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This article offers an interpretation of late modern social imaginaries and their relationship to religion and violence. I hypothesize that the transition from the ‘secular age’ to a so-called ‘post-secular constellation’ calls on us to critically reconsider the modern trope that all too unambiguously ties religion and violence together. Discussing the fault lines of a secularist modernity spinning out of control today on various fronts, I argue that the narrative semantics of the so-called ‘return of religion’ is frequently adopted as an imaginative catalyst for confronting these contemporary discontents – for better and worse. In linking recent work on ‘social imaginaries’ with Paul Ricœur’s discussion of the productive role of imagination in social life, I then explore the transformative potential of religious imagination in its inherent ambiguity. In conclusion I demonstrate that this quality involves a poietic license to start all over, one which can be used to expose both the violence of our beloved political ideals of freedom and sovereignty, as well as their repercussions on religious practice.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society