Ward, “Modern Democracy and the Theological-Political Problem in Spinoza, Rousseau, and Jefferson”

This December, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Modern Democracy and the Theological-Political Problem in Spinoza, Rousseau, and Jefferson” by Lee Ward (University of Regina).  The publisher’s description follows:

Modern Democracy and the Theological-Political ProblemThis study examines the intersection of two philosophical developments that arguably have come to define contemporary life in the liberal democratic west. First, it considers how democracy has transformed historically from being one among several plausible forms of government into the only legitimate and publicly defensible regime. Second, it considers how modern democracy attempts to solve what has been called the ‘theological-political problem,’ that is, the competing claims to rule grounded in conflicting appeals to reason and revelation, by determining that consent of the people would replace divine authorization as the source of political authority. Understanding the emergence of modern democracy requires examining the manner in which democratic political thinkers, most importantly Benedict Spinoza, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson re-conceptualized the traditional understanding of the relation between politics and religion. This book will show that Spinoza, Rousseau and Jefferson were the three who made the democratic west we know today.

“John Rawls and Christian Social Engagement” (Bradley & Forster, eds.)

This December, Lexington Books will release “John Rawls and Christian Social Engagement: Justice as Unfairness” edited by Anthony B. Bradley (King’s College) and Greg Forster (Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book critiques the Rawlsian concepts of “justice as fairness” and “public reason” from the perspective of Christian political theory and practice. The Rawlsian paradigm has become pervasive in multiple disciplines outside political philosophy and is unconsciously embedded in a great deal of Christian public discourse; this calls for a new level of analysis from Christian perspectives. This is the first volume to examine Rawls based on Christian principles drawn from theological ethics, social thought, political theory and practical observation. In addition to theoretical perspectives, the book connects its critique of Rawls to specific hot-topic practical questions in three areas: social issues (abortion, marriage, etc.), economic issues (wealth creation, poverty programs, etc.), and the increasing difficulty of political compromise and peaceful coexistence in the context of the culture war. The book includes some of the leading Christian political theorists in America.

Seminar: “Minority Religions and Schooling” (London School of Economics, Dec. 6)

The Information Network on Religious Movements will hold its Autumn Seminar on “Minority Religions and Schooling” on December 6 at The London School of Economics:

‘State multiculturalism has failed’, declared David Cameron in 2011.  Yet there is a continued expansion in state-funded religious schooling in Britain. This expansion has gone hand-in-hand with legal rulings that have placed minority religions on stronger footing next to the more established faiths. After exponential growth of Academies operating outside of local authority control since 2000, and three years after the first Free Schools opened their doors (a programme which has assisted the expansion of a diversity of faith-based schools), it is a good opportunity to take stock and reflect on the nature of minority faith schooling in Britain.

Details can be found here.

“Religion and Public Policy: Human Rights, Conflict, and Ethics” (Twiss et al., eds.)

In December, Cambridge University Press will release “Religion and Public Policy: Human Rights, Conflict, and Ethics” edited by Sumner B. Twiss (Florida State University), Marian Gh. Simion (Boston Theological Institute), Rodney L. Petersen (Boston University School of Theology). The publisher’s description follows:

This book pivots around two principal concerns in the modern world: the nature and practice of human rights in relation to religion, and the role of religion in perennial issues of war and peace. Taken collectively, the chapters articulate a vision for achieving a liberal peace and a just society firmly grounded in respect for human rights, while working in tandem with the constructive roles that religious ideas, leaders, and institutions can play even amid cultural difference. Topics covered include: the status and justification of human rights; the meaning and significance of religious liberty; whether human rights protections ought to be extended to other species; how the comparative study of religious ethics ought to proceed; the nature, limits, and future development of just war thinking; the role of religion and human rights in conflict resolution, diplomacy, and peace-building; and the tensions raised by religious involvement in public policy and state institutional practices. Featuring a group of distinguished contributors, this is a multifaceted and original exploration of the aforementioned themes.

Hambler, “Religious Expression in the Workplace and the Contested Role of Law”

In November, Routledge Press will release “Religious Expression in the Workplace and the Contested Role of Law” by Andrew Hambler (University of Wolverhampton, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

The workplace is a key forum in which the issue of religion and its position in the public sphere is under debate. Desires to observe and express religious beliefs in the workplace can introduce conflict between employees and employers. This book addresses the role the law plays in the resolution of these potential conflicts.

The book considers the definition and underlying motives of religious expression, and explores the different ways it may impact the workplace. Andrew Hambler identifies principled responses to workplace religious expression within a liberal state and compares this to the law applying in England and Wales and its interpretation by courts and tribunals. The book determines the extent to which freedom of religious expression for the individual enjoys legal protection in the workplace in England and Wales, and asks whether there is a case for changing the law to strengthen that protection.

The book will be of great use and interest to scholars and students of religion and the law, employment law, and religion and human rights.

“The Oxford Handbook of European Islam” (Cesari, ed.)

This December, Oxford University Press will release “The Oxford Handbook of European Islam” edited by Jocelyn Cesari (Center for European Studies).  The publisher’s description follows:

OXford Handbook of European IslamFor centuries, Muslim countries and Europe have engaged one another through theological dialogues, diplomatic missions, political rivalries, and power struggles. In the last thirty years, due in large part to globalization and migration from Islamic countries to the West, what was previously an engagement across national and cultural boundaries has increasingly become an internalized encounter within Europe itself. Questions of the Hijab in schools, freedom of expression in the wake of the Danish Cartoon crisis, and the role of Shari’a have come to the forefront of contemporary European discourse.

The Oxford Handbook of European Islam is the first collection to present a comprehensive approach to the multiple and changing ways Islam has been studied across European countries. Parts one to three address the state of knowledge of Islam and Muslims within a selection of European countries, while presenting a critical view of the most up-to-date data specific to each country. These chapters analyze the immigration cycles and policies related to the presence of Muslims, tackling issues such as discrimination, post-colonial identity, adaptation, and assimilation. The thematic chapters, in parts four and five, examine secularism, radicalization, Shari’a, Hijab, and Islamophobia with the goal of synthesizing different national discussion into a more comparative theoretical framework. The Handbook attempts to balance cutting edge assessment with the knowledge that the content itself will eventually be superseded by events. Featuring eighteen newly-commissioned essays by noted scholars in the field, this volume will provide an excellent resource for students and scholars interested in European Studies, immigration, Islamic studies, and the sociology of religion.

Foret, “Religion and Politics in the European Union”

This November, Cambridge University Press will release “Religion and Politics in the European Union: The Secular Canopy” by François Foret (Université Libre de Bruxelles).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religion and Politics in the EUThis book analyzes the place and influence of religion in European politics. François Foret presents the first data ever collected on the religious beliefs of European decision makers and what they do with these beliefs. Discussing popular assumptions such as the return of religion, aggressive European secularism, and religious lobbying, Foret offers objective data and non-normative conceptual frameworks to clarify some major issues in the contemporary political debate.

Stendhalian Interlude

I’m listening to Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma in the car, a wonderful

Farnese Tower, Castell'Arquato, Parma

Farnese Tower, Castell’Arquato, Parma

work of novelistic “realism” set in the early 19th century world of Italian city-state court life. Stendhal’s portrait of these small time courts is none too flattering, but neither is its chief alternative: “From the whole business one can derive this moral, that the man who mingles with a court compromises his happiness, if he is happy, and, in any event, makes his future depend on the intrigues of a chambermaid. On the other hand in America, in the Republic, one has to spend the whole weary day paying serious court to the shopkeepers in the street, and must become as stupid as they are; and there, one has no Opera.”

The hero of the story, Fabrizio del Dongo, is a figure of perfect aristocratic early Romantic integrity–the sort of man who brashly leaves his suffocating palace life in Como to join the army of Napoleon, only to reach him right as the Battle of Waterloo is concluding. For Fabrizio, the only thing that matters is to get confirmation that he has actually participated in a battle–any battle–something about which he is never quite certain.

Since prisons and prison life (and even prison escape!) have been a subject of discussion here at the Center for Law and Religion Forum this past week, and since a large portion of the key section of The Charterhouse of Parma occurs in a prison (the Farnese Tower in Parma, at right), I thought the following was interesting. The prison warden, a General Fabio Conti, is a detestable person and fairly universally hated, including by many of the guards (to say nothing of the prisoners). At one point, it appears that he may have died by poisoning. But he revives. Yet rather than feeling crushed by the news, the prisoners sing his praises. Stendhal writes:

Fabio Conti was a jailer who was always uneasy, always unhappy, always seeing in his dreams one of his prisoners escaping: he was loathed by everyone in the citadel; but misfortune inspiring the same resolutions in all men, the poor prisoners, even those who were chained in dungeons three feet high, three feet wide and eight feet long, in which they could neither stand nor sit, all the prisoners, even these, I say, had the idea of ordering a  Te Deum to be sung at their own expense, when they knew that their governor was out of danger. Two or three of these wretches composed sonnets in honor of Fabio Conti. Oh, the effect of misery upon men! May he who would blame them be led by his destiny to spend a year in a cell three feet high, with eight ounces of bread a day and fasting on Fridays!

Podcast on Holt v. Hobbs

Mark and I have recorded another in our podcast series, this time on the “prison beard case,” Holt v. Hobbs, argued this week at the Supreme Court. We discuss the claim and the oral argument, and make some predictions. To get our other podcasts, click here.

Around the Web This Week

Some interesting law and religion stories from around the web this week: