I always felt when reading books trying to explain religion scientifically or functionally that they were missing something essential about religion. Then when I listened to Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death it all finally made sense. What is more, I also began to understand the source of my own constant drive to leave a mark on the world.
It was a relief to finally find a theory that explained the evolution of these two essential social phenomena, religion and immortality projects, in one book.
Although it is an all encompassing theory, and I am sure life is about more than just this; Becker's analysis of what is undeniably a shared human tendency -- to fear and deny death -- and its impact on our psychology as a species, is profound.
I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but this was not it, unfortunately. I was there with the author through his explanations of humanity's quest to live forever, but was less interested as he went on to delve into Freud's theories on love, sex, and fetishism. Finally, when the author gave credence to Freud's view that homosexuality is a character flaw and a disease, I lost all respect.
While perhaps timely in its day, Becker's attempt at answering "why" left me asking, "Why did I buy this book?" Esoteric and uninspired, Becker loses his audience in the first 30 minutes, where he discusses not his subject but himself - at great length. Readers would do better to leave this fossil in the navel-gazing '70's and instead read the classics of the genre, those which Becker proudly boasts he ignores.
Can I get my money back because I can't stand the narrator?
I don't know. anyone.. sorry, I just couldn't take it.