"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Religions and the Public Squares of Our Time

A full thirty years ago now, the late Richard John Neuhaus (whose biographer, Randy Boyagoda, has done a splendid job here) continued to make quite a splash in these United States at least with the publication of the second edition of his The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America.

At the time, of course, the Cold War was still going on, and these questions were thought a uniquely American preoccupation, the Soviet Union and much of the rest of the world having neither democracy nor "religious freedom" in any serious way.

Since then, of course, much has changed here and abroad, and now Eastern Christians (and all of us) in Europe and here find the debates still going on, often to the surprise of many who, e.g., are confronting forms of Islam in the Western world that are challenging the broad if at times lazy "secular" consensus about interactions between mosque/church and the public square.

Along comes a new collection of scholarly pieces to look at these issues in a variety of places, containing chapters not just on politics in the strict sense but also on ecology and violence, some authored by some of the leading lights of our time--Charles Taylor, Rowan Williams, and John Milbank, inter alia: Religion and the Public Sphere: New Conversations, eds. James Walters, Esther Kersley (Routledge, 2018), 110 pages.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
Religion and the Public Sphere: New Conversations explores the changing contribution of religion to public life today. Bringing together a diverse group of preeminent scholars on religion, each chapter explores an aspect of religion in the public realm, from law, liberalism, the environment and security to the public participation of religious minorities and immigration. This book engages with religion in new ways, going beyond religious literacy or debates around radicalisation, to look at how religion can contribute to public discourse. Religion, this book will show, can help inform the most important debates of our time.


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