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Title: What (if Anything) is Wrong with Cafetaria Religion?
Subtitle: On Freedom of Choice in Theology and Religious Studies
Author(s): LESCH, Walter
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 43    Issue: 2   Date: 2020   
Pages: 164-180
DOI: 10.2143/LS.43.2.3288166

Abstract :
Religion is about responsible choices and selective appropriations of complex traditions. In this contribution, delivered as the 2020 Dies Facultatis lecture at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, the challenge of coping with plurality and individuality is explored with the help of the metaphor of a cafeteria where customers can pick and choose various items of food according to their personal preferences. Classical theology is not comfortable with such a self-service mentality. Nevertheless, theology and religious studies have to face the dynamics of individualization as the main feature of modernity. After briefly situating the metaphor of food in the context of religion, ‘cafeteria style’ will serve as a heuristic tool for the analysis of the pragmatics of dealing with diversity in the academic study of religious expressions.

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