Catharine Cookson

in Regulating Religion

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195129441
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834105 | DOI:

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Often, competing worldviews or “frameworks” (as described by political philosopher Charles Taylor) are at the heart of free exercise conflicts. This chapter uses the trope or myth of “wilderness” as a tool for understanding how the same concept can be interpreted in contrary ways: wilderness as a holy place of purification, as an empty place to cultivate and make bloom, or as a dangerous, licentious, uncontrolled place where anarchy rules. The myth enables us to understand how people can approach the same activity/phenomenon with such drastically different unexamined assumptions, and how there may be different ramifications, meanings, and consequences depending upon the framework in which the religious behavior is initially and intuitively viewed.

Keywords: anarchy; empty place; framework; holy place; interpretation; myth; trope; uncontrolled place; unexamined assumptions; wilderness; wilderness myth

Chapter.  1554 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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