Do We Need God For Happiness?

Timothy Larsen at Marginalia Review:

How God Becomes Real is an ethnographically-informed study focused on the development of a person’s relationship with God, including the ways in which they come to hear God speak to them. What is bracketed is the question of whether or not they are really hearing from God—or even whether or not God really exists.  Whether or not God exists is an important question, of course, but it is primarily another kind of question – philosophical or theological, perhaps – rather than an anthropological one.  How do believers foster a relationship with this divine, invisible other? that is the question addressed here.  The research for this project was overwhelmingly done by studying Christians, but in her reflections and analysis Luhrmann supplements this occasionally with work she has done with adherents from other traditions, including Buddhism and Judaism.

Some unbelievers might chafe at the way that Luhrmann sees relating to God as not only widespread and normal, but even as a pathway to human flourishing.  Some believers, on the other hand, might become suspicious when she starts referring to the “imagination” and the “play frame” and the like.  Everyone, however, might learn something if they are only willing to dial down their apologetic and polemical priorities for just long enough to consider on its own (anthropological) terms the evidence and analysis on display in this thoughtful work.

more here.