Political Theology Today A Forum for inter-disciplinary and inter-religious dialogue among clergy, scholars, students, and activists

Archive for October 2012

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God of the Displaced: the Politics of Ruth 1:1-18

This makes the book of Ruth a deeply political subject, which is very different from much of the popular appropriation of the book, which emphasizes the relationships first between Ruth and Naomi, and then Ruth and Boaz. These are important pastorally, but there is still much left to learn from the book that goes beyond these narrow concerns…

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Confronting the Current Crisis of Liberal Democracy: Toward a Genealogical Reading of the “Force of God” Behind Every Political Theology

I have been asked by Political Theology to share the content and context for my forthcoming book tentatively title Force of God:  Religion, Political Thought, and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy. This new work, for which the manuscript is almost finished, draws on the technical argument in my most recent […]

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Voting and Alienation

Four years ago, I was an idealistic college student who believed in change. Frustrated with the years of Bush-style imperialism and capitalism, I was ready for some big government and the return of civil liberties, singing the doxology Praise God From Whom all Blessings Flow as balloons reigned down and Obama waxed eloquent on a stage overlooking thousands of people. Needless to say, I have learned my lesson over the last four years. Although a less harmful sovereign, Obama turned out to be—surprise, surprise—a neo-liberal. The problem, however, was not with Obama, it was with me….

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Spencer W. Kimball and the Complexities of Mormon Political Theology

According to the Pew Forum on Religion in American Life, about two-thirds of Mormons consider themselves conservative, and another eight percent upon that Republican. Unfortunately, for both the Mormons themselves and Americans in total, Mormons in America appear to fit the prevailing stereotype about religious people in politics: Today, too often, “religious” means simply a particularly virulent form of the slightly more numerous species of “intolerant social conservative” or “Republican.” This is the fault both of the political mobilization of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, in which religious people eagerly tried to cram God into the cramped box of American partisan politics, and of liberals who have come to see Christianity as primarily a political opponent and thus sneeringly dismiss centuries of profound truths about human nature and society. The term has been drained of the transcendent imagination which animated the Puritans and the civil rights movement alike….

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Power as a Zero-Sum Game: The Politics of John 8:31-36

In contemporary Western society we like to pride ourselves on having done away with what we would term ‘archaic’ systems, such as slavery. And so, when we hear such a system mentioned or even alluded to in a text like John 8:31-36, it is easy to write Jesus’ words off as anachronistic to our more ‘civilized’ approach. If we’re among the majority of such Westerners who know of no slavery in our ancestral background (or, if we do, whose ancestors were the slaveholders), then we may be tempted to object with Jesus’ disciples:

“‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’” (8:33)

The first disciples resisted Jesus’ slave imagery, but not without irony. After all, the children of Abraham with whom they identify are the same children of Jacob who traveled to Egypt and were made slaves. Moses and Aaron led their ancestors through the wilderness so that they—the disciples, all the Jews, and by extension believers today—are children of the exodus; children for whom the reality of slavery is very real and near. And yet they resist this, practicing a form of selective amnesia rather than think of themselves as slaves.

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