Hi Peter, I hope this email finds you well. Robert Bolger here.
I am publishing a book looking at a variety of religious responses to Ernest Becker’s work (especially The Denial of Death) and wanted to see if you are interested in contributing a chapter. It is tentatively titled “Escape from Finitude.” So far it is me and Richard Beck (from Abilene Christian College in Texas), but I hope to invite a variety of other scholars including Sara Coakley, Peter Rollins Fiona Ellis, Richard Rohr, Emilie Townes and others. It is really important for me to get contributors from across a variety of cultures and religious perspectives as well as having a balance of male and female voices. I have published my last two books with Bloomsbury Press so I will present this proposal to them first. Any interest?
My latest book (written with the late U of Washington philosopher Robert Coburn. See robertbolger.com) looked at how some versions of religious fundamentalism/doctrinal evangelicalism tends to view religious belief as believing the right things in order to get saved rather than selflessly giving our lives over to agapeistically serving others. I argue that some forms of overt concern with “believing the right things” can be seen as a form of religious idolatry (borrowing from Mark Johnston’s work in Saving God) which arises due to an innate fear of death and the possibility that at death we lose our very identity (i.e. the fear of extinction). Much of this is personal since I have suffered from death anxiety since I was a kid and (at one point) turned to fundamentalism and Pentecostalism as a way of assuring that I would live eternally (I also got my PhD and master’s degrees in Theology and Philosophy thinking that learning more stuff would assuage my fear of finitude and death). My faith, back then at least, had little concern for others except in asking how I might get them saved. I have, over the tears, started to lean toward a sort of apophatic non0dualistic mysti