It is now a problem more or less universally acknowledged that religion, even in an ostensibly secular age, must be in need of good commentary. The underlying problem is: what would constitute good commentary at this point? It is not as if religion has just appeared on the horizon of the secular intellectual. Even if we restrict our purview to nonreligious, nontheological discourse, there is a long tradition of critical appraisals and histories of religious phenomena, dating from the ancient Greeks. The field receives an intellectual boost of sorts in the late eighteenth, the nineteenth, and the early twentieth centuries, as the religion of the theologians and prophetic reformers gives way to anthropological and sociological disciplines, the better to be scientifically understood and codified. This upsurge in the secular accounting for religious belief is often explained as the result of the Enlightenment—that is, materialist explanations of nature, textual authority, and psychology eventually turn religion into a natural function of human will (as in Hume and Kant), a series of authorial inventions (as in Strauss and the “higher criticism”), and a psychological manifestation of deeper impulses, from love (as in Feuerbach), to class-based self-narcotizing illusion (as in Marx), to fear of the loss of paternal care (as in Freud). Max Weber proposed the most intriguing and far-reaching hypothesis about how the Enlightenment superseded religion in the West: Protestant reform within Christianity itself—beginning with Luther and Calvin—designed to produce a purer and far less magical, mystical, hierarchic, and corrupt system of belief, had the unintended consequence of laying the psychological foundations for ascetic capitalism, and hence (as John Wesley foresaw) the seemingly inevitable decline of religion in favor of worldly pursuits.