I have given up on working through Habermas. After Legitimation Crisis, which I still think is great, Habermas took a turn toward toward linguistic analysis that I can't follow.
Instead, I have been working through the works of Randall Collins. I have used Collins' theory essays for teaching for years. A few years ago he wrote a massive study of the social networks that make up schools of thought, The Sociology of Philosophies. This book won the top award (Distinguished Scholarly Publication) from the American Sociological Association. This is the book that we are going to read in theory camp in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime I have been working through two of Collins' earlier works, The Credential Society and Weberian Socialogical Theory.
So why am I writing about this on Sunday, religion day in the Gruntled Center?
Collins argues that thought is best developed when groups of thinkers compete with one another. This is true for schools of philosophy -- and for religious denominations.
The American religion market is so vibrant because of the endless competition of our religious communities.