Tag Archives: Politics and Religion

“Politics of Religion/Religions of Politics” (Welchman ed.)

In November, Springer releases “Politics of Religion/Religions of Politics” edited by Alistair Welchman (University of Texas at San Antonio). The publisher’s description follows:

The liberal enlightenment as well as the more radical left have both traditionally opposed religion as a reactionary force in politics, a view culminating in an identification of the politics of religion as fundamentalist theocracy. But recently a number of thinkers—Agamben, Badiou, Tabues and in particular Simon Critchley—have begun to explore a more productive engagement of the religious and the political in which religion features as a possible or even necessary form of human emancipation. The papers in this collection, deriving from a workshop held on and with Simon Critchley at the University of Texas at San Antonio in February 2010, take up the ways in which religion’s encounter with politics transforms not only politics but also religion itself, molding it into various religions of politics, including not just heretical religious metaphysics, but also what Critchley describes as non-metaphysical religion, the faith of the faithless. Starting from Critchley’s own genealogy of Pauline faith, the articles in this collection explore and defend some of the religions of politics and their implications. Costica Bradatan teases out the implications of Critchley’s substitution of humor for tragedy as the vehicle for the minimal self-distancing required for any politics. Jill Stauffer compares Critchley’s non-metaphysical religiosity with Charles Taylor’s account of Christianity. Alistair Welchman unpacks the political theology of the border in terms of god’s timeless act of creation. Anne O’Byrne explores the subtle dialectic between mores and morality in Rousseau’s political ethics.  Roland Champagne sees a kind non-metaphysical religion in Arendt’s category of the political pariah. Davide Panagia presents Critchley’s ethics of exposure as the basis for a non-metaphysical political bond. Philip Quadrio wonders about the political ramifications of Critchley’s own ‘mystical anarchism’ and Tina Chanter re-reads the primal site in the Western tradition at which the political and the religious intersect, the Antigone story, side-stepping philosophical interpretations of the story (dominated by Hegel’s reading) by means of a series of post-colonial re-imaginings of the play. The collection concludes with an interview with Simon Critchley taking up the themes of the workshop in the light of more recent political events: the Arab Spring and the rise and fall of the Occupy movement.

Levis on Changes in the Church of England from 1660-1760

The Oxford Journal of Church and State has posted The Pragmatic Pulpit: Politics and Changes in Preaching Styles in the Church of England, 1660–1760 by R. Barry Levis (Rollins College).  An extract of the piece follows.

Victorian evangelicals and Tractarians shared a negative assessment of the eighteenth-century church. E. B. Pusey, for instance, saw the deficiencies of his contemporary church stretching back to the previous century. Pusey, as well as the other Tractarians, maintained that the eighteenth-century church had “suffered deeply, both in lukewarmness of life and degeneracy of faith, until the horrors of the French Revolution awoke us as out of a death-sleep.” In another context, he noted with disdain that “the eighteenth century was comparatively a stagnant period of the Church,—in England, owing to the violent revolution, whereby so many of her best members, the Non-juring Clergy, were ejected, and that, at one time, the State set itself to corrupt and degrade her, and her writers looked for strength in foreign alliances;—abroad, through the development of the principles of the ultra-reformation, and the influence of degraded England and corrupted France.” Instead, Pusey looked with particular nostalgia toward the seventeenth-century divines.

Many in the eighteenth century would have concurred with this judgment that the Church of England suffered from decay in both discipline and doctrine. Fiction writers portrayed its clergy as incompetent buffoons. Henry Fielding famously depicted Parson Trulliber in Joseph Andrews as more at home in the pig sty, “but two steps from his parlour-window,” than the pulpit. Trulliber had a special gift to arouse female members of his congregation with his preaching. One overly stimulated congregant who “to say the truth, the parson had exercised her ways than one; … , resolved to receive the bad things of this world together with the good.” Jane Austen painted an obsequious Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. Likewise, William Hogarth produced several satirical etchings skewering the clergy.