Political Theology Today A forum for interdisciplinary and interreligious dialogue

Essays

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Reasoning about Exceptions – Editorial for Political Theology 15.5

One of the most important tasks for political theologians today is the cultivation of capacities for democratic reasoning about exceptions to the rule of law. The task is important because liberal societies face – or at least believe they face – a number of threats that seem to require exceptional measures in response. The pressure to make exceptions grows stronger, even as we find ourselves with fewer and weaker resources for thinking about them.

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Waterfront

The End of “Grand Narratives” and America’s “Spiritual Recession”

The “postmodern condition,” as Jean-François Lyotard designated it in 1979, is an “incredulity toward metanarratives.” That definition has been recited interminably by those grasping for a familiar sound-byte to encapsulate the significance of postmodernity. In the last few decades it has acquired overtones of a playful cultural experimentalism that has somehow outgrown the need for authoritative accounts of the meaning and purpose of human history.

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knowledge society

The Student Loan Crisis and the Strained Promises of the “Knowledge Society”

. . . The underlying structural crisis does not seem to have gone away. Indeed, in the last year and, more perspicuously in the past two weeks, it has found a more demanding as well as disquieting focus — student debt as well as the economic albatross of the maturing millennial generation itself. . . . The real scandal is the monstrous moral hazard that the student loan lending system has spawned. It amounts, according to Taibbi, “a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults.”

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captain america shield

A Retrospective on a Righteous Pagan: The Political Theology of Captain America, Pt. 2 (by Benjamin Wood)

The myth of Captain America introduces us to a serious quandary. Can liberal democracy be de-coupled from violence or is it doomed to repeat old battles? For Christians the question is doubtless a complex one. The Church can doubtless find much in Rogers’s democratic creed to admire; his sense of self-sacrifice, his public spirit and sense of civic duty. There is something of the righteous pagan in the Captain America myth which should not be lightly dismissed.

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captain america

A Retrospective on a Righteous Pagan: The Political Theology of Captain America, Pt. 1 (by Benjamin Wood)

On the surface Captain American: the Winter Soldier is a cinematic triumph of patriotic romanticism. Whatever injury has been done to the American psyche in the early part of the twenty-first century, Marvel has done its best to bind these wounds and produce a tour de force of idealism for a less than idealistic age. Captain America has done for democratic virtue what the West Wing did for American government.

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office cubicles

The Meaning of Work

There is a famous anecdote in which a man, after death, wakes up surrounded by all the pleasures of life: food, sex, and leisure. An angel approaches him and says “Welcome, enjoy all the pleasures you have ever wanted.” The man basks in all the pleasures available, but after a few weeks of uninterrupted ecstasy, he grows bored. So, the man approaches the angel and says “Is there anything I can do, any work?”

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The Man with the Hoe, by Jean-Francois Millet

John Locke, the Fall, and the Origin Myth of Capitalism

At the beginning of the fifth chapter of the second treatise of his Two Treatises of Government, John Locke writes:

It is very clear, that God, as king David says, Psal. cvx. 16, “has given the earth to the children of men;” given it to mankind in common. But this being supposed, it seems to some a very great difficulty how any one should ever come to have a property in any thing … I shall endeavour to show how men might come to have a property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common, and that without any express compact of all the commoners.[1]

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1024px-Humanities_Building

Dumb and Dumber – Why the Economy of the Future Depends on the Humanities

Despite the unending political chatter over global spying, the recent government shutdown, and now the misadventure of the Obama care rollout, I have also been pondering the meaning of something worth more obsessing about. . . . It amounts to the latest variation not of Murphy’s Law (“if something can go wrong, it will”), but what I have called Raschke’s Rule (“if you didn’t think people could be more foolish than they already are, just wait a day or so”).

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