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Idaho State University sociology Professor Aho pens ninth book ‘Sociological Trespasses: Interrogating Sin and Flesh’

Posted June 9, 2011

In his ninth book "Sociological Trespasses: Interrogating Sin and Flesh," which has been released this month, Idaho State University emeritus sociology Professor James Aho explores how people use idols or fetishes to deal with their emptiness.

"Essentially, the whole argument of the book is that we attach ourselves to idols to deal with our existential void, tenuousness, or, if you wish, our own dying," Aho said.

James AhoAho defines idols broadly, to include everything from racism, nations and enemies, to time, the environment, the body, money and the anonymous public. In all these cases "there is a conviction in 'something out there,' that can complete us, stabilize us, or in some other way enable us to escape from or deny our 'lack,'" Aho said. The goal of the book is to disillusion readers of this conviction, creating room for imaging new ways of living, he added.

He says that because the book deals with fundamental questions of being in the world, it should be of interest to professionals in the humanistic social sciences and to a literate lay audience. Although the subjects are challenging, one reviewer describes Aho's writing as "conversationally voiced."

During his 40-year teaching and academic career at Idaho State University, Aho, who retired in December 2009, penned books on a broad spectrum of topics, including religion, war, hate groups, sickness and disease, and even the origins of modern bookkeeping. He also authored numerous articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries and reviews.

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