Political Theology Today A forum for interdisciplinary and interreligious dialogue



Grand Illusions and Modest Proposal: Christian Realism in the Postwar World — Robin Lovin

With this post Robin Lovin launches our symposium, co-hosted by the Niebuhr Society, on the political theology of Reinhold Niebuhr. The symposium is occasioned by the Library of America’s recent publication of Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, edited by Elisabeth Sifton. The symposium or reading group is envisioned less […]

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Speaking Power to Truth, or, The Banality of Torture (Paul W. Kahn)

I have been writing about torture for the last decade. Does the recently released summary of the Senate report reveal anything that requires reconsideration of my earlier work? Surely, it is not news that the Bush administration, particularly in the first term, pursued a practice of torture. Nor is it news that the practice was not successful. After all, the turn to torture was puzzling partly because we have long known that it is not an effective means of obtaining information. In fact, torture is best understood as a practice not of inquiry but of communication.

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Political Theology or Social Ethics?: One Conversation, Two Tasks (Ted Smith)

The Ethics section of the American Academy of Religion has organized an important panel investigating the question “Which is it – Political Theology or Social Ethics? And Does It Matter?” at next week’s Annual Meeting in San Diego. We invited the four panelists to contribute preliminary essays on this theme for discussion here, and three have been able to contribute: Ted Smith of Emory University, Keri Day of Brite Divinity School, and M.T. Davila of Andover Newton Theological School. We will be posting these over the next several days, beginning with Ted Smith’s.

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O Lord Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz? Thoughts on Prosperity and the “Financialisation” of Christianity (by Matthew Sharpe)

Matthew Sharpe School of Humanities and Social Science, Deakin University, Australia This is the third post in a series on religion and political thought in Australia.  See introduction here. To paraphrase Bono with due apologies, “there’s been a lot of talk recently about a return to religion, maybe … maybe too […]

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Eureka 02

Critical Theory of Public Religion in Australia (by Geoff Boucher)

This is the second post in a series on religion and political thought in Australia.  See introduction here. Geoff Boucher, Deakin University According to its popularizations in the work of its critics, the connection between the secularization hypothesis and modernization theory can be simply and economically stated: increasing prosperity means decreasing […]

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The Cloister and the Chamber: In search of Australian political philosophy (by Marion Maddox)

For decades now, we seem to have been living in “end”: the end of history, the end of ideology, the end of theory. Parties nominally of the left (“New Labour”, “Wall St Democrats”) joined those of the right to enforce “democracy” abroad and a “third way” of free market reliance at home. Ideologues and theorists had ceded decision-making to technocrats, and no one need worry about such esoteric matters as justice or fairness, since all we had to do was sit back and let a properly-tuned market deliver optimal outcomes to everybody.

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Australian parliament

Religion and Political Thought: Introduction

Over the last few years, we have been engaged in an Australian project called ‘Religion and Political Thought’ – itself part of an international project known as ‘Religion and Radicalism’. Funded by the Australian Research Council, it seeks to do nothing less than kick-start an Australian tradition of political philosophy in relation to religion and theology. Our aims may be high, but we realise that it is very much a small beginning to what we hope will foster further debate and research.

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border checkpoint

Diaspora, Relationality, and the Roots of Injustice in *Parting Ways*

Several of my friends joined a Facebook meme soliciting a list of the ten books that most influenced you. I thought myself too cool to participate, but if I had, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble would have been on my list. I devoured it one winter break when I was home from college. At the time, I was fascinated by the world of feminist theory to which Butler introduced me.

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Synagogue in Jewish District

Judaism and Zionism in Butler’s Parting Ways (Sarah Hammerschlag)

Judith Butler’s Parting Ways proposes a “Jewish” critique of state violence. But to my mind its real success is in arguing persuasively for a model of identity that places relationality and dispossession at the heart of human political experience. She forges her claim through readings of 20th century thinkers all touched by persecution and the experience of statelessness. These include Jews and non-Jews alike.

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