as he reaches his 93rd year of age. The editors, Prof Douglas Davies and one of his very recent research students at our Durham Department –Dr Adam Powell who now directs MA Research in North Carolina’s Lenoir-Rhyne University, brought together late and early- career scholars from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Italy, UK, USA, and New Zealand to highlight and criticize Mol’s work.
Adam’s deep interest om Mol began in Durham while preparing his doctorate on Irenaues and Joseph Smith, and the Sociology of Heresy –available online. It is to Adam’s credit that Hans Mol’s seminal work inspired fertile elements of a complex work that linked such an Early Church Father with the nineteenth century ‘father’ of Mormonism: it also showed how interdisciplinary research in our Department can be as Patristics and the Anthropology-sociology of Religion combined forces.
Funded by our Department’s Centre for Death and Life Studies, Adam also found time to visit and interview Hans Mol in Australia whilst also completing his thesis in more than excellent time. We will, doubtless, learn more of Mol’s influence as Adam develops his own social theory in a forthcoming monograph.
Reviews: ‘The borders of identity, religion and secularity are contested and analysed in new ways in the social sciences today. Drawing on Hans Mol’s sociological study of religion, this volume offers an excellent and broad look into the definition and relationship between these critical issues in the process of identity formation in a plural and diverse society.’ Anders Bäckström, Uppsala University, Sweden.
Professor Douglas J. Davies. Professor Davies is the Director for the Centre for Death and Life Studies at Durham University. Professor Davies has many edited volumes and other publications in the areas of death, ritual, and belief; Mormon religion; sociology and anthropology of religion; and emotions and religion. Additional information about Professor Davies’ work can be found on the Department’s website and the Centre for Death and Life Studies. Professor Davies can be contacted at email@example.com.