Tag Archives: Religion and Politics

Hart, “Kingdoms of God”

This October, Indiana University Press will release “Kingdoms of God” by Kevin Hart (University of Virginia).  The publisher’s description follows:

Kingdoms of GodWhat did Jesus mean by the expression, the Kingdom of God? As an answer, Kevin Hart sketches a “phenomenology of the Christ” that explores the unique way Jesus performs phenomenology. According to Hart, philosophers and theologians continually reinterpret Jesus’s teaching of the Kingdom so that there are effectively many Kingdoms of God. Working in, while also displacing, a tradition inaugurated by Husserl and continued by philosophers such as Heidegger, Marion, and Lacoste, Hart puts forward a new phenomenology of religion that claims that ethics and religion are not always unified or continuous.

Nirenberg, “Neighboring Faiths”

This October, University of Chicago Press will release “Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today” by David Nirenberg (University of Chicago).  The publisher’s description follows:

Neighboring FaithsChristianity, Judaism, and Islam are usually treated as autonomous religions, but in fact across the long course of their histories the three religions have developed in interaction with one another. In Neighboring Faiths, David Nirenberg examines how Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived with and thought about each other during the Middle Ages and what the medieval past can tell us about how they do so today.

There have been countless scripture-based studies of the three “religions of the book,” but Nirenberg goes beyond those to pay close attention to how the three religious neighbors loved, tolerated, massacred, and expelled each other—all in the name of God—in periods and places both long ago and far away. Nirenberg argues that the three religions need to be studied in terms of how each affected the development of the others over time, their proximity of religious and philosophical thought as well as their overlapping geographies, and how the three “neighbors” define—and continue to define—themselves and their place in terms of one another. From dangerous attractions leading to interfaith marriage; to interreligious conflicts leading to segregation, violence, and sometimes extermination; to strategies for bridging the interfaith gap through language, vocabulary, and poetry, Nirenberg aims to understand the intertwined past of the three faiths as a way for their heirs to produce the future—together.

“Christians and the Middle East Conflict” (Rowe et al., eds.)

In June, Routledge published “Christians and the Middle East Conflict” edited by Paul S. Rowe, John H.A. Dyck, and Jens Zimmermann (all from Trinity Western University). The publisher’s description follows:

Christians and the Middle East Conflict deals with the relationship of Christians and Christian theology to the various conflicts in the Middle East, a topic that is often sensationalized but still insufficiently understood. Political developments over the last two decades, however, have prompted observers to rediscover and examine the central role religious motivations play in shaping public discourses.

This book proceeds on the assumption that neither a focus on the eschatological nor a narrow understanding of the plight of Christians in the Middle East is sufficient. Instead, it is necessary to understand Christians in context and to explore the ways that Christian theology applies through the actions of Christians who have lived and continue to live through conflict in the region either as native inhabitants or interested foreign observers. This volume addresses issues of concern to Christians from a theological perspective, from the perspective of Christian responses to conflict throughout history, and in reflection on the contemporary realities of Christians in the Middle East.

The essays in this volume combine contextual political and theological reflections written by both scholars and Christian activists and will be of interest to students and scholars of Politics, Religion and Middle East Studies.

Trigg, “Religious Diversity”

This past June, Cambridge University Press released “Religious Diversity: Philosophical and Religious Dimensions” by Roger Trigg (University of Oxford).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religious DiversityShould we merely celebrate diversity in the sphere of religion? What of the social cohesion of a country? There is a constant tug between belief in religious truth and the need for respect for other religions. Religious Diversity: Philosophical and Political Dimensions examines how far a firm faith can allow for toleration of difference and respect the need for religious freedom. It elucidates the philosophical credentials of different approaches to truth in religion, ranging from a dogmatic fundamentalism to a pluralism that shades into relativism. Must we resort to a secularism that treats all religion as a personal and private matter, with nothing to contribute to discussions about the common good? How should law approach the issue of religious freedom? Introducing the relevance of central discussions in modern philosophy of religion, the book goes on to examine the political implications of increasing religious diversity in a democracy.

“The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion” (Crockett, et al., eds.)

In June, Indiana University Press published “The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion” edited by Clayton Crockett (University of Central Arkansas), B. Keith Putt (Samford University), and Jeffrey W. Robbins (Lebanon Valley College). The publisher’s description follows:

What is the future of Continental philosophy of religion? These forward-looking essays address the new thinkers and movements that have gained prominence since the generation of Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, and Levinas and how they will reshape Continental philosophy of religion in the years to come. They look at the ways concepts such as liberation, sovereignty, and post-colonialism have engaged this new generation with political theology and the new pathways of thought that have opened in the wake of speculative realism and recent findings in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Readers will discover new directions in this challenging and important area of philosophical inquiry.

“Modes of Engagement: Muslim Minorities in Asia” (Dossani, ed.)

In June, Brookings Institution Press released “Modes of Engagement: Muslim Minorities in Asia” edited by Rafiq Dossani (RAND Corporation). The publisher’s description follows:

Of Asia’s 800 million Muslims, 215 million are minorities within their countries. These Muslim minorities have experienced a persistent decline in their socioeconomic and political status. Along with this decline, they are increasingly identified by their faith and largely accorded no other identity for civic relations. Why have these Muslim minorities been particularly affected during a time of unprecedented opportunities for the mainstream in Asia’s unprecedented era of growth and rising freedoms?

Using detailed analyses of China, India, and the Philippines, Modes of Engagement argues that key factors in this phenomenon include the linkage between socioeconomic decline, loss of political power, and narrowing of identity; nationalism and its associated connotations of the assimilation of minorities; the weakness of civil society generally in Asia; and the rise in regional and global alliances for security and trade.

Contributors include Wajahat Habibullah (National Commission for Minorities and National Institute of Technology, India), Rakesh Basant (Indian Institute of Management), Dru C. Gladney (Pomona College), and Joseph Chinyong Liow (Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore).

Rabil, “Salafism in Lebanon”

In October, Georgetown University Press will release “Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism” by Robert G. Rabil (Florida Atlantic University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Salafism in LebanonSalafism, comprised of fundamentalist Islamic movements whose adherents consider themselves the only “saved” sect of Islam, has been little studied, remains shrouded in misconceptions, and has provoked new interest as Salafists have recently staked a claim to power in some Arab states while spearheading battles against “infidel” Arab regimes during recent rebellions in the Arab world. Robert G. Rabil examines the emergence and development of Salafism into a prominent religious movement in Lebanon, including the ideological and sociopolitical foundation that led to the three different schools of Salafism in Lebanon: quietist Salafists, Haraki (active) Salafists; and Salafi Jihadists.

Emphasizing their manhaj (methodology) toward politics, the author surveys Salafists’ ideological transformation from opponents of to supportive of political engagement. Their antagonism to Hezbollah, which they denounce as the party of Satan, has risen exponentially following the party’s seizure of Beirut in 2008 and support of the tyrannical Syrian regime. Salafism in Lebanon also demonstrates how activists and jihadi Salafists, in response to the political weakness of Sunni leadership, have threatened regional and international security by endorsing violence and jihad.

Drawing on field research trips, personal interviews, and Arabic primary sources, the book explores the relationship between the ideologies of the various schools of Salafism and their praxis in relation to Lebanese politics. The book should interest students and scholars of Islamic movements, international affairs, politics and religion, and radical groups and terrorism.

Siedentop, “Inventing the Individual”

In October, Harvard University Press will release “Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism” by Larry Siedentop (Emeritus Fellow of Keble College, Oxford).  The publisher’s description follows:

Inventing the IndividualHere, in a grand narrative spanning 1,800 years of European history, a distinguished political philosopher firmly rejects Western liberalism’s usual account of itself: its emergence in opposition to religion in the early modern era. Larry Siedentop argues instead that liberal thought is, in its underlying assumptions, the offspring of the Church. Beginning with a moral revolution in the first centuries CE, when notions about equality and human agency were first formulated by St. Paul, Siedentop follows these concepts in Christianity from Augustine to the philosophers and canon lawyers of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, and ends with their reemergence in secularism—another of Christianity’s gifts to the West.

Inventing the Individual tells how a new, equal social role, the individual, arose and gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe, and caste as the basis of social organization. Asking us to rethink the evolution of ideas on which Western societies and government are built, Siedentop contends that the core of what is now the West’s system of beliefs emerged earlier than we commonly think. The roots of liberalism—belief in individual freedom, in the fundamental moral equality of individuals, in a legal system based on equality, and in a representative form of government befitting a society of free people—all these were pioneered by Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages who drew on the moral revolution carried out by the early Church. These philosophers and canon lawyers, not the Renaissance humanists, laid the foundation for liberal democracy in the West.

Shankar, “Who Shall Enter Paradise?”

This October, Ohio University Press will release “Who Shall Enter Paradise? Christian Origins in Muslim Northern Nigeria, c. 1890-1975” by Shobana Shankar (Stony Brook University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Who Shall Enter Paradise?Who Shall Enter Paradise? recounts in detail the history of Christian-Muslim engagement in a core area of sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous nation, home to roughly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims. It is a region today beset by religious violence, in the course of which history has often been told in overly simplified or highly partisan terms. This book reexamines conversion and religious identification not as fixed phenomena, but as experiences shaped through cross-cultural encounters, experimentation, collaboration, protest, and sympathy.

Shobana Shankar relates how Christian missions and African converts transformed religious practices and politics in Muslim Northern Nigeria during the colonial and early postcolonial periods. Although the British colonial authorities prohibited Christian evangelism in Muslim areas and circumscribed missionary activities, a combination of factors—including Mahdist insurrection, the abolition of slavery, migrant labor, and women’s evangelism—brought new converts to the faith. By the 1930s, however, this organic growth of Christianity in the north had given way to an institutionalized culture based around medical facilities established in the Hausa emirates. The end of World War II brought an influx of demobilized soldiers, who integrated themselves into the local Christian communities and reinvigorated the practice of lay evangelism.

In the era of independence, Muslim politicians consolidated their power by adopting many of the methods of missionaries and evangelists. In the process, many Christian men and formerly non-Muslim communities converted to Islam. A vital part of Northern Nigerian Christianity all but vanished, becoming a religion of “outsiders.”

Craig, “Health Care as a Social Good”

In September Georgetown University Press will release “Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy” by David M. Craig (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis).  The publisher’s description follows:

#1A CraigDavid M. Craig traveled across the United States to assess health care access, delivery and finance in this country. He interviewed religious hospital administrators and interfaith activists, learning how they balance the values of economic efficiency and community accountability. He met with conservatives, liberals, and moderates, reviewing their ideas for market reform or support for the Affordable Care Act. He discovered that health care in the US is not a private good or a public good. Decades of public policy and philanthropic service have made health care a shared social good.

Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy argues that as escalating health costs absorb more and more of family income and government budgets, we need to take stock of the full range of health care values to create a different and more affordable community-based health care system. Transformation of that system is a national priority but Americans have failed to find a way to work together that bypasses our differences. Craig insists that community engagement around the common religious conviction that healing is a shared responsibility can help us achieve this transformation—one that will not only help us realize a new and better system, but one that reflects the ideals of American democracy and the common good.