Author: Mark LARRIMORE, Associate Professor of Religion, The New School
Abstract:Tillich and Frye were at work at a time when religion was being reimagined in secular ways in the west. This essay looks at their contemporary Horace Meyer Kallen (1882-1974), forgotten but recently recovered, who argued for a religious secularism. Kallen’s ideas were couched in the language of American democracy but have deeper roots in his experience as a Jewish American and are anchored in his pioneering celebration of cultural pluralism. Kallen thought it important to recognize the “religious” character of our most important commitments, and articulated an ideal of freedom in diversity with clear affinities to Tillich’s ideas about ultimate concern, but perhaps more aware of the dangers of a dominant culture. This essay traces Kallen’s ideas to his formative category of “Hebraism,” an awareness of human existential struggle, finitude and plurality which he thought preeminently articulated in the biblical “Book of Job,” and ends with an assessment of its continued relevance.
ultimate concern, pluralism, Hebraism, pragmatism, Horace Kallen
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