Kessler (ed.), “Political Theology for a Plural Age”

First things first: a very happy new year to our readers.  Mark and I are excited to continue sharing with you all sorts of new items of law and religion interest in the coming months.

Second, here is what looks like a very worthy book to kick off our 2013 Political Theology for a Plural Ageroundup of new scholarship: Political Theology for a Plural Age (OUP 2013), a volume of essays edited by Michael Jon Kessler of the Berkley Institute at Georgetown.  Some of the specific entries look really neat, including a “conversation” among José Casanova, Michael Kessler, Mark Lilla, and John Milbank.  Readers of CLR Forum will perhaps remember Mark Lilla’s entry in the political theology field in 2007, The Stillborn God (I had the pleasure of participating in one of Lilla’s seminars a few years ago on The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, and it was a wonderful experience).  The superb Reinhold Niebuhr scholar Robin Lovin also has an interesting essay called, “The Future of Political Theology: From Crisis to Pluralism.”  And it looks like there are two pieces that take on the subject of political theology from a distinctively Augustinian perspective (though they may, and I am guessing probably will, have quite different things to say): Patrick Deneen’s “The Great Combination: Modern Political Thought and the Collapse of the Two Cities,” and Charles Mathewes’s, “Augustinian Christian Republican Citizenship.”  The publisher’s description follows.

Political theology has traditionally explored the legitimization of political authority on the basis of divine revelation and of natural reason informed by religious authority, texts, and traditions. New challenges emerging in the postwar era gave rise to ongoing debate about the place of religion in public life, in the United States and in other established democracies, and this debate has dramatically reshaped the way scholars, policymakers, and religious leaders think about political theology.

Political Theology for a Plural Age provides historic and contemporary understandings of political engagement in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, engaging political theologies not merely as a set of theoretical concepts but as religious beliefs and principles that motivate specific political action. The essays in this volume, written by leading thinkers and practitioners within each tradition and their secular counterparts, examine a number of core issues at the intersection of religion and politics. They contest the definition of political theology, establish a common discourse across the three Abrahamic traditions, and closely examine how globalization, secularization, and pluralism affect the construction and plausibility of political theologies. Finally, the essays offer insight into how political theologies might adapt to the shared global challenges of the twenty-first century.

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